(Bloomberg) -- Polish video game developer CD Projekt Red told employees on Monday that six-day work weeks will be mandatory leading up to the November release of the highly anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, reneging on an earlier promise to not force overtime on the project.Red, a subsidiary of Poland’s biggest gaming company CD Projekt SA, has been criticized previously for engaging in “crunch,” an industry term for excessive overtime in game development. The practice often lasts for weeks and can stretch out for months or even years. CD Projekt Red co-chief executive officer Marcin Iwinski last year told gaming website Kotaku that the company would be avoiding mandatory crunch and was “committed” to allowing employees to work without overtime.But an account from a CD Projekt Red employee recently as well as an email to staff earlier this week indicate that the company hasn’t lived up to its word. The employee, who asked not to be named discussing private information, said some staff had already been putting in nights and weekends for more than a year.In the email, CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski wrote that he was optimistic about the state of Cyberpunk 2077, which stars Keanu Reeves, and that they had just sent the game to be certified for release on Sony Corp.’s PlayStation and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox. Now, he wrote, it was time to fix the game’s many lingering bugs and glitches.“Starting today, the entire (development) studio is in overdrive,” Badowski wrote, elaborating that this meant “your typical amount of work and one day of the weekend.” The extra work would be paid, as required by Polish labor laws. Many other video game studios don’t pay for overtime.“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” he wrote. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back -- that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”CD Projekt Red didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Shares in CD Projekt fell 2.7% in trading in Warsaw on Wednesday morning, slightly below the WIG20. Trigon analyst Kacper Kopron said in a research note that the news about crunch may weaken sentiment to stock, even as the risk of further postponement of Cyberpunk release is minimal.Last year, Iwinski and Badowski told Kotaku that they were looking to make CD Projekt Red a more “humane” place to work.“We are known for treating gamers with respect,” Iwinski said. “I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.”(Updated with shares in seventh 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) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. foresees its cloud services arm turning profitable for the first time this year, a milestone for the decade-old business that underscores how Asia’s largest corporation expects a return to pre-pandemic levels as China’s economy rebounds.Alibaba’s shares rose 3.8% on Wednesday in Hong Kong, their biggest gain in over a month. Its internet computing business is growing roughly 60% at an annual revenue run rate of about $7 billion, Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu told investors at an annual company conference. The unit should turn profitable in the year ending March, she said.Cainiao, the logistics service Alibaba folded fully into its broader empire in 2017, should generate positive cash-flow on an operating basis over the same period, she added.China’s most valuable corporation has invested billions in hosting computing for corporations over the cloud, while building a nationwide logistics network that can handle the billions of parcels its e-commerce business throws out. Achieving profitability will boost Alibaba as it tries to revitalize growth alongside a recovery in the broader Chinese economy. The e-commerce giant is riding a pick-up in consumer spending -- particularly online -- in a country among the first to recover from Covid-19.“We typically spend 8 to 10 years incubating, nurturing and growing a new business,” Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang told investors. “We still regard ourselves to be in the nascent stage of the global cloud era.”Like Amazon.com Inc.’s, Alibaba’s cloud service emerged from the computational power needed to handle billions of online shopping transactions to become one of its fastest-growing initiatives. The Chinese company today relies on the service, which competes globally with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Corp. and Google, to underpin both its global expansion and forays into newer arenas such as live-streaming.Read more: Alibaba Touts Post-Virus Rebound While Watching ‘Fluid’ U.S.What Bloomberg Intelligence SaysAlibaba’s announcement at its 2020 Investor Day that its cloud computing business is targeting positive profits in fiscal 2021 could come as a surprise to the market and lift consensus estimates. Alibaba has intentionally kept its cloud segment operating at a small loss in past years in order to gain market share, so the announcement marks a shift in messaging for the segment.\- Vey-Sern Ling and Tiffany Tam, analystsClick here for the research.Alibaba’s cloud business continued to grow during the global Covid-19 shutdowns this year. It held a leading 40.1% share of China’s total cloud infrastructure services spending in the June quarter, more than double its closest competitors, according to industry researcher Canalys. Even as economies start to recover, the company is aiming to take advantage of the shift to upgrade more corporate IT infrastructures to the cloud and boost cloud-based collaboration at work, Zhang told investors Wednesday.Retail sales in the world’s No. 2 economy rose for the first time this year in August, after virus restrictions eased. The comeback in consumer spending has allowed Alibaba to further expand a $700 billion empire that already spans online retail, food delivery and internet computing. It owns a third of Ant Group, the Chinese financial titan pursuing potentially the world’s largest initial public offering, and most recently outlined plans to create a new line of business by modernizing factories.Excluding its stake in Ant, Alibaba’s strategic investments are currently valued at $45 billion, Wu told investors on Wednesday, adding that the company will continue to invest in technology and research. Alibaba last year reported an $83 billion stake in its global portfolio of investments, which included its 33% stake in the fintech behemoth.Zhang -- credited with orchestrating Alibaba’s last big foray into a new arena, with a move into brick-and-mortar retail -- is responding in part to intensifying competition on multiple fronts. Pinduoduo Inc. has lured small-town buyers away with cheaper bargains, while traditional foe JD.com Inc. has ventured beyond its traditional strength in consumer electronics into groceries, a category that leapt to the fore during nationwide lockdowns.Even social media companies like ByteDance Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are increasingly reaching out to shoppers through live-streaming -- a route Alibaba pioneered with Taobao Live -- after Covid-19 fueled online entertainment. While rival video apps like Tencent-backed Kuaishou and ByteDance’s Douyin typically directed traffic to Alibaba platforms, they’re now seeking to handle the transactions by themselves.Then there’s sustained competition in food delivery. Alibaba’s Ele.me now directs flowers, housekeepers and masseurs to doorsteps in addition to lunchboxes, while Tencent-backed Meituan Dianping tries its hand on beauty products and smartphones.With more than 1 billion annual active consumers, Alibaba generated over $1 trillion in gross merchandise value in the 12 months ended June, Wu said. Spending on its platforms accounted for about 18% of China’s total retail sales, up from about 10% in 2015.“Domestic consumption, cloud computing and data intelligence, and globalization -- these are the three growth engines for Alibaba’s future,” Zhang said. “Digitalization is the biggest opportunity of our time.”Read more: Chinese Consumers Join Industrial Recovery From Covid-19(Updates share price 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.
(Bloomberg) -- Russia-based hackers are responsible for the majority of nation-state attacks on Microsoft customers, according to new data from company.Microsoft Corp. has issued 13,000 alerts about nation-state hacking attempts to its customers in the last two years, with 52% of incidents between July 2019 and June 2020 related to Russian hackers -- whose targets have ranged from elections to the Olympics, according to a report published Tuesday. Iran was responsible for a quarter of the alerts while China was responsible for 12%. The remainder of the nation-state activity observed by Microsoft came from North Korea and other countries.Russian hackers have targeted elections and political organizations in multiple countries, as well as non-profit groups, professional services and higher education, according to Microsoft. Kremlin-linked hackers also tried to break into 16 sporting and anti-doping organizations on three continents amid doping investigations into Russia athletes.“We see nation-state actors constantly evolving, trying new techniques,” said Tom Burt, a vice president at Microsoft. “As it stands today the attackers are winning in that they are so well resourced, so determined and so agile.” Foreign hackers have continued to target organizations related to American politics in recent weeks, he said.Iranian hackers have also been prolific, stepping up the volume of their attacks in the last six months, according to Burt. In August 2019 alone, Iranian hackers attacked 241 Microsoft accounts associated with a U.S. presidential campaign, current and former U.S. officials, political journalists and well-known Iranians living abroad, the report said. While only four of these attacks were successful, Microsoft anticipates an increase activity as the U.S. election approaches.Hackers based in China have “attempted to gain intelligence on organizations associated with the upcoming U.S. presidential election,” according to Microsoft. Those hackers have also been active in cyber-attacks related to medical research. Among multiple attempts to hack medical research institutions in the U.S. and Asia, China-based hackers attacked an unnamed U.S. university that was researching a coronavirus vaccine in March.China is one of 16 nation-state actors that Microsoft has observed targeting customers involved in the global Covid-19 response efforts. Targets of these attacks have included global medical relief and humanitarian aid groups along with government health-care organizations.China was also a victim of attacks that sought to leverage the pandemic. “China, the United States, and Russia were hit the hardest, but every country in the world saw at least one Covid-19-themed attack, with the volume of successful attacks in outbreak-hit countries increasing as fear and the desire for information grew,” the Microsoft report said.Hospitals and other entities have also been hit with ransomware -- in which files are locked from users until payment is made. Ransomware is the “most problematic” and “fastest growing” threat in cybercrime, Burt said.(Updates with comments from Tom Burt and additional context from him.)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.