GOOGL Mar 2020 1000.000 call

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
474.39
0.00 (0.00%)
At close: 3:11PM EST
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Previous close348.30
Open474.40
Bid490.50
Ask495.40
Strike1,000.00
Expiry date2020-03-20
Day's range474.39 - 474.40
Contract rangeN/A
Volume25
Open interest38
  • Google backtracks on search results design
    TechCrunch

    Google backtracks on search results design

    Earlier today, Google announced that it would be redesigning the redesign of its search results as a response to withering criticism from politicians, consumers and the press over the way in which search results displays were made to look like ads. Google makes money when users of its search service click on ads. It doesn't make money when people click on an unpaid search result.

  • Bloomberg

    YouTube Gets Streaming Rights to Major Esports Leagues

    (Bloomberg) -- YouTube secured the exclusive rights to broadcast some of the biggest esports leagues, giving Google a boost in its efforts to push into the lucrative world of video games.The deal, signed between Alphabet Inc.’s Google and video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., gives YouTube the rights to broadcast the new Call of Duty League and the already-popular Overwatch League, which was broadcast on Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch for the past two years at a reported cost of $90 million. As part of the agreement, Google will provide cloud infrastructure for Activision’s online games. Financial terms of the multiyear deal were not disclosed.Gaming is a significant new frontier for Google. Last year, it released a game-streaming service called Stadia, which lets people play games through the internet without having to buy a console or high-powered computer. YouTube has always been a major destination for watching people play video games, but the company is trying to take even more territory by poaching well-known game players from Twitch.‘All-Out Talent War’ in Video Gaming Sparked by Ninja Defection“In 2020 Google is going all out to claim a piece of the $120 billion games market,” said Joost van Dreunen, managing director of Nielsen’s video-game research arm. “Google is off to a great start to building strong relationships with content creators which it will need to differentiate as it tries to penetrate the industry via different avenues.”The news isn’t good for Amazon, which hasn’t announced a competitor to Stadia and still faces uncertainty about its in-house gaming studio, van Dreunen said. “The longer Amazon remains on the sidelines of technological shifts in the games business, the harder it will be to capture share down the line,” he said.The deal offers a strong boost to the central thesis of Activision’s esports efforts. The publisher pitched investors on the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League, which launches later this month, as esports equivalents to traditional sports leagues like the National Basketball Association or National Football League. Selling media rights to companies like YouTube is a central piece of how these leagues make money.Providing hosting services to Activision is also a win for Google’s cloud division, which is trailing Amazon and Microsoft Corp. in that market.(Updates with comment from analyst in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Eben Novy-Williams.To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Google’s ‘Wi-Spy’ Accord Gives Consumers Nothing, States Say

    (Bloomberg) -- Attorneys general from nine states urged a federal judge to toss out Google’s $13 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit blaming its Street View mapping technology for a massive violation of consumer privacy.The proposed accord in a debacle that became known as “Wi-Spy” doesn’t offer compensation for millions of people whose confidential data was captured off their Wi-Fi networks by Street View vehicles. Instead, the deal divvies up funds among a handful of privacy rights organizations, a small number of individual consumers who led the case and their lawyers, the state officials said in a court filing.The lawsuit, filed a decade ago, was once called the biggest U.S. wiretap case ever and threatened the internet giant with billions of dollars in damages. The settlement was reached in July and won preliminary approval in October from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, who found it to be “likely fair, reasonable, and adequate.”“Without receiving any of the $13 million cash fund or any meaningful injunctive relief, class members receive no direct benefit from the settlement,” the attorneys general said.An attorney for the consumers and Google’s press office didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.Read More: Why a Dead Kennedys Punk Isn’t Buying Google’s Privacy DealsArizona State Attorney General Mark Brnovich submitted the filing, joined by Alabama, Alaska, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana and Louisiana. The states plan to urge Breyer to reject the deal at a Feb. 28 final approval hearing in San Francisco.Google agreed in the settlement to delete all collected data and educate people on how to set up encrypted wireless networks. But the company had already made those promises in a 2013 agreement with 39 attorneys general, according to Mark Brnovich’s filing.Any “injunctive relief is illusory,” the attorneys general said.The Street View suit is a rare instance in privacy litigation where consumers gained the upper hand, notably when the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco in 2013 rejected Google’s argument that it was legal to intercept open Wi-Fi networks because they were akin to AM/FM radio transmissions. The court’s conclusion that the federal Wiretap Act applied meant that if Google went to trial to fight the allegations and lost, it could be hit with $10,000 in damages for every violation.But in July, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said the settlement was justified, in part, because there was a risk that they could still lose the case -- and end up with nothing. They also argued that the accord would deter privacy violations and that the funds designated for privacy-oriented groups will help teach future information technology workers to “to become safeguards of internet privacy rather than exploiters of personal information communicated over the internet.”The case is In re: Google Inc. Street View Electronic Communications, 3:10-md-02184, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in San Francisco at mnayak21@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg, Joe SchneiderFor 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.

  • Wall Street Week Ahead: Hopes are high for tech stock 'Cadillacs'; so are their prices
    Reuters

    Wall Street Week Ahead: Hopes are high for tech stock 'Cadillacs'; so are their prices

    Wall Street is betting that the most popular U.S. technology and internet stocks can keep outshining the broader equities market but their latest rally leaves little room for error this earnings season. Investors dashed for the exits after Tuesday's less-than-stellar quarterly report from Netflix - the N in FAANG - an acronym for the group of U.S. tech companies that have been the biggest drivers of the bull market. Hopes remained high for the other FAANGs - Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com and Google parent Alphabet, as well as Microsoft, ahead of their financial reports.

  • Facebook (FB) to Report Q4 Earnings: What's in the Cards?
    Zacks

    Facebook (FB) to Report Q4 Earnings: What's in the Cards?

    Facebook's (FB) fourth-quarter 2019 results are likely to reflect continued subscriber growth, driven by rapid adoption of Stories and Gaming endeavors.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alphabet, salesforce.com, L3Harris, McKesson and Synopsys
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alphabet, salesforce.com, L3Harris, McKesson and Synopsys

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Alphabet, salesforce.com, L3Harris, McKesson and Synopsys

  • Google and Apple Clash Over Web Browser Privacy
    Bloomberg

    Google and Apple Clash Over Web Browser Privacy

    (Bloomberg) -- Google engineers said a tool Apple Inc. developed to help users avoid web tracking is fundamentally flawed and creates more problems than it solves.The Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature on Apple’s Safari web browser, which is meant to block tracking software used by digital advertisers, can be abused to do the exact opposite, according to a paper released Wednesday by Google researchers. Google told Apple about the problem in August, and in December the iPhone maker published a blog post saying it had fixed the issues and thanking Google for its help.But Wednesday’s paper concluded that the problems go beyond the issues that Apple addressed. Instead of making a big list of cookies to block, Apple’s ITP continuously learns what websites users visit and which kinds of cookies try to hitch a ride. Over time, this creates unique cookie-blocking algorithms for each web surfer that can be used to identify and track them, according to the paper.“I can assure you that they still haven’t fixed these issues,” Justin Schuh, engineering director for Google’s Chrome browser, said on Twitter. Apple’s December blog post “didn’t disclose the vulnerabilities or appropriately credit the researchers,” he added. Apple said the bugs mentioned in the report were patched in December, but declined to comment further. “Our core security research team has worked closely and collaboratively with Apple on this issue,” a spokesman for Google said. This isn’t the first time the two tech giants have clashed over privacy. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has criticized internet companies for collecting too much personal information, and last year Google researchers reported a two-year long vulnerability in the iPhone maker’s software.Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari are two of the most popular web browsers, with Chrome used by more people overall but Safari dominating on iPhones. Apple has been touting Safari privacy features to persuade more consumers to use it. Apple first introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention in 2017. The tool targets cookies, bits of code that let marketers follow people around the web and send them targeted ads.Google refused to block cookies for years, arguing that targeted ads help publishers and keep the internet free. But last week, the internet giant said it would eventually phase them out, setting off a race among advertisers to adapt. Privacy advocates have lauded Apple’s approach to tracking, and criticized Google for taking so long to do the same. But the paper suggests Apple may have to go back to the drawing board to find a new way to block tracking.“This bug is quite counter-intuitive, but rather very serious,” said Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity researcher.(Updates with Google statement in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.net, Jillian WardFor 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.

  • After France Truce, U.S. Faces New Tech-Tax Threat in Europe
    Bloomberg

    After France Truce, U.S. Faces New Tech-Tax Threat in Europe

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Having just persuaded France to hold off on a digital tax that would hurt its biggest technology firms, the U.S. is facing a similar threat from another part of Europe.The Czech Republic is debating plans to impose one of the world’s highest levies on global internet companies -- albeit as a stop-gap measure -- brushing aside possible U.S. retaliation.The initiative comes as transatlantic trade tensions once again bubble over. Shortly after agreeing on the truce with France, President Donald Trump’s tone changed as he complained that Europeans are “more difficult to do business with than China.”Cars are another bone of contention. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the U.S. was still considering slapping levies on European auto imports, even as it hopes for a “peaceful resolution” of differences.Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said Thursday that he’s aware of the risks in imposing the 7% levy, which would target local revenue because the majority of profits are booked and taxed in other jurisdictions.“I understand the United States perceives this negatively,” he said in televised comments. “We’re trying to explain that this step is only temporary until an international solution is found.”Petricek met U.S. Ambassador Stephen King after the envoy wrote a newspaper opinion piece saying America may respond with proportional countermeasures against the Czech Republic.The local unit of Google last year reported a net income of 15.9 million koruna ($697,000) and paid 8.8 million koruna in tax, while the Czech arm of Amazon made a profit of 19 million koruna and paid 9.7 million koruna of tax, according to regulatory filings.That’s a fraction of the income recorded and taxes paid by the U.S. companies’ local competitors, which include search engine and online media group Seznam.cz and internet retailer Alza.cz.Billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is trying to impose the digital tax alongside higher levies on gambling, alcohol and tobacco to boost public-sector wages and fund welfare spending. He’s previously enjoyed warm relations with Trump.Other European countries that have introduced a similar tax or are planning to do so include the U.K., Italy and Austria.France agreed this week to delay collecting its 3% digital levy until the end of the year to avoid the threat of higher U.S. tariffs. The two countries said they’d made progress toward a global pact on the taxation of digital services.(Updates with local internet companies in ninth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Lenka Ponikelska.To contact the reporter on this story: Krystof Chamonikolas in Prague at kchamonikola@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Blaise Robinson at brobinson58@bloomberg.net, Andrew Langley, Michael WinfreyFor 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.

  • Intel Can’t Take Off Another Round in Chip Battle
    Bloomberg

    Intel Can’t Take Off Another Round in Chip Battle

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Intel Inc. closed out 2019 learning the hard lesson that making cutting-edge semiconductors is truly difficult.Like a prizefighter who refuses to admit he just hit the mat, the world’s biggest chipmaker is coming out swinging. And it should, because how it gets through 2020 could decide the company’s fate. Once the most advanced supplier of semiconductors, Intel struggled last year to ramp up production of chips that use its latest 14-nanometer process node, “letting customers down,” as CEO Bob Swan said in October. Its full-year results released Thursday showed that revenue climbed 2% and that net income was flat — hiding the fact that Intel dodged a bullet when it wasn’t able to supply enough of its most advanced products when clients needed them most.It tried to offer some reassurance three months ago by noting that it would increase 14-nanometer capacity 25% this year while raising capital spending to nose-bleed levels. To help overcome that slip-up, executives are keen to tell investors how many customers have signed up for its latest offerings, including a chip dubbed Ice Lake and an upgrade to its Comet Lake mobile processor, which use the next-generation 10-nanometer process. In reality, Intel is badly lagging behind both contract manufacturer Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. TSMC, for example, started selling its 10-nanometer chip technology in mid-2017 and last year boosted revenue from its more advanced 7-nanometer offerings by more than 200%. When Intel eventually hits 7 nanometers in 2021, it will be almost three years behind.Intel’s rebuttal is that so-called process-node technology isn’t the only thing. It’s right, and clients should look at total system performance to see how all the parts — the processor, memory and controllers — all slot together. No other company in the world can offer the breadth and depth that Intel can.But with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. back in the game after a decade in the wilderness and a raft of chip designers ready to tap TSMC’s technology advantage, Intel would be foolish to rest on the belief that it can stay ahead of the game while lagging behind on technology. It knows this and has committed to speeding up its migration from the pace of a new node every five to seven quarters to as little as four quarters. Yet investors ought to also note that the introduction of a new node compresses margins during the early stages before better yields provide economies of scale later. A quicker timetable won’t allow as much time to enjoy the upside before the next margin crunch comes.Intel’s strategy to offset this squeeze is to tap continued growth in the data-center market. Cloud providers like Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. are among customers for its 14-nanometer Cascade Lake products, while the global 5G rollout is expected to provide a couple of solid growth years. Its Data Center Group accounts for 32.6% of revenue but 46.4%  of operating income, making it Intel’s most lucrative business unit by operating margin.But that business relies on Intel’s ability to churn out leading-edge chips that, even if not equivalent to what TSMC can offer clients, won’t be too far behind. A data center operator might be willing to forgive a single-generation lag, reasoning that the broader platform integration Intel offers can provide the cost-benefit metrics it needs. A two-generation delay is hard to overlook, though. Intel’s size and strength means it won’t be easily knocked out. But it needs to get through this year unscathed if it’s to remain the undisputed heavyweight champ.(Updates with details about Intel’s 10-nanometer offerings in the fourth paragraph.)To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Cops Spying on Londoners’ Faces Sparks Human Rights Concerns
    Bloomberg

    Cops Spying on Londoners’ Faces Sparks Human Rights Concerns

    (Bloomberg) -- Londoners on their morning commute or evening stroll will be scanned as police deploy live facial-recognition cameras around the city, an effort that human-rights groups say is a “dangerous and sinister step.”The technology will focus on people in specific parts of the city where offenders are most likely to be caught, the Metropolitan Police said Friday. Each system will have its own “watch list” made up of images of criminals wanted for serious and violent offenses.Facial-recognition is an emerging technology that has been heavily criticized by human-rights groups and regulators for its intrusion on privacy. In 2018, the European Union introduced data protection laws in a bid to crack-down on how citizens’ data is collected and used.British human-rights group Liberty condemned the decision by police as a “sinister step” which will push the U.K. into a surveillance state. The group called for the ban of the technology in September after losing a legal fight over its use in Wales, branding it a “dystopian technology” that infringes on democracy.“This is a dangerous, oppressive and completely unjustified move,” Clare Collier, advocacy director at Liberty, said in a statement. “Facial-recognition technology gives the state unprecedented power to track and monitor any one of us, destroying our privacy and our free expression.”“Rolling out an oppressive mass surveillance tool that has been rejected by democracies and embraced by oppressive regimes is a dangerous and sinister step,” she said.Facial-recognition and artificial intelligence was a hot topic this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Alphabet Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said it can be used for good, such as finding missing people, but also could have “negative consequences,” such as mass surveillance.He called for a global framework, similar to the Paris climate accord, to ensure such technology is developed responsibly.The U.K.’s data regulator, which warned the technology could risk violating privacy laws, said it’s received assurances that the authorities are taking steps to reduce intrusion and comply with data-protection legislation. The system used by in London is made by NEC Corp., the police said.“This is an important new technology with potentially significant privacy implications for U.K. citizens,” the Information Commissioner’s Office said Friday in a statement. “We reiterate our call for government to introduce a statutory and binding code of practice for LFR as a matter of priority.”The cameras will be signposted and officers will hand out leaflets about the activity at each site, the Met police said. The cameras may also help to locate missing children or vulnerable adults, it said.(Updates with comments from Liberty, Google CEO from fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Milligan in London at emilligan11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Christopher Elser, 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.

  • Tech CEOs in Davos Dodge Issues by Warning Audiences About AI
    Bloomberg

    Tech CEOs in Davos Dodge Issues by Warning Audiences About AI

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Technology’s most influential leaders have a new message: It’s not us you need to worry about -- it’s artificial intelligence.Two years ago big tech embarked on a repentance tour to Davos in response to criticism about the companies’ role in issues such as election interference by Russia-backed groups; spreading misinformation; the distribution of extremist content; antitrust violations; and tax avoidance. Uber Technologies Inc.’s new chief even asked to be regulated.These problems haven’t gone away -- last year tech’s issues were overshadowed by the world’s --- but this time executives warned audiences that AI that must be regulated, rather than the companies themselves.“AI is one of the most profound things we’re working on as humanity. It’s more profound than fire or electricity,” Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday. Comparing it to international discussions on climate change, he said, “You can’t get safety by having one country or a set of countries working on it. You need a global framework.”The call for standardized rules on AI was echoed by Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.“I think the U.S. and China and the EU having a set of principles that governs what this technology can mean in our societies and the world at large is more in need than it was over the last 30 years,” Nadella said.It’s an easy argument to make. Letting companies dictate their own ethics around AI has led to employee protests. Google notably decided to withdraw from Project Maven, a secret government program that used the technology to analyze images from military drones, in 2018 after a backlash. Researchers agree.“We should not put companies in a position of having to decide between ethical principles and bottom line,” said Stefan Heumann, co-director of think tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung in Berlin. “Instead our political institutions need to set and enforce the rules regarding AI.”The current wave of AI angst is also timely. In a few weeks 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 health care 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.Warning the business elite about the dangers of AI has meant little time has been spent at Davos on recurring problems, notably a series of revelations about how much privacy users are sacrificing to use tech products. Amazon.com Inc. workers were found to be listening in to people’s conversations via their Alexa digital assistants, Bloomberg reported last year, leading EU regulators to look at more ways to police the technology. In July, Facebook Inc. agreed to pay U.S. regulators $5 billion to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. And in September Google’s YouTube settled claims that it violated U.S. rules, which ban data collection on children under 13.Read more: Thousands of Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell AlexaPrivacy DebateInstead of apologies over privacy violations, big tech focused on how far it has come in the past few years in terms of looking after personal data.Facebook Vice President Nicola Mendelsohn said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday that the company has rolled out standards similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation in other markets.“Let’s be very clear, we already have regulation, GDPR,” Mendelsohn said in response to a question about the conversations Facebook is having with regulators. “We didn’t just do it in Europe where it was actually regulated. We thought it was a very considered and useful way of thinking about things so we actually rolled a lot of that out around the world as well.”Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy officer, also spoke at a separate conference in Brussels this week about how the company is working to find ways to minimize the amount of customer data it needs to collect.“We’re right now really focused on doing more with less data,” Enright said at a data-protection conference on Wednesday. “This is counter-intuitive to a lot of people, because the popular narrative is that companies like ours are trying to amass as much data as possible.”Holding on to data that isn’t delivering value for users is “a risk,” he said.But regulators are still devising on new laws to protect user data. The U.S. is working on federal legislation that calls for limits on sharing customer information and, similar to GDPR, require companies get consent from consumers before sharing data with third parties. Facebook, Amazon, Apple Inc. and Microsoft all increased the amount they spent on lobbying in Washington last year, with some of those funds going to pushing industry-friendly privacy bills.And even though tech executives called for AI rules, they still cautioned against regulating too much, too fast. Pichai reminded lawmakers that existing rules may already apply in many cases. Lawmakers “don’t need to start from scratch” he said.\--With assistance from Nate Lanxon and Stephanie Bodoni.To contact the reporters on this story: Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net;Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Jillian WardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Ban Fails to Stamp Out Short-Term Payday Lending Apps
    Bloomberg

    Google Ban Fails to Stamp Out Short-Term Payday Lending Apps

    (Bloomberg) -- In August, Google announced a global crackdown on Android apps that offer short-term loans, saying it wanted to protect consumers from what it called “deceptive and exploitative” terms.But five months later, payday-style applications offering fast money for one or two weeks are still easy to find in many countries on Google Play, the company’s marketplace for Android apps. Some charge interest rates that can exceed 200% annualized.Lending apps are particularly popular in developing nations such as Nigeria, India and Kenya, where millions of people don’t have bank accounts or credit cards but do have mobile phones. The epicenter is Kenya, where an explosion in mobile lending and little government oversight has effectively made Google the arbiter of which apps customers can choose.Despite the ban on loans that have to be repaid in fewer than 61 days, many apps available through the Google Play store are offering shorter terms to Kenyans. Some lenders appear to be ignoring the rule, hoping Google, a division of Alphabet Inc., doesn’t notice. But there’s also confusion about whether the policy really prohibits short-term lending.Dan Jackson, a Google spokesman, declined to explain why short-term lending apps are still featured. “When violations are found, we take action,” he said in a statement. He wouldn’t say how many such actions have been taken.Customer ComplaintsBranch International Ltd., a San Francisco-based startup that’s a major Kenyan lender, said it was told it could comply by offering both a longer-term option and a shorter-term one for each loan. “The 62-day loan is just one option, and they can choose shorter loans if they want,” said Mojgan Khalili, a Branch spokeswoman. Another California-based lender with a large Kenyan business, Tala, has a similar policy that it says complies with Google’s rules.But Jackson insisted that the policy prohibits any apps offering short-term loans.Other financial technology companies appear to have dealt with the new policy by adding language to their Google Play descriptions stating that they offer loans two months or longer. But users often post complaints on the site saying they can’t borrow for nearly that long.Of the 10 most popular free Google Play apps in Kenya on Jan. 15, five were lending apps, according to a SimilarWeb ranking. All five claimed to offer loans of at least 61 days, and all of them fielded complaints from users about being offered much shorter terms.One customer of the top-ranked app, iPesa, complained in January that while the Google Play description promised loans of more than 60 days, he was offered a shorter term. “You can’t keep repayment period at 14 days,” the customer wrote. “Who are you guys kidding?”Nairobi-based iPesa didn’t respond to an email, a Facebook message or an inquiry through its customer-service phone line.OKash ReportAnother top-10 app, OKash, came under attack last week by investment firm Hindenburg Research. The firm issued a report asserting that the app and others made by Opera Ltd., the Norwegian developer of the Opera web browser, violate Google’s policy because they offer only short-term loans, despite claims that longer terms are available. The report also says that Opera’s apps charge rates that can exceed 300%.Opera is employing “deceptive ‘bait and switch’ tactics to lure in borrowers and charging egregious interest rates,” wrote Nate Anderson, Hindenburg’s founder, who said he is betting on Opera’s stock to fall.Oslo-based Opera, controlled by Chinese tech billionaire Zhou Yahui, said the report contained unspecified errors and that all of its apps comply with the policy because they offer repayment terms of more than 60 days.Google declined to comment on the Opera apps. At least one of them disappeared from Google Play after the Hindenburg report, but it has since been restored.Even on the Google Play site itself, lenders sometimes openly acknowledge offering only short-term loans. “You can select 1 up to 30 days,” wrote a representative of Nairobi-based Zenka Finance Ltd. in December to a customer who asked about repayment terms.Zenka, fifth in the SimilarWeb ranking, disappeared from Google Play last week but was later restored. Duncun Motanya, Zenka’s Kenya country manager, said via email that he didn’t know the reason and that Zenka complies with Google’s policy. “I suppose, with all the fuss around finance apps, Google scrutinize us more,” he wrote.Google PolicyGoogle unveiled its new policy in August and gave lenders one month to comply. In the U.S., it also set a maximum annual interest rate of 36%. The company imposed similar restrictions on web search results for lenders in 2016.“Our Google Play Developer Policies are designed to protect users and keep them safe,” said Jackson, the company spokesman.Google’s policy reflects the growing power of big technology companies to shape global commerce, Matt Flannery, Branch’s co-founder and chief executive officer, wrote in a blog post Wednesday. He called the company the “Central Bank of Google.”Countries have radically different lending markets, so a single global two-month rule doesn’t make sense, Flannery wrote. After Branch began offering the two-month option to comply with its understanding of Google’s policy, few Kenyans chose the longer repayment term, but in India, where Branch also operates, one-third of new customers did, he said.“Instead of iterating on a single global rule for the world’s lenders,” he wrote, Google “should just defer to the actual central banks.”Credit BoomKenya’s digital credit boom was made possible because a large share of the country’s population uses mobile-money accounts for daily payments and expenses. The most popular service, M-Pesa, was started more than a decade ago. That created an opening for online lenders pitching short-term loans that could be funded and repaid through phones.Over the past few years, dozens of loan apps have sprung up in the east African nation. They offer short-term loans of as little as a few dollars at high interest rates to everyone from office workers in Nairobi to village street vendors. Millions of Kenyans have borrowed.A September study by MicroSave Consulting said that 91% of loans in Kenya in 2018 were digital. The apps are controversial, criticized by politicians for taking advantage of poor people.“What the mobile lenders are doing is ripping off Kenyans,” Jude Njomo, a member of Kenya’s Parliament, said in an October interview. “Who could ever do business paying the high interest rates?”In Kenya and other nations where mobile lending is popular, many users have never borrowed from a bank before and have little experience with financial contracts. Google’s policy was aimed at pushing developers to longer-term loans, which are often easier for borrowers to manage.“People go for the loans out of desperation for money,” said Gilbert Kiprono, 28, who works for a mobile-phone company in Kitale, in western Kenya, and has borrowed from mobile lenders. “They are easily available but highly exploitative.”\--With assistance from David Herbling.To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary R. Mider in New York at zmider1@bloomberg.net;Zeke Faux in New York at zfaux@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Robert Friedman at rfriedman5@bloomberg.net, Joe SchneiderFor 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.

  • Intel Gains as Data Center Revival Fuels Revenue Growth
    Bloomberg

    Intel Gains as Data Center Revival Fuels Revenue Growth

    (Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp. gave bullish quarterly and full-year revenue forecasts, driven by a surge in demand for chips that power large cloud-computing centers. The shares jumped as much as 7.8% in late trading.Sales in the current quarter and in 2020 will be well above what analysts had predicted and are outpacing normal industry trends, the chipmaker said on Thursday. Fourth-quarter revenue and profit also topped Wall Street’s highest estimates. As the biggest provider of server chips, Intel is benefiting from a rush to build capacity in data centers operated by companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc’s AWS.“We’re well ahead of our expectations in the quarter and it’s continuing into this year,” Chief Financial Officer George Davis said in an interview. “That’s just a great dynamic.”Revenue from cloud-service providers, which offer computing power and storage via the internet, surged 48% in the fourth quarter, fueling a gain in sales of the company’s most lucrative chips. A spike in demand from these buyers is helping to ease concerns that Intel was losing its technology leadership in computer processors and faced a competitive threat from customers’ own development efforts. Some high-end server chips cost more than compact car.Revenue in the current period will be about $19 billion, and profit will be $1.23 a share, excluding certain items, Intel said. That compares with average analysts’ projections for $17.2 billion and $1.04 a share. Sales in 2020 will be about $73.5 billion, the company said late Thursday in a statement. Analysts were looking for $72.2 billion on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The company’s annual forecast implies growth will abate in the second half of the year, Davis said. Big purchases from data-center owners tend to come in lumps, followed by slower periods when the components are being built into computers.“The hard part is forecasting when they’re going to slow down and digest,” he said.Fourth-quarter sales rose 8% to $20.2 billion, the Santa Clara, California-based company said. Analysts on average had predicted $19.2 billion. Net income was $6.9 billion, or $1.58 a share, compared with estimates for $1.23 a share. Gross margin, or the percentage of sales remaining after deducting the cost of production, was 58.8% in the quarter.The largest U.S. chipmaker has fallen behind rivals in semiconductor-manufacturing technology, sparking concern on Wall Street about sales growth and future profit. In November, the company told PC customers inventory remained tight because of limited manufacturing capacity. Still, executives have said that Intel is targeting a broader range of markets and the company has plenty of room to expand in new areas, such as networking and the auto industry.Intel will increase spending on new plants and equipment to $17 billion in 2020 in part to boost production to a point where it’s not only able to fill all customer orders, but build inventory, Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan said on a conference call. After again failing to meet all demand in the fourth quarter, avoiding a repeat of that mistake is one of his biggest priorities, he said.The company’s struggles with its move to advanced 10-nanometer production are beginning to ease, Swan said. Intel plans to have server chips built with that technique available in the second half.Demand for personal computers held up well in the recent period, Davis said. Global PC shipments rose 2.3% from a year earlier in the December period as companies upgraded to a new version of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Intel expects the market this year for PCs to be flat from 2019 as that replacement cycle comes to an end.Intel has more than 80% market share in PC processors, and it controls even more of the server-chip market. In that business, semiconductor rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has fielded new products, and companies such as Amazon have said they’re designing some chips on their own -- leading some analysts to predict Intel would begin to lose business and struggle to grow this year. Intel executives said that part of the reason they’re predicting less growth for the second half is the expectation that competition will intensify.So far, there’s no sign of that hurting the company’s performance. In the fourth quarter, Intel’s data center unit reported a sales increase of 19% to $7.2 billion. PC-chip sales gained 2% to $10 billion. The company’s programmable-chip unit was the only division to post a decline. Sales at the Mobileye unit, which makes chips used to help vehicles pilot themselves, grew 31% to $240 million.(Updates with comment from CEO in 10th paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Alphabet (GOOGL) Gains But Lags Market: What You Should Know
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    Sonos Apologizes After Backlash Over Updates for Aging Speakers

    (Bloomberg) -- Sonos Inc. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Spence apologized to customers after a backlash over the company’s plan to halt software updates for older products.The Santa Barbara, California-based speaker maker earlier this week said it would stop providing updates and new features for speakers launched in the 2000s, including the Connect, ZonePlayer, the original Play:5 and Bridge.The company warned that even if customers only had one older speaker, their entire Sonos sound systems might lose access to services and functionality would “eventually be disrupted.” It also suggested users buy new speakers with a 30% credit for each legacy device traded in. Sonos devotees quickly went berserk on social media, accusing the company of purposely degrading existing hardware to spur new sales.“I have over 1000USD of *speakers* that must be retired now? Terrible product life cycle support,” Scott Jenson, a longtime Google executive, wrote on Twitter. “I clearly have no choice to upgrade but I’m certainly NOT going to trust my money with Sonos ever again.”In a statement Thursday, Sonos didn’t reverse the decision to nix software updates in May, but pledged to keep older speakers “updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible.” The company also said it would “work to offer an alternative solution” to major issues that can’t be addressed.“We heard you. We did not get this right from the start. My apologies for that and I wanted to personally assure you of the path forward,” Spence wrote in a letter posted on Sonos’s blog. “First, rest assured that come May, when we end new software updates for our legacy products, they will continue to work as they do today. We are not bricking them, we are not forcing them into obsolescence, and we are not taking anything away.”Sonos’s original announcement suggested that legacy products would eventually stop working with newer speakers. On Thursday, the company said that would no longer be the case. “We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state,” Spence wrote. Jenson applauded the response on Twitter Despite the backlash, it’s common for technology companies to cut off software updates for older devices. Apple Inc.’s latest iOS operating system doesn’t support iPhones sold before 2015 and iPads made before 2014. That spurs millions of people to spend hundreds of dollars buying new handsets.Apple’s Lower Prices, Users’ Aging Handsets Drive IPhone DemandSonos is under pressure from larger rivals including Apple, Amazon.com Inc. and Google, which sell internet-connected speakers with digital assistants built in. Sonos sued Google recently, accusing the tech giant of ripping off its designs.Spence testified at a Congressional antitrust hearing this month and argued that Sonos was different from larger rivals because it supports products for many years. “Our business model is simple — we sell products which people pay for once, and we make them better over time with software updates,” Spence said.Some users on Twitter quickly contrasted that statement with this week’s decision to end software updates on many speakers.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.net, Jillian WardFor 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.

  • What Investors Can Expect from Microsoft's Q2 Earnings & Beyond
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  • NYC Startups Celebrate City’s Tech Cred by Ringing NYSE Bell
    Bloomberg

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    (Bloomberg) -- A handful of local technology startups gathered to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, celebrating the city’s evolution as an international tech hub in recent years.“Ten years ago, tech in New York was people who would meet in Central Park and play soccer and now tech in New York is ringing the bell in the stock exchange,” said Serkan Piantino, co-founder and chief executive officer of Spell, an artificial intelligence company in New York.New York’s tech industry accounted for 333,000 jobs as of 2019, and counts more than 9,000 startups, according to Tech:NYC’s annual report. In addition to home-grown companies, the giants of Silicon Valley are increasingly expanding in the Big Apple. Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which already has more than 8,000 employees in New York could surpass 14,000 by 2028, while Facebook Inc. intends to double its headcount in the city. Many of the biggest tech companies are gobbling up real estate in Manhattan, seeking to tap the city’s highly skilled and diverse workforce.@TechNYC celebrates tech startups in NYC https://t.co/CBrUHdTsaJ— NYSE (@NYSE) January 23, 2020 Companies find that they can recruit people in New York for many different disciplines that are becoming fundamental to the industry, such as artificial intelligence, data science, and computer vision, said Ro Gupta, CEO of Carmera Inc., which makes real-time maps for autonomous driving.It’s that kind of growth and opportunity that has made the tech industry in New York “incredibly bullish” about its future, said Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC, a network of more than 800 tech companies in the city. However, it’s becoming harder to hire mid-level and senior employees in the industry, according to a 2019 survey by Tech:NYC and Accenture Plc.Tech has become a part of the city’s identity, said Aaron Block, co-founder of MetaProp NYC LLC, a venture capital firm focused on real estate technology. “It’s great to see New York embrace this in a way that is going to continue to fuel the growth of the industry locally,” Block said.To contact the reporter on this story: Nikitha Sattiraju in New York at nsattiraju@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at mschuetz9@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tech Daily: AAPL Bug, AMZN JEDI Motion, Music Subs, UK Digital Tax, More
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  • Bloomberg

    TripAdvisor CEO to Brief Staff on Path to ‘Long-Term Growth’

    (Bloomberg) -- TripAdvisor Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kaufer will brief employees about plans to return the online travel company “to sustained, long-term growth” after the market closes Thursday, according to a memo to staff.The memo, sent by the company’s head of human resources, Beth Grous, also confirmed that there will be job cuts, as reported by Bloomberg on Wednesday. “These actions are never easy, especially when they impact people we know and care about,” Grous said in the memo obtained by Bloomberg. The company is eliminating about 200 employees, or about 5% of total staff, according to people familiar with the move.TripAdvisor’s struggles come as Alphabet Inc.’s Google has launched new, competing travel search tools, while adding its own reviews of hotels, restaurants and other destinations. Google has also crammed the top of its mobile search results with more ads. This has forced many companies, including TripAdvisor, to buy more ads from the search giant to keep online traffic flowing.In early November, TripAdvisor shares plunged more than 20% in one day after the company reported dismal third-quarter results. It said the main challenge was “Google pushing its own hotel products in search results and siphoning off quality traffic that would otherwise find TripAdvisor via free links and generate high margin revenue in our hotel click-based auction.” The shares are down about 46% over the past 12 months.Kaufer acknowledged on the earnings call that “Google has got more aggressive.” “We’re not predicting that it’s going to turn around.”While Kaufer won’t discuss the plans until after market close, and the company declined to comment, people familiar with the plans said the company is preparing for a minor re-branding that could debut as early as next week. The makeover will include a new logo and a stylistic change to the corporate name, shifting from TripAdvisor to “Tripadvisor” with a lowercase “a.” TripAdvisor is also preparing revamped versions of its iOS and Android apps for later this year, the people said.Needham, Massachusetts-based TripAdvisor also plans to increase advertisements and sponsored content on its platform to boost revenues.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at mgurman1@bloomberg.net;Olivia Carville in New York at ocarville1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • BBC partnered with Google and Facebook on general election fake news
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    The initiative worked to de-emphasise news stories that were just 'plain wrong,' director-general Tony Hall said.

  • Apple (AAPL) to Report Q1 Earnings: What's in the Cards?
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