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Yahoo Finance catches up quickly with Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield in the wake of the company announcing its sixth-ever acquisition.
(Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s $2.9 billion gift this week means he has now given away Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shares valued at more than $37 billion since 2006.His philanthropy -- along with Berkshire’s underwhelming stock performance recently -- is finally starting to weigh on his net worth after years where his fortune defied his annual giveaways to rise ever higher. Buffett’s $68.6 billion is enough for eighth-place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his lowest position since the index started in 2012. He ranked in the top 5 as recently as June.But in recent weeks the 89-year-old has been leapfrogged first by Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft Corp. chief executive officer, and this week by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The changes underline the extent to which technology fortunes now dominate the upper echelons of the world’s richest people.Six of the seven richest people on the planet owe their wealth to the sector, including No. 1 Jeff Bezos, who has added $68 billion to his net worth this year, and Ballmer, who’s gained $18 billion. Tech fortunes are the best performing on the index, up 25% in 2020.Ballmer’s fortune has soared thanks to the 4% stake he’s estimated to have retained since leaving Microsoft’s board in 2014. The software company’s shares have risen almost fivefold since then, boosting his fortune to $76.5 billion. Ballmer declined to comment on his Microsoft stake. Berkshire didn’t respond to a request for comment.Buffett may welcome signs his gifts are shrinking his fortune. His pledge to give away his fortune only got harder as his fortune continued to rise. In his latest letter to shareholders he said he expects it will now take 12 to 15 years for his estate to dispose of all the shares he holds at the time of his death.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) -- Google abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the pandemic, according to two employees familiar with the matter, revealing the challenges for U.S. tech giants to secure business in those markets.In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as “Isolated Region” and which sought to address nations’ desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a “massive strategy shift,” according to one of the employees, who said Isolated Region had involved hundreds of workers scattered around the world.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pouring money into cloud computing, part of a broader effort to find new sources of growth beyond search advertising. Google Cloud generated $8.9 billion in revenue in 2019 -- a 53% increase over the previous year -- as it has pushed into sectors such as finance and government that require special security clearance and features that shield confidential data. Rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. already offer these capabilities via their cloud units.Google’s recent decision to nix the Isolated Region project was made partly because of global political divisions, which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the two employees, who requested anonymity because the project hasn’t previously been made public. The geopolitical issues placed demands on Isolated Region that it couldn’t deliver, according to one of the employees. Documents provided to workers also detailed global tensions and their influence on Isolated Region’s closure, the employee said.The initiative would have allowed Google to set up cloud services controlled by a third party, such as a locally owned company or a government agency. The result would be a business sequestered from Google’s existing cloud computing services, which include data centers and computer networks.In January 2019, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China, Google decided to pause its plans for Isolated Region in China and instead began to prioritize potential customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the two employees. But the project was scrapped entirely this May, the two employees said. Google has since weighed a pared back cloud offering to enter China, according to the two employees.‘Other Approaches’A Google spokeswoman, speaking after the story was published, said Isolated Region wasn’t shut down over geopolitical concerns or the pandemic. She also said the company isn’t weighing options to offer the Google Cloud Platform in China.Isolated Region was shelved because “other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” she said, declining to detail those approaches. “We have a comprehensive approach to addressing these requirements that covers the governance of data, operational practices and survivability of software,” the spokeswoman said. “Isolated Region was just one of the paths we explored to address these requirements.”“What we learned from customer conversations and input from government stakeholders in Europe and elsewhere is that other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” the spokeswoman said. “Google does not offer and has not offered cloud platform services inside China.”According to one of the employees, the plan involved selling cloud services in what Google calls “sovereignty sensitive markets,” such as China and the E.U., where there are strict laws for companies offering services that involve the collection or processing of people’s data.The project, which began in early 2018, sought to address rules in China that require Western companies to form a joint venture with a Chinese partner company when they provide data or networking services, one of the employees said. In such a relationship, the partner company would have retained both physical and administrative control over user data. The arrangement was intended to satisfy Chinese authorities while also providing a barrier between Google’s Isolated Region cloud services and the rest of its data center network, which stores and processes emails, documents, photographs and other data from its users, the employee said.By handing over control of user data to third party companies in foreign countries, Isolated Region also aimed to appease privacy concerns about the U.S. government’s potential ability to carry out covert surveillance of Google’s Cloud services, the employee said. Those concerns increased in March 2018, following the passing of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, better known as the CLOUD Act, a federal law that granted U.S. law enforcement agencies more power to request personal data stored by American technology companies even if the data is stored on servers located outside of the U.S., the employee said.Data SovereigntySome employees expressed concern about the Cloud project in China and questioned their superiors about it, according to one of the employees. But it’s not known if employee opposition was a factor in Google’s decision to stop the initiative in China or elsewhere.Isolated Region was part of a larger Google project known as “Sharded Google,” which has sought to develop new data storage and processing facilities, known as “shards,” that are walled off from the rest of the company’s systems, according to the employees.Major cloud providers are all racing to develop data centers that are either physically separated or rely on complex software to keep information flows apart.It’s a costly process, driven by rising demand on two fronts. One is from firms in specific industries, such as finance, that want isolated machinery for security reasons. Another comes from laws that require data reaped inside the country to stay there, with China being perhaps the most stringent example.Both trends are accelerating. More than 100 countries have some sort of data sovereignty laws in place, according to David Gilmore, chief executive officer of DataFleets Ltd., an enterprise software firm. In the U.S., state policies, such as California’s new consumer privacy law, provide further restrictions on how cloud companies handle data. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.France and Germany recently started Gaia-X, an effort to build the continent’s own data storage systems over the internet without relying on U.S. technology giants.Cloud RegionsProtectionism is a major force in these calls for data localization, said Trey Herr, director for the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council. “Part of it is security,” he said. “A lot of it is economic.”Google’s competitors in this space, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have dominated the market in recent years. Cloud regions let companies offer the horsepower and security of multiple data centers. Microsoft has more than 60 cloud regions globally, more than double AWS and Google. The Google spokeswoman said the company defines regions differently.In 2018, Google considered building an isolated version of its systems to support a classified U.S. government computer network. The system, known as “air gap,” would have been disconnected from the internet and from Google’s existing servers, and was designed to be used only on high-security government networks that store secret information.But the air gap project was shelved after internal opposition. Some employees said they feared the system would lead to work with the U.S. military, which they opposed for ethical reasons. Other employees opposed it on technical grounds and thought it would be too hard to deliver.In China, Google has long been eyeing ways to access the country’s lucrative marketplace, where there are approximately 900 million internet users. While Amazon and Microsoft sell their cloud services in mainland China, Google hasn’t. But about three years ago, the company began talks with Chinese firms about providing its main data storage service in the nation through a joint venture, as Amazon and Microsoft do. Google also provided some of its free machine learning tools in China, and the company started working on projects to provide more software tools to developers there.Most of those efforts, however, were shut down by Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian, shortly after he took over the division in January 2019, according to one person involved in the plans. At that time, political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China were rising. In addition, Google’s actions in the country had come under increased scrutiny, following leaks about a plan for a censored Chinese version of its search engine.Isolation Region was conceived as another potential product for Google to offer in China, according to one of the Google employees. But key political impediments contributed to the decline of the project in China and elsewhere, including the U.S. national security orders against China telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. and the fallout from the pandemic, according to the employee; Google disputes that the pandemic or geopolitical issues were factors.Kurian didn’t scrap all of Google Cloud’s China-related work. According to one of the Google employees, and another person familiar with Google’s cloud operations, the company has continued to explore the possibility of rolling out a service called Anthos in the country. Launched in 2019, Anthos lets companies using one cloud provider easily add on another. Businesses across the globe have adapted this strategy as a way to hedge financial and infrastructure risk. The Google spokeswoman said the company has no plans to provide Anthos in China.In a September 2019 interview with CNBC, Kurian said that Google’s cloud business was seeing “enormous growth” and hadn’t been affected by the U.S. trade war with China. He pointed to the company’s large presence in Hong Kong and Taiwan and didn’t rule out expanding into China’s cloud market. “We continue to monitor the demand for our technology from Chinese customers,” he said.(Updates with additional comments from Google starting in the sixth 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) -- Some of Wall Street’s biggest stocks are coming off their best quarterly performance in years, and with the broader economy still grappling with the pandemic, analysts are starting to express some skepticism about high-profile rallies.The S&P 500 surged 20% in the second quarter, its biggest quarterly gain since 1998. While the superlative nature of the rally was partly a function of timing -- many components hit a bottom right before the end of the first quarter -- the move was fueled by tech and internet stocks, which outperformed the benchmark and have heavy weightings due to their massive market capitalizations.Apple and Amazon.com both gained more than 40% during the quarter, making it the iPhone maker’s best quarter since 2012 and Amazon’s best since 2010.On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank confessed it was “surprised at both the speed and magnitude of the rebound” in Apple shares, adding that the move “has us nervous.” Raymond James echoed this tone on Tuesday, seeing uncertainty surrounding Apple’s forecast given an expected delay in the iPhone 12, a product Nomura Instinet expects “will fall short of a supercycle.” Both Deutsche Bank and Raymond James still recommend buying Apple shares.Amazon remains a consensus favorite on Wall Street -- more than 90% of the firms tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying it -- but the degree to which the share price exceeds analysts’ average price target is near a multiyear high, suggesting that even bulls aren’t expecting much additional upside.Among other mega-cap names, Microsoft rose 29% over the second quarter, its best such showing since 2009. Both Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet notched their biggest quarterly gain since 2013, with Facebook up 36% and Alphabet up 22%, based on its Class A shares. Netflix rose 21% last quarter.All are at or near record levels, and the rallies will soon be tested as each member of the group is scheduled to post quarterly results before the end of the month, with Microsoft and Netflix reporting next week.Apple EstimatesFor Apple, the rally has come despite a more tepid view for its upcoming results. Wall Street expects third-quarter earnings, excluding some items, of $2.03 a share, a consensus that is down 6.8% from where it was three months ago. The consensus for revenue has declined 0.9% over the same period.While analysts debate whether the results will justify the recent gains, many of these names are seen as potential pandemic winners. Microsoft is expected to see stronger demand for its cloud-computing and workplace collaboration products as people continue to work remotely, while the e-commerce wave lifting Amazon and others is seen as outlasting the coronavirus’s impact on brick-and-mortar stores.Apple analysts also see a number of reasons to be optimistic for the long term, including the company’s services business, wearable products, and its stock-buyback program. “Overall, we believe the directionality and reasoning behind AAPL’s stock rise,” Deutsche Bank’s Jeriel Ong wrote. Still, the firm has “ambivalence at these levels.”Firms expressed a similar sentiment about Netflix, which has seen higher engagement during the pandemic. Rosenblatt Securities “struggle[s] to see the upside” from current levels given “uncertainty over how [long] this favorable environment will last.” Stifel continues “to grapple with the risk/reward profile given limited 2H visibility.”Imperial Capital downgraded the stock earlier this week, moving away from an outperform rating that it had held since starting coverage on Netflix about two years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Following the recent advance, Netflix “will begin a fairly extensive range-bound trend as other long opportunities emerge in the media space,” the firm 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.
IBM (NYSE: IBM) has reached an agreement to buy WDG Automation, a robotic process automation (RPA) company. The Brazilian company produces software based on artificial intelligence (AI) that enhances access to intelligent automation using software robots.
The cloud-based identity specialist Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA) is poised to profit from the secular shift to cloud computing. But with its stock price close to its all-time highs after having more than doubled from its March lows, is it still a good time for investors to get involved? Gaining market share in the growing identity and access management market Enterprises have been moving applications and infrastructures to the cloud over the last several years to profit from increased flexibility.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Nvidia, Tesla and Adobe
The widespread implementation of AR and MR technologies across domains such as energy and utilities has pushed some stocks to the forefront.
(Bloomberg) -- Signal has become the most-downloaded app in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the city that stirred fears of curbs on civil liberties.The messaging app, endorsed by whistle-blower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden, provides end-to-end encryption to secure messages from being read by a third party as they travel between users. It has topped both Apple Inc.’s and Google’s mobile app stores, according to App Annie data.Hong Kong detailed on Monday unprecedented online policing powers under the new law, including warrants for “any action” necessary to remove content deemed in violation. But the nonprofit responsible for Signal said that it won’t cooperate with any requests for user data from Hong Kong courts -- joining tech giants like Microsoft Corp. in the wake of the law’s passage -- in part because it doesn’t collect any data to begin with.“We never started turning over user data to HK police. Also, we don’t have user data to turn over,” it wrote on Twitter.Signal’s privacy-first ethos includes the app’s deliberate ignorance of what its users are doing, which goes above and beyond the likes of Telegram, another secure messenger that’s been popular in Hong Kong amid protests against the Beijing government. Virtual private networks, designed to disguise a user’s digital footprints, also saw a big spike in downloads in May as plans for the national security law started to emerge from the Chinese capital.Read more: VPN Downloads Surge in Response to Hong Kong Security LawThe controversial law went into effect June 30 and has already had a chilling effect on free expression in Hong Kong. It forbids speech and actions that might be seen as encouraging secession from China, terrorism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces. Private messaging platforms have become a refuge as a result, with Hong Kongers retreating to unmonitored forms of communication.(Updates with data from App Annie in 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.
The game maker's biggest titles saw a spike in engagement during COVID-19, and investors are hopeful for what the next console generation might bring.
Let's see how these stocks are placed as we enter earnings season.
In the latest trading session, Microsoft (MSFT) closed at $208.25, marking a -1.16% move from the previous day.
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating wealth and racial inequalities around the world. Nowhere is that more apparent than in San Francisco.While many low-income employees in the service sector have been laid off or risk getting sick if they do go to work, the city’s high-paid tech workers have been mostly shielded. The engineers and product managers who helped push up the cost of living in the area over the last 15 years aren’t nearly as affected by the pandemic, with companies like Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. giving them cash bonuses to upgrade their home offices and organizing virtual yoga sessions to help them stay fit.Most tech employees aren’t worried about getting fired and the mostly-digital nature of software work means they can safely do their jobs from home. Many have even left the Bay Area completely.To help staff cope while working remotely, companies are rolling out perks. Salesforce.com Inc. recently sponsored a virtual talent show and is running a week-long “adventurers club” to entertain workers’ kids while they’re stuck at home, in addition to providing benefits such as six additional weeks of parental leave. Microsoft Corp. is also offering parents extra leave time amid school and camp closings.At the same time, service industry workers like Joe Grandov, who has a part-time security job at San Francisco International Airport, are struggling.Grandov, 65, says his hours have been cut by up to 20 a week since the pandemic began because he hasn’t been able to pick up overtime shifts. He also used to earn extra money driving for Lyft Inc. but said he had to stop because he was making as little as $35 a week, hardly enough to justify the health risks the gig posed. Business travel has come to a halt, which is hurting jobs like his that depend on a lively tech sector.“It’s not been easy,” said Grandov, who is a member of the airport’s local union. “We’ve been selling things we don’t need because we need the money more.”This divide between the tech and service industry is compounding the income disparities that have plagued the Bay Area for years. Since January, earnings among low-income workers in San Francisco County have fallen 52.1%, among the highest in the state, according to data from Opportunity Insights, a Harvard University research lab.“The service sector already had stagnating wages, then you introduce a pandemic, and it becomes not just an income gap but a stark divide between those who will survive versus those who can’t,” said Russell Hancock, chief executive officer of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a nonprofit that analyzes the region’s economy.The changes cut across racial lines too, deepening inequalities between White and non-White workers in the area. More than 30% of the Bay Area is Black or Latino, according to the Bay Area Equity Atlas. Fewer than 10% of Facebook and Google staff are Black or Latino, according to the companies’ latest diversity reports.The inequalities extend to the virus impact: In San Francisco, Hispanic and Latino people make up 50% of cases and about 15% of the population. In Santa Clara County, Latinos are 47% of cases and 26% of the population.Some of the companies boosting perks for their own employees are also acting to address economic and racial inequities. Salesforce is adding diversity recruiters and spending $200 million on organizations that are working to advance racial equality, and pledged to “advocate at federal, state, and local levels for policies to address the equity gap, exacerbated by Covid-19.”The effects of low-income job losses are already weighing on workers, according to Richard Garbarino, mayor of South San Francisco. While the city of about 68,000 hasn’t had major food insecurity issues in the past, it recently partnered with a food bank to distribute 750 meal boxes a week. The pandemic has hit low income families the hardest because they often rely on multiple part-time jobs, Garbarino said.Over 55% of leisure and hospitality jobs were cut between May 2019 and May 2020 in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, the most of any industry in the area, according to data from California’s Employment Development Department. Over the same period, professional and business services, which includes computer engineering and management, saw a 2% drop.San Francisco’s economy may face even more challenges the longer tech employees stay home. Google and Facebook have told their staff to prepare to work remotely until 2021. Twitter Inc. says anyone who wants to can work from home forever.“Restaurant and service workers are currently paid really well because they’re supported by big companies. When they take their work away, or those jobs away, that ripples through the rest of the economy,” said Jay Cheng, public policy director at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. If that happens, “San Francisco is no longer going to be able to be the golden child of the United States economy.”(Adds details on Salesforce policies in fourth and 12th paragraphs.)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) -- Augmented reality startup Magic Leap Inc. has hired Peggy Johnson, a Microsoft Corp. executive, to take over as chief executive officer starting next month, as the company continues to reshape itself as a provider of business services.Magic Leap had been one of the buzziest startups in recent years. It raised more than $2 billion from high-profile investors including Alphabet Inc., largely on the promise that it would turn augmented reality into a viable consumer technology. Rony Abovitz, the company founder and CEO, became the de facto evangelist for augmented reality, with bold and colorful pronouncements of its potential.But the Florida-based company struggled to execute, and sales of its flagship product, the Magic Leap One headset, never took off after extensive delays. The company said late last year it would focus more on business applications, and cut more than half of its workforce in April. Selling to companies is a far different prospect than building a consumer product, and one Abovitz rarely showed as much enthusiasm for. He announced in May he would step down once the company found a replacement.Johnson, who spent more than two decades at Qualcomm Inc., brings extensive experience negotiating partnerships with other large businesses. She joined Microsoft in 2014 as one of CEO Satya Nadella’s first major hires, at a time when the software maker’s dealings with other companies were often contentious. As head of business development, Johnson worked to repair Microsoft’s relationships with partners like Salesforce.com Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., becoming the face of a new, friendlier company. In 2016 she started Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12.“I look forward to strategically building enduring relationships that connect Magic Leap’s game-changing technology and pipeline to the wide-ranging digital needs of enterprises of all sizes and industries,” Johnson said Tuesday in a statement.Microsoft also makes one of the main rivals to Magic Leap, the Hololens, which it has always positioned primarily as a business tool. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is satisfied that any confidentiality issues arising from Johnson moving to a direct competitor have been addressed.Microsoft will conduct an internal and external search to find Johnson’s replacement and her duties will be assumed in the short term by Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, who already oversees mergers and acquisitions, according to a spokesperson.(Updates with background on Johnson in the 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.
A court has granted a bid by Microsoft to seize and take control of malicious web domains used in a large-scale cyberattack targeting victims in 62 countries with spoofed emails in an effort to defraud unsuspecting businesses. The technology giant announced the takedown of the business email compromise operation in a Tuesday blog post. Tom Burt, Microsoft's consumer security chief, said the attackers tried to gain access to victims' email inboxes, contacts and other sensitive files in order to send emails to businesses that look like they came from a trusted source.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. customers were targeted in a massive phishing campaign that has sought to defraud users in 62 countries since December. Recently, the malicious emails have evolved to capitalize on the pandemic, according to Microsoft.The attack “targeted business leaders across a variety of industries, attempting to compromise accounts, steal information and re-direct wire transfers,” Microsoft said Tuesday in a blog post. The campaign was vast, hitting millions of Microsoft Office 365 users with attempted hacks in a single week, the company said.Microsoft was able to disrupt the scheme through a recent court ruling, which allowed the company to take over domains used by the cyber criminals and prevent them from being used for cyber-attacks, according to the post.The phishing attacks were executed by hackers who posed as employers and other trusted senders in emails that were sent to users of Office 365. The messages contained attachments that, when clicked, prompted users to grant access to a web application that resembled those “widely used in organizations.” However, in this case, the “familiar-looking” applications were malicious and granting access let cyber-attackers into users’ Office 365 accounts, according to the company.“The criminals attempted to gain access to customer email, contact lists, sensitive documents and other valuable information,” the blog said.In the early part of the hacking campaign, the attachments had titles related to standard business terms, such as “Q4 Report – Dec19.” However, the hackers recently renewed their phishing efforts using attachment names related to the pandemic, such as “COVID-19 Bonus,” according to Microsoft.Coronavirus-themed phishing attacks have become so pervasive in recent months that the U.S. and U.K. governments warned about their growing use. For example, in March, the number of attempted phishing emails sent by criminals and state-linked actors more than quadrupled amid the spreading virus, the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. reported. And, this spring, a barrage of cyberscams and hacking attempts related to the virus hit remote workers as criminals sought to profit from the pandemic.Microsoft declined to say how many users were sent phishing emails by the attackers, or how many of those emails were successful in tricking users to open their malicious payload. The company also didn’t comment on potential suspects for the phishing campaign, beyond ruling out the possibility that the criminals were sponsored by a nation state.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.
Analysts are optimistic about Apple's post-pandemic performance, and Microsoft is reportedly interested in shelling out $4 billion to expand its gaming business.
Augmented Reality market booms with its increasing use cases. Companies like Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon and Facebook among others are putting strong efforts to bolster presence.
The recent green signals for the overall economy and Nasdaq bull run seems to have intensified the race to $2 trillion market cap, bringing Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) in focus.
Peggy Johnson, the former executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, has been named as the new chief executive of Magic Leap, the company said in a statement. Johnson, who will begin her new role on August 1, 2020, comes to Magic Leap after a 30-year career in the technology industry. It's been a tumultuous 2020 for Magic Leap.