|Day's range||1.3000 - 1.3000|
Hailing one of Waymo's self-driving minivans is about to get a little easier. One year after launching its Waymo One self-driving car service in the Phoenix area, the company is launching an app on iOS, the latest signal that the company is inching toward large-scale commercial service. Now, Phoenix residents can download the Waymo app to their iPhone and sign up to ride in one of the company's self-driving vehicles directly from their device.
D.A. Davidson senior research analyst Tom Forte said long-standing Google executive Sundar Pichai was the right choice to take over Alphabet.
(Bloomberg) -- More than 100,000 trips have been taken in robotaxis operated by Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Alphabet Inc. Now the service is expanding to iPhone users.On the first anniversary of its pilot program in Chandler, Arizona, Waymo said it will begin offering an iOS app for its robot ride-hailing service for iPhones. It also revealed new details of the pioneering robotaxi service, which has struggled to offer fully autonomous service without human “safety drivers” behind the wheel to take over in an emergency.Waymo, which began a decade ago as Google’s self-driving car project, said its service has 1,500 monthly users and has tripled the number of weekly rides since January. Since late summer, Waymo has offered a “rider only” option without human safety drivers to a test group of a few hundred commuters. Those people aren’t always charged, while others pay rates that are competitive with Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services, John Krafcik, Waymo’s chief executive officer has said.Most Waymo rides occur in the late afternoon and evening, with commuters using the service for everything from getting to work to having a “date night,” Dan Chu, the company’s chief product officer, wrote in a blog post.The service is expanding and will add more riders who will join a waitlist by using the new iOS app. The service has been available on Android phones since the spring.Still, Krafcik told reporters in October he is unsure when commercial robotaxis will take off. General Motors Co. has delayed the rollout of its service and Ford Motor Co.’s CEO has said the industry overestimated the arrival of self-driving cars.“It’s an extremely challenging thing to do,” Krafcik told reporters at a dinner in Detroit. “I do share your sense of uncertainty, even in my role. I don’t know precisely when everything is going to be ready, but I know I am supremely confident that it will be.”To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Southfield, Michigan at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The co-founder of DeepMind, the high-profile artificial intelligence lab, is set to move to the U.S. to take up a role at parent company Google.Mustafa Suleyman, who ran DeepMind’s “applied” division, was placed on leave in August after controversy over some of the projects he led. In a blog post Thursday, DeepMind said Suleyman is leaving for an unspecified role at Google.The post, written by fellow co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Demis Hassabis, added that the company wanted to ensure it was the “best place in the world for fundamental breakthroughs in AI, and that we conduct this work thoughtfully and responsibly.”Suleyman was a key public face for DeepMind, speaking to officials and at events about the promise of artificial intelligence and the ethical guardrails needed to limit malicious use of the technology.DeepMind was heavily criticized for its work in the U.K. health sector. DeepMind Health’s first product was a mobile app called Streams that was originally designed to help doctors identify patients at risk of developing acute kidney injury. In July 2017, the U.K.’s data privacy watchdog said DeepMind’s partner in the project, London’s Royal Free Hospital, illegally gave DeepMind access to 1.6 million patient records. Suleyman apologized in a statement at the time.In a tweet in August, Suleyman said he was looking forward to returning to DeepMind.Founded in 2010, DeepMind was bought by Google for 400 million pounds (currently $486 million) in 2014, an ambitious bet on the potential of AI that set off an expensive race in Silicon Valley for specialists in the field.“Over the past year, we’ve also been formalizing a leadership team with the seasoned experience and skills for our second decade,” Hassabis said in the post.To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Turner in London at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Amazon (AMZN), Google and others are leaving no stone unturned to rapidly penetrate the smart speaker market in India, which is booming due to rising adoption of virtual assistants in the country.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is drafting a bill that would call on regulators to retroactively review about two decades of “mega mergers” and ban such deals going forward.Warren’s staff recently circulated a proposal for sweeping anti-monopoly legislation, which would deliver on a presidential campaign promise to check the power of Big Tech and other industries. Although the Trump administration is currently exploring their own antitrust probes, the proposal is likely to face resistance from lawmakers.According to a draft of the bill reviewed by Bloomberg, the proposal would expand antitrust law beyond the so-called consumer welfare standard, an approach that has driven antitrust policy since the 1970s. Under the current framework, the federal government evaluates mergers primarily based on potential harm to consumers through higher prices or decreased quality. The new bill would direct the government to also consider the impact on entrepreneurs, innovation, privacy and workers.Warren’s bill, tentatively titled the Anti-Monopoly and Competition Restoration Act, would also ban non-compete and no-poaching agreements for workers and protect the rights of gig economy workers, such as drivers for Uber Technologies Inc., to organize.A draft of Warren’s bill was included in an email Monday from Spencer Waller, the director of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Waller urged fellow academics to sign a petition supporting it. He said Warren was working on the bill with Representative David Cicilline, the most prominent voice on antitrust issues in the House. Waller declined to comment on the email.Representatives for Cicilline and Warren declined to comment. The existence of the bill and Warren’s support of it were reported earlier this week by the technology publication the Information.In Washington, there is some support across the political spectrum for increased antitrust scrutiny of large technology companies. Warren positioned herself as a leader on the issue this year while campaigning on a plan to break up Big Tech. She has repeatedly called for unwinding Facebook Inc.’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, along with Google’s purchase of YouTube and advertising platform DoubleClick.Read more: Warren Accuses Michael Bloomberg of ‘Buying the Election’It’s not clear when a bill would be introduced or whether it would move forward in its current form. Cicilline has said he would not introduce antitrust legislation until he concludes an antitrust investigation for the House Judiciary Committee in early 2020.Amy Klobuchar, a Senator from Minnesota who’s also vying for the Democratic nomination, has pushed legislation covering similar ground. Klobuchar plans to introduce additional antitrust legislation soon, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss the plans and asked not to be identified.Any proposal would face significant hurdles to becoming law, and Warren’s version could be particularly problematic because it promotes the idea that antitrust enforcement is equivalent to being against big business, said Barak Orbach, a law professor at the University of Arizona who received a draft of the bill. “The way I read it is that Elizabeth Warren is trying to make a political statement in the course of her campaign,” Orbach said. “It’s likely to have negative effects on antitrust enforcement, so I just don’t see the upside other than for the campaign.”The bill proposes a ban on mergers where one company has annual revenue of more $40 billion, or where both companies have sales exceeding $15 billion, except under certain exceptions, such as when a company is in immediate danger of insolvency. That would seemingly put a freeze on many acquisitions for Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Facebook, Microsoft Corp. and dozens of other companies. The bill would also place new limitations on smaller mergers.Chris Sagers, a law professor at Cleveland State University, said the proposal would serve as an effective check on corporate power. “I don’t think you’ll have new antitrust policy until Congress says the courts have incorrectly interpreted the statutes,” he said. “Someone has to do what Elizabeth Warren is doing.”(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at email@example.com;Joshua Brustein in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google is facing a U.K. investigation into its $2.6 billion takeover of data company Looker Data Sciences Inc., opening up another front in the Alphabet Inc. unit’s ongoing battle with lawmakers.The Competition and Markets Authority on Thursday said that it issued an initial enforcement order, which prevents companies from integrating their services while the regulator carries out a early-stage review of the acquisition. The CMA has asked for comments on the deal by Dec. 20 before it decides whether to begin a formal probe.Google announced in June that it planned to buy U.S.-based Looker for its cloud unit, which lags far behind Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. with just 4% of the cloud-computing infrastructure market as of 2018, according to the most-recent figures from analyst Gartner Inc. U.S. regulators cleared the deal in November.The U.K. review -- likely to focus on how Google plans to wield its power over data -- comes as Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s Competition Commissioner, leads the charge into looking into how companies collect and use information. In August, she called tech giants “robot vacuum cleaners” sucking up valuable data in a way that can undermine competition.Vestager is currently investigating “the data business model” used by Google and others to collect information on how people use the web. She said the EU has posed “many questions to Google and others to get their views” and help the EU understand how the industry works, with a focus on contractual terms.Google agreed to buy smartwatch maker Fitbit Inc. for $2.1 billion. The tie-up, announced in October, has come under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers.Though Google isn’t a leader in smartwatches or fitness trackers, regulators in the U.S. and elsewhere will likely have questions about what Google intends to do with the data Fitbit users have shared over the years, including intimate health and location information.\--With assistance from Jonathan Browning.To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Turner in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at email@example.com, Peter Chapman, Nate LanxonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. antitrust enforcers have broadened their scrutiny of Amazon.com Inc. beyond its retail operations to include its massive cloud-computing business, according to people familiar with the matter.Investigators at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have been asking software companies recently about practices around Amazon’s cloud unit, known as Amazon Web Services, said the people, who declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.The outreach by the FTC signals that the agency, which is already looking at Amazon’s conduct in its vast online retail business, is taking a broader look at the company to determine whether it could be violating antitrust laws and harming competition.The FTC and Amazon declined to comment. The agency’s scrutiny won’t necessarily result in an enforcement action against the company.AWS dominates the market for foundational cloud-computing technology that provides the storage and computing power needed to run applications. It is several times bigger than its next largest rival, Microsoft Corp.’s Azure, according to analyst estimates. Gartner Inc. puts AWS’s share at 48% and Microsoft’s at 16%.AWS accounted for 60% of Amazon’s operating income in the most recently reported 12 months. The unit’s profitability in recent years has helped keep investors happy even as the company continues to spend heavily to expand both its retail and cloud-computing businesses.Amazon also sells an array of products that run on top of those basic services, such as databases, machine-learning tools and data-warehousing products. It competes with hundreds of other software companies large and small that offer similar products.One issue the FTC could look at is whether Amazon has an incentive to discriminate against those software companies, which sell their products to clients of AWS, while at the same time competing with Amazon. The fear is that Amazon could punish the companies that work with other cloud providers and favor those that it works with exclusively.The dynamic echos that in Amazon’s retail marketplace, where third-party sellers depend on the platform to reach customers because of its size, but in many cases they also compete with Amazon’s own products. That’s a conflict that threatens competition, according to critics.The FTC’s Amazon inquiry is part of antitrust investigations sweeping across the technology industry. Federal and state authorities are investigating Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. while the House Judiciary Committee is examining conduct of those companies as well as Amazon and Apple Inc.\--With assistance from Matt Day.To contact the reporters on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at firstname.lastname@example.org;David McLaughlin in Washington at email@example.com;Naomi Nix in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, ;Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- A complaint filed Tuesday accused Google of terminating staff in retaliation for activism about working conditions, the latest in a series of such allegations against the internet giant.The filing, which involves Google Ads staff, was filed with the National Labor Relations Board regional office in Chicago. It alleges that Google illegally terminated one or more employees because they had joined or supported a labor group, and protested over terms and conditions of employment. It also accuses Google of maintaining rules that bar staff from discussing working conditions, and that prevent or discourage them supporting a labor group.The identity of the affected staff, and of the person who made the filing, are redacted in a copy of the filing that Bloomberg News obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.Google declined to comment on Wednesday.The same day the Chicago complaint was filed, four Google software engineers in New York, California, and Colorado said they would bring claims to the NLRB alleging they were fired for activism, including opposition to Google’s work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.“We dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of our longstanding data security policies, including systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. “No one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities.”\--With assistance from Mark Bergen.To contact the reporters on this story: Josh Eidelson in Palo Alto at email@example.com;Andrew Wallender in Arlington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at email@example.com, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- If you want to know how Alphabet Inc.’s new Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai will run the company you don’t need to look very far -- he’s essentially been doing it for several years already.Pichai, a 47-year-old engineer, grew up in India and immigrated to the U.S. to attend graduate school. His resume reads like the typical Silicon Valley operator: a Master’s degree from Stanford University, an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a stint as a consultant at McKinsey & Co.He joined Google in 2004 and started amassing responsibility for some of Google’s most popular products, including Gmail, the Chrome browser and Android. Former employees often describe him as a collaborative and loyal colleague. He even turned down a big new grant of stock in 2018 because he felt he was already paid generously, according to a person familiar with the matter.When Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the Alphabet holding company in 2015, Pichai was chosen to run Google, whose businesses including YouTube, Maps and Gmail bring in almost all of the company’s revenue. That left the founders to chase visions of building self-driving cars and technology to make people live longer. Brin and Page stepped away from their posts as president and CEO of Alphabet on Tuesday, handing total executive control to Pichai although they’ll stay on the board.In Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, Pichai enjoys a positive reputation as the guy keeping the cash flowing at Google. But, partly because Brin and Page were still technically in the picture, Pichai is less well-known outside of tech circles. When the U.S. Senate held a hearing last year to ask what the big tech companies were doing to stop election meddling on their platforms, it invited Page first, not Pichai. Neither went and Google was represented by an empty chair, although Pichai made the trek later to a House Judiciary Committee meeting.Now, there won’t be any confusion about who the CEO is.“Going forward, the story is much simpler: Sundar is the only sheriff in town,” analysts at Evercore ISI wrote in a note on Tuesday.Pichai has done more than just keep the lights on at Google. He’s put artificial intelligence at the center of the company’s pitch to customers and investors, arguing that Google’s prowess in AI technology will give it an edge in all its different businesses, from cloud computing and search ads to health care software and mobile phones. He replaced Diane Greene with former Oracle Corp. executive Thomas Kurian as head of Google’s cloud business. Under Pichai, Kurian has started ramping up acquisitions to expand the unit’s footprint, buying Alooma, Looker, Elastifile and CloudSimple this year alone.Pichai’s actions as head of Google could give a clue as to how he will run the broader conglomerate. In the last couple of years, Google has poached employees or whole units from the Alphabet constellation, bringing them inside to bolster its own projects. Chronicle, a cybersecurity unit, was supposed to be independent, but in June Google’s cloud division swallowed it whole. The same thing happened to health-related projects started by DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI research arm.Pichai has also leaned into his assumed role as Google’s defender-in-chief, making trips to Washington to explain the company’s decisions to lawmakers. Internally, he has pushed back against employee activists who are clamoring for change on a variety of issues from military contracts to the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. He reduced the number of the once-hallowed town hall meetings Google workers use to vent their frustrations with management to once a month, down from every week.And last month Google fired four employees who had been pushing for the company to stop selling software to U.S. immigration authorities. Google says the employees violated their colleagues’ privacy by tracking the calendars of certain executives and sharing details outside of the company.The four employees say they plan to file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board.Managing worker dissent and regulatory scrutiny while playing catch-up in cloud and keeping up growth at the core ads business is a tall order, but the market seems to have confidence in Pichai. Google’s stock ended the day up 1.9% after the announcement.At a conference last year, an audience member asked Pichai about the employee revolts against Google’s artificial intelligence work with the U.S. government. In a rare moment of directness, Pichai pushed back against the idea that instead of running the company, the company was running him.At the end of the day, he’s the CEO, Pichai said. “We don’t run the company by referendum.”To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Google (GOOGL) co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped down from active management of the internet giant's parent company Alphabet.
(Bloomberg) -- Larry Page and Sergey Brin just got a $2.3 billion retirement gift from investors.The Google co-founders, who announced Tuesday they were stepping down from day-to-day management of parent Alphabet Inc., added more than $1 billion each to their net worth today as the firm’s shares rose 1.9% in New York.They each own about 6% of the internet giant and still control Alphabet through special voting shares.The gains come as investors welcome Sundar Pichai’s elevation to chief executive officer of Alphabet, replacing Page in the role. It means the three most valuable U.S. tech firms no longer have a founder at the helm.Like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Microsoft Corp.’s Satya Nadella, Pichai is a long-time lieutenant who steadily worked his way up the corporate ladder. More than 15 years after he joined the Mountain View-based company he’s replacing Page in the top job. Brin is stepping down as president, leaving Pichai as undisputed leader.The shift reflects Google’s accession into corporate middle age. Started in a California garage by Brin and Page in 1998, the firm had revenue of $137 billion in 2018 and today boasts a market value of $893 billion. That’s behind only Apple and Microsoft on the S&P 500 Index.Founder FreeOther Silicon Valley giants are also founder free. Larry Ellison’s Oracle Corp. is headed by Safra Catz, though Ellison is still involved as the company’s chairman. Some younger companies -- such as Uber Technologies Inc. and We Co. -- have turned to outsiders amid turmoil.There are some notable exceptions. Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg are still at the helm of Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. respectively, which are the fourth- and fifth-largest U.S. companies by market value.Such a transition has proved to be a boon for Apple and Microsoft. The iPhone maker’s shares have risen by more than 400% since Cook took the helm in August 2011 and Microsoft has quadrupled on Nadella’s watch.Since 2015, Pichai has served as CEO of Google, by far the company’s biggest division. During his time in that job, Alphabet’s shares doubled in price even as the company wrestled with increased scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers.Unusual PositionTheir success has placed the trio among America’s richest executives. Each are worth hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to stock awards they’ve received.Pichai, 47, is in an unusual position for a top executive. Unlike Cook and Nadella, who stand fourth and sixth on Bloomberg’s executive pay ranking, almost all of Pichai’s stock awards have vested, filings show.By contrast, Cook, 59, still has as many as 1.8 million restricted stock units worth about $500 million set to vest through August 2021, according to a recent filing. Nadella, 52, could earn as many as 1.8 million Microsoft shares through a long-term performance-based stock award that is currently worth about $275 million.The Alphabet board will likely move to rectify this discrepancy. But however they decide to compensate Pichai, he’ll still lag far behind the wealth accrued by Brin and Page. The pair have a combined net worth of about $126 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.(Updates net worth gains and share price in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Anders Melin, Mark Bergen and Gerrit De Vynck.To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Metcalf in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Pierre Paulden at email@example.com, Steven Crabill, Peter EichenbaumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
"We do still expect you to testify before Congress," she said in a tweet, while congratulating Page on "the move". Sundar Pichai, who has been the chief executive officer of Alphabet's Google for four years now, succeeded Page at the helm of Alphabet on Tuesday, making him the public face of a company long associated with its iconic founders.
(Bloomberg) -- Nearly a week since an early-morning chemical blast injured three and rained debris on Port Neches, Texas, residents of the town said they were ready to get back to business.The subsequent fire at the crude-byproducts-processing facility, owned by TPC Group, was extinguished late Tuesday after forcing residents out of their homes over the Thanksgiving holiday. A mandatory evacuation order, made by a county judge after a second explosion at the plant, was lifted Friday morning, but officials have yet to issue an “all clear” for the project site. TPC said it will hold a call with investors Thursday to discuss the incident.It was the latest disaster to hit southeast Texas towns with major chemical and petroleum plants.“A lot of people have lived here their whole lives and are used to it,” said Mark Martinez, owner of The Tamale King, which was forced to close on the usually bustling Thanksgiving eve.But this one was different, residents said. It was the middle of the night on Nov. 27 when residents jolted awake after the initial blast blew open doors, shattered windows and sent picture frames and knick-knacks crashing to the floor. Asbestos and other debris fell on backyards and rooftops, and residents were warned not to touch it.“I never thought it would be this extreme,” said JillSuzanne Murphy-Wills, who was born and raised in Port Neches and owns a home-furnishings store in town. “Our friends’ homes are destroyed.”Terri Melancon, who works as a sales clerk at Murphy-Wills’ store, said her garage door was busted open even though she lives about four miles away.City and company officials warned from the start that they had no choice but to let the fire burn itself out and they had no idea how long it would take.More than 12 hours after the explosion, as people were still trying to assess the damage, a second blast echoed through town. A county judge issued a mandatory evacuation for everyone within a four-mile radius of the chemical complex.“I have a father who’s in hospice, and he was in the blast zone,” said Martinez, who worked for more than 40 years at a refinery in nearby Port Arthur. “My kids wanted me to leave, but I wouldn’t leave my dad.”Port Neches is a city of about 13,000 on the Neches River halfway between Beaumont and Port Arthur. It’s long been associated with oil refining and petrochemicals.In 2012, private-equity firms First Reserve Corp. and SK Capital Partners took TPC private in a $706 million deal. That staved off a rival bid from fuel-additives maker Innospec Inc. that was backed by Blackstone Group Inc. TPC, formerly known as Texas Petrochemicals Inc., competes with LyondellBasell Industries NV on some chemical processes and is run by former Lyondell senior executive Ed Dineen.Three other major fires and explosions at chemical and petroleum facilities have rocked the southeast corner of the state this year. They reveal the catch-22 that comes with opening doors to companies that process highly flammable and toxic chemicals.Residents of Port Neches and surrounding towns described being terrified as the fire at TPC raged on. But they also credited the industry with providing jobs.Boot-clad plant workers account for about three-quarters of the business at The Tamale King, according to Martinez, who serves hot dogs and chipped-beef sandwiches in addition to tamales.“It’s our bread and butter,” said Murphy-Wills. Her husband worked at a chemical facility owned at the time by Huntsman Corp. and two sons work at a plant owned by Motiva Enterprises. “All of our parents retired from those plants. Either you went to college or you went to trade school and came back to work at the plants.”The TPC plant was built in the 1940s. The world’s biggest oil and chemical companies have unveiled at least $40 billion in new petrochemical facilities in Texas and Louisiana, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Murphy-Wills said she’s optimistic those newer plants will avoid the pitfalls of TPC, which has a history of environmental violations recorded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, several of which were classified as “high-priority.”Local officials have also steered clear of criticizing TPC and the larger industry.“Our hearts go out to them as well,” Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson said of TPC at a press conference Wednesday. “We appreciate TPC,” he said twice.His comments echoed those made by Jerry Mouton, mayor of Houston suburb Deer Park, who praised the work of Intercontinental Terminals Co. after a March fire at one of its facilities created a cloud of cancer-causing benzene and spilled oil byproducts into the Houston Ship Channel. The chief executive officer of the company didn’t make a public appearance before releasing a YouTube video 11 days after the incident.Jack Lynch, a retired schoolteacher in Port Neches, was putting up his Christmas lights Tuesday as firefighters continued to work just blocks from his house.“I’m going on with my life,” he said.Lynch, who turned 72 Wednesday, has an insurance adjuster coming out Thursday. As long as the company’s insurance pays to fix any damage that Lynch isn’t able to repair himself, he said he’ll move on without a grudge.“I don’t want anyone out of work,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Adams-Heard in Houston at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at email@example.com, Bob Ivry, Joe CarrollFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Expedia Group Inc. said Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom and Chief Financial Officer Alan Pickerill resigned effective immediately after clashing with the board on the online travel agency’s direction. Barry Diller, board chairman, and vice chairman Peter Kern will take charge while the board looks for long-term leadership.“Ultimately, senior management and the board disagreed on strategy,” Diller, 77, said in a statement Wednesday.Earlier this year, Expedia undertook an “ambitious reorganization plan,” aiming to bring its various brands and technology together in a more efficient way. Diller said the move, “while sound in concept, resulted in a material loss of focus on our current operations,” leading to disappointing third-quarter results and a lackluster near-term outlook. The board disagreed with that outlook, Diller said, “strongly believing the company can accelerate growth in 2020.”Diller said he will buy additional shares in the company as a “tangible sign of my faith in and commitment to Expedia’s long-term future.” The stock jumped as much as 10% in New York, the most intraday in about a year and a half, to $109.32.Expedia has been plowing resources into its home-sharing division, Vrbo, to challenge rivals Airbnb Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. in the booming market for alternative accommodation. Expedia has struggled recently, especially in the third quarter when earnings missed Wall Street’s expectations. The company largely blamed Google, which has been cramming the top of its search results with more advertising, pushing down free listings from travel companies and forcing them to spend more on marketing.Okerstrom said last month that Expedia now sees 2019 adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization growth of 5% to 9%, down from a previous forecast for as much as 15% growth.Jake Fuller, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC, said “it sounds to us like Okerstrom-Pickerill may have been getting ready to drop a disappointing 2020 Ebitda guide.” Fuller cut his Ebitda growth estimate to unchanged from a gain of 5% earlier this week. “We are left to wonder whether the two were pitching something worse than that to the board.”Okerstrom had been at Expedia for 13 years, serving previously as CFO before taking the top job in August 2017. The stock has declined about 38% since then. Okerstrom’s focus at the company had been expanding its hotel footprint internationally, according to Fuller, but the company fell flat in alternative accommodations, its biggest growth category. In the third quarter, Expedia’s short-term rental unit reported revenue growth of 14%, down from a 17% pace in the previous period.“The most logical strategic shift we can identify at this point would be getting back on track with VRBO,” Fuller wrote in a note to clients. “Alternative accommodations is a growth category and Expedia cannot afford to cede that space” to Airbnb and Booking.While Vrbo dominates the market in the U.S. for purely vacation-rentals, Airbnb and Booking capture a much larger share of the broader global $34 billion alternative accommodation market, which also includes non-traditional hotels and home sharing.Expedia also announced a new share repurchase authorization for 20 million shares of common stock, which is in addition to the 9 million shares available under the existing authorization.“The fact that Diller plans to buy stock and that Expedia increased the authorization are encouraging, but it will be hard to articulate a clear bull case in the near term withquestions over the 2020 outlook and no visibility on how Expedia may pivot under new leadership,” Fuller said.Eric Hart, Expedia’s chief strategy officer will serve as acting CFO.To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Schuetz in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.