MSFT Apr 2020 105.000 put

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
0.0500
-0.0200 (-28.57%)
As of 3:53PM EDT. Market open.
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous close0.0700
Open0.0700
Bid0.0500
Ask0.0900
Strike105.00
Expiry date2020-04-17
Day's range0.0500 - 0.0700
Contract rangeN/A
Volume57
Open interest2.56k
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  • A More Hopeful View of AI’s Impact on America’s Rural Worker
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    A More Hopeful View of AI’s Impact on America’s Rural Worker

    (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.

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  • The True Cost of All Your Amazon Deliveries
    Bloomberg

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    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Coronavirus self-isolation is fostering a growing dependency on Amazon.com Inc. But it’s also refocusing attention on the human cost of having the entire stock of the “Everything Store” merely a click and a day away from your front doorstep.Amazon workers at a fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York are on strike, saying the company has not been responsive to safety concerns and demanding that the facility be closed for two weeks and sanitized. In Italy, Amazon reached an agreement with workers last week to provide additional virus containment measures and end an 11-day strike. Elsewhere, France’s labor minister has demanded an improvement to the working environment for the firm’s employees, saying that “protection conditions are insufficient.”The comments came a week after Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos outlined many of the company’s efforts to blunt the effects of coronavirus in an open letter posted on Instagram, including boosting worker pay in the U.S.Demand for Amazon delivery services has, meanwhile, given its stock better protection than its tech peers from the recent market pummeling. The shares are down 9.4% since Feb. 19, compared with the average 22% decline of Apple Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc.The logical conclusion is that Amazon should be doing a lot more to protect its workers. It can afford to: It’s sitting on $55 billion in cash and is expected to generate another $34 billion of free cash flow this year.But the stark reality is that Amazon’s e-commerce business isn’t very profitable. Its cloud computing operations are the money-printing machine. That unit will enjoy a 28% operating margin on sales of some $46 billion this year, helped by the surge in internet usage caused by people logging on from home for longer, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral estimates. The company’s other $288 billion of revenue will generate operating profit of as little as $3 billion.That razor-thin profitability hints at the strict cost control upon which Amazon relies to ensure goods are delivered cheaply and quickly. Unfortunately, cost control is often a euphemism for low wages, ungenerous benefits and a squeeze on suppliers. A 2018 analysis by the Economist found that after Amazon opens a storage depot, local wages for warehouse workers fall by an average of 3%. Nor does that inspire much confidence in Amazon’s latest moves: The recently announced $2 per hour pay bump will hold only until April, while the doubling of overtime pay will expire in May — for now, at least.What’s more, workers’ negotiating power is likely to be eroded by the coronavirus crisis. The peak of U.S. labor exploitation came during the Great Depression, when everyone was scrambling for jobs, which in turn ultimately turbocharged labor organization. The number of jobseekers today is now at the highest in a half-century: A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week of March 21, compared with 211,000 just two weeks earlier.Bezos explicitly targeted those newly unemployed in his Instagram letter, explaining that the company would hire 100,000 additional employees to cope with increased demand. So the fact that only 100 people from a workforce of 4,000 at the Staten Island site are striking is either indicative of minimal discontent or a fear of retributive job losses (the only unionized Amazon employees in the U.S. are in its film and TV productions). As if to underscore the point, Amazon fired the worker leading the strike on Monday, ostensibly for “violating social distancing guidelines.” According to Amazon, only 15 people ultimately demonstrated in the strike, of whom just nine were actual employees.The working conditions at Amazon are partly our fault as consumers. The company has groomed us to rely on next-day deliveries at no extra cost, at least if we have a subscription to its Prime service. We probably don’t ask what it takes to make that work. For all of its Kiva warehousing robots and efforts with drone distribution, Amazon still depends on hundreds of thousands of human workers around the world. You know when you receive a massive box containing just a small parcel? That’s not because of some algorithmic misstep; it’s a person in a warehouse making a quick decision on how best to deliver your package.Amazon can for sure afford to lessen the load on its workers with better pay and working conditions, but only because of the massive success of its cloud business. It's harder for rivals to do so and still turn a profit. The dilemma is accentuated by, but not peculiar to, the current crisis. If that’s to change, we as customers must also be prepared to pay higher prices — and that’s as true in good times as it is in bad.(Updates with Amazon details on size of strike.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.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.

  • Zoom takes lead over Microsoft Teams as virus keeps Americans at home: Apptopia
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  • Bloomberg

    Slack and Zoom Seize the Day, But Will They Stick?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The coronavirus is changing the way we work. As more governments implement stricter shelter-in-place orders, corporations and their employees are scrambling to figure out how to conduct business operations in a work-at-home world. First, new hardware is required. Sales of monitors, webcams and laptops are soaring as people build out their home offices. But that’s the easy part.The bigger issue is how to enable similar levels of productivity without the many brief conversations and in-person meetings during a typical day at the office. To accomplish this, companies are increasingly turning to a handful upstarts in the aptly named workforce collaboration software category. These are the tools, initially designed for use in an office, which the world has now discovered work so well when trying to stay connected remotely, from video conferencing to electronic messaging platforms. And as they gain traction in the home workspace, it seems more and more likely they’ll stick once we’re all back in the office again, accelerating a trend toward greater usage that was happening anyway.Three tools that particularly stand out come from Zoom Video Communications Inc., Slack Technologies, Inc.  and Smartsheet Inc. What these companies have in common is they are upstarts, their products are arguably best-in-class for what they do and they’ve all seen their shares jump amid the widening coronavirus crisis.As recently as a couple months ago, the companies faced challenges in trying to raise awareness for their offerings. Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems, Inc. have much larger marketing budgets and deeper relationships with Fortune 500 tech buyers. Well that is less of a problem now. The need to just get work done has become a showcase opportunity for the best-of-breed software vendors to break through the noise and put some distance between their products and  the tech-industry goliaths’ less-capable offerings.Zoom is further along in the brand-awareness process. By now, everyone knows how the company is thriving as the video-conferencing pure play of choice. Earlier this month, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said on a call, “Given this coronavirus, I think that overnight almost every business really understands they needed a tool like this. This will dramatically change the landscape.” Last week, Bernstein’s survey of 516 working adults revealed Zoom’s momentum continues to rise. Based on an analysis of responses, the data implied Zoom’s boost in usage among knowledge workers was more than double, versus any other vendor since the coronavirus crisis began. Zoom’s success will have ramifications for when the crisis ends too. As businesses get acclimated to using inexpensive, high-quality videoconferencing, executives may realize the prior level of travel spend simply isn’t worth the cost.Smartsheet is also flourishing in the moment. The company makes software that automates business processes and workflows without requiring technical programming skills. For example, it can replace the manual data entry into Excel spreadsheets by using automatically updated web-enabled forms, improving accuracy and productivity. Earlier this month, the company posted 58% quarterly billings growth for its fiscal fourth quarter and said it wasn’t seeing a negative impact from the coronavirus.And then there’s Slack. The messaging platform has seen a surge in demand for its service, and as a hard-core user myself, I can vouch for how Slack has improved communications with colleagues inside and outside the office. Compared to email, it enables a faster form of iterative communication, similar to a back-and-forth real-life discussion with a co-worker, saving time and increasing understanding. Perhaps even more important, the software offers a searchable repository of conversations, documents and files that enables an efficient knowledge transfer to other team members.Many companies have started realizing Slack’s utility in recent weeks. Late Wednesday — in a now-epic tweet thread chronicling the explosion in demand for Slack and pressures on the company to meet it — CEO Butterfield revealed updated growth metrics for the current quarter, and they were jaw-dropping. In about two months, Slack had acquired 9,000 new paid customers, a figure 80% higher than the roughly 5,000 in each of the prior two quarters. Average messages sent per day per user were also up 20%.Slack shares rose 10% Thursday as investors cheered the improving metrics, and have largely held that gain since.  It’s important to note that even after these gains, Slack is trading only a few dollars above its $26-a-share initial direct-listing price in June 2019, and for much of its time as a public company has traded below that level. Moreover, there is no guarantee the rising usage will translate into a permanent customer base; there will be some users, perhaps, who drop the service when things are working more normally. And there may be major corporate layoffs and losses from economic shocks that could make larger enterprise deals more difficult to close. Butterfield himself is aware of this, saying Friday in an interview with Bloomberg Television that the company’s current pace of growth “is just not sustainable … We would have the whole world on it in a couple of months if we kept going.”But as workers form new ingrained habits using these tools, they will become that much harder to give up. This points to better sustainable results for Zoom, Slack and Smartsheet over time.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.

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