|Day's range||9.50 - 10.05|
Microsoft today announced the launch of Azure Edge Zones, which will allow Azure users to bring their applications to the company's edge locations. The focus here is on enabling real-time low-latency 5G applications. The company is also launching a version of Edge Zones with carriers (starting with AT&T) in preview, which connects these zones directly to 5G networks in the carrier's data center.
(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.
Daily U.S. user volumes rose to a record 4.84 million on Monday for Zoom, as millions of children switched to virtual learning programs and companies asked employees to work from home to contain the outbreak. Business-focused Teams was used by 1.56 million users on the same day, while Slack saw less than 500,000 users. Zoom declined to comment on usage statistics, but its active users in March were 151% higher on average from a year earlier, according to Apptopia.
(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.
Investors can keep a tab on these seven software stocks, including Microsoft (MSFT), displaying strong growth potential in the face of coronavirus crisis.
Here we focus on a basket of stocks that is benefiting from a lengthy spell of social distancing in the United States and across other countries.
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. is bracing for its most difficult year on record in 2020, when tightening U.S. sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic threaten to slam an already slowing business.Rotating Chairman Eric Xu said he’s aware of the potential for Washington to tighten restrictions on the company, including by stopping Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. from selling chips to Huawei. The Chinese government wouldn’t tolerate such action and it would irrevocably damage the global supply chain, Xu said in some of Huawei’s strongest comments against the Trump administration’s measures so far.“If the Pandora’s box were to be opened, we’ll probably see catastrophic damage to the global supply chain -- and it won’t just be one company, Huawei, destroyed,” Xu told reporters after unveiling 2019 earnings. “I don’t think the Chinese government will just watch and let Huawei be slaughtered on a chopping board. I believe the Chinese government will also take some countermeasures.”China’s biggest tech company remains in Washington’s cross-hairs even as Covid-19 spreads across the globe. The White House is reportedly considering imposing restrictions on the sale of semiconductors to Huawei by global corporations such as TSMC and Samsung Electronics Co., a move that would effectively deprive the Chinese giant of the most advanced chip technology. That would escalate already damaging restrictions on Huawei, which on Tuesday reported net profit grew 5.6% -- the slowest pace of bottom line growth in three years.“Why can’t China ban the use of American 5G chips, base stations, smartphones and other smart devices based on the same network security reasons?” Xu said, adding he couldn’t confirm reports about curbs on TSMC.Huawei had previously reported sales growth of about 19%, to 859 billion yuan ($123 billion) in 2019, roughly the same as in the previous year. And the Shenzhen-based company’s profit improved to 62.7 billion yuan. But Xu said 2019 was its most difficult year yet, when it was forced to transform its business after expansive scrutiny and sanctions from the U.S. The effort to contain Huawei -- and by extension, China -- forced the company to turn inward.The Trump administration’s campaign to get allies such as Japan and Australia to shut out Huawei gear and phones helped drive sales in the Asia-Pacific down 13.9%, though that was more than offset by a surge at home in China.In the fourth quarter alone, which was most impacted by the U.S. prohibition on Huawei selling Android phones with Google’s mobile services, the company shipped roughly 55 million devices, calculated from the difference between its September shipments update and the year’s total. Of the 240 million Huawei and Honor phones shipped, 6.9 million had fifth-generation wireless networking, an area where the company remains a tech leader.Pelosi Joins Trump in Warning Europe of Huawei’s 5G ThreatContrary to warnings from American lawmakers and diplomats, numerous European countries like the U.K. and Switzerland have opted to use Huawei’s technology in building out their 5G networks. The U.K. and Germany have both echoed U.S. concerns about how far Huawei can be trusted with key infrastructure of the future, but those have not extended to the severity of an outright ban.Huawei faces tremendous pressure in overseas smartphone markets, where the U.S. ban on its use of Google Mobile Services severely undercuts the appeal of its devices. Without the Google Play Store and third-party app ecosystem, Huawei phones simply can’t compete with similarly capable alternatives from the likes of Samsung Electronics Co. and OnePlus. The company reported flat revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa alongside the drop in the Asia-Pacific. Those regions were two of its major growth engines in 2018, whereas now 59% of its sales are at home in China.China’s ambitious 5G network construction projects, which started in the second half of last year, also helped Huawei weather the international storm and sustain its core businesses.Huawei Makes End-Run Around U.S. Ban by Using Its Own ChipsFounder Ren Zhengfei initially estimated that Huawei’s May 2019 blacklisting by the U.S. could wipe $30 billion off annual revenues and threaten his company’s very survival, though he has tempered that outlook more recently. Huawei mobilized a massive effort to develop in-house alternatives to American software and circuitry, while U.S. suppliers like Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. found ways to continue supplying Huawei vital components it needed to make its products. Huawei is also selling base stations free of American technology in another effort to bypass the U.S. ban.With no relief from U.S. sanctions in sight and the coronavirus pandemic stifling business across all industries, Huawei anticipates its most difficult year yet. Chinese smartphone sales, which the company is now particularly sensitive to, are already hurting. And its global 5G installations, for which Huawei has secured more than 90 contracts worldwide, are hitting the brakes with many countries implementing lockdowns and the global economy at a standstill.(Updates with top executive’s comments 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 Opinion) -- There are no atheists in foxholes, and no tech regulators in a coronavirus lockdown.What was once thunderously described as “surveillance capitalism” is now a pandemic necessity. Twitch is where our children go to school; Twitter where epidemiological models are debated; and WhatsApp where we have drinks with friends. Some 40% of the world’s population is living under lockdown, according to AFP, creating exactly the kind of bored and isolated citizens whose fingers linger over their Facebook app button, as my colleague Alex Webb notes. Our personal information is hoovered up as before, but data privacy is now gone from our hierarchy of needs.Likewise, the market power that made Big Tech look so dangerous makes it look vital and dependable now. Amazon.com Inc., which has always wanted to be the Everything Store, is now the Only Store in cities like Paris or San Francisco, where it’s an essential lifeline for a myriad of household goods (with some restrictions) that can’t always be found in the grocery stores or drugstores that are still operating. The iniquities of the gig economy are still as outrageous as ever — as complaints by Amazon’s workers show — but there’s no mistaking the message sent by the company’s pledge to hire 100,000 more people: A firm once under fire for killing the economy now is the economy.Where does that leave the “techlash,” the drumbeat of outrage against data-extracting, competition-killing platforms banged on by consumers, small firms and government regulators? At first glance, as Wired magazine recently surmised, it’s dead — or at least in hibernation — as the focus shifts from constraining Big Tech to supporting it to ensure it can reach all of us in this time of need.In fact, we may already be seeing the contours of a new, post-virus grand bargain between Big Tech and Big State.It says something that the most high-profile move from the European Union in recent weeks has been to ask the bosses of Netflix Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google and YouTube to throttle streaming quality to reduce Internet congestion. The EU’s technocrats in Brussels, the land of sweeping data-privacy laws, are now eying the use of smartphone geolocation metadata — anonymized, of course — to monitor the outbreak. Digital rules designed to boost the EU’s technological sovereignty are being re-thought, the FT reports.What the current crisis has emphasized is how much of what the tech industry’s billionaire-run corporations provide resemble essential public, or quasi-public, goods and services. As the virus has shut schools, libraries and public parks in some cities, those spaces have moved online. Information, education, and health care in these times are overwhelmingly reliant on the Internet — and by extension dependent on the FAANG firms (and Microsoft Corp.), which as of last year accounted for more than 40% of all traffic. It’s hard to imagine the genie will be put back in the bottle. Even once countries lift lockdowns, Big Tech will retain its power.Which is why, when we emerge from self-isolation to rebuild the post-Covid-19 society, we can’t just return to the earlier status quo. The virus has already prompted governments across the world to re-think where the fire hose of financial stimulus should be aimed in an emergency, with trillions in aid going to support workers, hospitals and the unemployed, not just big business. A similar re-think is due for tech platforms. If they’re going to provide essential public goods, they need to be held to a higher standard.If social media firms are our sidewalks and parks, they should be kept clean — virtually speaking — of misinformation and bad actors. If e-commerce platforms are delivering vital medical equipment for the authorities, they shouldn’t traffic in fakes or quack cures. If online marketplaces are infrastructure for small firms and gig workers, they must be run fairly. And if collecting and processing our personal data helps the greater good of healthcare, more benefits should accrue to the public by ensuring that what’s being collected, and how it’s handled, isn’t harmful. Oceans of data generated by what Stephen Roberts of the London School of Economics calls the “digital turn” of health surveillance will require new rules and explicit terms of engagement to limit abuse.The message is starting to get through to the companies themselves, which have tended to drag their feet in the past. Facebook Inc. is taking down harmful misinformation related to the new coronavirus and redirecting users to public health authorities. Amazon has banned more than one million products that falsely promised to cure the coronavirus. Google is banning promotional ads for medical masks so they aren’t hoarded by panic-buyers. A new Covid-19 data partnership between Britain’s National Health Service and tech firms, including Google and Palantir Technologies Inc., has explicitly promised to abide by EU data-privacy principles and destroy its data store after the pandemic. It will take regulatory pressure to make sure this isn’t all just for show.In return for responding more proactively to the prodding of watchdogs, Big Tech will probably find itself in less political hot water in the future, and justifiably so. The current pandemic has focused our minds on the common good and decreased polarization in several countries — in the U.S., for example, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views toward coronavirus concerns are gradually converging. If online platforms that have historically tended toward some toxic behaviors can themselves undergo a similar refresh, it will be one step in the right direction.If there is the risk of another techlash appearing on the horizon, however, it’s that we don’t know what the long-term effects will be of Big Tech making peace with Big Brother — namely, a state that has also expanded its emergency powers, surveillance capabilities and size during the crisis. The mix could prove toxic in the long run, even if for now, it’s helping the common good. We’ll have to keep our eyes open.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.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 (MSFT) recently announced that it will divest its stake in AnyVision startup, which is focused on facial recognition technology.
U.S. stocks rose on Monday, led in part by healthcare stocks as investors looked for shares that have become cheap and can withstand the impact to the economy from efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The S&P healthcare sector jumped 4.67%, in part due to gains in Johnson & Johnson and Abbot Laboratories. Abbott Laboratories climbed 6.41% after winning U.S. approval for a diagnostic test for COVID-19.
Microsoft (MSFT) is well poised to gain from robust adoption of Teams, on improving capabilities of the platform to aid users work from home amid coronavirus crisis.
Microsoft added that it is re-branding its popular productivity suite Office 365 to 'Microsoft 365' beginning April 21, with new features including a family safety app that helps manage screen time across Windows PCs, Android, and Xbox. Stay-at-home stocks like video conferencing company Zoom Video Communications and several gaming stocks have seen a surge recently as millions of people are expected to spend weeks or longer inside their homes. The company also added new features in its Microsoft Teams, which is used by over 44 million people everyday, promoting the use of the workplace chat app among family and friends.
(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. unveiled a consumer subscription service with added Office programs and tools to protect children and older adults, part of an effort to shift more customers to ongoing payment plans that provide a smooth revenue stream.Microsoft 365 Personal and Family will begin rolling out April 21 at $6.99 a month for an individual and $9.99 a month for the family edition, which includes six users. That’s the same price as the previous Office 365 consumer products, which have more than 37 million subscribers, said Yusuf Mehdi, a Microsoft vice president. Features will continue to be made available over the few months, he said.The company is adding services such as Microsoft Editor, an artificial-intelligence powered program for Word, Outlook email and the web browser that gives suggestions about how to make writing more concise, inclusive and grammatical. There’s also a presentation coach for the PowerPoint slideshow program that lets users practice in front of their laptops or phones — the app will point out, for example, if presenters are turning away from their audience too often or resorting to the word “um.” Excel will get a new service to track and analyze personal spending through a partnership with Plaid Technologies Inc. that lets customers import data from banking and checking accounts.Microsoft is trying to shift more corporate and consumer users to ongoing subscriptions delivered via the cloud and eliminate the need to persuade them to upgrade to new software every few years. As part of the package, a new parental-control app lets users track what children are doing on a variety of devices and set activity limits on Window 10 devices, Xboxes and Android devices. Apple Inc.’s iOS will be added in the future, Mehdi said. Customers can also set geofencing areas on devices that set off an alert, if for example, a child leaves school at an unexpected time, or an elderly parent wanders off. A child can turn off the controls, which would also alert the parent, Mehdi said, enabling a further conversation.“It’s really up to the parent and child to have a dialogue on do these features get turned on or not,” he said. “We’re just trying to provide the powerful tools. We want to respect the privacy of people to use their phones.”The company is also offering its Teams corporate messaging and conferencing service, which is being used more as employees work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, for chat among family groups. 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.
Apple (AAPL) collaborates with CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA to launch a coronavirus app and website to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft makes strong rebound from 200-day/40-week line. RS line at highs already. Has a 190.80 buy point if it can build the right side of its base.
The stock market rally continues and three top stocks are making bullish moves: Amazon, Microsoft and Domino's Pizza.