|Day's range||95.98 - 95.98|
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump has been raging against Twitter Inc. since the social media platform that helped vault him to the presidency slapped fact-check links on a pair of his tweets.Now, he’s poised to take action Thursday that could bring a flurry of lawsuits down on Twitter, Facebook Inc. and other technology giants by having the government narrow liability protections that they enjoy for third parties’ posts, according to a draft of an executive order obtained by Bloomberg.The companies’ protections against lawsuits apply when they act “in good faith” in taking down or limiting the visibility of inappropriate tweets, videos and other social media posts, but the law doesn’t define bad faith. The draft order would push the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules clarifying the issue, potentially allowing users to sue over takedowns if they were inconsistent with companies’ terms of service, did not provide enough notice or meet other suggested criteria.The White House declined to comment early Thursday morning.The draft order would also convene, through the Justice Department, a working group of state attorneys general to look into deceptive practices and review executive ad spending on the platforms.Shares in Twitter were down 3.2% in pre-market trading in New York on Thursday. Facebook shares were down 1.4%. The move could set off a legal battle between Washington and Silicon Valley.“Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election,” the president said Wednesday night -- on Twitter. “If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!”Word of the executive order came a day after Twitter added links to a fact-checking page on Trump tweets asserting that mail-in-voting leads to rampant fraud.As Trump himself has observed, Twitter gives him the power to dodge the media and speak directly to the American public. It also allows the president and his vast community of followers to instantly spread a steady stream of pro-Trump messages and attacks on his rivals, including exaggerations and outright falsehoods that not even Twitter’s fact-checking links can dent.He has no legal authority to shut down the service, as he threatened to do Wednesday morning, but doing so would mean silencing his loudest megaphone -- as well as what his campaign calls “keyboard warriors” who both amplify his voice and provide him memes and other free content to broadcast to his 80 million followers.Twitter also serves as a valuable punching bag, which he uses to generate outrage and sympathy among his supporters.The social media platform has become even more important for Trump as the coronavirus pandemic prevents him from holding his trademark rallies, and he seeks a free outlet to attack his likely Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.“He’s going to need to continue to use this platform,” said Amy Becker, a professor at Loyola University Maryland, who focuses on political communication. “It’s going to be his random tweets, it’s going to be him attacking whoever criticizes him, there’s going to be a lot of attacks on Biden, the Democrats.”Liability ProtectionsThe order Trump plans to sign Thursday is his latest attempt to exert control over the formidable technology industry. In 2018, he considered issuing an order instructing federal antitrust agencies to open probes into the practices of tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook. The possible measure was criticized as politicizing antitrust enforcement and it was never signed.Trump’s attacks on Twitter and other social media companies are often hyperbolic and rarely lead to immediate concrete action. The government could never silence a company like Twitter without violating First Amendment rights to free speech. However, his threats are a reminder of other significant levers that the president and the rest of the federal government have at their disposal.Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, wrote Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey on Wednesday to demand an explanation for the fact-checking links added to Trump’s tweets. He accused the company of choosing to “editorialize.”Hawley repeated a threat that’s been raised by other lawmakers over the years: Revoking the protections that shield Twitter and other platforms from legal liability for content its users post.“Politicians can use the powers of government to make life very difficult for private companies and there’s a long track record of politicians from both parties doing this in the last couple years to social media companies,” said Jesse Blumenthal, a conservative who leads tech policy at Stand Together, part of the political network affiliated with libertarian billionaire Charles Koch.In recent days, Trump had tweeted attacks on cable news host and former Republican Representative Joe Scarborough by pushing a baseless conspiracy theory that he was involved in the death 19 years ago of a woman who worked at his district office in Florida. Her widower sent a letter to Twitter asking the publicly traded company to delete Trump’s tweets, but it chose to leave them online.Scarborough is a frequent critic of the president.80 Million Followers, 52,000 TweetsThe feud with Twitter comes as Trump has been under siege for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic that’s infected more than 1.6 million Americans and killed some 100,000. He trails Biden in general election polls by an average of 5.3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.There has never been a politician as prolific on social media, which he often uses to call opponents names, spread conspiracy theories, dismiss employees and announce policy changes. He has sent more than 52,000 tweets and has more than 80 million followers.Trump has both acknowledged the power he wields when he tweets and the platform’s impact on his 2016 election. At a July 2019 social media event at the White House he boasted about using Twitter to announce that the U.S. would recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, one of the world’s most contentious foreign policy issues.“Boom,” Trump said of the March 19 tweet. “I press it and, within two seconds, we have breaking news.”At that same event he acknowledged that without the platform he might not have been elected.‘Keyboard Warriors’Trump has a symbiotic relationship with his supporters on Twitter. They often create memes that go viral with his retweets. Earlier this month, he retweeted a meme of himself as the president giving a speech in the 1996 movie “Independence Day,” about an alien invasion. That meme has been viewed 18 million times on Twitter.He’s repeatedly promoted a twitter handle that goes by the name of @sexcounseling that reinforces his messages. Earlier this month he egged on his supporters online with the hashtag obamagate, alleging that President Barack Obama’s administration improperly tried to undermine his election campaign in 2016. His supporters tweeted a series of memes with Obama and Biden.“Thank you to all of my great Keyboard Warriors. You are better, and far more brilliant, than anyone on Madison Avenue (Ad Agencies). There is nobody like you!,” Trump said in a May 14 tweet.Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, defended the president’s use of Twitter.“Most Americans have a pretty clear understanding of the way that President Trump uses Twitter,” Murtaugh said Wednesday on Fox News. “Twitter is a way for the president to connect with his voters. We hear all the time from the president’s supporters that they like the way that the president expresses himself on Twitter because they say to this day they say listen here’s a guy who finally says the things out loud that I’m thinking to myself.”Going back to the 2016 campaign, Trump and his campaign have cultivated a relationship with his supporters online. That part of his base remains engaged, echoing and spreading his messages, said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist.“The most effective endorsement for a candidate is from someone that you already trust, that you already have a relationship with,” Wilson said.(Updates with shares from Twitter, Facebook)For 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.
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to order a review of a law that has long protected Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet's Google from being responsible for the material posted by their users, according to a draft executive order and a source familiar with the situation. News of the order comes after Trump threatened to shut down websites he accused of stifling conservative voices following a dispute with Twitter after the company decided to tag Trump's tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact-check the posts. On Wednesday, officials said Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday.
(Bloomberg) -- Instagram will let creators profit directly from their videos, helping popular users generate more revenue during the Covid-19 crisis, while moving into more direct competition with YouTube.Starting next week, Instagram will show ads before clips that run on its IGTV service for longer-form videos. The company plans to share 55% of the revenue with creators, the same portion that YouTube gives its stars.The company will also start testing a way for users to sell digital badges in their live videos. If viewers buy a badge, their names will stand out among fans’ comments, designating them as supporters. The video host will receive all the money directly for the first few months of the test, until Instagram starts taking a share of the revenue later this year or in 2021, Instagram said.Influencers with large fan bases typically make their money from deals with brands to post about their products or events, negotiated without Instagram’s involvement. But some of that business has dried up during the pandemic lockdown. Travel influencers, for instance, aren’t being paid to stay in resorts while using certain brands.“This has been a trying time, where creators have been there for their fans,” said Justin Osofsky, Instagram chief operating officer. “It’s a time of uncertainty with less paid work generally.”But the move isn’t just to support influencers -- it’s for Instagram and parent Facebook Inc. to make money off a surge in attention. As people shelter in their homes, they’re on Instagram more than ever, with views of live videos surging 70% from February to March, the company said in a blog post. Still, stars had less incentive to create interesting clips, because there were more ways to make money on YouTube. Now Instagram will have a new way to retain this digital talent, while building another source of revenue.The video ads start after users click a 15-second video preview in their main Instagram feed and are taken to IGTV to watch the full clip. This design gives creators an incentive to make more compelling videos to entice users to jump over to IGTV.The effort could make Instagram a bigger contributor to Facebook’s overall sales. In 2019, Instagram’s advertising accounted for about a quarter of Facebook’s revenue, or roughly $20 billion, people familiar with the matter have said.Instagram, founded almost 10 years ago, long debated whether to become a direct source of income for its popular users. But now, with much of the world sheltering in place, it has become even more obvious that some users are building businesses from their Instagram content -- without the company’s help. Creators have turned to the app to recreate experiences they might have otherwise hosted in person, some accepting tips via Venmo, or relying on outside services like Patreon to make money from their fan bases.Instagram sees an opportunity to handle some of this commerce itself. Food influencers are doing home cooking classes; illustrators are teaching followers how to draw; music artists are going live from their living rooms. Now, their audiences can pay to support these efforts with badges at three different price points: 99 cents, $1.99 and $4.99. The badges only last for the duration of the video.“We’re hoping badges will be a tool to support a broad range of uses,” Osofsky said. But, he emphasized, it’s a test and the plan could change. “We’re definitely in the early days.”For 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.
Activision Blizzard, Walt Disney, Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc.’s talks to buy driverless vehicle startup Zoox Inc. has analysts speculating the deal could save the e-commerce giant tens of billions a year and put auto, parcel and ride-hailing companies on their heels.Shipping costs are one of Amazon’s largest expenses and may reach $90 billion in the coming years, Morgan Stanley’s internet, auto and transport analysts wrote in a report Wednesday. An autonomous offering could save the company more than $20 billion annually, they estimate.“Autonomous technology is a natural extension of Amazon’s efforts to build its own third party logistics network,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts wrote. They see the company being a “clear” competitor to the likes of Tesla Inc. and General Motors Co. and the potential for Amazon to compete in ride-sharing and food delivery. United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. also “will have to respond to keep up.”Other companies in the automotive and chip industries have also held talks with Zoox about a potential investment, according to people familiar with the matter. At least one other business besides Amazon has offered to buy the company, they added. Zoox is unlikely to sell for less than the more than $1 billion that it has raised, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.“Zoox has been receiving interest in a strategic transaction from multiple parties and has been working with Qatalyst Partners to evaluate such interest,” the startup said Tuesday. It declined to comment on Amazon’s interest. A spokeswoman for Amazon declined to comment.Zoox had outsize ambition and financial backing. The startup wanted to build a fully driverless car by this year. However, after a 2018 funding round that valued Zoox at $3.2 billion, the startup’s board voted to oust Chief Executive Officer Tim Kentley-Klay. The executive criticized the move, saying the directors were “optimizing for a little money in hand at the expense of profound progress.”Dow Jones reported that Amazon is in advanced talks to buy Zoox for less than the $3.2 billion valuation from 2018.Amazon is willing to spend heavily to automate its e-commerce business. The online retail giant purchased warehouse robot-maker Kiva Systems Inc. in 2012 for $775 million and now has tens of thousands of robots in warehouses around the world.But paying drivers to deliver packages is still one of the biggest costs in the company’s operation. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos announced plans for drone delivery in 2013, though they have yet to materialize at scale. Last year, Amazon revealed an experimental delivery robot called Scout in the Seattle area that rolls on sidewalks like a shopping cart.Last year, Amazon invested along with Silicon Valley venture firm Sequoia Capital in self-driving startup Aurora Innovation Inc., a startup led by the former heads of Google’s driverless car project and Tesla’s Autopilot team. Amazon also backed Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric pickup and SUV maker. Those bets left Morgan Stanley’s auto analyst questioning earlier this month whether Tesla’s rich valuation is warranted given the competitive threats the company faces.“We often hear from investors that Tesla could potentially be the Amazon of transportation,” Adam Jonas, who rates Tesla the equivalent of a hold, wrote in a May 17 report. “But what if Amazon is the Amazon of transportation?”For 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) -- TikTok’s parent ByteDance Ltd. generated more than $3 billion of net profit on over $17 billion in revenue last year, figures that show the world’s most valuable startup is still growing at a brisk rate, according to people familiar with the matter.The revenue for last year was more than double the company’s tally of about $7.4 billion in 2018, propelled by phenomenal growth in user traffic that’s drawn advertisers away from Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. The people asked not to be identified because the financial details are private.ByteDance has emerged as one of the tech industry’s most surprising success stories, an innovative Chinese company that is challenging the global dominance of U.S. internet giants. It draws some 1.5 billion monthly active users to a family of apps that includes the TikTok short-video platform, its Chinese twin Douyin and the news service Toutiao. This month, the company poached Walt Disney Co. streaming czar Kevin Mayer to become chief executive officer of TikTok.The company owes much of its success to TikTok, now the online repository of choice for lip-synching and dance videos by American teens. The ambitious company is also pushing aggressively into a plethora of new arenas from gaming and search to music. ByteDance could fetch a valuation of between $150 billion and $180 billion in an initial public offering, a premium relative to sales of as much as 20% to social media giant Tencent thanks to a larger global footprint and burgeoning games business, estimated Ke Yan, Singapore-based analyst with DZT Research.“None of the Chinese tech companies has achieved this level of success in the global market before ByteDance,” he said, adding neither social media company harbors much debt. “The fact that ByteDance is making profit, if true, and sitting on a $6 billion cash pile means that it is not in a rush at all to come to market to raise capital, and therefore less likely to offer the shares at a more reasonable price for IPO investors.”ByteDance, led by Zhang Yiming, is becoming a viable rival to the dominant American online behemoths, Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. Facebook unit Instagram brought in about $20 billion in advertising revenue in 2019, Bloomberg previously reported. Google said its video unit YouTube recorded $15.1 billion in ad sales last year.ByteDance representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.That success has come despite American lawmakers raising concerns about privacy and censorship. In a rare bipartisan effort in Washington, Republican Senator Tom Cotton and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last year urged an investigation into TikTok, labeling it a national security threat.President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies, tweeting that the platforms attempt to silence conservative voices. Twitter Inc. on Tuesday added a fact-checking link to two of Trump’s tweets to his 80 million followers.ByteDance is strengthening its operations in newer arenas such as e-commerce and gaming. This year, it kicked off a wave of hiring and envisions hitting 40,000 new jobs in 2020, hoping to match headcount of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. at a time technology corporations across the globe are furloughing or reducing staff.The company had very preliminary discussions about an initial public offering last year, but is in no rush to go public given its financial performance, people have said. It now has more than $6 billion of cash on hand, the people said.ByteDance, which is backed by SoftBank Group Corp., General Atlantic and Sequoia, is already the world’s most valuable startup, according to researcher CB Insights. Some private trades recently valued the Chinese company between $105 billion and $110 billion on the secondary markets, Bloomberg News previously reported. It has also traded as high as $140 billion, one person said, making it one of the most highly valued private companies of all time.(Updates with Trump tweets in ninth paragraph.)For 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.
India's antitrust body is looking into allegations that Alphabet Inc's Google is abusing its market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app in the country, five sources familiar with the case told Reuters. The complaint was filed in February and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has kept the identity of the complainant confidential, the first source with direct knowledge of the case said. The complaint alleges the U.S. tech giant more prominently showcases its Google Pay app inside its Android app store in India, giving it an unfair advantage over apps of competitors which hurts consumers, the source added.