GOOGL Jan 2022 1140.000 put

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
97.30
0.00 (0.00%)
As of 10:08AM EST. Market open.
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Previous close97.30
Open97.30
Bid0.00
Ask0.00
Strike1,140.00
Expiry date2022-01-21
Day's range101.50 - 101.50
Contract rangeN/A
Volume1
Open interest40
  • TV Industry Suffers Steepest Drop in Ad Sales Since Recession
    Bloomberg

    TV Industry Suffers Steepest Drop in Ad Sales Since Recession

    (Bloomberg) -- Global TV advertising sales fell almost 4% in 2019, the steepest drop since the depths of the economic recession in 2009, in the latest sign that advertisers are following viewers to the internet.Declines in TV viewership have suppressed the medium’s advertising dollars, according to research firm Magna Global, which released the data as part of report on the global ad business. Viewership fell sharply in Europe, compounding the trend in the U.S., China and Australia.Traditional television has hemorrhaged viewers in recent years, as people trade cable and satellite packages for online services Netflix and YouTube. Cord cutting has been especially pronounced in the U.S., the world’s largest media market, and should continue to accelerate as media giants Walt Disney Co. and AT&T Inc. introduce their own streaming services.Even with the retreat from TV, overall ad revenue climbed for the 10th year in a row. The industry was buoyed by digital sales, which rose 15%.The TV business had previously eked out gains in advertising sales by charging higher prices. And it’s still seen as a useful medium when marketers need to reach a large, live audience. Technology companies excel at allowing advertisers to target individuals who have searched for a sweater on Google, liked a movie’s page on Facebook or looked for detergent on Amazon.Yet declines in viewership now outpace the rise in TV ad pricing. So-called linear TV viewership has been declining by 10% in the U.S., Australia and China for a few years, according to Vincent Letang, the author of the report. European TV channels suffered drops of 7% to 8% among viewers age 18 to 49, worse than the 5% decline last year.Worldwide Decline“Almost everywhere now, we have linear viewing declining double digits, or high single digits,” Letang said in an interview. He blamed the proliferation of streaming services, which took hold in Europe a few years later than in the U.S., as well as the slowing economies in the region.U.S. TV ad sales will return to growth in 2020 thanks to the summer Olympics and the presidential election, but that is a temporary boost.The TV industry isn’t the only one suffering. Technology companies Google and Facebook Inc. have siphoned advertising dollars away from print publications and radio in recent years. Online companies garnered more than half of global advertising sales in 2019 for the first time, accounting for $306 billion of the $595 billion spent globally.Radio advertising sales stabilized in 2019, while the out-of-home category -- namely, billboards -- was the only traditional media to actually grow. That’s due in part to technology companies, which use billboards to tout their services. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google all rank among the 20 largest out-of-home advertisers.To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Banks Facing Data Crisis May Need Political Help, Denmark Warns
    Bloomberg

    Banks Facing Data Crisis May Need Political Help, Denmark Warns

    (Bloomberg) -- First there was the financial crisis of 2008. Then years of negative interest rates. Now, banks face what one financial regulator calls the “real game changer.”Jesper Berg, the head of the Financial Supervisory Authority in Denmark, says the next big threat for banks is the rapid spread of big tech into financial services. The competitive tool is personal data and the playing field is far from even, he says.“The banks are constrained in what they can do with data, even using data across business lines, not to mention sharing it,” Berg said in an interview in Copenhagen.The concern is that banks need to comply with strict regulatory requirements to protect client data. But their industry is being infiltrated by competitors that aren’t necessarily subject to the same rules. Berg suggests that political intervention might be the way forward, if banks are to have a fighting chance.“The biggest issue that needs to be decided at a high level of politics is, do we somehow make rules in relation to sharing and use of data similar, or do we keep a difference?” Berg said. “We need to think about whether, and when, we set rules that are different for different types of companies, where the activity is basically the same.”Berg oversees a financial industry that has dealt with negative interest rates longer than any other, after Denmark’s central bank first went below zero in 2012. That’s weakened the finance sector, potentially putting it on the back foot as it tries to strengthen its defenses against new competitors. Lars Rohde, the governor of the Danish central bank, has warned that banks will need to rethink their entire business model to adapt to the new world.The BehemothsBecause of the vast pools of information they collect, tech giants like Google, Amazon and Alibaba already enjoy a competitive advantage over banks, Berg says.According to a February report by the global Financial Stability Board, the proprietary consumer data that big tech extracts from social media, combined with the industry’s access to cheap funding, mean it “could achieve scale very quickly in financial services.”Part of the ascent of tech companies within financial services has to do with PSD2, a European directive designed to open up the payments industry to competition. In practical terms, it means banks need to pass on their data for free to non-banks, provided customers agree.“You could say that we’ve gone to the extreme with PSD2,” Berg said. “Not only can banks not use the data fully internally, but they cannot sell it. They have to give it away.”ChinaThe FSB’s February report makes the point that reducing entry barriers for big tech might ultimately hurt competition in financial services. As an example, the FSB highlights China, where just two big tech firms account for over 90% of the mobile payments market.“Big data lives off selling information about you and me, so that other companies can target us more specifically,” Berg said. “The potential real game changer is big data, depending on what they choose to do.” That’s because “they know more about us than anyone else.”Tech companies that offer loans or take deposits will need to apply for licenses and abide by the same rules as banks, Berg said. But the requirements are far murkier for those that decide to operate as a platform for other financial service providers, and that puts banks at a competitive disadvantage.“The link to customers would essentially be with big tech,” Berg said.“And everyone knows that whoever has the link to the customers” ends up being able to “cream the profit,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Frances Schwartzkopff in Copenhagen at fschwartzko1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Hanfi Brögger at tbrogger@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon Faces U.K. Antitrust Decision to Allow Stake in Deliveroo
    Bloomberg

    Amazon Faces U.K. Antitrust Decision to Allow Stake in Deliveroo

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Amazon.com Inc.’s bid to buy into one of the U.K.’s most successful startups may get caught up in antitrust authorities’ fear that they made mistakes in the past.The Competition and Markets Authority has until Wednesday to decide whether to continue a two-month-old probe that froze Amazon’s bid of around $500 million for a minority stake in food-delivery service Deliveroo.“The CMA is very interested in tech giants extending their tentacles into other markets,” said Alan Davis, a competition lawyer at Pinsent Masons in London. Antitrust regulators “are paranoid about it at the moment because they are concerned they have not looked at these mergers enough in the past, like Facebook-WhatsApp.”Authorities were put off over Facebook Inc.’s change of position on how it handled data from WhatsApp, prompting EU officials to accuse the company of misleading them to win approval for the takeover in 2014. Big Tech is a flash point now for antitrust across the globe. In the U.S., there are probes into Google, Facebook and Amazon over allegations they unfairly hinder competition. The CMA is investigating how Google plans to use Looker Data Sciences Inc. data before approving that $2.6 billion takeover.While the CMA’s mission is in part to ensure big deals won’t hamper competition, it doesn’t usually investigate bids for minority stakes. It may have been moved to act this time because of Amazon’s access to an unending reservoir of data from its many businesses. And CMA’s Chief Executive Officer Andrea Coscelli has said that it was a mistake to allow deals like Facebook’s purchase of Instagram.“U.K. regulators may have some antitrust concerns with the proposed investment,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Aitor Ortiz and Diana Gomes. “One of them could be whether Amazon could get access to Deliveroo’s user data, leveraging the delivery giant’s position in other markets besides on-demand restaurant delivery, such as online groceries.”Amazon, Deliveroo and the CMA declined to comment on the matter.Cut-Throat CompetitionThe food-delivery business is no stranger to the regulator’s attention. Two years ago the agency began investigating Just Eat Plc’s merger with a smaller rival Hungryhouse, eventually allowing it to go through because of the competition in the sector.Since then the delivery business has seen a wave of acquisitions and international expansion. Just Eat agreed to a 5 billion-pound merger ($6.6 billion) with Dutch firm Takeaway.com NV in July, while Uber Technologies Inc. was reported to be showing interest in Spanish startup Glovo. However, according to food-service consultant Peter Backman, competition in the sector remains strong.“It’s getting more intense because the pressure to get scale is becoming more intense,” said Backman, a former director of Horizons FS. “Although the market has gotten bigger, they are under huge pressure to become profitable.”Deliveroo has never turned a profit, losing 232 million pounds last year despite a 72% increase in global sales. A ruling against Amazon would be a setback for the U.K. company, which has already raised $1.53 billion in investor funding.In August, it was forced to make an abrupt retreat from Germany after struggling to get a grip on the market.For Amazon, the stakes aren’t as high, but if the CMA decision goes the wrong way, it faces yet another embarrassing exit from a market it has found difficult to crack. It closed its own U.K. food delivery unit Amazon Restaurants U.K. in December 2018, with its American counterpart following suite last summer.To contact the reporter on this story: Eddie Spence in London at espence11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Christopher Elser, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Global financial watchdogs take aim at Big Tech's data dominance
    Reuters

    Global financial watchdogs take aim at Big Tech's data dominance

    Google, Alibaba and other "Big Tech" companies could be forced to share data on financial services customers with banks and financial technology firms to prevent unfair competition. As Facebook's plan for its Libra "stablecoin" faces scrutiny, a global body of regulators from the world's main financial centres said that Big Tech's growing tentacles raised questions for financial stability, competition and data privacy. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) called in a report released on Sunday for "vigilant monitoring" of Big Tech's shift into financial services, which it said could crimp the ability of banks to generate capital through retained profits.

  • Bloomberg

    Is This Goldilocks Moment Too Good to Be True?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- At this time last year, everyone was waiting for Santa Claus and his rally — and he never showed up. Instead, there was a brutal stock market sell-off. A year later, we have a surprise visitor: Goldilocks.The cliche has it that a Goldilocks economy is neither too hot (to push up rates and inflation) nor too cold (to push down share prices and employment). It is an irritating way to describe ideal conditions for markets and the economy. For the decade since the financial crisis, it has seemed absurd to suggest the U.S. economy is in any such fairy tale. The Federal Reserve saw a risk of over-heating and spent 2018 tightening monetary policy, only to be forced by the horrified market reaction into executing a U-turn in 2019.As the year comes to an end, Goldilocks is back. The unemployment rate, at 3.5%, is as low as it has been in half a century, while core inflation, at 2.4%, remains comfortably within the target range of between 1% and 3% — which it has occupied for a quarter of a century.If we use President Jimmy Carter’s old concept of the Misery Index, adding the core inflation and unemployment rates, we find misery is close to its lows of the last 50 years:There’s also something distinctly Goldilocksy about market views of the Fed. After two years of persistent bets that the U.S. central bank would be forced to cut far further than it wanted, fed funds futures are now implicitly pricing only one more quarter-point reduction from the current level, and see any additional cuts as unlikely until 2020 is half over. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has already said that he thinks monetary policy is in a good place and that he sees little reason to move it; approaching the last rate-setting meeting of the year in a few day’s time, it appears the market at last cautiously agrees with him.Many believe that the Powell Fed has listened to good advice, and thus thwarted an incipient recession. That helps to explain why the S&P 500 Index is now up more than 25% for the year, and within a whisker of its all-time high set in November, amid low volatility. But the very strength of that sense of relief now opens the risk that the economy moves in short order toward running too hot.It is very unusual for the Fed to cut rates three times in quick succession when the economic backdrop otherwise looks this strong. The only comparison that comes close is 1998, when the central bank under Alan Greenspan cut the fed funds rate by 75 basis points in the wake of the market disruption caused by the meltdown of the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund. That fueled one of the most dramatic stock market rallies in history, which ended with the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000, and a recession.In retrospect, those rate cuts appear to have been a mistake. Will history come to view this year’s U-turn toward cheaper money in the same way?The LTCM debacle, which followed Russia’s debt default and the Asian crisis, was a special and very different case. Corporate credit markets ground to an almost total halt, in a dry run for the credit crisis that would follow a decade later. The Fed felt obliged (rightly or wrongly) to act to stop a financial accident, and in the process provided the money for a stock market mania.Markets have at no point this year looked anything as extreme as they did during the LTCM crisis. But there is a critical similarity: As in 1998, we saw a sudden summer resurgence of recession fears. Google searches for the word “recession” in the U.S. spiked in August to levels unseen since the country was last in recession:  There were reasons for the fear. The trade war intensified during the summer; the European Union’s manufacturing sector fell into recession; long-term bond yields went negative in much of the world; and the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted in what is usually a sure-fire indicator of an imminent slump. This was enough to “create a recession in the minds of most,” as Leuthold Group’s chief investment strategist Jim Paulsen put it. Hence the unambiguously strong employment data for November — published at the end of a week which had also revealed plenty of data suggesting a recovery in global manufacturing — feels almost like exiting a recession to many investors. The reality is, as in 1998, the U.S. economy has remained strong throughout. The 1998 analogy cuts both ways. The economic recovery carried on for a while, and late 1998 proved to be a great time to buy stocks. The problem was that this soon turned into an economic over-heating, prompting the Fed to begin a series of rate hikes in May 1999. And of course anyone who bought stocks needed to be prepared to sell them quickly. Even though economic misery is near all-time lows, then, we will probably soon start questioning whether the Fed cut rates too much. And while the conditions seem good for a Goldilocks boom in share prices, the Fed has cut at a point when stocks already looked very expensive (in another echo of 1998). Just as in 2000 (also a presidential election year), we can expect questions about asset-price bubbles in 2020. To contact the author of this story: John Authers at jauthers@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.John Authers is a senior editor for markets. Before Bloomberg, he spent 29 years with the Financial Times, where he was head of the Lex Column and chief markets commentator. He is the author of “The Fearful Rise of Markets” and other books.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    The Plan to Turn Your Car Into a Virtual ATM

    (Bloomberg) -- Chris Ballinger came away from a year of crunching numbers at Toyota Motor Corp.’s Silicon Valley skunkworks convinced that his dream of automotive automation was no more fanciful than his bosses’ ambition to make a vehicle that can drive itself.So the former derivatives trader who spent 14 months as finance chief at Toyota’s innovation hub launched a non-profit that aims to turn cars into rolling wallets able to autonomously make and receive payments in a virtual currency. Drivers would earn small sums for sharing data on everything from traffic congestion to weather and be debited for infrastructure use and contribution to pollution.‘’Everyone focusing on autonomous vehicles thinks they’ll be able to drink cognac in the back, but machines will do many other things autonomously before they can surmount a problem of driving around somewhere like Bangalore or in particularly bad weather,” said Ballinger, a 62-year-old resident of Los Angeles, where he runs his Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative. “It’s a very hard engineering problem, but setting up machine-to machine payments is comparatively very simple.”Simple is a relative word. The vision is as futuristic as it is ambitious. It depends on a myriad of technological advancements, not to mention regulatory change and cooperation among traditional rivals. While cars already have ever more computing power, changing long-held views on infrastructure funding, vehicle ownership and even the nature of money could prove insurmountable. And then there’s the law of unintended consequences.“When tech is applied to cities and transportation by smart people who understand tech but don’t understand cities, the outcome can actually be bad for cities and create new or bigger problems,’’ says Brent Toderian, former chief city planner in Vancouver. “There’s a danger to boosterism with these kinds of ideas, and a need to be cautious and critical in a way that tech folks often aren’t.’’  As an example, he said new technology could lead to more driving, reducing any positive environmental impact such advances were supposed to deliver.Whatever the challenges, the mobility sector is -- in industry jargon -- a burning platform, meaning urgent change is required to head off obsolescence. While artificial intelligence and blockchain could make Ballinger’s vision possible, the dominance of a small club of Silicon Valley heavyweights means automakers risk being left behind in the digital age, said Jamie Burke, an adviser to MOBI and founder of Outlier Ventures, which invests in companies developing such technologies.Facebook Inc.’s Libra stablecoin, a global currency that social networking behemoth is developing, is like gasoline on the burning platform he said.“We don’t have the luxury of tinkering around anymore, we need to get our acts together to accelerate action toward what is moving already,” said Ballinger. “Everybody is asking should every market have its own token and do we need to have one?”Ballinger co-founded MOBI last year with the likes of BMW AG and Ford Motor Co among its founding members. The consortium, which now has about 90 members from International Business Machines Corp. to Honda Motor Co., is exploring how blockchain and related technologies can contribute to a safer and more efficient transport system, while also reducing congestion and pollution.The first blockchain — a public ledger -- was created to track Bitcoin transactions, and the technology has since been adopted far beyond the realm of cryptocurrencies for everything from enabling international payments to verifying products in a supply chain. The digital currency universe has also expanded rapidly in the past decade, with low-volatility digital tokens known as stablecoins among the fastest growing sub sectors.For the vision to materialize, city infrastructure will have to be equipped to communicate with vehicles. Smart cities, urban metropolises pulsating with sensors and powered by artificial intelligence, are on the drawing board. Alphabet Inc.’s urban innovation unit Sidewalk Labs LLC is working on creating a “city of the future” on Toronto’s waterfront.The building blocks exist, making the bigger challenge getting the various technologies and devices to communicate, according to Maria Minaricova, head of business development at Fetch.ai, a Cambridge, U.K.-based company focused on AI, blockchain and internet of things technologies that is also a member of the MOBI consortium.“There are already so many sensors -- cars have sensors, so do traffic lights and cameras, and so on -- but they’re currently disconnected and what’s also missing is interoperability,” said Minaricova. “Historically if you produced somethingm, you would keep it on your platform and it could only communicate with your devices, but the new generation will need to open this up so all devices can speak to each other.”MOBI is now working with BMW, Ford, Honda, General Motors Co. and Renault SA to develop a trusted digital identity for vehicles as a first step toward enabling a mobility payments network. Last month MOBI hosted a gathering of industry executives in Los Angeles to discuss how such a payments system might work.MOBI could develop an industry stablecoin, as low volatility virtual currencies are known, or use an existing coin to make and receive micropayments on a blockchain network, says Ballinger. The project would not only change how vehicles and cities interact but could also provide a real world use case for digital currencies beyond speculation.“Everyone is excited by the promise of technology and waiting for the first killer app, for what will be to digital currencies what email is to the internet,” he says. “That is, where does it get used in a way that consumers find it adds value compared to existing payment systems, and we think mobility and machine-to-machine payments are likely to be one such area because we have big issues with funding public infrastructure and charging for congestion and carbon.”To contact the author of this story: Alastair Marsh in London at amarsh25@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • AOC, Sanders Say I Told You So, as Amazon, Facebook Come to NYC
    Bloomberg

    AOC, Sanders Say I Told You So, as Amazon, Facebook Come to NYC

    (Bloomberg) -- Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are taking a victory lap after Amazon.com Inc. and other technology giants leased millions of square feet of office space in New York City -- without the billions of dollars in government support that Amazon tried to negotiate earlier this year.Amazon signed a lease on Friday for 335,000 square feet in the Hudson Yards neighborhood, enough space for more than 1,500 workers. The largest U.S. e-commerce company said it wasn’t getting tax benefits or other incentives.A few weeks earlier, Facebook Inc. leased more than 1.5 million square feet in the city, and the social-networking giant is looking for 700,000 more square feet, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google is also in the midst of a major expansion in the city, adding thousands of employees in coming years.The moves suggest that New York’s deep pool of talented workers is still attracting tech companies even after Amazon abandoned a much larger expansion in the area following fierce public criticism of almost $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies promised to the company.https://t.co/AC64pG0nZI pic.twitter.com/xzCepkX4AV— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 6, 2019 Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, was a vocal critic of Amazon’s doomed HQ2 deal, and she tweeted that the company’s recent lease proved she was right.Sanders, who has slammed Amazon for warehouse working conditions and the company’s low federal tax rate, weighed in this weekend, too.​Their comments were pilloried by some on Twitter, who said that 1,500 Amazon jobs are a fraction of the company’s earlier plan to bring about 25,000 workers to the area.Ocasio-Cortez responded by arguing that Amazon’s larger jobs pledge was longer-term and would have cost the city more.To contact the reporter on this story: Alistair Barr in San Francisco at abarr18@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Virginia Van Natta, James LuddenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Amazon Leases Midtown Space After Scrapping HQ2 Plans for NYC

    (Bloomberg) -- Less than a year after Amazon.com Inc. walked away from a planned headquarters in New York, the e-commerce giant has announced a significant expansion in midtown Manhattan.The company signed a lease for 335,000 square feet in the Hudson Yards neighborhood on the west side. The new office will accommodate more than 1,500 workers and is slated to open in 2021, according to an e-mailed statement.“As we shared earlier this year, we plan to continue to hire and grow organically across our 18 Tech Hubs, including New York City,” the Seattle-based company said.Amazon abandoned plans in February to build an additional headquarters in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood following fierce public criticism of tax breaks promised to the company, and concerns about the impact on housing costs and transportation. The move sent shock waves through New York’s real estate community, which worried that the city was becoming inhospitable to business.But recent months have shown that companies are still attracted to New York and its deep pool of talented workers. Facebook Inc. announced that it was leasing more than 1.5 million square feet at Hudson Yards last month. And Google is also in the midst of a major expansion in the city.Amazon said it is not receiving tax benefits or other incentives for its new office, which will be located in SL Green Realty Corp.’s building on 10th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. The outpost will be roughly the same size as the company’s other corporate offices in New York, where it currently has more than 3,500 employees in its tech hub.Dow Jones reported the lease earlier on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in Seattle at nbuhayar@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Giammona at cgiammona@bloomberg.net, Linus Chua, Stanley JamesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Peloton Backlash Comes With Silver Lining: Pre-Holiday Publicity
    Bloomberg

    Peloton Backlash Comes With Silver Lining: Pre-Holiday Publicity

    (Bloomberg) -- Peloton Interactive Inc. has been pilloried online and punished on the stock market following the release of a holiday ad for its stationary exercise bike that was deemed culturally insensitive. But the backlash could be a good thing for the company in the long run.The commercial, which features a woman documenting a year in her life with the Peloton bike her male partner gave her, struck some viewers as out of touch -- suggesting the already thin “Grace from Boston” was undergoing a strenuous workout in order to lose weight for the guy. The video, released about a month ago, went viral on social media, eliciting a scathing parody by comedian Eva Victor and prompting Peloton to close comments on the official YouTube video.As the internet buzz seemed to hit a peak earlier this week, Peloton’s stock fell 9%. But some experts say the increased attention could end up boosting sales. The shares were up 3.7% on Friday in New York.“They might benefit more because people are looking it up and learning more about it,” Laura Ries, president of advertising consultancy firm Ries & Ries, said. It’s still a short-term bump for a company that has historically been largely successful with marketing, with a total member base of 1.6 million people including more than 560,000 who have one of the proprietary bikes or treadmills plus a fitness subscription, according to Peloton’s most recent quarterly report. The official Peloton ad on the company’s YouTube channel has been seen by more than 3.6 million people.The controversy comes at a crucial time for the New York-based company, which is new to market scrutiny after listing shares in September, as it seeks to capitalize on the all-important holiday sales season and expand in new markets like the U.K. and Germany. The shares had gained 27% since its initial public offering before the wave of internet commentary dragged it down on Tuesday. The company is also facing increased competition in the booming at-home fitness market, especially among workout apps. Nike Inc., Aaptiv Inc. and apps like Kayla Itsines’s Sweat with Kayla have all gained followings for exercise programs available on a user’s phone.Peloton has been punished by Wall Street for its focus on growth over profitability. The company sells a stationary bike starting at about $2,000 and a treadmill that costs about $4,000, in addition to a basic “connected fitness” subscription plan at $39 a month for those pieces of hardware, and the separate digital apps that don’t require equipment. Its loss narrowed in the three months ended Sept. 30 to $49.8 million.The stock surged almost 10% last Friday after the company was reportedly seeing strong demand on Black Friday. And earlier this month, Peloton lowered the price of its digital subscription app to $12.99 a month from $19.49 in conjunction with the launch of new apps for Amazon’s Fire TV and the Apple Watch, a move that could entice new users. JMP Securities analysts raised their price target on the stock after the subscription reduction, saying it “broadens Peloton’s reach, improves conversion, and reduces purchase friction.” Ronald Josey, a JMP analyst, said there are “a lot of good things going on” at the company and that people will continue to buy the bike and other products despite the controversy.According to the most recent earnings report, Peloton expects its user base to grow to 680,000 or more by the end of its second quarter thanks to holiday sales and New Year’s resolutions.Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing a the NYU Stern School of Business, said the commercial itself is tone deaf and borderline offensive. But “in this attention-driven economy, anything that gets attention is arguably a positive,” he said in an interview. “It’s bringing Peloton into the social discourse on very regular basis, which is what ads are supposed to do.” If Peloton had to do it again, Galloway said, “I’d argue they probably would.”(Updates shares in third paragraph. A previous version of the story corrected a company error in the subscription price.)To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at jverhage2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Molly Schuetz, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon's Cloud Clientele Expands as BP Migrates Data to AWS
    Zacks

    Amazon's Cloud Clientele Expands as BP Migrates Data to AWS

    BP goes all-in on AWS, which highlights the efficiency and reliability of Amazon's (AMZN) cloud services offerings.

  • GOOGL, AMZN, MSFT & Others to Watch in Healthcare Industry
    Zacks

    GOOGL, AMZN, MSFT & Others to Watch in Healthcare Industry

    Tech giants like Alphabet, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Apple are foraying into the healthcare industry to capitalize on its prospects.

  • 20 businesses that died in the 2010s
    Yahoo Finance

    20 businesses that died in the 2010s

    Yahoo Finance takes a look back at some of the biggest corporate busts of the last decade.

  • Cloud Security Race Intensifies, AMZN Takes on VMW, AKAM, WIT
    Zacks

    Cloud Security Race Intensifies, AMZN Takes on VMW, AKAM, WIT

    A slew of advanced data breaches is expected to increase the demand for cloud security offerings in the coming years. The prospects are prompting cloud service providers to up the ante in this space.

  • Autonomous Vehicles Aim New Highs With Driverless Tests
    Zacks

    Autonomous Vehicles Aim New Highs With Driverless Tests

    Alibaba (BABA)-backed AutoX applies for testing its self-driving vehicles, without in-car driver backup, thereby stirring competition in the autonomous-vehicle tech space.

  • Facebook Just Can’t Seem to Beat the Russians
    Bloomberg

    Facebook Just Can’t Seem to Beat the Russians

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Social-media companies insist they’re making progress in fighting the manipulation of their platforms. But two researchers, working on an extremely modest budget, have just shown that their defenses are routinely bypassed by an entire manipulation industry, largely based in Russia.In a report for NATO’s Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, Sebastian Bay and Rolf Fredheim described an experiment they ran between May and August. In the first two months, during and just after the European Parliament election campaign, they hired 11 Russian and five European “manipulation service providers,” who they found simply by searching the web. The companies then delivered 3,530 comments, 25,750 likes, 20,000 views and 5,100 followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube — all fake.Given how serious the social-media platforms claim to be about purging inauthentic activity, the experiment’s success rate was stunning. Four weeks after they were posted, a vast majority of the fake engagements were still live; even reporting them to the platforms didn’t get most removed.The study reveals a major weakness in the way the social-media giants report their anti-fraud efforts. Facebook has a lot to say about how much content it removes, for instance, but that’s like the mayor of a town reporting that 50% of its roads are now pothole-free: You never know which 50%. The important metric is how much manipulative content gets through. Bay and Fredheim found that, once professionals get involved, most of their work sticks, to the extent that they often deliver more engagements than promised for the money. Defenses only work on the most basic level. The pros are always a step ahead.NATO, of course, is mostly interested in political manipulation, and the researchers found that some of the same accounts that helped carry out their study “had been used to buy engagement on 721 political pages and 52 government pages, including the official accounts of two presidents, the official page of a European political party, and a number of junior and local politicians in Europe and the United States.”An important question is whether such efforts actually work. One recent paper tried to determine what effect the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency has had on U.S. political attitudes. The IRA, whose employees and owner were indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into meddling in the 2016 election, used some of the same techniques as the NATO Stratcom researchers. But, the paper said, their fake accounts were effectively preaching to the converted. Even for users who directly interacted with the IRA accounts, the researchers found “no substantial effects” on their political opinions, engagement with politics or attitudes toward members of the opposing party.This doesn’t mean social-network manipulation is ineffective for political purposes; much more research would be needed to draw any sweeping conclusions. What’s clear now, though, is that the manipulation industry isn’t primarily geared toward political uses. Bay and Fredheim found that “more than 90% of purchased engagements on social media are used for commercial purposes.” Even though it’s Russian-based, this industry isn’t about evil Kremlin masterminds trying to turn technology against American democracy. Rather, it’s about talented Russian engineers, stuck in the wrong country for launching grand commercial ventures like Facebook or YouTube, trying to make money by milking the existing platforms.What that usually amounts to is helping online “influencers” cheat advertisers. The abysmally low removal rates for fake video views in the Stratcom experiment show the platforms aren’t fighting such abuses hard enough. They don’t have to: They’re still essentially black boxes from an advertising client’s point of view. As a result, perhaps billions of dollars (estimates vary wildly) are lost to such fraud each year.Platforms have spent enough time trying, and failing, to prove that self-regulation can work for them. Governments should act to protect not so much voters as advertisers from the manipulation industry, penalizing social-media companies for their inability to prevent fraud and demanding more transparency. Now, as Bay and Fredheim wrote, “data is becoming scarcer and our opportunities to research this field is constantly shrinking. This effectively transfers the ability to understand what is happening on the platforms to social media companies. Independent and well-resourced oversight is needed.”Policy makers need to realize that the platform-manipulation industry doesn’t thrive because it’s a Kremlin weapon. Political weaponization is only a side effect of a parasitic industry built on the flaws of the social-media business model. It’s the model that needs to be regulated.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy Lavin at tlavin1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • These 10 stories will drive investing for the next decade
    Yahoo Finance

    These 10 stories will drive investing for the next decade

    Peak globalization is one of 10 investing themes Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has highlighted for the next decade. Shifting demographics and automation are two other stories with investment implications.

  • Video-Conference App Zoom Is a Rare Winner in Hong Kong Protests
    Bloomberg

    Video-Conference App Zoom Is a Rare Winner in Hong Kong Protests

    (Bloomberg) -- As protests jolt Hong Kong business, organizations from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to universities are adapting by going digital, switching to video-conferencing app Zoom to conduct online investor briefings and virtual lectures.Zoom Video Communications Inc. joins a number of internet services that have taken off since the unrest began over the summer, from mobile messenger Telegram to work-at-home apps. In a financial hub that thrives on face-to-face deal-making and power lunches, Zoom helps fill a void created by transport disruptions and concerns about personal safety.Hong Kong’s business community leans on the app’s features, which include slide-sharing and support for up to 1,000 call participants, to carry on cross-border communications and with mainland China, where WhatsApp, Telegram and Google alternatives are banned. There’s a local version of Zoom that’s compatible, which is why the app’s downloads in Hong Kong soared 460% in November, after an escalation in protest violence first triggered a spike in September, according to researcher Sensor Tower.Read more: Zoom’s Eric Yuan, the CEO Who Made Videoconferencing Bearable“As schools continue to be in lock-down mode, we’ve had to move our lectures online to minimize disruption,” said Cheung Siu Wai, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, adding Skype has been another option.Now valued at $19 billion, Zoom’s shares have almost doubled since listing on the Nasdaq this year. It’s unclear how the spike in downloads may translate into revenue growth for Zoom, founded by Chinese emigrant Eric Yuan, who now resides in California.The company has various pricing tiers and recently added HSBC to a roster of paying clients that includes Uber Technologies Inc. and Zendesk Inc., underpinning 85% growth in revenue to $167 million in the October quarter. Representatives for the company, which is backed by investors including Salesforce.com Inc., Tiger Global and Qualcomm Inc., declined to comment on how the Hong Kong protests have affected its business.”With the periodic traffic disruptions, our colleagues have no choice but to use video-conferencing apps,” said Derek Chan, co-founder of Master Concept, a Hong Kong-based cloud service provider.To contact the reporters on this story: Carol Zhong in Hong Kong at yzhong71@bloomberg.net;Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • One of Wall Street’s Most Lucrative Businesses Is at Risk
    Bloomberg

    One of Wall Street’s Most Lucrative Businesses Is at Risk

    (Bloomberg Markets) -- They flew in from across the U.S.—venture capitalists and entrepreneurs—to discuss a new way to sell stock to the public and keep more money for themselves. The venue, appropriately, was a landmark hotel nicknamed “The Bonanza Inn.”Not invited: the bankers who’ve long dominated initial public offerings.For much of that September day at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, investors behind many of Silicon Valley’s biggest unicorns took turns railing against Wall Street. Some fumed over the hefty fees bankers collect for ushering companies onto the stock market. Many criticized IPOs for being priced too low—shortchanging the company owners—so banks could deliver quick profits for big money managers.Such complaints have been around for decades, but now there might be a solution. In 2018 a technique called a direct listing proved that technology can glide a company onto a stock market as smoothly as an expensive fleet of Wall Street underwriters.Two of the dominant U.S. IPO underwriters, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, are helping to develop the direct listing system in a bet that they can keep a place for themselves in the process. But the San Francisco gathering made it clear that much of Silicon Valley wants to limit the involvement of banks.What a ‘Direct Listing’ Is, and Why Banks Are Nervous: QuickTakeInstead, the Valley crowd is giving a bigger role to Citadel Securities, a Chicago-based firm with little stake in the existing IPO underwriting market, for its market-making technology.Bringing privately held, capital-hungry companies to the exchange for a public offering of stock is one of Wall Street’s oldest and proudest functions. Bankers advise startups on how much they can raise and when to go to market. Once conditions are ripe, the companies embark on a roadshow to drum up investor interest and price the new stock. On the big day, a syndicate of banks—sometimes numbering in the dozens—buys up blocks of stock to parcel out to money manager clients. The typical 7% fee on the money raised in a U.S. IPO has withstood competition for the deals, though some of the most high-profile debuts get discounts. Last year, global IPO fees surpassed $7 billion, with the top three banks each bringing in more than $500 million, according to data compiled by Freeman & Co.Companies have tried alternatives. In 2004, Google Inc. (now Alphabet Inc.) famously opted for a so-called Dutch auction, in which investors submit bids and the final price is the highest at which the entire offering can be sold. Low demand forced the company to cut the offering in half and sell at the bottom of the price range it had sought. But the stock popped on the first day, and then the shares kept climbing. There’s been debate ever since over whether Google could have gotten more money with a traditional IPO.A direct listing moves a company’s stock onto the public market, allowing venture capitalists and employees to cash out, without raising new capital. It does away with the order-building phase, relying on software to match private shares and public demand on the fly. The risk is that supply and demand fall out of whack, leading to violent price swings or even a trading halt, potentially inflicting major damage. Bankers try to keep that from happening by gauging investor interest.In 2018, Stockholm-based music-streaming company Spotify Technology SA became the first high-profile startup to go public through the technique. Its stock swooned as much as 11% from the opening price of $165.90 and remains below that level today. The company paid about $35 million to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Allen & Co. By contrast, if Spotify had raised $2.4 billion in a traditional IPO—selling about 10% of the company—it would have paid $75 million even at a discounted 3% fee. For its part of the process, Citadel Securities was paid by the stock exchange.Slack Technologies Inc. followed in 2019. On an overcast morning in June, as a jazz band played in front of the New York Stock Exchange’s massive columns, startups across the country watched to see if the technology would succeed in matching a supply of closely held shares with a flood of investor bids in real time. Everything hummed.The opening stock price valued Slack at more than double its latest private funding round valuation. (It has since fallen, on a depressed outlook for company revenue.) Trading volume at the open was the third-highest for any debut in the U.S., the New York Stock Exchange said. Slack, which paid advisers $22 million, probably reduced its costs by about a third compared with a typical IPO, according to bankers involved in the deal, who said they immediately started talking to other companies interested in direct listings.When venture capitalist John O’Farrell lingered on the trading floor, it wasn’t to see the bankers. Instead, he waited next to a booth occupied by Citadel Securities, the market-maker majority owned by billionaire hedge fund investor Ken Griffin, to introduce himself to a pair of low-key executives steeped in the deal’s wiring. It was their computers that had handled the deluge—and $1 billion of their firm’s own money facilitated 1 out of every 5 trades. Citadel Securities wouldn’t say if it earned profits on those trades.O’Farrell was clearly impressed. His firm, Andreessen Horowitz, an early investor in Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., among others, wields immense clout in deciding how Silicon Valley stock offerings are carried out. If an era of direct listings is commencing, the starting point may be that afternoon he spent with Joseph Mecane, Citadel Securities’ head of execution services, and Peter Giacchi, head of floor trading, on the floor of the NYSE.“Everything we design in the first couple of days is about smooth performance,” Mecane would say later at a Citadel Securities office near the stock exchange. “We feel like we have our brand and reputation on the line with this business.”Mecane, the former head of electronic equities trading at Barclays Plc, jumped to Citadel Securities in 2017 and has been busy building a team to ensure smooth trading in the more than 1,400 listed entities for which the firm serves as designated market maker. Citadel Securities aims to expand that client set by helping more companies go public. In that sense, the listing business is just an entry point for potential future revenue. Citadel Securities says its goal is to work with banks on listings and not to compete with them.Mecane’s counterpart on the trading floor is Giacchi, who’s been making markets for more than 20 years, watching machines replace the functions of hundreds of people. Direct listings put the emphasis on traders and their role in price discovery, a development Giacchi welcomes.“It’s given the floor a renewed sense of value,” he says. Now, helped by technology, there is “the ability to process information quickly and reinvent yourself on the floor.”Just a few months after O’Farrell’s trip to the trading floor, his firm would help lead the charge in San Francisco to tell the other attendees about the promise of direct listings.In June, famed venture capitalist Bill Gurley at Benchmark Capital encouraged his more than 400,000 Twitter followers to call Citadel Securities and Morgan Stanley and pursue their own direct listings. “Other banks want to position direct listings as ‘exceptional’ or ‘rare,’ ” Gurley wrote.Five more companies may pursue direct listings in 2020, according to Morgan Stanley.Still, it may yet take years for IPOs to give way entirely to direct listings, says M.G. Siegler, a partner at Google Ventures, another major backer of startups. But “I’m not writing it off that it could be the majority of listings moving forward.”Basak covers Wall Street for Bloomberg News, television, and radio in New York.To contact the author of this story: Sonali Basak in New York at sbasak7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Christine Harper at charper@bloomberg.net, David ScheerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • SoftBank Opens Institute in Tokyo to Accelerate AI Research
    Bloomberg

    SoftBank Opens Institute in Tokyo to Accelerate AI Research

    (Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son unveiled a $184 million initiative Friday to accelerate artificial intelligence research in Japan, enlisting Alibaba’s Jack Ma to expound on his goal of commercializing the technology.Son’s company announced a partnership with the University of Tokyo that includes spending 20 billion yen ($184 million) over 10 years by mobile arm SoftBank Corp. to establish the Beyond AI Institute. He roped in the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder for an on-campus chat, during which the two billionaires discussed their vision for the future of technology.The institute will support 150 researchers from various disciplines and focus on transitioning AI research from the academic to the commercial using joint ventures between universities and companies. Health-care, city and social infrastructure and manufacturing will be the primary areas of focus, SoftBank Corp. said in a statement. That dovetails with its own goals: in November, SoftBank and Korea’s Naver Corp. said they plan to merge Yahoo Japan and Line Corp. into an internet giant under SoftBank’s control, to combine resources on AI and challenge leaders from Google to Tencent Holdings Ltd.Read more: SoftBank to Create Japan Internet Giant to Battle Global RivalsSon has long advocated AI as the most revolutionary new field of technological development. The Beyond AI Institute marks an investment in accelerating that research on his home turf, where he has previously bemoaned the relative under-performance of Japan’s startup scene. At the same time, he’ll be eager to put behind him a tough 2019 thanks to the calamitous implosion at WeWork and the shrinking values of Uber Technologies Inc. and Slack Technologies Inc.Offering a reminder of his most fruitful investment, Son hosted a talk with Ma, whose online retail empire has been the crown jewel in SoftBank’s investment portfolio. The two exchanged compliments and advocated passion, optimism and world-changing visions as essential to successful entrepreneurship.“In the past 20 years, we’ve been friends, partners and like soulmates in changing people’s lives,” said Son. Ma, in turn, said: “He probably has the biggest guts in the world when doing investment.”In a rare expression of contrition, Son recently said “there was a problem with my own judgment” after the WeWork debacle. He has imposed greater financial discipline on startups since then. On Friday, he said his enthusiasm for grand projects was undimmed. “My passion and dream is more than 100 times bigger than what I am right now. I am still only at the first step to my 100 steps.”To contact the reporters on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at vsavov5@bloomberg.net;Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at thyuga@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Labour group accuses Google of illegally firing workers to stifle unionism
    Reuters

    Labour group accuses Google of illegally firing workers to stifle unionism

    The Communications Workers of America union filed a federal labour charge against Alphabet Inc's Google on Thursday, accusing the company of unlawfully firing four employees to deter workers from engaging in union activities. The complaint, seen by Reuters, will trigger a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) investigation into whether Google violated the four individuals' right to collectively raise concerns about working conditions. Google fired the four named employees "to discourage and chill employees from engaging in protected concerted and union activities," the filing states.

  • Labor group accuses Google of illegally firing workers to stifle unionism
    Reuters

    Labor group accuses Google of illegally firing workers to stifle unionism

    The Communications Workers of America union filed a federal labor charge against Alphabet Inc's Google on Thursday, accusing the company of unlawfully firing four employees to deter workers from engaging in union activities. The complaint, seen by Reuters, will trigger a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) investigation into whether Google violated the four individuals' right to collectively raise concerns about working conditions. Google fired the four named employees "to discourage and chill employees from engaging in protected concerted and union activities," the filing states.

  • Bloomberg

    Waymo’s Autonomous Taxi Service Tops 100,000 Rides

    (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 been slow 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 ramped up a “rider only” option without human safety drivers to a test group of a few hundred commuters. While those people weren’t always charged initially, they are now paying rates that are competitive with Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services, according to a Waymo spokeswoman.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 wait list by using the new iOS app. The service has been available on Android phones since the spring.Still, John Krafcik, Waymo’s chief executive officer, 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.”(Updates with comment from company spokeswoman in third paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Southfield, Michigan at knaughton3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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