|Bid||167.43 x 1400|
|Ask||167.46 x 1000|
|Day's range||164.06 - 170.00|
|52-week range||118.58 - 190.70|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.96|
|PE ratio (TTM)||29.00|
|Earnings date||21 Apr 2020 - 26 Apr 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||2.04 (1.23%)|
|Ex-dividend date||19 May 2020|
|1y target est||186.61|
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Teladoc Health, Zoom Video Communications, Microsoft and Alphabet
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. hired Apple Inc.’s former executive in charge of wireless technologies to work on mixed reality hardware and artificial intelligence technology.The Redmond, Washington-based technology giant appointed Ruben Caballero to a role as a corporate vice president, according to his LinkedIn profile. Caballero is working on hardware such as the HoloLens mixed-reality headset, according to his profile. The move underscores Microsoft’s investment in its growing hardware portfolio. Microsoft confirmed the hire.At Cupertino, California-based Apple, Caballero was a vice president of engineering in charge of developing wireless technology, such as antennas inside of devices like iPhones, iPads and Macs. He also oversaw Apple’s global wireless product testing efforts.Caballero worked at Apple from 2005 until early 2019 when his division’s work on modems -- chips that power cellular connectivity -- was subsumed by Apple’s custom chip division run by Johny Srouji. After leaving Apple, Caballero became an adviser at several Silicon Valley-area startups, including wireless company Keyssa and Humane, a startup run by former Apple employees.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.
Microsoft (MSFT) partners with WalkMe with an aim of bolstering Dynamics 365 adoption and boosting digital transformation of enterprises.
(Bloomberg) -- An experimental program led by Google parent Alphabet Inc. to wipe out disease-causing mosquitoes succeeded in nearly eliminating them from three test sites in California’s Central Valley.Stamping out illness caused by mosquitoes is one of Alphabet unit Verily’s most ambitious public-health projects. The effort appears to be paying off, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology on Monday. Verily is also running coronavirus triage and testing in parts of California. Bradley White, the lead scientist on the Debug initiative, said mosquito-suppression is even more important during the pandemic, so that outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever don’t further overwhelm hospitals.Since 2017, the company has released millions of lab-bred Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into several Fresno County neighborhoods during mosquito season. The insects are bred in Verily labs to be infected with a common bacterium called Wolbachia. When these male mosquitoes mate with females in the wild, the offspring never hatch.In results of the trial published on Monday, Verily revealed that throughout the peak of the 2018 mosquito season, from July to October, Wolbachia-infected males successfully suppressed more than 93% of the female mosquito population at field test sites. Only female mosquitoes bite.Working with the local mosquito abatement district and MosquitoMate, which developed the mosquitoes originally, Verily released as many as 80,000 mosquitoes each day in three neighborhoods from April 2018 through October 2018. In most collections, per night Verily found one or zero female mosquitoes in each trap designed to monitor the population. At other sites without the lab-bred bugs, there were as many as 16 females per trap.“We had a vision of what this should look like and we managed to do that pretty perfectly,” said Jacob Crawford, a senior scientist on the Debug project.In the arid climate of the Central Valley, disease is an unlikely result of a mosquito bite. But in the hot, humid regions of the tropics and subtropics, diseases caused by the Aedes aegypti, such as dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya, kill tens of thousands of people every year. Releasing masses of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes into the wild might wipe out entire populations of deadly mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.Verily is not the only organization pursuing an end to mosquito-borne disease. Microsoft Corp. co-Founder Bill Gates has pledged more than $1 billion to help wipe out malaria, including controversial efforts to genetically modify mosquitoes. Infecting mosquitoes with Wolbachia, which occurs naturally in some mosquito species, is a popular approach rooted in an old insect control strategy called sterile insect technique. What Verily’s efforts offer is not just evidence that Wolbachia can help wipe out disease-causing mosquitoes but potential ways to make such efforts work on a massive scale. Last year, Verily released about 14.4 million mosquitoes in Fresno County.Initial small-scale Fresno trials in 2016, run by an upstart called MosquitoMate, were the first time male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the bacteria were ever released in the U.S. The following year, Verily stepped in, bringing more advanced technology to the breeding and release process that could make it possible to expand such efforts to entire cities or regions.The new paper details many of those technologies, such as an automated process for separating male and female mosquitoes in the lab, and software that helps to determine exactly where to release altered male mosquitoes for maximum effectiveness.“Once you try to start rearing hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes a week, you run into all sorts of problems,” said White. “Mosquitoes may be everywhere, but they are really finicky and difficult to grow.”Verily has expanded its partnerships to include Singapore’s National Environment Agency. Trials there have entered a fourth phase to cover 121 urban residential blocks and about 45,000 residents. Verily is eyeing partnerships in South America and is in talks to launch in the Caribbean.Within a few years, said Crawford, Verily hopes the program will cover entire regions. Without intervention, he said, the public health toll of mosquito-born illness will only grow.“This is something that’s not going away on its own,” he said.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) -- Zoom Video Communications Inc. is under siege. While much of the criticism is understandable, the upstart isn’t quite the disaster some make it out to be.The video-conferencing company has faced an avalanche of scrutiny over its security and privacy issues — from instances of “zoombombing,” where uninvited trolls harass other meeting users, to video recordings showing up on public web servers. It culminated with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan proclaiming he “really messed up” on security to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, and then promising in an apology tour of several media interviews over the weekend to restore the company’s reputation.But let’s take a step back. While it’s true that Zoom has made mistakes, much of its problems stem from the unintended consequences of when demand explodes in unexpected ways than from any nefarious behavior. Originally founded in 2011 for corporate clients, Zoom’s software is now being used in situations it was never designed for.Last week, I wrote about how the stay-at-home restrictions required by the coronavirus pandemic were accelerating the move toward best-of-breed remote-working software vendors such as Zoom. Businesses flocked to Zoom because it offered an easy-to-use, high-quality video-conferencing service that worked reliably, versus its more cumbersome competitors. For these same reasons, consumers are using Zoom for all kinds of other uses – from virtual cocktail hours to studying and fitness sessions. Consequently, Zoom usage has soared. The company said it reached more than 200 million daily active users last month, compared to just 10 million at the end of December.As consumer use skyrocketed, though, the company was slow to realize that the changing nature of its customer base required different practices. While its traditional business users are more sophisticated, the mainstream require more hand-holding. Compounding the problems, many of the new users didn’t know how to use basic features that would have stopped the majority of the security complaints.Many users publicly shared their meeting links on social media, opening the door for any prankster to enter. To combat zoombombing, users could have required meeting passwords and enabled a pre-meeting waiting-room feature to control who can join the conference — but these are the types of things ordinary consumers may not have known about as readily as a corporate customer. Zoom should have been quicker and more forceful in building awareness of the tools it had at hand and enabling default security settings.The company was also misleading with its “end-to-end” encryption marketing, when it offered a less robust form of protection.Zoom has now realized the utility of requiring different setup parameters. Starting on Sunday, the company enabled the meeting password and waiting-room features by default for its free basic and entry-level paid plan users. Meanwhile, Yuan told the Journal the full encryption feature is under development and a “few months” away.The company may have moved too late for some. Late Friday, New York City, the nation’s largest school system, said it wants teachers at its schools to cease using Zoom as soon as possible due to security and privacy concerns. As an alternative, it is asking classrooms to migrate to Microsoft Teams. Understandably, some school systems are worried about young kids’ classrooms getting zoombombed. Interestingly, the move sparked outrage from teachers on social media, who say any transition away from Zoom will be difficult and lower student access to remote learning. Yuan told CNN the company is “still in the process of working with New York schools to make sure we do enforce security safety.”While Zoom hasn’t been perfect, some of the worst fears about the company may be overblown. It has clearly stated it has never sold user data and has no intention to sell it going forward. And many of the security issues could have been avoided simply through better education of its features. The fact is, Zoom is providing an enormously helpful, reliable service, allowing hundreds of millions of people to cope under the current trying circumstance — in most cases entirely free. At the end of day, Zoom is not the villain here.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of 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.
"Providing a safe and secure remote learning experience for our students is essential, and upon further review of security concerns, schools should move away from using Zoom as soon as possible," said Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the New York City Dept. of Education. Instead, the city's Dept. of Education is transitioning schools to Microsoft Teams, which the spokesperson said has the "same capabilities with appropriate security measures in place."
(Bloomberg) -- Data sharing by technology companies is helping government officials fight the dizzying spread of the coronavirus by monitoring compliance with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.It’s also putting privacy experts on edge.Companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. were already collecting, for advertising purposes, huge volumes of data from websites and smart-phone apps like maps and weather services, which transmit signals about their owners’ location. Some of them are now stripping the data of personal identification markers, aggregating it, and providing it to researchers, public-health authorities and government agencies.The ability to pinpoint the movements of individuals is crucial at a time when controlling the pandemic’s spread depends on compliance with government orders to stay home if possible, and to practice social distancing if not.But consumer advocates fear that an emphasis on health over privacy could undermine the protection of civil liberties, similar to what happened after 9/11, when the U.S. secretly began collecting mass amounts of data on its own citizens in an effort to track down terrorists.Risk of Intrusion“There is an understandable desire to marshal all tools that are at our disposal to help confront the pandemic,” said Michael Kleinman, director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative. “Yet countries’ efforts to contain the virus must not be used as an excuse to create a greatly expanded and more intrusive digital surveillance system.”In the U.S. the new data-sharing practices are happening on many levels. One leading effort that began two weeks ago involves a partnership between a network of researchers and tech companies such as Facebook, which supplies anonymous and aggregated geo-location data.In assembly-line fashion, an analytics firm called Camber Systems takes mobile application data from digital ad companies and sends it multiple times a day to researchers who’ve joined the Covid-19 Mobility Data Network, according to network co-coordinator Andrew Schroeder.Those scientists study the now-anonymous data from multiple sources for insights about mobility rates, which are then shared with foreign governments like Italy and Spain and with U.S. states and cities, including New York, Seattle and California, Schroeder said.No ‘Surveillance’ The network says the analysis, which is meant to help measure enforcement of social-distancing rules, doesn’t contain personally identifiable information and that contracts governing the use of the information prohibit raw data from going directly to governments.Camber Systems declined to comment. Facebook said its data are aggregated in formats that prevent re-identification of individuals and that scientists and other users are subject to licensing agreements. Schroeder said the group is only using the data to address the public health crisis and not “for commercial purposes” or for “police surveillance.” Separately, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and others have pledged to work together in coordination with government to combat the spread of the virus. An ad hoc tech industry task force has also spoken with White House officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a person familiar with the matter. Members of that task force have discussed proposals to share analyses of social-distancing compliance and hospital usage, the person said.Google announced Friday it would release new data about how the pandemic has cut down on foot traffic to transit centers, retail stores and public parks in more than 130 countries. The company said it’s responding to requests from public-health officials who want to know how people are moving around cities as a way to better combat the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Google reiterated in a blog post on Friday that, in its mobility reports, it’s using anonymized, aggregated data. Apple Inc. launched yet another initiative when it announced on March 27 that it was developing an app in partnership with the White House’s coronavirus task force, the CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The goal is to give the CDC guidance on users who input symptoms, risk factors and other information. The company said that individual responses wouldn’t be sent to the government.Earlier: Apple Joins Others in Launching Covid-19 Screening ToolsBut on Friday, four Democratic senators sent a letter asking what Apple was doing about privacy compliance, data retention, cybersecurity, and the terms of agreements with governments.With so many initiatives popping up, privacy gurus worry that information collected will later be used in ways it wasn’t intended. They say they don’t want to obstruct efforts that could help turn the tide in the crisis. Still, they want assurances that the data are truly anonymous. They want the data to be clearly defined, with real potential to be helpful, and to include limits on its reuse -- especially by law enforcement. They also want the data discarded once the coronavirus crisis ends.The sources of anonymous data can sometimes be exposed by combining datasets. Even when made anonymous, location points that come from phone apps, for instance, can be linked to a person by checking who lives at the address where the phone rests at night.“Location data can clue you in to a lot of other sensitive points about you,” said Sara Collins, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. “This discussion about backing into sensitive data from one data point I think is going to stay relevant.”Some of the data-sharing initiatives have already exposed potential community-spread problems. Tectonix GEO, based in Maryland, specializes in visualizing geolocation data, including for the federal government. It teamed up with X-Mode Social, based in Virginia, which sells location data from mobile phones to marketers. In March, they used the phone coordinates found on a single Florida beach during spring break to show how people had congregated and then dispersed -- possibly spreading the virus far and wide.X-Mode hasn’t shared any data with governments or heath agencies and hasn’t been been asked to, a spokesman for the company said.Cuebiq Inc., which specializes in helping companies analyze the effectiveness of ad campaigns on travel, weather, and other location-based apps, is posting its own “Mobility Insights,” with county-level readings across the U.S. on the movements of people in areas under stay-at-home orders. Chief Executive Officer Antonio Tomarchio, said it chose to provide analysis from a wide geographic area to protect privacy while trying “to help as much as we can.”“This is not like surveillance,” said Tomarchio, who’s watched the “disaster” unfold in his native Italy. “It’s not that we’re seeing each device.”Privacy RulesBusiness groups have used the pandemic to seek a delay in privacy rules, including a March letter from dozens of trade groups that urged California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to delay enforcement of the state’s new privacy law for six months due to Covid-19. The groups represent advertisers, tech companies, financial services firms, telecom providers, retailers, toymakers and more. Becerra’s office said it wasn’t planning any delay in the July 1 enforcement date.“Industry wants to use its role addressing today’s threats to public health as a lobbying tool to weaken the resolve of lawmakers to protect privacy,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and a longtime online privacy advocate.Use of consumers’ data is governed largely by individual services’ privacy policies, which are often contained in sprawling documents that most users click through without reading. Few, if any, of the data uses clearly run afoul of laws or regulations, privacy experts say.Hubei ProvinceMany of the proposed ways to use data to combat coronavirus in the U.S. also stop short of what several other countries have done.In China, authorities used phone-carrier data to trace everyone who’s been in or near Hubei province, home to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Singapore’s TraceTogether app uses Bluetooth technology to map a person’s contacts in case an infected person fails to recall all social interactions. And Israel has approved the use of tracking technology developed to combat terrorism to trace the movements of coronavirus patients.The lack of a federal law in the U.S. and the potential for privacy erosions are prompting advocates to push for guardrails. “This pandemic is just another example of why we need a strong, comprehensive baseline federal privacy law and a U.S. data protection agency,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, policy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which has filed government records demands about the White House’s work with tech companies.“People may choose safety for the moment,” said Jessica Rich, a former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau and now a fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy. “When this crisis is over, we will have eroded privacy norms and expectations and even regulations. And will we be able to get that back?”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.
Cloud computing comes to the rescue as countries practice social distancing, making people work remotely to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
(Bloomberg) -- When Microsoft Corp. Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott wanted to examine how artificial intelligence was poised to create yet another economic upheaval in a rural America, he returned to the Virginia countryside where he was born. Instead, he found small businesses already using technology and primed to take advantage of AI — a much more hopeful picture, if only the U.S. could figure out how to boost education and access to technology throughout the working class.In the months since since Scott finished writing “Reprogramming the American Dream,” which is scheduled for release next week, the Covid-19 pandemic has made the shortcomings he identifies starker and more immediate. The same way it’s hard to build a small business in towns without reliable fast internet access, people can’t work from home without it. In underfunded schools with little computer education, it’s hard to set up distance learning.“We want to put opportunity and the best possible tools into the hands of as many people as possible,” Scott said in an interview. “I don’t know that it’s going to be some overnight transformation, but we have to bake it into the values that we have and the economic decisions we are all making as consumers, big businesses, partners and policy makers.”After 16 years working on machine learning, Scott, 48, said he’d developed a typical point of view in the industry that AI would be a disaster for low- and middle-skilled workers and a boon to information and tech workers. Yet in a visit to his hometown of Gladys, Virginia, and its county seat -- the evocatively named Rustburg (population 1,431 in the last census) -- he found burgeoning small businesses using new technology and a cause for optimism mixed with high rates of poverty and unemployment borne from the demise of local industries like textiles and tobacco.“I had this ‘a-ha’ moment that these people I’d grown up with were doing work and running businesses that were already using technology in really interesting ways, and the types of tech they were using were exactly the sorts of things that were going to be amenable to improvements with AI,” he said. These people, and not the tech leaders and AI researchers, were going to have a better idea how to use AI for their specific industries and challenges, he said. Scott is pushing ideas he hopes will boost rural economies and lessen the impact of future disruptions like the current one. Microsoft, his employer, stands to benefit greatly by more use of AI as one of the largest providers of AI tools over the internet. He suggests the U.S. government spend $200 billion, an amount equivalent to the Apollo program that sent the first astronauts to the moon, for “AI in service of the public good.” He calculated the figure using the percentage of GDP spent on the Apollo program in the 1960s. If some of that funding is used to provide better health care for all, it might pay for itself by reducing waste and costs, he said. He also wants the government to come up with ways to provide ongoing education for the skills of the future and to finally fix the lack of rural broadband. Promoting rural small businesses, like the precision plastic parts plant a high school classmate of Scott’s manages in an former textile mill, will also require buyers for their goods. The current pandemic, which has large companies rethinking their overseas supply chains, particularly in China, may provide opportunities for smaller U.S.-based businesses to prove their worth, Scott said. Companies like Microsoft can help by committing to buy from rural America more often, he said. While using artificial intelligence to sharpen and improve business practices is essential, Scott said, the technology can’t replace people in many areas. “We should make sure we are never taking for granted those things humans do uniquely well,” he said.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.
Facebook (FB) releases Messenger App For Windows and MacOS as usage of desktop browser increases 100% amid coronavirus-induced lockdown.
RingCentral founder Vlad Shmunis details a big uptick in business as people work from home during the coronavirus in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
The lockdown due to coronavirus scare has forced people to work and look for entertainment at home only, raising the demand for cloud computing, gaming and e-sports, as well as streaming services.
Microsoft is still well below a 190.80 buy point. But the RS line is already at new highs. MSFT is working toward its 50-day line and March 31 peak. A move to 164.88 or above would clear both those areas, a nice early entry for this Long Term Leader.