|Day's range||106.16 - 106.16|
Apple has reason to be the most unbothered of the four big tech firms when it comes to lawmakers threatening antitrust action.
Google said on Monday it will invest $450 million in ADT and work with the Florida-headquartered firm's 20,000 technicians to sell and install the search giant's Nest family of smart home products. As part of the long-term investment -- which is granting Google a 6.6% stake in ADT -- the two companies will first attempt to reach more individual consumers and small businesses, and then work on building and selling next-generation smart home security offerings, they said. Over time, Nest's devices will enhance ADT's security monitoring and become the "cornerstone of ADT’s smart home offering," said Rishi Chandra, vice president and GM at Nest, in a blog post.
Shares of Resideo Technologies (NYSE: REZI) fell 16% on Monday morning after Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) made an aggressive move to expand in one of Resideo's top business lines. The stock has been largely a dud since being spun out of Honeywell International in 2018, and the news didn't get any better for Resideo investors on Monday. Alphabet's Google business is buying a 6.6% stake in home security specialist ADT (NYSE: ADT) for $450 million as part of a deal that will lead to tight integration between ADT's security products and Google's Nest devices.
Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) has received a large dose of negative public attention during the pandemic as the coronavirus spread through some of its meat-packing plants and the rising price of meat prompted a government investigation.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc. is proposing to tap the bond market at rock bottom yields, in a rare debt sale that will help combat racial inequality, among other sustainability projects.The parent company of Google is looking to fund organizations that support Black entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses impacted by Covid-19, as well as affordable housing, among other eligible proceeds listed in bond documents seen by Bloomberg. The borrowings can also be used to finance clean energy projects and green buildings.Alphabet has only borrowed in the U.S. investment-grade market a handful of times, with the last issue four years ago. It was cheap to sell bonds then, and could be even more of a steal now -- the company may pay just 40 basis points over Treasuries to borrow for five years, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Amazon.com Inc. initially marketed a similar range for a debt offering in June, which ended up pricing at a spread of 25 basis points, setting a record-low coupon in the process.Google has prioritized supporting the Black community, recently announcing a $175 million “economic opportunity package” to invest in Black-led venture capital firms and startups, training for Black job seekers and grants for small businesses. It also said it will hire more Black workers in senior roles and establish internal anti-racism programs for all employees, according to a June blog post.Read more: Google, Facebook Diversity Pledges Follow Scant Progress on RaceAlphabet may sell the debt in six parts, according to the person with knowledge of the matter. The longest security, a 40-year bond, may yield between 1.25 and 1.3 percentage points above Treasuries, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details are private.The bond sale comes as sustainable debt issuance has skyrocketed in the pandemic, most notably via social bond sales. Supply will almost double this year compared to last as more borrowers raise debt to respond to the humanitarian crisis presented by Covid-19, according to HSBC Holdings Plc.In addition to the sustainability-linked proceeds, the bond sale will also support green projects. Google has been expanding its use of sustainable energy, touting its carbon-neutral status for over a decade. It’s one of the world’s largest corporate buyers of renewable power.(Updates with use of bond proceeds from the second 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.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google has agreed to pay $450 million for a stake in security firm ADT Inc. as part of a partnership to create smart-home security products.Google will get a 6.6% stake in newly created Class-B shares of the Boca Raton, Florida-based firm, and ADT will integrate Google’s hardware and services into its products, the companies said in a statement on Monday. ADT shares jumped 66% in pre-market trading after closing at $8.61 in New York on Friday.Both companies will commit an additional $150 million, subject to the achievement of certain milestones, for marketing, product development, technology and employee training, they said.The deal will widen the potential reach for Google’s own smart-home devices, led by its Nest offering. ADT focuses on home security products such as electronic security, fire protection, and alarm monitoring services. ADT Chief Executive Officer Jim DeVries said “the combined solution will unlock access to new customers seeking premium technology, end-to-end smart-home services and trusted security.” The U.S. smart-home market is experiencing “explosive gains,” DeVries said and is projected to grow 20% annually. “Together the smart home and secure market represents a tremendous opportunity for ADT and Google,” DeVries said on a call with analysts to discuss the deal.Google bought Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion to enter the smart-home market, and the unit has become one of the largest makers of internet-connected thermostats, smoke alarms and locks.However Google pared back the number of companies its Nest devices connect to earlier this year due to privacy concerns. Several residential builders have also stopped buying and installing Nest devices after the internet giant overhauled how Nest technology works with other gadgets.(Updates with comments from CEO in fourth 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.
Shares of ADT nearly doubled to $17 in trading before the bell on Monday and were set to open above their IPO price of $14 for the first time since going public in 2018. The company will start linking popular devices like Google Home Mini, Nest Thermostat and Nest Wifi to its control center this year and other Google devices in 2021, ADT Chief Executive Officer Jim DeVries told Reuters.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Except for the biggest pop acts, like the Rolling Stones or Rihanna, and a few hot shows like “Hamilton,” musicians have struggled to fill concert halls. But now the entire business of live performance is in trouble, even for the top stars, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic: theaters and performance halls have been closed since March -- and with social distancing in force, they probably won’t open any time soon.Live performance has been one of the few ways for musicians to make money after cheap streaming services undermined sales of most recorded music. If live performances are off limits, the industry may face its greatest crisis yet.But all may not be lost, provided performers and the businesses they work for are willing to adapt to digital platforms. These electronic venues might even become a part of the industry’s post-pandemic future.Consider the following example: On a recent weekend, I tuned into a concert that renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma streamed through the Berlin-based classical music platform IDAGIO. The concert program was totally new -- Ma put it together just for this performance. It’s not on YouTube or any other platform -- and like any other live concert, it was visceral, ephemeral and exclusive. Plus, it was somehow deeply personal -- with the cameras zoomed in close, viewers could feel as if they were on stage with Ma himself. A replay was available, but only for the next 24 hours.The economics of this type of event might work out quite well. A ticket to a typical streamed concert costs something like $8. If the artist can reach 10 times as many viewers that way, that matches the revenue brought in by an in-person show that costs $80 a ticket, a price that’s hardly unheard of.(1)And so long as the event is advertised effectively, a 10-fold audience multiplier shouldn’t be difficult to achieve: An online concert can draw viewers from anywhere -- including places that wouldn’t be on a regular tour schedule. And even for people who live nearby, there’s a lot of convenience to being able to listen at home.Plus $8 isn’t nearly as big an expenditure -- about the same as paying to stream a new movie -- so many more people will be able to afford it. And it also means that tuning in to a paid stream doesn’t have to be as much of a production as going to a show in person. If you miss a beat or two, it’s not a big deal. You can listen while you’re cooking, even -- and who wouldn’t want a dinner show featuring the likes of Ma or Mick.For the performers and promoters, there can be cost savings on the production side: streams can be run from small studios rather than performance halls, reducing overhead. For solo acts, this can be done near where the artist lives -- meaning there’s little travel required.The performing arts have been slow to adapt to digital transformation. But now that they’ve been forced to, the benefits are already becoming clear.Digital platforms can even help artists engage directly with their fans. (Ma, for example, took questions submitted over live chat after his performance.) They may also be better at managing and tracking customers to generate sustained interest -- and recurring revenue. And they may have the digital tools to help artists find new listeners, perhaps in the same way that streaming music service Spotify does for recorded content.Other logistical issues will be harder to solve. Streaming a solo performance or a quartet is one thing; convening a full symphony orchestra or the cast of a Broadway musical is another. But it’s possible: Broadway has been streaming high-definition recordings at special events for years.Another unresolved question is pricing. Current approaches mostly seem to be pegged to standard theater pricing models -- either one-off admissions or season tickets. But some, like New York’s Metropolitan Opera, are offering library-like subscriptions more akin to Netflix: your favorite opera on demand.I expect we’ll see further innovation here because, unlike with seats in a concert hall, digital streams have no capacity constraints. Perhaps promoters will start offering unlimited replays for an additional fee -- or packages that make it less expensive to buy additional tickets for related households.Post-pandemic, we may also see hybrid models with performances that are both in-person and streamed simultaneously -- the best of both worlds.To be sure, one risk with all of this is that global access might lead to an even more winner-take-all environment for superstars. If everyone can tune in to the best performers in the world, then they might not bother with a local cover band. But with music distribution over the Internet, at least, the opposite effect has held true as well: the possibility of reaching a wider audience has enabled otherwise niche artists to gain a global following.Whatever the case, the music industry has to adapt the live-performance business to the current reality. Streaming may not have the gravity and sparkling acoustics of a performance at Carnegie Hall or the raucous vibe of Madison Square Garden, but it may be the future.(1) Of course, it's not totally clear that’s the right comparison because one stream might substitute for multiple stops on a multicity tour. But even so, the overall multiplier from a worldwide audience is likely to be large.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Scott Duke Kominers is the MBA Class of 1960 Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and a faculty affiliate of the Harvard Department of Economics. Previously, he was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and the inaugural research scholar at the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics at the University of Chicago.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Monopoly power is a good gig if you can get it. The trouble is keeping lawmakers from knocking on your door. Tech titans Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. managed to do just that until last week, when a House subcommittee summoned the chief executive officers of the four companies. Lawmakers took a dim view of the tech giants’ grip on their respective industries. “These companies as they exist today have monopoly power,” said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who leads the House investigation into the companies. His prescription: “Some need to be broken up, all need to be heavily regulated.” The sentiment appeared to be shared widely.As a matter of public policy, the issue is relatively straightforward. Monopolies are trouble, which is why antitrust laws are designed to stop them. They have the power to raise prices and thereby stifle demand. They often turn into big, lazy, unwieldy bureaucracies that have little incentive to innovate or look after customers, workers and suppliers. And perhaps most problematic, they can use their money and influence to seize political power, making it more difficult to dislodge them. There’s little disagreement that Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google pose such a threat. Apple controls nearly half the U.S. smartphone market and dominates the distribution of apps; Amazon all but controls e-commerce; Facebook rules social media; and Google has a firm grip on internet search and online advertising. It’s difficult to overstate their power. The four companies make up just 0.8% of the S&P 500 Index by number, and yet they account for 6.1% of its total revenue, 8.9% of its earnings and 16.8% of its market value. For investors, the issue is a bit more complicated. Monopolies are impregnable money-minting machines, so everyone wants a piece of them. It’s no accident that Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook are four of the seven biggest companies in the world by market value. Nor is it surprising that their profits have trickled down to shareholders. An equal investment in the four tech giants since Facebook — the youngest of the bunch — went public in 2012 has produced a return of 31% a year, including dividends, more than double the return from the S&P 500 over the same period. It turns out they’re not alone. Stocks of highly profitable companies tend to beat the market. Shares of the most profitable 30% of U.S. companies, sorted on return on equity and weighted by market value, outpaced the S&P 500 by 1.6 percentage points a year from July 1963 through June, according to the longest data series compiled by Dartmouth professor Ken French. And they did so with roughly the same amount of volatility as the broad market, as measured by standard deviation, a common proxy for risk.Astonishingly, the odds of capturing this profitability premium favored investors regardless of the holding period. Shares of the most profitable companies outpaced the market 65% of the time over rolling one-year periods, 76% of the time over three years, 83% over five years and a whopping 93% over 10 years, counted monthly.But markets aren’t supposed to work this way. You shouldn’t be able to reliably beat the market using widely available information without taking more risk. One explanation for the profitability premium is that investors are rubes: They don’t pay attention to profitability when picking stocks, or worse, they errantly favor less-profitable companies, allowing more cunning investors to exploit their mistakes. That seems unlikely. Profitability has long been a key feature of security analysis. More recently, there has been a proliferation of indexes, and funds tracking them, that pick or weight stocks based in part on profitability. And as the market value of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook show, their shares are hugely popular. A more plausible explanation is that the profitability premium is compensation for the risk that today’s profits will evaporate tomorrow. Highly profitable companies rarely maintain the same level of profitability. More often, competition squeezes it away or, as in the case of Apple and its cohorts, the competition is crushed or acquired, resulting in greater market share and profitability but also inviting lawmakers and regulators to step in.Microsoft Inc.’s antitrust entanglement with the government in the late 1990s is instructive. Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded the company in 1975, and by the early 1990s, most personal computers ran Microsoft’s operating system, first MS-DOS and then Microsoft Windows. In August 1997, the company became the second largest in the U.S. by market value, behind only General Electric. A year later, in May 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice and 20 U.S. states sued Microsoft, accusing it of attempting to illegally protect and extend its monopoly by undermining competitors. By the time the case was argued in early 2001, much of the evidence against Microsoft had spilled into public view. Although profits continued to grow, the legal and regulatory scrutiny around the company clouded its future, and shareholders paid the price. The stock returned a negative 4% from May 1998 to December 2000, even as the Nasdaq Composite Index and the S&P 500 returned 33% and 23%, respectively, over the same time. Several months later, a federal court found that Microsoft had violated federal antitrust laws. As it turned out, of course, Microsoft has maintained its status as a tech powerhouse. Today, its market value is second only to Apple among U.S. stocks, and shareholders who stuck with the company through its antitrust battles have been richly rewarded. Microsoft has returned 27% a year since it went public in 1986, compared with 11% and 10% a year for the Nasdaq and S&P 500, respectively. But that was far from a foregone conclusion when Microsoft was in the government’s crosshairs. And if lawmakers, regulators or prosecutors muster the will to go after Apple, Amazon, Facebook or Alphabet, their shareholders should prepare for more paltry returns and perhaps worse. For now, investors don’t seem worried that the tech titans are in danger. All four of their stocks were higher after the hearing than before. And all four companies reported financial results that beat analysts’ expectations a day after the hearing, no doubt emboldening their shareholders. Still, Big Tech’s faithful should bear in mind that monopolies are only as durable as a government that tolerates them. The profitability they enjoy, and the skyrocketing stock prices that accompany it, are no free lunch. They’re payment for the risk that lawmakers are more serious about breaking up or regulating the tech titans than investors seem to believe.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nir Kaissar is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the markets. He is the founder of Unison Advisors, an asset management firm. He has worked as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and a consultant at Ernst & Young. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Microsoft on Sunday said it aims to complete a deal by Sept. 15 for TikTok's U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations. It is likely to have an edge in pricing negotiations as the U.S. is effectively forcing TikTok's Chinese parent, ByteDance, to sell by threatening to ban the app as a security risk. TikTok has taken teenagers around the world by storm and emerged as a significant competitor to Facebook and Google's YouTube.
(Bloomberg) -- In a bid to salvage a deal for the U.S. operations of TikTok, Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella spoke with President Donald Trump by phone about how to secure the administration’s blessing to buy the wildly popular, but besieged, music video app.Microsoft in a blog post Sunday confirmed talks to buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and said it’s aiming to complete the deal no later than Sept. 15.The software giant’s public statement follows closed-door discussions with TikTok and Trump, who floated plans for an outright ban of the app on national security grounds and publicly lambasted the idea of a deal late Friday night. The companies now have 45 days to hash out a plan acceptable to all parties, a deadline insisted on by the White House, according to people familiar with the matter. The two companies have not yet worked out key details for a deal, including price, according to people familiar with the matter.TikTok has become a flash point among rising U.S.-China tensions in recent months as U.S. politicians raised concerns that parent company ByteDance Ltd. could be compelled to hand over American users’ data to Beijing or use the app to influence the 165 million Americans, and more than 2 billion users globally, who have downloaded it. The app also drew ire from the U.S. president after anti-Trump activists used the platform to disrupt campaign activities.In its blog post, Microsoft pledged to add more security, privacy and digital safety protections to the TikTok app and ensure that all private data of Americans be transferred back to the U.S. and deleted from servers outside the country. The company also said it may invite other American investors to take minority stakes in the company.“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the company said. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”TikTok, Hong Kong and More U.S.-China Flashpoints: QuickTakeIf a deal goes through, it would mark a dramatic intervention by the U.S. government in private enterprise and alter the global technology landscape. It would hand Microsoft a much more prominent role in social media and online advertising -- and threaten to end an era of globalization in the tech industry.Microsoft’s statement didn’t explicitly say whether Trump would approve an agreement and forgo a TikTok ban, though Microsoft would likely make such a public pronouncement only if it thought that would be forthcoming. Microsoft’s shares rose more than 4% in Germany.A TikTok spokeswoman declined to comment, while the White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Bytedance is committed to becoming a global company and strictly abides by local laws, the TikTok owner said in an online statement Sunday.The blog post from Microsoft came after a weekend of tense negotiations that lasted late into the night among Microsoft, TikTok and the White House, as well as a string of appearances on Sunday morning cable shows by U.S. politicians trying to sway the President’s decision.Factions within the administration and Congress have split into two camps: Those that want to keep the wildly popular music video app in operation by delivering it into the arms of an American company, and those that want to ban the app altogether in the U.S. because of TikTok’s Chinese roots. The latter would send a message to China that the U.S. too can also block internet companies from operating on its shores like China does with Facebook, Twitter and Google.TikTok was launched in the U.S. more than two years ago, following Bytedance’s 2017 purchase of lip-synching app Musical.ly, which it folded into TikTok. The app became a social-media hit in the U.S -- the first Chinese platform to make such inroads.As TikTok surged to popularity, officials began calling for a national security investigation into the app. In November 2019, The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which investigates overseas acquisitions of U.S. businesses, opened a review of the Musical.ly purchase.TikTok has repeatedly rejected accusations that it feeds user data to China or is beholden to Beijing, even though ByteDance is based there. It spent months trying to distance itself from its Chinese roots. It hired its first American CEO in June, former Walt Disney Co. executive Kevin Mayer, as well as dozens of D.C. lobbyists. It announced plans for a new global headquarters outside of China and said it was considering other organizational changes to satisfy U.S. authorities.After the coronavirus pandemic strained relations between the U.S. and China further, the anti-TikTok rhetoric grew louder. In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump both floated a possible ban of the app, suggesting there could be real action behind the China hawks’ words.In response, ByteDance’s venture investors, including Sequoia Capital, urged company founder and Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming to head off any U.S. government action by selling a majority stake in TikTok to them, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News in July. At first, Zhang was reticent to give up control, but Bytedance feared an outright ban in the U.S. and the loss of a multi-billion business, according to people familiar with the deliberations. India instituted a ban on TikTok, which quickly devastated its business there.Zhang relented and got on board with selling a majority stake to U.S. investors, but it turned out that arrangement wasn’t sufficient. Administration officials didn’t want to leave the company’s Chinese founder with even a minority stake or for ByteDance’s long-time venture capital allies to have a majority stake in the company, these people said.Meanwhile, Microsoft and TikTok began preliminary deal discussions. Talks beginning in July involved Nadella, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood and President and Chief Legal officer Brad Smith, the people said. Erich Andersen, TikTok’s general counsel -- who spent 25 years at Microsoft, including working for Smith before joining TikTok this year -- was also involved in the conversations.At that point, ByteDance was facing increasingly dire threats in the U.S. Proposals by the company intended to assuage U.S. regulators concerns about TikTok had fallen short and the company was running out of time and options, one of the people said. On Monday, Zhang told employees in a memo that ByteDance, while disagreeing with Trump’s decision, is exploring all possibilities and working round the clock to resolve its intensifying confrontation with U.S. authorities.Over the weekend, Sec. Pompeo said the Trump administration will announce measures shortly against “a broad array” of Chinese-owned software deemed to pose national-security risks, suggesting the actions may go beyond the one Chinese app. In a late Friday night missive, Trump told reporters: “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”TikTok has hired almost 1,000 people in the U.S. this year and will be employing another 10,000 into “great paying jobs” in the U.S., a company spokeswoman said in a statement. The business’s $1 billion creator fund also supports people in the country who are building livelihoods from the platform, she added.“TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access,” she said. “TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety.”The purchase of TikTok’s operations in the U.S. and the three other countries, should it be concluded, would represent a huge coup for Microsoft. The world’s largest software company would gain a social-media app that has won over young people with a steady diet of dance videos, lip-syncing clips and viral memes. The company has dabbled in the lucrative sector, but hasn’t developed a popular service of its own. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, a job-hunting and corporate networking company, for $26.2 billion in 2016.A deal would vault Microsoft into the social media and advertising markets dominated by Facebook Inc. and Google. Microsoft once paid $6.3 billion for Internet ad company aQuantive, the largest deal ever for the company at the time. The effort failed and the company ended up writing down almost the whole value of the deal and then selling its remaining display ad business to AOL in 2015.Microsoft has a search ad business but it declined 18% last quarter. With no consumer social media app, Xbox and Minecraft are pretty much its sole attention-getter among younger users. TikTok would help bolster that business, though it would also push Microsoft to confront controversial areas it has mostly avoided, such as censorship and disinformation.Buying TikTok would give Microsoft “a crown jewel” in consumer social media at a time when Facebook and Google are under massive regulatory scrutiny over antitrust concerns, said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives in a research note.Microsoft, which briefly employed Zhang, is an American company but it’s also deeply embedded in China. Bing and Linkedin, which both censor content in China, remain the only major search engine and social networking platform allowed to operate in China by U.S. companies.Microsoft and TikTok now have 45 days to hash out a price, terms, how Microsoft would pay for the unit, or how any technology-sharing or transfer of assets of the video-sharing app would work. Deal negotiations may be complicated by tensions between ByteDance investors eager for a big payout for the popular app and Microsoft executives who view themselves as a white knight rescuing a troubled business. The Trump administration could also throw a wrench into the process at any point.An outpouring of support for TikTok and anger against President Trump spread across the Internet in recent days as users displayed outrage with a potential U.S. ban on what’s become one of the most popular media companies in America. Videos with the hashtag ban had more than 620 million views by Sunday night on TikTok.“This is what Trump gets for planning to ban Tiktok,” wrote one user on TikTok named @rainbownursesarah, flashing to a video of a sparsely-packed stadium at a Tulsa, Oklahoma Trump campaign rally that TikTok users sought to disrupt in June.Free speech advocates also piled on against the idea of banning any kind of Internet service, regardless of its owner.“Banning an app that millions of Americans use to communicate with each other is a danger to free expression,” said Jennifer Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Shutting one platform down, even if it were legally possible to do so, harms freedom of speech online and does nothing to resolve the broader problem of unjustified government surveillance.”(Updates with ByteDance’s founder’s memo from the 19th 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.
MongoDB (NASDAQ: MDB), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), and Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA) are all experiencing growth during this difficult economic time, and are perfectly poised to keep growing over the long haul. Brian Withers (MongoDB): A lot has happened in the last 50 years, especially in tech.
Did you know what Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) was? Financial fortitude: Zoom has about $1.4 billion in cash, almost no long-term debt, and has brought in $350 million in free cash flow over the past year.
(Bloomberg) -- Snap Inc. is introducing a new feature that lets customers add music to their posts within Snapchat, creating a way for young people to share songs with friends and a new promotional tool for the music industry.Snap will roll out a test of the product in New Zealand and Australia starting Monday and plans to release it more widely later this year, according to a spokesperson. The company has secured the rights to music from several major music companies, including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group and Merlin.Millions of people already use social media to share music, either in links to streaming services or videos set to songs. Securing music rights will enable Snapchat users to do so without the risk of violating copyrights or having the videos taken down.This new feature also allows Snapchat to offer similar features as Instagram and TikTok, two of its biggest rivals and subjects of increased government scrutiny. Snap says it has a larger audience in the U.S. than TikTok or Twitter, reaching 90% of people between the ages of 13 and 24.“We’re always looking for new ways to give Snapchatters creative tools to express themselves,” the company said in a statement. “Music is a new dimension they can add to their Snaps that help capture feelings and moments they want to share with their real friends.”After years of not paying for music, social-media companies are lining up to secure the rights. Facebook licensed music in late 2017 and just expanded its deal with music companies to include officially licensed music videos. Twitch and TikTok are also in talks to license music rights from major record companies.Read more: Facebook finally gets the rights to music videosThe deals represent a significant new source of revenue for music companies, which have long been critical of technology platforms for getting rich off their work. Many social-media apps used music to secure an audience, and many of their most popular videos and memes are set to music.Social media is also a vital promotional channel for most artists, helping them communicate directly with fans. Many of the biggest hits of the past few years originated on apps such as TikTok and YouTube. With the new feature, Snap users will be able to see the name of the song being used in a video, and follow a link to listen to the full song in streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.The prospect of fresh cash and promotion comes at an opportune time. People have been listening to music less during the coronavirus pandemic — partly because they’re not commuting — and the sale of physical media is down.“Our goal is to enable cutting-edge social tools to bring our artists’ music to Snap’s highly engaged user base,” Oana Ruxandra, the chief digital officer at Warner Music Group, said in a statement.Snap has explored licensing music before and was once reported to be interested in buying Taylor Swift’s old record label. This new feature is a more modest endeavor, but also more in keeping with its role as a messaging app for friends.This is just the start of Snap’s music strategy. But it has yet to reach a deal with the record-label arm of Universal Music, the world’s largest, or Sony, owner of the world’s top music publisher.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) -- Microsoft Corp. is exploring an acquisition of TikTok’s operations in the U.S., according to a people familiar with the matter. A deal would give the software company a popular social-media service and relieve U.S. government pressure on the Chinese owner of the video-sharing app.The Trump administration has been weighing whether to direct China-based ByteDance Ltd. to divest its stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations, according to several people familiar with the issue. The U.S. has been investigating potential national security risks due to the Chinese company’s control of the app.While the administration was prepared to announce an order as soon as Friday, according to three people familiar with the matter, another person said later that the decision was on hold, pending further review by President Donald Trump. All of the people asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.Spokespeople for Microsoft and TikTok declined to comment on any potential talks. The software company’s interest in the app was reported earlier by Fox Business Network.Trump on Friday night said he would ban TikTok from the U.S., and had the authority to do so by executive order or under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. He was signing the document on Saturday, he said.“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” the president told reporters. Asked when it would happen, he said: “Soon, immediately. I mean essentially immediately.”Earlier in the day, he said that “we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”Any transaction could face regulatory hurdles. ByteDance bought Musical.ly Inc. in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, creating a social-media hit in the U.S -- the first Chinese app to make such inroads. As TikTok became more popular, U.S. officials grew concerned about the potential for the Chinese government to use the app to gain data on U.S. citizens.The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. began a review in 2019 of the Musical.ly purchase. In recent years, CFIUS, which investigates overseas acquisitions of U.S. businesses, has taken a much more aggressive role in reviewing and approving deals that may threaten national security. It can recommend that the president block or unwind transactions.It’s also possible that other potential buyers could come forward, said another person familiar with the discussions. Microsoft’s industry peers -- Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. -- fit the profile of potential suitors, though all are under antitrust scrutiny from U.S. regulators, which would likely complicate a deal.A purchase of TikTok would represent a huge coup for Microsoft, which would gain a popular consumer app that has won over young people with a steady diet of dance videos, lip-syncing clips and viral memes. The company has dabbled in social-media investments in the past, but hasn’t developed a popular service of its own in the lucrative sector. Microsoft acquired the LinkedIn job-hunting and corporate networking company for $26.2 billion in 2016.Microsoft can point to one acquisition that came with a massive existing community of users that has increased under its ownership -- the 2014 deal for Minecraft, the best-selling video game ever.Other purchases of popular services have gone less well. The 2011 pickup of Skype led to several years of stagnation for the voice-calling service and Microsoft fell behind newer products in the category. Outside of Xbox, the company hasn’t focused on younger consumers. A TikTok deal could change that, though, and give Microsoft “a crown jewel on the consumer social media front,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote in a note to investors Friday.TikTok has repeatedly rejected accusations that it feeds user data to China or is beholden to Beijing, even though ByteDance is based there. TikTok now has a U.S.-based chief executive officer and ByteDance has considered making other organizational changes to satisfy U.S. authorities.“Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, including our community of creators and artists who are building livelihoods from the platform,” a TikTok spokeswoman said Friday. “We’re motivated by their passion and creativity, and committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”The mechanics of separating the TikTok app in the U.S. from the rest of its operations won’t come without complications. Unlike many tech companies in the U.S. where engineers for, say, Google, work on particular products like YouTube or Google Maps, many of ByteDance’s engineers work across its different platforms and services and continue to work on TikTok globally.On Thursday, U.S. Senators Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, wrote the Justice Department asking for an investigation of whether TikTok has violated the constitutional rights of Americans by sharing private information with the Chinese government.A deal with Microsoft could potentially help extract ByteDance from the political war between the U.S. and China.U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, applauded the idea of a TikTok sale. “In its current form, TikTok represents a potential threat to personal privacy and our national security,” Rubio said in a statement. “We must do more than simply remove ByteDance from the equation. Moving forward, we must establish a framework of standards that must be met before a high-risk, foreign-based app is allowed to operate on American telecommunications networks and devices.”(Updates with Trump’s comments in the 5th 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.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. isn’t the only company interested in buying TikTok’s U.S. operations, according to people familiar with the matter.U.S. government officials probing national-security concerns around the Chinese-owned video-sharing app have had talks with at least one other large company as well as investors in TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd. who are interested in taking a stake in TikTok, according to one of the people, who requested anonymity because the discussions are private. This person declined to identify these companies.ByteDance is considering changes to the structure of TikTok because President Donald Trump is weighing ordering a divestiture of TikTok’s U.S. business, a decision that could come at any time.Venture investors in ByteDance have approached Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming with a range of proposals to address U.S. concerns that the app, especially popular with teens, is a security threat, people familiar with the matter have said. Any solution would likely have to pass scrutiny from U.S. regulators in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, as well as U.S. antitrust regulators.The deal provides a rare opportunity to profit off the momentum of the fastest-growing social media app in the U.S. Still, not all companies likely to be attracted to such a deal will even be in the running. TikTok’s valuation is estimated at $20 billion to $40 billion, so few companies would be able to afford it. Most of those that would are likely to find it politically difficult to make the move.The CEOs of Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. testified this week in the U.S. House of Representatives to answer lawmakers’ questions about their enormous market power. While any one of the four companies could fit TikTok into their product offerings, deals by these giants are already under a microscope.Google, whose YouTube is a competing video offering, is already facing a European Union probe for its much smaller acquisition of Fitbit Inc. Apple doesn’t tend to make acquisitions anywhere near large as TikTok. And Facebook’s years-ago purchases of smaller rivals Instagram and WhatsApp have been brought up anew amid the antitrust scrutiny. The world’s largest social network has already worked to turn lawmakers against TikTok, and is unlikely to court further risk to its already tenuous position on data security. Facebook also looked at purchasing Musical.ly, the predecessor to TikTok, in 2016, and passed.Microsoft, with a market value of $1.55 trillion, is bigger than Google or Facebook, but currently has a better reputation in Washington. The company wasn’t invited to the antitrust hearing on July 29, and has largely escaped recent criticism of Big Tech’s outsize influence. It’s unclear whether Microsoft would seek to integrate TikTok into its own operations, or join with other investors from private equity or venture capital to finance spinning out TikTok as a separate entity based in the U.S. With the second option, investors could seek to gain even more from a TikTok stock listing in the future.Media companies, such as Walt Disney Co. and Verizon Communications Inc., have been interested in purchasing social-media assets in the past. Disney in 2016 considered but ultimately decided against purchasing Twitter Inc., for instance. TikTok’s U.S.-based CEO, Kevin Mayer, was formerly the head of streaming for Disney, and may be better positioned to help broker a deal in the media world.Other social-media companies, such as Twitter and Snapchat parent Snap Inc., have smaller valuations than TikTok and therefore are unlikely bidders. They would need to use stock or outside financial help to complete such a transaction.It’s still not clear how a U.S. divestiture of TikTok would work, and how completely the app would have to separate from its current Chinese ownership. The company hasn’t said how such a move would affect employees, the technology or its product. However the ownership shakes out, there is one group that no potential buyer or investor wants to alienate: TikTok’s 165 million American users.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.
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(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. is unhappy with Facebook Inc.’s efforts to keep hateful and disparaging content away from the automaker’s brands and has joined peer Ford Motor Co. and other companies that have stopped advertising with the social-media company.GM said Friday it has paused placing ads on Facebook in recent weeks and is in talks with the company about improving efforts to eliminate harmful content on its popular platform.GM’s move is a sign that the pressure on Facebook will continue in August and potentially longer. Ford and Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. subsidiary also said Friday they have no plans to resume spending on Facebook. On Thursday, Unilever NV-owned ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s extended through the end of the year its halt of paid social-media advertising.“We are not satisfied with the progress Facebook has taken to date and therefore have paused our media investment with the platform,” GM said in a statement. “We are encouraging them to move faster to implement meaningful change so that we can quickly return to a safer digital space that mirrors our brand values.”Ford Reloads YouTubeFord said it is evaluating efforts to curb hate speech on social media operated by Facebook and its unit Instagram Inc., as well as by Snap Inc., Twitter Inc. and TikTok Inc. platforms. However the automaker announced it will resume ads on Alphabet Inc. unit YouTube and Pinterest Inc. after a 30-day pause.“This is an ongoing evaluation and we will continue to monitor all platforms with checkpoints on progress towards our ad accountability agenda,” Ford spokesman Said Deep said in an email. “We will continue to be actively engaged with industry initiatives led by the Association of National Advertisers to drive more accountability, transparency and trusted measurement to clean up the digital and social-media ecosystem.”A month ago, when the StopHateForProfit campaign started, many big corporations said they would stop advertising for the month of July. At that time, GM said it was reviewing its marketing.The automaker qualified its Friday announcement by saying it already had cut its advertising during the pandemic, reflecting lower production and less traffic in showrooms. Its budget for Facebook advertising did not involve a large sum of money, said GM spokesman Jim Cain.(Updates with Ford and Honda keeping ads off Facebook in third 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.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It looks like the TikTok spinout scenario is fully in play.For weeks, White House officials – including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump – have raised the prospect of a ban of ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok app in the U.S., citing national security concerns. But now it seems the government could be amenable to a middle ground. On Friday, Bloomberg News reported Trump plans to order ByteDance Ltd. to divest its ownership of TikTok. Then later in the afternoon, several media outlets reported Microsoft Corp. is in talks to purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations.To be clear, if ByteDance is forced to sell TikTok under the administration’s pressure, the story won’t be over. TikTok is only one front in a wider campaign of rising political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China. China may retaliate by targeting American business interests on its soil or taking other measures that further inflame the situation. But putting all that aside and in the meantime, let’s consider the merits of a TikTok sale. There seem to be two active bidders for the app. One is Microsoft. As for the other, Reuters reported earlier this week that some of Bytedance’s U.S investors have proposed a bid for a majority stake of TikTok, valuing the company’s non-China operations at $50 billion. The offer would be about 50 times TikTok’s forecast sales of $1 billion this year, Reuters reported.On a personal level, an independent TikTok owned by American venture capital firms is the preferable option. By staying separate, the social media app can hire and retain the best engineers with tantalizing pre-IPO stock compensation. Top-tier technical talent is needed to keep the company on the bleeding edge. And history is littered with examples of upstarts that were acquired by larger companies and subsequently lost their ability to nimbly react to competitors. Examples of M&A debacles include Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr and News Corp.’s Myspace purchase.In this instance, though, Microsoft may be the best suitor. On the surface, it may seem strange to contemplate such a large deal in an environment of greater regulator scrutiny over the technology industry’s acquisitions. In fact, we are just days removed from CEOs of four other Big Tech companies getting grilled over their anticompetitive practices before a House subcommittee. However, counter-intuitively this merger can make sense in terms of antitrust principles. A Microsoft-TikTok combination would create a much more competitive U.S. digital advertising market by establishing a powerful third player against the two dominant internet ad goliaths, Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. And let’s face it, the administration may prefer a sale of TikTok — even to a giant like Microsoft — over banning an app that’s wildly popular with millions of Americans. Microsoft’s businesses would benefit as well by adding scale to its burgeoning digital advertising operation, anchored by its Bing search engine. The company could also cross-promote TikTok’s social media video features across its Xbox gaming console and cloud services. And finally, ByteDance may appreciate a deal with Microsoft for a purely expedient purpose. The software giant valued at roughly $1.6 trillion can quickly and easily pay the Chinese company the tens of billions TikTok is worth without the complications of dealing with multiple smaller investment firms.So at the end if the day, a Microsoft-TikTok combination may be the best and most elegant solution for all parties involved. The happiest may actually be the apps users, celebrating their favorite service’s survival.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Jul.31 -- Tim Sweeney, chief executive officer of Fortnite owner Epic Games, discusses his view on Apple's antitrust behavior on "Bloomberg Technology."
(Bloomberg) -- The Covid-19 pandemic is fueling an e-commerce boom as shuttered businesses move online -- but Google isn’t benefiting in the way its big tech rivals are.Google advertising sales fell 8% in the second quarter, causing overall revenue at parent Alphabet Inc. to shrink for the first time. The company’s main digital ad rival Facebook Inc. saw sales jump 11%, while Amazon.com Inc. revenue soared 40%.Those gaps highlighted how Google has struggled to parlay its online search dominance into a meaningful e-commerce business. Google’s shares fell 3% on Friday, while Amazon rose 4% and Facebook jumped 8%.While Google runs the world’s largest search engine, U.S. consumers are more likely to look for things to buy on Amazon. Facebook’s Instagram has focused heavily on online shopping, and Facebook itself recent unveiled a big e-commerce initiative. Meanwhile, Google’s ad business has been hurt by exposure to the travel industry and brick and mortar retailers, which have been devastated by the pandemic.Google was asked about this disparity during a conference call late Thursday. “We’ve gone through this pandemic where there is a real inflection point. We see it in Amazon’s results,” Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said. “I’m not sure I see it in Google’s results.”The internet giant is aware of the problem. During Thursday’s call, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai spoke repeatedly about the company’s e-commerce initiatives.He highlighted more investment in a Buy on Google feature that lets people purchase products directly through search results without having to go to a retailer’s website.The CEO also touted Smart Shopping campaigns, a type of ad that lets merchants upload their products, set a marketing budget and then leaves Google’s artificial intelligence software to decide when and where to place ads around the web. The process is meant to make advertising easier for smaller sellers.The company’s YouTube unit is also pushing more ads and features that let people buy directly from the video site.Google is trying to make direct commerce a bigger part of its business in other ways, too. In recent months, it has opened up its Google Shopping marketplace to more merchants, dropped transaction fees and let any seller upload product listings for free. Before this, Google Shopping was mostly an advertising operation that required retailers to pay when consumers clicked on product ads.“Users come to Google a lot to find the products they are looking for,” Pichai said on Thursday. “Sometimes, the journeys may fail because they don’t find what they’re looking for, so we want to make sure it’s comprehensive.”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) -- Shopify Inc. is a growing rival to Amazon.com Inc. in e-commerce. The Canadian tech company is still much smaller than the U.S. giant, of course -- except in one respect.Ottawa-based Shopify, which went public only five years ago, has come to have an outsized impact on equity returns in its home country. It now accounts for fully 6.5% of the S&P/TSX Composite Index, more than Amazon’s 4.9% weight in the S&P 500.As Shopify goes -- and most of the time it goes up, not down -- so goes Canada’s main equity benchmark. The stock’s blistering run has added more than 4.5 percentage points to the TSX index’s return this year. That’s far more than the influence of Amazon, Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc. or Facebook Inc. on the S&P 500, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.One reason Shopify stands out, of course, is there are no other Canadian tech companies even close to its size: it closed the week with a market value of C$165 billion ($123 billion). As investors pile into the tech sector globally -- and as more retailers turn to online selling to serve customers during the pandemic -- Shopify’s popularity keeps growing. The stock is an easy choice for managers of Canadian large-cap funds who want some local exposure to e-commerce.The three largest sectors in the TSX index -- financials, energy and materials -- have a combined 55% weighting, with 99 of the index’s 221 members.The index has only 10 tech companies. Yet, they now represent 10.5% of the TSX composite, and that percentage has almost doubled this year. For Shopify, its influence has tripled since the end of 2019.Shopify’s stellar earnings report this week provided fresh evidence of how the stock can push around the broader index. After reporting second-quarter sales that nearly doubled, crushing analysts’ estimates, the stock jumped 6.8%.On that day the TSX rose 173 points. Shopify alone contributed 71 points of the gain, data compiled by Bloomberg show.Read more: Big Tech Earnings Surge During Pandemic While the Economy Slumps“Shopify has moved to rival Royal Bank largely because it is perceived as ‘Amazon Junior’ – facilitating the global move to online consumption,” said Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce strategist Ian de Verteuil in a July 17 report. “Excluding Shopify, S&P/TSX returns over the past year and YTD would be about 500 basis points lower -- as would the percent exposure to the three big sectors.”Here’s what happened this week.Just the NumbersEconomyCanada’s economy has made up almost half of its historic contraction since the worst days of the pandemic, Statistics Canada reported Friday. Gross domestic product expanded 4.5% in May versus April. June was even stronger, with the statistics agency reporting a flash estimate of another 5% increase. Cumulatively, GDP has increased about 10% in the two months, after falling more than 18% in March and April.The Canadian government’s efforts to prevent the economy from collapsing have resulted in more red ink in just two months than in any full year in the country’s history. The shortfall for April and May hit C$87 billion, according to finance department figures released Friday.PoliticsPrime Minister Justin Trudeau denied allegations his ties to the WE Charity led the government to award a contract to the organization. In 90 minutes of testimony to a parliamentary committee, he said he never influenced the public service’s decision to choose WE to administer a C$900 million student-grant program this spring, even though he realized in hindsight he should have recused himself from cabinet’s final decision on the matter.Trudeau unveiled a plan to wind down Ottawa’s flagship Covid-19 income support benefit and bring recipients into an expanded employment insurance system. The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit will be phased out as the first people to receive the C$2,000 monthly payments start losing eligibility at the end of August.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.
Stocks ended higher on Friday, with the Nasdaq outperforming after a slew of better than expected corporate earnings results from major tech firms. Facebook and Apple posted record closing highs.
“It is time to return to our roots and break up” big tech to “oxygenate the marketplace,” says NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway.