|Day's range||743.00 - 743.00|
Alphabet and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is the latest tech giant kingpin to make a public call for AI to be regulated while simultaneously encouraging lawmakers towards a dilute enabling framework that does not put any hard limits on what can be done with AI technologies. In an op-ed published in today's Financial Times, Pichai makes a headline-grabbing call for artificial intelligence to be regulated. Simultaneously the pitch downplays any negatives that might cloud the greater good that Pichai implies AI will unlock -- presenting "potential negative consequences" as simply the inevitable and necessary price of technological progress.
Google has inked a deal with India’s third-largest telecom operator as the American giant looks to grow its cloud customer base in the key overseas market that is increasingly emerging as a new cloud battleground for AWS and Microsoft . Google Cloud announced on Monday that the new partnership, effective starting today, enables Airtel to offer G Suite to small and medium-sized businesses as part of the telco’s ICT portfolio. Airtel, which has amassed over 325 million subscribers in India, said it currently serves 2,500 large businesses and over 500,000 small and medium-sized businesses and startups in the country.
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump agreed to a truce in their dispute over digital taxes that will mean neither France nor the U.S. will impose punitive tariffs this year, a French diplomat said.“Great discussion with @realDonaldTrump on digital tax,” Macron said Monday in a tweet. “We will work together on a good agreement to avoid tariff escalation.”Trump, on Twitter, responded “excellent!” to Macron’s post, without providing any more details. Trump is en route to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.A White House readout of the call was notably more muted, saying only that the “two leaders agreed it is important to complete successful negotiations on the digital services tax” and “discussed other bilateral issues.” And neither a White House spokesman nor officials with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office would confirm that the U.S. president had called off his announced tariffs.Still, the possible respite may defuse transatlantic tensions that had been building between Washington and Brussels along another potential trade war front. Last week, Trump signed a cease-fire with China in phase one of a broader deal aimed at balancing trade between the world’s two largest economies.The European Union is an even bigger U.S. trading partner than China and supply chains between the two economies, particularly in automotive and financial services industries, are intertwined in ways that would make a tit-for-tat tariff dispute even more harmful to the world economy.France and the U.S. will continue negotiations along with their European partners until the end of 2020 to agree a global framework that ensures tech companies pay an appropriate amount of tax, the French diplomat said.Macron’s government still hopes to find a solution that fits within discussions at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s work on the issue, the official added, asking not to be identified in line with French government rules.European finance ministers meeting in Brussels Tuesday will discuss progress of the OECD talks. While the OECD is still working on its proposal for taxing tech companies around the world, France pushed ahead with its own levy last year that hit U.S. internet giants like Google, Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.The U.S. objected, alleging on Dec. 2 that the French tax discriminates against American technology companies, citing Section 301 of a 1974 American law that Trump has thus far reserved to justify tariffs against China. That opened the door to the U.S.’s threat to hit $2.4 billion of French goods with tariffs in retaliation.Among the French products targeted with duties of as much as 100% were luxury items like wine, cheese and makeup. One American wine merchant called it the biggest threat to the industry since Prohibition a century ago.For its part, the French government had warned that the EU would retaliate if the U.S. imposed additional tariffs.The dispute was another headache for European trade officials scrambling to expand their policy arsenal as the U.S. takes aim at a rules-based system for global trade that Trump argues is outdated and tilted against America. It also coincided with a change in leadership at the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan visited Washington last week for the first time in the job, partly to plead for talks rather than tariffs in disagreements like the French digital tax. At stake, he said, was transatlantic trade in goods and services valued at more than $3 billion a day.“Sounds like a fairly healthy relationship to me,” Hogan said Thursday in the U.S. capital. “So why put tariffs on these EU products to make them more expensive for your people?”The truce follows weeks of discussions between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who were scheduled to meet Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, the alpine resort town where government officials and business leaders gather during the winter to discuss whatever is ailing the global economy.U.S. and EU trade relations started to sour in 2018 when the Trump administration invoked national-security considerations to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe. As a U.S. military ally, the EU was infuriated and promptly retaliated with levies on iconic American brands such as Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles and Levi Strauss & Co. jeans.A subsequent U.S. threat to wreak significantly more economic damage by targeting the European auto industry with duties on the same security grounds led to a hastily agreed truce and a pledge by both sides to work toward reducing industrial tariffs across the board.Since then, the Trump administration has refused to start the tariff-cutting negotiations unless Europe includes agriculture in them. Also, it imposed levies on EU products in retaliation over government aid to Airbus SE that was deemed illegal by the World Trade Organization, and disabled the WTO’s appellate body,The EU, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with a plan for tariffs against the U.S. in a parallel WTO case over unlawful subsidies to Boeing Co.Trump, scheduled to speak Tuesday in Davos at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, on Sunday reiterated his frustration with Europe as a trading partner.“Europe has had tremendous barriers to us doing business with them. All those barriers are coming down. They have to come down,” he told a conference of farmers in Austin, Texas. “If they don’t come down, we’re going to have to do things that are very bad for them.”He added, “Europe was, in many ways, more difficult -- and is more difficult -- than China.”(Adds Trump comment on Twitter in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Jonathan Stearns, Justin Sink and Chelsea Mes.To contact the reporters on this story: Ania Nussbaum in Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org;William Horobin in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at firstname.lastname@example.org, Brendan Murray, Wendy BenjaminsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The EU's proposal for a temporary ban on facial-recognition technology won backing from Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai on Monday but got a cool response from Microsoft President Brad Smith. While Pichai cited the possibility that the technology could be used for nefarious purposes as a reason for a moratorium, Smith said a ban was akin to using a meat cleaver instead of a scalpel to solve potential problems. "I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it," Pichai told a conference in Brussels organised by think-tank Bruegel.
Amazon (AMZN) Twitch witnesses decline in viewer base in fourth-quarter 2019 on account of losing popular streamers to Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook.
Percentage of Americans aged 65 and above will climb to 21% by 2030 from 15% in 2018. In fact, the number of Americans aged more than 60 have already tripled since 1950.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s chief executive officer urged the U.S. and European Union to coordinate regulatory approaches on artificial intelligence, calling their alignment “critical.”In a rare public speech in Brussels at an event hosted by European economic think tank Bruegel on Monday, Sundar Pichai, who is also CEO of Google, said “there is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated,” but that “we don’t have to start from scratch” with entirely new rules in some cases.The comments come weeks before the EU is set to unveil its plans to legislate the technology, which could include new legally binding requirements for AI developers in “high-risk sectors,” such as healthcare and transport, according to an early draft obtained by Bloomberg. The new rules could require companies to be transparent about how they build their systems.While in Brussels, Pichai is also due to meet with Margrethe Vestager, the competition chief responsible for more than 8 billion euros ($8.9 billion) of antitrust fines levied against Google. In addition to competition, she now also oversees the bloc’s digital policies, including the plans to legislate AI.Alphabet has battled intense regulatory pressure in Europe for years. The search giant is challenging the EU’s multi-billion-dollar antitrust fines and has sought to fight off copyright and other forms of platform regulation emanating from Brussels in recent years.The Google chief cautiously welcomed plans for rules that take “a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities.”Facial recognition technology and so-called deep fakes-- or manipulated audio and video clips -- are two areas where AI could be used destructively, and companies have a responsibility “to get this right,” Pichai said. He said Google has released open datasets to help researchers build better tools to detect fakes and that it has chosen not to offer general-purpose facial recognition application programming interfaces.Pichai touted the company’s recent developments in AI, including a Google Health algorithm that can spot breast cancer more accurately than doctors and other research for accurately predicting the weather as well as advancements by its self-driving car unit, Waymo.The Google chief said existing rules like Europe’s privacy legislation GDPR and regulation for medical devices like AI-assisted heart monitors would serve as strong foundations for governing AI in some areas, but that for self-driving cars, governments would need to establish regulations.But Google has also come under intense criticism over how it handles users’ privacy with some of its AI projects. Google faces a U.S. federal inquiry after the Wall Street Journal in November reported how it collects the health-care data from millions of Americans to design new AI software. It’s also facing scrutiny over the methods it uses for training algorithms that run Google Assistant.To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy ThomsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Emmanuel Macron’s pre-Davos summit for tech executives will hold some goodies for startups.In the third edition of his “Choose France” summit on Monday, timed to catch global CEOs in Paris on their way to the Swiss Alps’ World Economic Forum, the French president will detail measures in his 2020 budget that have improved stock options for startups in France.Macron will also plug a revamped visa regime that will give fast-track papers to tech workers for French or foreign companies and a new benchmark index, the French Tech 120, to promote the nation’s most promising ventures.Snap’s Evan Spiegel, who was given French nationality in 2018, EU digital Commissioner Thierry Breton, Netflix Inc.‘s Reed Hastings, Google’s You Tube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Lime’s Joe Kraus and other leaders from Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, Turkey and the U.K. will attend the forum in Versailles.Entrepreneurs and executives at some of Europe’s most successful technology startups have been urging local governments to change laws to make employee stock options more attractive, in order to better compete with Silicon Valley. Macron, his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Digital Minister Cedric O and 17 ministers will present the government’s latest measures.In November 2018, about 30 chief executives of companies including iZettle AB, Funding Circle Ltd., Supercell Oy, TransferWise Ltd., Blablacar and U.S.-based Stripe Inc., signed an open letter saying a patchwork of different rules in various European countries makes it complicated and costly for employers to dole out stock options.The French 2020 budget law, voted late last year and enacted on Jan. 1, has two major measures already to make stock options of startups more attractive. First the conditions of the so-called BSPCE, an employee shareholding tool equivalent to a stock options, have been sweetened: they will get a discount compared to the price investors paid at the last fund raising.Also, employees of foreign startups with a base in France will be able to get stock options calculated on the parent company’s performance, not just the French branch, minister Cedric O unveiled in a statement late last year, as he said France seeks to attract more tech workers and companies.“What France has done is fantastic, but we really need a pan-European solution,” Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures, which has stakes in BlablaCar, told Bloomberg. “Currently, startups face the same problems every time they expand into a new country. Talk to any entrepreneur and they tell you it’s madness, it is slowing them down and it is putting them at a disadvantage to large companies.”Macron has attempted to lure more investors to France ever since his years as an economy minister in 2014, via taxes, visas, benchmark indexes, bilingual schools and the French way to welcome new comers.In September he created the “Next 40,” a listing of France’s top 40 startups with the strongest growth potential. While only a few of them are currently “unicorns,” with values topping $1 billion, the government said it expect more of them to scale.Read more: Napoleon, Chateaus on Display as France Seeks Venture CapitalOne of the key measures taken by Macron was a 30% flat tax on capital revenues from securities, savings, capital gains, and other sources. That measure got him into trouble with some of his citizens protesting against inequalities in the Yellow Vests movement that started in December 2018.The statistic institute Insee said the increase in inequality in 2018 was linked to a sharp rise in investment incomes, which benefited from the introduction of a flat tax the same year.Still, Macron has also toughened his stance on issues like taxes and privacy. He brought it up with Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook in his first months as president and repeatedly to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Macron is currently in a tug of war with U.S. President Donald Trump over his tax on digital giants.Amazon.com Inc., like other tech companies, will make their first payment of France’s new tax on digital giants in a few weeks. The government enacted a 3% levy on large tech groups that is retroactively effective from Jan. 1, 2019.(Updated with comment from Index ventures)\--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak.To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vidya RootFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- This New Year’s Day, 55,000 people signed up to lose weight with the smartphone app Noom. You’ve probably seen the ads -- it claims to have helped more than 350,000 get slimmer.Dieting, not to mention keeping weight off, is an iffy proposition, but Americans spend billions each year trying.Noom, which combines human coaches and AI, has attracted $114 million from A-list investors such as Sequoia Capital, Groupe Arnault-backed Aglaé Ventures, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, Serena Williams, and other prominent names that see promise in its approach and growth.The company’s founders say they’re in constant conversation with their investors who are watching the market to assess a possible IPO as soon as this year.Crowded MarketIndeed, in a competitive market, Noom has racked up impressive growth, driven in part by aggressive advertising: Noom closed 2019 with $237 million in revenue, up from $61 million and $12 million in the two previous years, respectively.“For a certain demographic, Weight Watchers is more comfortable and familiar,” said David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “For a younger, more digitally savvy audience, Noom is a different way to get a grip.”Shares in WW International Inc., the diet company formerly known as Weight Watchers, have more than doubled from last year’s low in June. In September, WW announced the Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life In Focus Tour with shareholder Oprah Winfrey. Investors will have to wait for WW’s fourth-quarter results in late February for a sense about early-year sign ups.Industry analysts note the cyclical nature of the dieting industry and that Noom’s robust start this year does not necessarily herald lasting success.“You’ve got a lot of program starts after the holidays, and that’s the nature of the business,” said Steven Halper, a senior health-care IT and managed care analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.Pounds Off, Pounds On“You get in shape, you lose your weight, everyone wants to look good at the beach in the summer time, and lo and behold the weight comes back on,” Halper said. He covers Tivity Health Inc., which acquired WW rival Nutrisystem in March.Noom was founded over a decade ago by Artem Petakov, a former Google engineer, and Saeju Jeong, lover of heavy metal, who strayed from his family lineage of 29 medical doctors to be an entrepreneur.“Noom’s story didn’t initially work,” said Amy Sun, a partner at Sequoia Capital. Sequoia invested for the first time in the $58 million Series E round that Noom announced in May 2019.“They tried a whole bunch of different angles, including doing pure AI where it’s completely automated, and they tried 100% human coaches, and it wasn’t until they married the two that the company started to grow,” said Sun.The company now employs 1,600 remote, full-time coaches in 36 states.Not Peloton“The product they have today is not what they started with,” said Miyuki Matsumoto, head of U.S. investments at Groupe Arnault’s tech venture-capital arm Aglaé Ventures. The firm invested the second most after Sequoia in the most recent funding round.“We weren’t thinking we were going to get our money back in two years or less, even though that’s a possibility,” Matsumoto said.Sun notes that Sequoia is looking to capitalize on the trend of digital companies focused on helping people manage their health. Other investors saw that trend in Peloton Interactive Inc., which priced at $29 a share in its September IPO, but traded as low at $21 a share a month later.“Peloton is quite different because so much of their revenue is hardware,” Sun said. “It’s hardware plus subscription, versus Noom is all digital.”To contact the reporter on this story: Hailey Waller in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ian FisherFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a radical overhaul of Russia’s governance system this week, he also ended the Medvedev era. Dmitry Medvedev was, at least formally, Putin’s closest sidekick, the politician with whom the strongman was most willing to share formal power. Whether or not it’s time for Medvedev’s political obit, his stint near the top of Russia’s so-called power vertical will serve as an example of how the Putin system’s inertia can suffocate the best modernizing intentions.Medvedev abruptly resigned as prime minister on Wednesday, without giving advance notice to members of his government, who also had to tender their resignations. “We as the government must give our country’s president the opportunity to make all the necessary decisions,” Medvedev said, though it wasn’t clear how his continued occupancy of the top cabinet post could get in the way of Putin’s reform. Putin expressed rather tepid gratitude for the prime minister’s service. “Not everything has worked out, but then things never work out completely,” he said. Putin has always avoided firing close, trusted associates, but as prime minister since 2012, Medvedev presided over Russia’s longest run of declining real incomes during Putin’s 20-year rule. The government’s $400 billion “national projects” spending plan, designed to rectify things, hasn’t gotten off to a great start. The new job Putin has offered Medvedev didn’t even exist before — deputy chairman of the Security Council, an advisory body that includes Russia's mighty security chiefs. It’s formally headed by Putin but run by its secretary, former secret police chief Nikolai Patrushev. The council has been described, including by Kremlin propaganda outlets, as the closest Russia has to the Soviet Union's ruling Politburo. So the newly created post, with Putin as the direct supervisor, can be enormously influential — but perhaps not when filled by Medvedev, who has never really commanded the respect of the security bosses in the way Putin does, with his KGB record and training.Medvedev’s move means he isn’t likely to be Putin’s successor as president when the latter's term ends in 2024. Nor will he return to the prime ministerial post, now handed to a supremely skillful technocrat, former tax chief Mikhail Mishustin. His career has been launched on a downward trajectory — something he probably expected. For years, he has appeared bored and morose at official functions, time and again photographed with his eyes closed and seemingly asleep. Opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny posted one such photo taken as Putin delivered his Wednesday address, tweeting, “Only one thing in Russia is really stable and unshakable — Dmitry Medvedev, asleep during the president’s state of the nation speech.”During a recent award ceremony, Medvedev’s New Year’s greetings included this quotation from Anton Chekhov: “The newer the year, the closer you are to death, the wider your bald spot, the twistier your wrinkles, the older your wife, the more kids you have and the less money.” Some of the incredulous listeners couldn't help but recall Medvedev's most famous quote, his answer to a woman in Russian-annexed Crimea in 2016 who complained that her pension was too low: “There's just no money now. When we find the money, we'll raise pensions. You hang on in there, stay cheerful and healthy.”Medvedev may have been fatigued and depressed lately as his government failed to deliver on Putin's promises of a tangible improvement in living standards, but money isn't something he's lacked himself. During this snowless winter, the vast land plot around his residence in Central Russia is covered with artificial snow. Medvedev has never given a substantive answer to a long video produced by Navalny's team and watched more than 33 million times on YouTube, in which he was accused of accumulating vast wealth while working for the government.Medvedev's approval rating never recovered from that video's release, languishing below 40% in recent months, while Putin's remains close to 70%. Government spending cuts that began in 2015 and lasted through 2018 didn't help, and the government’s decision in June 2018 to raise the retirement age — made by Putin, but often ascribed to Medvedev because of his perceived insensitivity — dealt his popularity an especially crippling blow.The visibly bored, defeated Medvedev at the end of his prime ministership was a far cry from the hopeful, cheerful modernizer who started a four-year presidency in 2008 and charmed U.S. President Barack Obama and his aides into trying a reset of U.S.-Russia relations. Though many Putin opponents — myself included — never believed Medvedev could pursue an independent policy, so-called system liberals, believers in changing the system from within, vested serious hopes in the younger, more polished leader. They believed he could shake off Putin's conservative influence if he ran for a second term in 2012, and that Russia would then gradually become freer both economically and politically.Medvedev tried some promising things. He set up a large innovation center at Skolkovo near Moscow, trying to lure investors and entrepreneurs into a Russian version of Silicon Valley. He started reforms in the self-serving, thoroughly rotten law-enforcement agencies, and he modernized Russia's obsolete armed forces, starting an ambitious reorganization and rearmament. He removed some of the most entrenched, hidebound regional leaders, breaking up the corrupt monopolies that had sprung up around them.But the system liberals’ hopes were probably dashed in March 2011, when Medvedev ordered the Russian representative in the United Nations Security Council to abstain on a resolution authorizing the U.S. and its allies to use force against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Putin publicly criticized his protege for not ordering a "no" vote, likening the Western intervention in Libya to a “medieval crusade." In his book, “From Cold War to Hot Peace," Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and a believer in Medvedev's liberal intentions, wrote that “U.S. military intervention in Libya, which helped topple Qaddafi, also inadvertently might have helped remove Medvedev from power in Russia."In September 2011, Putin and Medvedev announced they intended to switch jobs the following year, a development that bitterly disappointed the system liberals. Protests against a rigged parliamentary election, which broke out less than three months later, only served to convince Putin that the West was trying to undermine him and empower Medvedev instead. But, perhaps out of a sense of loyalty toward his temporary successor who hadn't tried to cling to power, Putin made no attempt to replace Medvedev as prime minister.The latter never really raised his head again. He avoided making major decisions or advocating big reforms; the cabinet ministers learned they needed Putin's approval for anything remotely controversial. In a way, that helped Russia build a protective economic wall after Putin annexed Crimea and, simultaneously, the oil price crashed in 2014. Amid Western sanctions and a tightening hold of Putin's cronies and enforcers on the economy, Russia's generally competent economic managers could only cut spending to insulate the budget from external shocks — and accumulate international reserves every time the price of oil edged up. Medvedev's tenure ended with these reserves at $554 billion, near the 2008 historic high of $569 billion.Putin's patience was sorely tested. Busy with geopolitical chess and with finding ways to retain power after 2024, he clearly wanted his hands free from domestic economic management. He wanted to set goals and let someone else get to them. Time after time, he told Medvedev that he wanted "results.” They failed to materialize.Meanwhile, Medvedev's work as the formal leader of the Kremlin's loyalist party, United Russia, also proved insufficient. The party's support melted away, and its legislative majorities and governorships have had to be obtained with increasing rigging efforts and administrative pressure. In December, only 29% of Russians were willing to cast a vote for United Russia in a national election, a threat to its parliamentary majority even in an unfair system. Putin needs a stronger party behind him post-2024, and an effort to build one on the basis of his broad support network, the United People's Front — or to reform United Russia — is to be expected.Putin’s legendary personal loyalty stretched far enough not to send Medvedev, who is only 54, into retirement. But then, it was Putin himself who backpedaled in 2011 instead of letting Medvedev pursue his cautiously reformist course. It was Putin who created a system that paralyzed any kind of economic liberalization and who launched Russia on military adventures that limited its ability to develop trade. Putin, who gave Medvedev the exhilarating hope of building a more modern Russia, then quickly took it away, leaving his former successor with little except the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Russian elite.It was Putin's country to give and to take back.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of 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/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Nvidia shares have soared roughly 60% in the last year as part of a broader semiconductor market climb that has come despite an overall sales and earnings downturn. So is now the time to buy NVDA stock?
(Bloomberg) -- Sonos Inc. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Spence accused Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. of using their market power to thwart competition a week after filing a lawsuit against the world’s largest search engine.“Today’s dominant companies have so much power across such a broad array of markets and continue to leverage that power to expand into new markets that we need to rethink existing laws and policies,” said Spence Friday at a congressional antitrust hearing in Boulder, Colorado, led by Representative David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat who is investigating competition in the technology sector.Sonos, a 1,500-person company, sued Google Jan. 7 for allegedly infringing five patents covering multi-room audio technology. Spence said Google’s dominance enabled it to violate the speaker company’s intellectual property. He said that Google tries to prevent customers from using its voice assistants alongside another company’s on Sonos speakers. While Amazon doesn’t go that far, he said, it has used its power to “to subsidize the conquest” of the booming smart-speaker market, particularly by under-pricing its offerings.Sonos has worked with the committee since before it decided to file the lawsuit, according to a person familiar with the discussions. It has also responded to questions that the committee sent to customers of the large technology platforms.Google has disputed Sonos’ claims and said it will defend itself. The search giant, which faces antitrust probes by 48 state attorneys general as well as the U.S. Justice Department, says it faces robust competition. Cicilline is using the hearing to air grievances by smaller companies, following a series of Washington meetings that focused on the tech giants.“It is apparent that the dominant platforms are increasingly using their gatekeeper power in abusive and coercive ways,” Cicilline said in his opening statement.The panel also heard from David Barnett, the founder of Boulder-based PopSockets, which makes phone holders and stands. He alleged that Amazon frequently engaged in “bullying,” including deliberately selling counterfeits, threatening to go to unauthorized resellers and dropping prices without consulting. “We have $10 million less to innovate this year” because of PopSockets’s decision to end its relationship with Amazon even though it’s more difficult to sell elsewhere, Barnett said.“It seems like Amazon is so dominant that there is no alternative,” said Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican on the committee.Amazon said in a statement that PopSockets is a “valued retail vendor” and added: “We’ve continued to work with PopSockets to address our shared concerns about counterfeit, and continue to have a relationship with PopSockets through Merch by Amazon, which enables other sellers to create customized PopSockets for sale.”The company said it refuses to work with some resellers to ensure low prices, and rejects the notion that it’s dominant, saying it represents just 4% of U.S. retail.The panel also heard from Kirsten Daru, general counsel of Tile Inc., which makes devices that pair with phones to help people locate lost items such as keys or purses.Apple Inc. is reportedly preparing to unveil a competing service, and Daru’s 100-employee company alleges the phone maker has started putting up roadblocks to Tile’s business, such as burying permissions that allow the phone and Tile devices to communicate and prompting users to disable permissions that have been set.“You’re playing up against a team that owns the field, the ball and can change the rules at any given time,” Daru said in an interview before the hearing, adding that a majority of the company’s customers are on Apple’s operating system.Apple said that its treatment of permissions, which focused on location, were designed to protect user privacy and that it’s working with developers whose customers may want particular apps to be able to track them at all times.Daru said Apple also removed Tile devices from its retail stores, and that it bid on search terms related to the would-be rival to drive up the cost of advertising 50% each week during the fall.Cicilline has said his goal is to develop a final report with recommendations for Congress this year. He told reporters on Tuesday that he wants to wrap up his probe by the end of March and said he’s hopeful the tech giants will cooperate with requests for chief executives to give information without subpoenas, preferably in public hearings.“It’s hard to imagine that we’d conclude the investigation without hearing from some of the large technology CEOs, particularly in companies whether there’s such really centralized decision making,” he said.(Updates with comments from PopSockets CEO from eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Mark Gurman, Rebecca Kern and David McLaughlin.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Paula DwyerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) have jumped 9% in 2020 to help it ascend into the $1 trillion market cap club. Is it time to buy?
What does Shaquille O’Neal’s underwhelming ability to shoot free throws have to do with your ability to pick stocks? Everything, says Fundstrat's Tom Lee.