|Bid||34.86 x 1100|
|Ask||34.92 x 4000|
|Day's range||34.47 - 35.97|
|52-week range||20.00 - 45.86|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.43|
|PE ratio (TTM)||16.99|
|Earnings date||24 Jul 2020 - 28 Jul 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||29.99|
Twitter sees record downloads, Signal adds a new face-blurring feature and Facebook rethinks its approach to government-backed media. Civil unrest due to the nationwide George Floyd protests drove Twitter to a record number of new installs this week, according to data from two app store intelligence firms, Apptopia and Sensor Tower. While the firms’ exact findings differed in terms of the total number of new downloads or when records were broken, the firms agreed that Twitter’s app had its largest-ever week, globally.
(Bloomberg) -- Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the link-sharing site Reddit Inc., announced his resignation from the company’s board of directors Friday and called on the company to replace him with a black candidate.Reddit, one of the most popular websites in the world, has long been a source of controversy. Ohanian has an on-again, off-again relationship with the company. He stepped down from day-to-day work with Reddit in 2018 but had remained on its board.“I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now,” he wrote on Twitter. “To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop.”In response to Ohanian, Reddit co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Steve Huffman wrote in a post that Reddit would honor Ohanian’s request to replace him with a black director. Huffman also wrote that the company would take a stronger stance against racism, though he said that Reddit is still working out the specifics of its new policy.In a video, Ohanian said, “I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks what did you do. So, I have resigned as a member of the Reddit board. I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate and I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate.” He has a 2-year-old daughter with his wife, tennis star Serena Williams.A pro-Trump message board on Reddit called The_Donald has been a continued source of tension. Reddit’s former interim Chief Executive Officer Ellen Pao publicly criticized the company this week. In response to a post from the company about the Black Lives Matter movement, Pao wrote on Twitter, “I am obligated to call you out: You should have shut down the_donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence. So much of what is happening now lies at your feet. You don’t get to say BLM when reedit nurtures and monetizes white supremacy and hate all day long.”In a post to Reddit on Friday afternoon, Huffman said the site will change how it deals with racist comments. “In 2018, I confusingly said racism is not against the rules, but also isn’t welcome on Reddit. This gap between our content policy and our values has eroded our effectiveness in combating hate and racism on Reddit; I accept full responsibility for this,” Huffman wrote.Huffman said that the company would take stronger action against racism, but provided few details, writing, “We have a choice: return to the status quo or use this opportunity for change. We at Reddit are opting for the latter, and we will do our very best to be a part of the progress.”Huffman didn’t say explicitly whether the company would officially ban The_Donald forum, which he described as being in a “near-dead state.” Reddit has had a policy of quarantining the group, partitioning it off from its front page and warning users before they visited it. But banning the so-called subreddit outright could raise hackles among conservatives who have long accused Bay Area social media companies of political bias. In his post, Huffman described the subreddit as “a community that relished in exploiting and detracting from the best of Reddit.”A spokeswoman for Ohanian’s venture capital firm Initialized Capital declined to make him available for comment.Ohanian also said he would pledge $1 million to Know Your Rights Camp, a nonprofit founded by Colin Kaepernick, the NFL star who has been shunned by the league for peacefully protesting for black rights.“It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country.” Ohanian said in the video that was included in his Twitter thread on Friday.Read: Cities Face More Unrest; Record Guard Deployment: Protest Update(Updates with CEO comments in 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.
Venture capitalist Bradley Tusk is calling for the repeal of a key piece of legislation that helped create the internet as we know it.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. said it removed two networks of accounts linked to white supremacy groups, but hasn’t seen any attempted foreign interference on its platforms related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. targeting police brutality.Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that the U.S. government has seen evidence of “foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.” But Facebook officials said Friday they haven’t detected foreign influence on the social network. “We have not yet seen or received evidence of foreign interference or coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting the protests,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.The social-media company, however, said it removed dozens of accounts linked to two white supremacy groups, Proud Boys and American Guard, which were “organizing around the protests.” The two groups had previously been banned from Facebook, but resurfaced.“These groups were planning to rally supporters and members to physically go on the ground to the protests, in some cases preparing to go with weapons,” said Brian Fishman, Facebook’s director for counter-terrorism and dangerous organizations.Facebook officials also said they removed the accounts of some individual users who were posing as Antifa members to “deceive the public.” Specifically, Facebook took down a “handful of largely dormant Pages and accounts” that were linked to a Twitter account posing as an Antifa member to incite violence. Antifa is a loosely organized leftist movement that is a frequent target of conservative critics, who have accused it of fomenting violence during the recent protests. Facebook found the pages after Twitter officials reached out to share more information about the account, said Gleicher.The executives’ comments came as Facebook released its monthly report on what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior” -- networks of accounts working together to artificially push a particular message or spam users. Facebook removed two such groups in May, including one with more than 400 Pages, and a total of 400 Facebook and Instagram accounts in Tunisia posing as local individuals and news organizations.A second network originating in Iraq that included 324 Pages and more than 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts was also removed.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) -- Perhaps the most notorious of the many full-airline-cabin photos recently posted on Twitter is one taken by a cardiologist on his return trip to California after helping treat Covid-19 patients in New York City: Passengers wearing a variety of surgical and makeshift masks fill every seat. “I guess @united is relaxing their social distancing policy these days?” the caption asks.Restaurants, retail stores, gyms and other businesses reopening across the U.S. are subject to state and local rules requiring six feet of space between customers, but airlines are responsible only to themselves. Surely, as Maria Cantwell of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, has argued to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, federal guidelines are needed to make people on long flights as safe from coronavirus infection as people ordering lunch in a pizzeria.Much about how the coronavirus moves through aircraft cabins remains under study — Boeing and Airbus have investigations in progress — but it’s important to be as careful as possible based on what information exists. If crafted in consultation with engineers, public health experts and the airlines, guidelines could help the industry through the pandemic without a need for new regulations — and, no less important, give air travelers a better idea of what safe conditions look like.Airlines have every reason to protect public health, of course, at a time when the public has become wary of flying. Since the pandemic hit the U.S. full-force in March, air passenger volume has fallen about 90%, and companies have suspended 60-80% of their flights. Their revenue and stock prices have plummeted. The federal government is spending $50 billion to keep the airlines going — and their employees paid.Airlines have emailed videos to assure passengers that their planes’ filters remove more than 99% of virus particles from the air; that their crews are doing extra cleaning and sanitizing, even fogging cabins with “high-grade” disinfectant between flights; and that flight attendants and passengers are being required to wear masks. But most companies have been reluctant to guarantee that they will keep middle seats empty or otherwise limit passengers on all flights. (Delta, Spirit and JetBlue are exceptions, pledging to block middle seats at least for a while.) United Airlines, for one, is offering to let fliers on crowded flights rebook. But without guidelines, how can people judge what’s safe?Airlines should keep sick people from boarding planes, but because the coronavirus can infect people for days before producing symptoms — if it produces them at all — it’s not always possible to identify the contagious.Open middle seats would help. Although it’s true that modern filters essentially eliminate virus particles from cabin air, those particles circulate, especially in the few rows closest to a contagious person, for three to four minutes before they reach the ventilation system, according to Qingyan Chen, an engineering professor at Purdue University who has studied virus movement aboard aircraft. If two passengers wear cloth masks, they cut their risk of passing the virus between them by three-quarters, Chen says, and if there is at least a seat’s worth of distance between them, the chance of transmission falls by another third.For the past couple of months, most flights have been empty enough to easily accommodate vacant middle seats. With states reopening and summer ahead, bookings are rising. That’s good news for passengers and airlines alike — but only if, as demand recovers, flights are filled sparsely enough for safety.Editorials are written by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.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.
(Bloomberg) -- A Chinese hacking group targeted the personal email accounts of Joe Biden’s campaign staff, Google said Thursday.The company recently observed the Chinese activity against the Democratic presidential campaign, according to a company statement.Google also witnessed new Iranian phishing attempts against the personal email accounts of staff on U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign -- continuing a phenomenon first observed in October.Neither of the attempts appeared to be successful, according to Google. The company shared information with the targets of the attacks, as well as with federal law enforcement, the company said.The Biden campaign confirmed in a statement that it was aware of the reports. The campaign has known that it would be targeted with attacks of this kind and was prepared, according to the statement. The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Google’s announcement -- first shared on Twitter by Shane Huntley, who leads the company’s Threat Analysis Group -- comes amid fears that the 2020 election may face the same kind of hacking and disinformation campaigns that occurred in 2016. That year, Russian hackers infiltrated the Democratic Party and waged a covert social media campaign to sow chaos and division among U.S. voters.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.
Civil unrest due to the nationwide George Floyd protests drove Twitter to see a record number of new installs this week, according to data from two app store intelligence firms, Apptopia and Sensor Tower. While the firms' exact findings differed in terms of the total number of new downloads or when records were broken, the firms agreed that Twitter's app had its largest-ever week, globally. Twitter's usage is on the rise because of the immediacy around news-sharing its platform provides.
(Bloomberg) -- Rajeev Fernando, a medical doctor and first responder working in New York, told U.K. lawmakers that one of the biggest challenges he’d faced is public belief in conspiracy theories and bogus cures about Covid-19.“I’ve also heard too many patients say Covid-19 is just like the flu; this misinformation has kept many at home thinking this will disappear,” Fernando said. “By the time some people are hospitalized, they’re already in multi-organ failure and death is inevitable.”Executives from Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google were interviewed by British lawmakers on Thursday about how their companies handled the spread of medical misinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic.The parliamentary committee leading the investigation published a selection of evidence it had gathered in advance of the questioning from front-line medical professionals. It was strongly worded, centering around how the public has suffered as a direct result of misinformation via social media.Read more: Twitter Will Add Labels to Some Misleading Covid-19 TweetsThomas Knowles, a medical doctor in the U.K., said in his written evidence that he’d taken a call from a woman whose symptoms made him “strongly suspect that she was experiencing a heart attack,” he said.Knowles said the woman told him she wouldn’t allow emergency medics in her home to take her to hospital because her doctor had informed her that she had to shield herself because of her other health conditions, and that she’d read on Facebook that it meant she’d definitely die if she went to hospital and caught it.“I was forced to accept her right to decline treatment, and she received no specific care that I’m aware of,” he said.Read more: Google Helps Place Ads on Sites Amplifying Covid ConspiraciesFacebook ResponseMonika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy and counterterrorism, was also questioned about the company’s response to an aggressive post made by U.S. President Donald Trump concerning his response to the civil unrest that has swept across the country. Bickert said she wasn’t aware of an open letter published by the New York Times from dozens of former Facebook employees this week. The employees were angry the social network hadn’t followed Twitter’s example of removing the post made by Trump.“It’s a shocking indictment from a number of quite senior former employees,” lawmaker Kevin Brennan told Bickert in the hearing. “To me, it feels like there’s something rotten in the state of Facebook, but am I wrong?”“I haven’t seen the letter,” Bickert said, but added that Facebook’s decision not to remove the President’s message was because it “did not violate” the company’s “long-standing policies.”Deleted PostsGoogle, Twitter and Facebook have all said in the past that tackling the spread of misinformation on their platforms was a priority. Twitter, for instance, has hidden or deleted posts that contain what it determined potentially harmful information. Google includes links to the World Health Organization at the top of search results for information about the virus.Part of the research by the U.K. committee highlighted a statement from Duncan Maru, an epidemiologist and physician based in Nepal, who said his colleagues had treated patients suffering from consuming disinfectants “after reading online that this was a way to cure Covid-19. We can’t be fighting lies and saving lives at the same time.” Read more: 5G Virus Conspiracy Theory Drives Phone Mast Attacks in U.K.And Meenakshi Bewtra, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded similarly: “It is extremely difficult to be fighting both the global pandemic and the infodemic on social media,” she said. “I have personally been contacted by people who have spent money they do not have on ‘remedies’ or engaged in various practices that have no efficacy whatsoever.”The written statements, published by the U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports committee on Thursday, will inform the questions the lawmakers ask tech companies at the hearing. It follows a similar hearing in April that followed the spread of a widely discredited conspiracy theory that 5G wireless technology is contributing to the Covid-19 pandemic.(Updated with additional context throughout.)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) -- As Turks rush to join the local stock market’s longest rally in 27 years, the Istanbul exchange has a warning for them: be careful with your money and watch out for swindlers.The Borsa Istanbul 100 Index headed for its 12th day of gains Thursday, the best winning streak since 1993. With returns on Turkish fixed-income products increasingly unattractive and amid a widening clampdown on investments in foreign-currency assets, more mom and pop traders have turned to studying the stock market for winning bets.“Equities are stores of value. Be careful while picking them,” the exchange said in a tweet on Thursday. “You can learn about a good investment by consulting good specialists.” The message included the hashtags “retail investors” and “stay away from market fraudsters.”The tweet was part of plans to better inform investors and not a response to any event or development in the market, an official from the exchange said in response to questions. “This is a continuing effort and more of these informative videos and posts will follow. Borsa Istanbul’s corporate management aims to increase financial literacy and awareness,” he said.The Borsa Istanbul SME Industrials Index, made up of the small and medium-sized companies often favored by retail investors, has jumped 61% this year, compared with a drop of 4.3% for the main benchmark.One of the biggest drivers of the gains has been a surge of 634% in Covid-19 diagnostic kit maker RTA Laboratories. A drop in RTA’s shares in the past two weeks sparked anger among retail investors who missed out on the spectacular rally, fueling a social media controversy that led to two senior figures at an Istanbul brokerage losing their jobs.Turkey’s Capital Markets Board added its own note of caution, publishing a statement on its website on Thursday. It renewed a warning that investors be wary of those making stock recommendations on social media. The regulator said it continues to see activity designed to cause investors to lose money, adding that some of those making recommendations on social media lack the necessary qualifications or are even banned from equity trading.(Add statement from market regulator in final 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) -- The grand alliance that’s helped revive global oil markets is being rattled by a long-running feud over members breaking their promises.Just a day before a proposed gathering on Thursday, the OPEC+ coalition hurriedly backtracked from a meeting intended to green-light an extension of its deepest production cutbacks and prop up crude prices.Saudi Arabia and Russia -- the leaders of the group -- have lost patience with the errant behavior of the next-biggest member, Iraq, according to people familiar with the matter. While most of the main players are delivering their agreed share of output curbs, Baghdad is once again reneging on its commitments.At stake is the unity of the 23-nation partnership, which has helped engineer a doubling in international oil prices following the battering meted out by the coronavirus crisis. If the Iraqis, and other delinquents such as Nigeria and Kazakhstan, don’t shape up then Riyadh and Moscow are warning they will start to phase out the supply curbs that are putting a floor under the market.“Riyadh and Moscow are not kidding about implementing some form of compliance-improvement mechanism,” said Bob McNally, founder of consultant Rapidan Energy Group and a former White House official. “Without it, they walk.”The kingdom and the Kremlin are pushing the stragglers hard -- not just demanding they implement the cuts already promised, but asking for deeper curbs in the coming months to compensate for their earlier failings.As discussions continued on Thursday, they were making progress with Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Angola, said people familiar with the talks. A deal with Iraq still hadn’t been reached, they said. Impossible ChoiceSuch penance would be difficult for Iraq to accept. It made less than half of its assigned cutbacks last month, so compensating fully would require it to slash production by a further 24% to about 3.28 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg calculations.For a country still rebuilding its economy following decades of war, sanctions and Islamist insurgency, that’s a tall order. Resisting the temptation of selling crude during the current market rebound, which has brought prices back to about $40 a barrel, may prove impossible.While Iraqi Finance Minister and Acting Oil Minister Ali Allawi did pledge to improve compliance with pledged cuts in an unusual Twitter post on Tuesday, he didn’t go any further. The government risks a backlash from parliamentarians and rival political parties if it accedes to foreign pressure, and foregos oil sales while contending with a federal budget gap.One-Month ExtensionThe Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies pledged in April to slash oil output by 9.7 million barrels a day, or roughly 10% of global oil supplies, to offset the unprecedented collapse in demand caused by coronavirus lockdowns.A few weeks later, Saudi Arabia and its closest allies in the Persian Gulf promised additional supply restraint of 1.2 million barrels a day in June.Riyadh and Moscow are aligned on continuing cuts at the current level for an extra month beyond July 1, according to people familiar with the matter. But if they don’t receive assurances from Iraq and the other nations at their next meeting -- currently scheduled for June 9-10 -- the group’s daily supply curbs will ease to 7.7 million barrels for the rest of the year.“Now that they’ve agreed on an extension, they’re going to turn and bring the laggards into line,” Rapidan’s McNally said on Bloomberg television on Thursday. Talks with Iraq were going well, and there could be “a compliance mechanism, something formal that drags Iraq and also Nigeria into better compliance,” he said.If OPEC+ stays the course, the results could be dramatic. After the massive oil surplus earlier this year, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak predicts it could turn into a deficit of 3 million to 5 million barrels a day next month, Interfax reported. That’s roughly in line with projections from an OPEC committee that met on Wednesday, a delegate said.Prince’s PriorityEnforcing better compliance among OPEC+ nations has been a motif since Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman was appointed.In his first public outing after becoming energy minister, in Abu Dhabi last September, the prince was literally applauded for securing loud pledges of atonement from Iraq and Nigeria.But his tenure has also been stormy, and the latest move has high stakes. In March, the prince’s attempt to force Russia to make deeper output reductions backfired spectacularly, splintering the entire alliance and igniting a destructive price war.Two months ago, Prince Abdulaziz achievement in successfully restoring the OPEC+ coalition and forging an agreement for historic production cuts was delayed and ultimately overshadowed by a spat over Mexico’s contribution to the deal.Old ProblemIraq’s recalcitrance is as old as the OPEC+ partnership itself, which was founded in 2016 to shore up oil prices against the onslaught of American shale.Baghdad argued that the exemption from cutbacks it had received since the conflicts of the 1990s should continue. The central government also has limited influence over about 500,000 barrels a day of production from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.At the critical meeting where OPEC+ was formed, then Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi had to leave the conference room and call his prime minister for approval to accept the new strictures.The latest impasse isn’t yet showing signs of resolution. Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s oil behemoth, has delayed the release of monthly crude prices to Sunday at the earliest, according to people with knowledge of the matter. That suggests there’s no clarity just yet on how the situation will unfold.Nonetheless, recent history suggests the burden might not be as onerous as it appears, and that Iraq’s resistance could be overcome.Last December, Baghdad was pressed to accept additional supply reductions, even though it had barely managed to cut output earlier in the year. Iraq knew it wasn’t expected to implement the entire package, but rather consider the new target as a spur to improve its performance, analysts said at the time.“It feels like Groundhog Day again as compliance issues complicate the effort to conclude a short rollover agreement,” said Helima Croft, head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets LLC. “Nonetheless, we still think these issues will be resolved and that a short extension will be announced.”(Updates with talks progress in fifth 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) -- As American cities convulse with protests, U.S. adversaries are taking advantage of the situation on social media to advance their agendas and rebuke U.S. government officials, according to a report released Wednesday.In one instance, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted the hashtag BlackLivesMatter along with an annotated version of a U.S. State Department release that criticized Tehran’s suppression of protests. Zarif tweaked the document to apply those same criticisms to Washington’s handling of the protests on U.S. soil.Iran’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, tweeted a photo of a U.S. protester facing four police officers and included a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. -- deflecting “American words back at the White House,” according the report published by Graphika Inc., which uses artificial intelligence to analyze data from social networks.President Hassan Rouhani, who’s been on the receiving end of Donald Trump’s tweets in the past, also issued terse criticism at a cabinet meeting in Tehran, calling the U.S. president “shameful” for wielding the Bible and threatening to deploy troops against protesters. Earlier this week, Iran finally issued a death toll for November’s anti-government demonstrations.Chinese officials and state media have used social media to push the idea of a U.S. “double standard,” the report said. In one example highlighted by Graphika, China’s deputy foreign minister retweeted comparisons of protests in the U.S. and Hong Kong, including one by the editor of a state media outlet: “I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”Along with Russia, China and Iran are using the U.S. protests to “further their existing narratives,” Graphika concluded. Iran seized the moment to pillory U.S. criticism of Iran’s human-rights record and denounce U.S. sanctions, while China’s main goal is to use the protests to undermine U.S. support for Hong Kong demonstrators, according to the report.Disinformation and propaganda have spread online as protests rage across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of the police. Graphika hasn’t found any large-scale, covert interference campaigns like the one Russia waged in the U.S. to stoke division during the 2016 presidential election. However, Russian media has covered the U.S. protests as part of its “practice of highlighting genuine grievances and protests in the West,” the report said.In their social media propaganda, China and Iran have incorporated the phrase “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd uttered while a police officer knelt on his neck and which has been adopted as a rallying cry by protesters, according to Graphika.China used the phrase to troll a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department and to criticize U.S. moves to withdraw from the World Health Organization. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said in a statement to the U.S., “Stop violence against your people and let them breathe,” according to the report.Pro-Iranian accounts tweeted support for the protesters and criticisms of the U.S. with the hashtag IranWithGeorge. Twitter followers of Iranian state outlets used hashtags that were trending in the U.S., including JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, Graphika found.Russia, China and Iran also amplified each other’s narratives. “Russian state voices echoed the Chinese argument of hypocrisy vis-a-vis Hong Kong. Russian outlets also echoed Iranian narratives, and Chinese officials amplified Russian claims,” Graphika wrote in its report.(Updates with reaction from Iranian president in fourth paragraph. An earlier version of this story was corrected to fix the spelling of Iran’s foreign minister.)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) -- On Wednesday, Snap Inc. did something that Facebook and Twitter will probably never do. The company decided that because Donald Trump had been promoting racism and violence in public statements, his content should no longer appear on the app's Discover feed. His Snapchat videos are still intact, but they won’t be served up to people not already following him.It was a simple solution—in stark contrast to Snap's social media competitors, where every debate about what content to leave up and take down tends to become mired in companies’ complex, ever-changing policies that not even employees understand.Forays into moderating political speech have landed social media companies in an increasingly tenuous position. Twitter Inc. for the first time last week decided to put a warning label on a Trump tweet that the company said glorified violence, meeting swift White House blowback. Facebook Inc. left a post with the same language up on its site with no extra context and was greeted with unprecedented employee dissent.This week as he tried to quell the outrage, Zuckerberg faced his employees with a nuanced policy rebuttal that was tough to parse: Facebook only takes down posts that are "inciting" violence, he said, and the company didn't think Trump's post did that, but if Twitter thought Trump's post did that, Twitter should have taken the post down entirely. There may be a middle-ground solution, he added, but figuring that out will take time. If you're still reading, it’s worth remembering that even that is an oversimplification. Sometimes Facebook enforces its policies on violent speech, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes politicians get an exemption, sometimes they don't.Both Twitter and Facebook are desperately trying to appear neutral and even-handed with their decisions on each post. But as former employees said in an open letter to Zuckerberg on Wednesday, "Facebook isn't neutral, and never has been." The platform has always been biased in favor of content that gets more attention. Like most social media companies, Facebook's algorithms boost the content that gets the most engagement, allowing some posts to spread quickly through the platform. It generally doesn’t stop that from happening, and errs on the side of not removing users’ posts. Zuckerberg says this is because even though the first amendment doesn’t apply to his private platform, he likes to operate by a free speech philosophy. But in debates about social media censorship, first amendment scholars caution that freedom of speech isn't the same thing as freedom of reach. You are guaranteed a voice—but not an audience, or virality.Snap's innovation was to take away Trump's reach. It may have been a masterstroke of moderation, side-stepping the issue entirely. Or its decision to make a call based on instinct, rather than a weighty policy rulebook, could set a difficult precedent. But either way, it's opened up a new front in the fight over who gets to say what, and to whom, online. In the end, after the company announced the decision, Trump was just as angry with Snap as he was with Twitter for a much milder action. The president, it seems, doesn't care about winding arguments about moderation policy. He cares about winning.If you read one thingAll the packages you've ordered online during the pandemic come from warehouses where many workers have to interact, sometimes spreading Covid-19. And then, they go home to their families.And here’s what you need to know in global technology newsAfter all the police violence against protesters, Zoom drew sharp criticism for saying it would avoid strong encryption for free calls to help law enforcement with their cases.Uber's rides business is down more than 70%, indicating a slow recovery for the company after the virus. The video game publisher behind the Grand Theft Auto franchise, Take-Two, cancelled its contract with a smaller developer—and then tried to poach its entire team. The aggressive moves, plus Covid-19 hardships, forced the smaller developer to shut down.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) -- Like many New Yorkers, I’d had my fill of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefings some time ago; they’d gone from inspiring to frustrating as New York City’s lockdown entered its fourth month. But earlier this week, after horrific nights of protests and rubber bullets, looting and vandalism, Cuomo said something that hasn’t been said nearly enough by government leaders.“Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” He continued:We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City. And now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could in fact exacerbate the Covid-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masks, socially distanced, and then you turn on the TV and you see these mass gathering that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything we have done. We have to take a minute and ask what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?After making it clear that he strongly believed that the protesters’ cause was just — and urging them to channel their anger into an agenda for change — he returned to the pandemic. His anguish was palpable.We just spent 93 days limiting behavior, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now, mass gatherings, with thousands of people, in close proximity. … How many superspreaders were in that crowd? ... How many young people went home, kissed their mother hello … and spread the virus? “We have to be smart,” he kept saying as he ended his remarks. “We have to be smart right now.”Ever since the protests began last week, the pandemic has gone from being the biggest crisis since 9/11 to almost an afterthought, overshadowed by the urgency and importance of taking to the streets in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Axios reported that on Sunday, for instance, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News devoted 25% of their combined airtime to the protests — and only 2.5% to the coronavirus. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight wondered on Twitter what it would mean for social distancing now that the news media “and other elites” were playing down the virus. In fact, we know the answer to that: though many of the protesters are still wearing masks, many are not. As for the critical need to stand six feet apart to avoid infecting others, well, that’s been abandoned.What’s more, it’s well documented that the virus is spread through respiratory droplets that are expelled when an infected person coughs, yells or even talks. Protesters yell. They scream when police spray them with pepper spray or tear gas. The public health experts who were so quick to condemn right-wing protesters for endangering the public with their behavior have largely been silent in the face of these much more widespread — and, from a pandemic standpoint, more dangerous — protests. Indeed, according to NPR, dozens of health experts signed an open letter supporting the protests. “White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to Covid-19,” they wrote. Be that as it may, the virus doesn’t care whether the protesters are white supremacists or progressives.During the pandemic of 1918, people often died in 12 to 24 hours after being infected. The suddenness of death made the pandemic impossible to ignore. This virus isn’t like that. It’s less potent than the so-called Spanish flu, and symptoms don’t appear for a week or so after infection. Many people never have symptoms at all. It’s much easier to ignore, or soft-pedal, in the heat of the moment. To the country’s detriment, that’s exactly what been happening.So where does that leave us? First, it most likely means, as I noted previously, that just when many cities, including hard-hit New York, were finally getting the virus under control and beginning to reopen, there will be a new outbreak of infections. Second, there is a decent chance that the reopenings — which we’ve been awaiting so eagerly — will suffer a significant setback. Consider contact tracing. As the number of positive cases dwindle, the idea is the government can trace those with whom a newly infected person has been in contact and quarantine them, allowing the uninfected to return to work or otherwise go about their lives. The protests make contact tracing virtually impossible. That, in turn, increases that likelihood of widespread infections once cities reopen.Or consider all those hundreds of thousands of small storefront businesses that have been closed because of the lockdowns. For many of them, the vandalism that has taken place will make it even harder to reopen because their windows have been broken and their inventory stolen. Once the number of positive cases begin rising again, will restaurants still be able to open, even at 50% capacity? Will employees be able to return to the office? Will people be able to go to gyms? Or will we be right back where we were in mid-March? Will Cuomo have to reverse himself and, painfully, shut down New York City again?A number of economists have devised what I would call reopening models — calculations about how to maximize the ability to revive the economy while minimizing the possibility of further Covid-19 deaths. The paper I found most persuasive was written by a team led by James Stock, a Harvard economist.(1) “Our view is that it is possible to get people back to work, and get them shopping and avoid a resurgence in escalating deaths so long as there is some contact tracing,” he told me. “It is also contingent on a high degree of discipline in their non-work lives. If people have parties that are small and outdoors, then yes, you can open the economy. But if you continue your non-work life the way it was before, that completely swamps the contacts you make in the office. Those contacts are relatively safe. It is the out-of-work stuff that kills you.”Of course, the out-of-work stuff is exactly what has been taking place on the streets of just about every large city this past week. When I asked Stock whether he thought the protests negated his work, he said no: He thought the protesters were aware enough of the virus that if they came down with symptoms they would know enough to get tested and to self-isolate. And he was hopeful that because the protests took place outdoors, we might avoid a second wave. I hope he’s right, but I fear he’s wrong. There is a big difference between having a small party outdoors and joining thousands of others, in close quarters, to protest for social justice.In my neighborhood in New York, people are still stepping onto their balconies every evening at 7 p.m. to bang pots and pans in honor of the health-care workers who have put their lives on the line to fight the pandemic. Hundreds of them — doctors and nurses, and other essential workers, like meat-packers and delivery people — have lost their lives to the virus.Not since Sandy Hook has the country been as galvanized by a killing as it has been by George Floyd’s death. I am not discounting the importance of this moment, or the possibility that it could bring about important and lasting change. But I do wonder: if the protests lead to a new wave of the pandemic and set the country back on reopening, will the lives of those essential workers have been lost in vain?(1) The other co-authors are David Baqaee, Emmanuel Farhi and Michael J. Mina.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."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.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s combative response to nationwide protests against police brutality has dominated the news in recent days, but a wave of ads on Google’s YouTube has sought to draw attention to another event: the President’s 74th birthday. In the last full week of May, Trump’s campaign spent $1.48 million on Google advertising, the highest weekly total of the 2020 campaign, according to the search giant’s data. Many of the ads take the form of a digital birthday card the president’s supporters can sign by sharing information like their email addresses.The spending surge shows how the presidential campaign season has continued on digital media even as in-person events, like the large rallies President Trump favors, have been placed on hold. In the interim, Trump’s campaign is increasing its spending, largely to accumulate potential supporters’ email addresses.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is a favorite destination. Trump’s campaign spent about the same amount on Facebook Inc., where it spent $1.48 million over the same period.During the week of May 23, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee spent $1.3 million on Google advertising, while Donald J. Trump for President Inc., another Trump campaign entity, spent $164,500, according to Google’s database.Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign spent $322,600 in the week of May 23. The campaign has pulled back its spending on Google since the primary concluded; Biden’s spending on Google hit a record of $1.72 million for the week of Super Tuesday. Biden spent about $570,000 on Facebook during the week starting May 23.The two main Trump campaign groups have spent $26.3 million on Google ads since July 2018. Over that same period, Biden’s campaign has spent $6.38 million on Google ads.Earlier this year, the Trump campaign outbid rivals to reserve the coveted ad space at the top of YouTube’s homepage in advance for election day and the days before, Bloomberg News reported earlier.A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on the candidates’ campaign spending.YouTube has taken a financial hit in recent months due to the economic downturn, but the company has noted the strong performance of “direct response” marketing -- video ads that prompt viewers to make a purchase or take an action, like Trump’s birthday card messages.“Democrats have just had a little more trouble raising money on Google versus Republicans, not due to a lack of good strategy but due to seeing better returns on other platforms,” said Julia Ager, founder and president of the Democratic digital advertising firm Sapphire Strategies.Digital political advertising has become increasingly prominent -- and controversial -- since the 2016 election. Both Google and Facebook, the market leaders, have begun to disclose more about spending levels and the types of ads candidates run.After an uproar over misleading campaign ads last year, Google banned political commercials with doctored images or “false claims.” It removed some ads from Trump and Democratic candidates in March. But Google has mostly avoided the uproar that Facebook and Twitter Inc. have faced over the past week as the two social media companies have made diverging decisions about how to handle incendiary posts from President Trump.Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company for Bloomberg News, who ended his presidential bid in March, remains the top political buyer on Google since May 2018 with $62.3 million spent.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.
Jun.05 -- True Ventures Partner Om Malik deleted his Facebook account two years ago. Now he's also leaving Instagram and WhatsApp, as announced in a blog post. He discusses what led him to the decisions on "Bloomberg Technology."
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. removed a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd due to copyright claims, the latest escalation in a confrontation between the social media platforms and one of their most influential users.The @TeamTrump account had tweeted a video collage of images and clips depicting peaceful protests, moments of mourning and law enforcement officers hugging civilians in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, while in police custody. Accompanied by a gentle piano soundtrack and President Donald Trump’s speech about “healing, not hatred,” it urged Americans to unite.The video, still available to view on the president’s YouTube channel, appears to have gathered most of its content from social media posts, and at least one copyright holder made a complaint to Twitter about the use of their photo, a company spokesperson told The Hill.Facebook also removed the Trump campaign team’s video from its website and Instagram after receiving a complaint from a copyright holder who was also an Instagram user, according to the company.“Organizations that use original art shared on Instagram are expected to have the right to do so,” a Facebook spokesman said.The U.S. president has an audience of 81.7 million followers on his personal Twitter account, which he uses to celebrate accomplishments of his administration and, often, lambaste opponents. In the wake of Floyd’s death and subsequent protests, he tweeted a warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which Twitter deemed to have been in breach of its rules against glorifying violence and led the company to hide that message behind a warning label. Earlier, the social media giant had placed a fact-check notice on another Trump tweet, which also earned the president’s displeasure.Facebook took no action on the president’s post on the protests, drawing criticism from employees, former workers and advocates.Read more: Trump Ire Draws Eyeballs to Twitter, Where Attention Is an AssetIn retaliation for what Trump and his supporters have deemed political bias, the president issued an executive order targeting social media companies like Twitter. The move -- which could expose Twitter, Facebook and other technology giants to a flurry of lawsuits -- sparked broad condemnation from liberals and even some conservatives who accused the president of launching an unconstitutional assault on free speech.(Updates with further details on Facebook from first 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 clip, which shows photos and videos of protest marches and instances of violence in the aftermath of the death of Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota, has Trump speaking in the background. It was not clear what copyright image prompted the complaint, but California lawyer Sam Koolaq told Politico his firm submitted copyright complaints to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Late Friday, Trump criticized the removal by Twitter.
(Bloomberg) -- Zoom’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan’s comments that the software company would work with law enforcement by not offering the strongest encryption for free calls using the popular video-conferencing service hit a nerve with some users, drawing criticism amid nationwide protests about the role of police in the U.S.Yuan, on a conference call Tuesday, said Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s efforts to provide the highest standard of digital security, called end-to-end encryption, would go to paying customers rather than the millions of people who use the app without charge for yoga classes, weddings, religious services and other social and business gatherings.“Free users, for sure, we don’t want to give that because we also want to work together with the FBI, with local law enforcement, in case some people use Zoom for the bad purpose,” said Yuan, also the company founder.The remarks struck thousands of people on social media as tone-deaf, coming as marches against police brutality have clogged many U.S. cities since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck in a video widely shared online.Some Zoom users vowed to dump the service and switch to competitors. Even some paying customers said they had canceled subscriptions for the company’s app. The software maker reported soaring revenue and profit Tuesday, cementing itself as one of the key beneficiaries of the coronavirus era, when millions of people have used Zoom to remotely work, learn and keep in touch with loved ones. The stock jumped 7.6% to a record $223.87 at Wednesday’s close, and has more than tripled this year.End-to-end encryption makes it impossible for third parties to decipher communications. While Zoom used to claim that its video calls featured that level of security, in fact, all calls have a lower level of encryption.Yuan sought to assuage users’ concerns Wednesday in his weekly webinar, saying the company was striving to “do the right thing” for vulnerable groups, including children and hate-crime victims, whose abuse is sometimes broadcast through Zoom’s platform.“We plan to provide end-to-end encryption to users for whom we can verify identity, thereby limiting harm to vulnerable groups,” he said. “I wanted to clarify that Zoom does not monitor meeting content. We do not have backdoors where participants, including Zoom employees or law enforcement, can enter meetings without being visible to others. None of this will change.”Zoom only has the email addresses of free users and Yuan said that doesn’t provide enough information to verify people’s identities. He said the company is trying to determine how it might offer end-to-end encryption to individuals who have purchased a Zoom subscription to extend the duration of their calls. Zoom offers 40-minute meetings at no cost.Days before his comments on working with law enforcement, Yuan publicly shared a letter he wrote to employees about the grievances that spurred the recent demonstrations, including “racism, injustice and violence.”During his Wednesday webinar, he echoed his support for the black community.“We will also assess how best to philanthropically contribute to support some of the external partners who are on the front lines tackling social and racial justice,” 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) -- Snap Inc. is no longer promoting U.S. President Donald Trump’s content in the news section of its Snapchat app, citing his posts on Twitter that threatened violence against protesters. The move prompted a sharp rebuke from Trump’s re-election campaign.“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” Snap said Wednesday in a statement. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”Trump’s Snapchat account remains publicly available, but the decision will affect his reach on the platform. While the president has 1.5 million followers, he received the most attention when Snapchat would display his posts in the Discover section, potentially reaching hundreds of millions of people who use the social-networking app. Snapchat will be particularly important for reaching young and first-time voters ahead of the 2020 election, with schools and other gathering places potentially closed.“Snapchat is trying to rig the 2020 election,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Snapchat hates that so many of their users watch the President’s content and so they are actively engaging in voter suppression. If you’re a conservative, they do not want to hear from you, they do not want you to vote. They view you as a deplorable and they do not want you to exist on their platform.” Snap shares fell as much as 4.3% on Wednesday. Trump recently posted messages on Twitter and Facebook that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” in response to protests over the police killing of George Floyd. That prompted tech companies to weigh if the president broke their rules about inciting violence. It has also sparked a heated debate about how social media rules should be applied to world leaders versus regular users.Twitter Inc. put a warning label on Trump’s post, while Facebook Inc. did nothing, standing by its decision even after employees protested publicly.Snap’s move was based on another Trump tweet from May 30 in which he warned that if protesters came close to breaching the White House fence “they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs and ominous weapons.” The president frequently reposts his tweets to Snapchat, though the warning about the dogs was not reposted.Snap decided that, unlike Twitter and Facebook, it’s not attempting to be a neutral town square. The Discover page uses a mix of manual and algorithmic curation, while Twitter and Facebook rely on automation based on data about viral sharing and other measures of popularity. Snap’s decision was reported earlier by the New York Times.(Updates with Trump campaign comment in 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.
Snap announced this morning that it will not be promoting content from President Trump's Snapchat account in its Discover tab following statements from Trump last week on Twitter, which threatened that protestors could be met with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons." The move is notable for many reasons, but is particularly interesting because social media platforms have tended to only discipline popular accounts when they've violated the rules on their own platform. Snapchat users will still be able to access content from Trump's feed if they subscribe to it or search specifically for the account.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One of the most feared antagonists in the “Star Trek” universe is the seemingly unstoppable alien species called the Borg. These cybernetic aliens travel the galaxy, conquering and assimilating everything in their path while greeting each new victim with the catch-phrase, “Resistance is futile.”In many ways, the prevailing narrative around Big Tech is similar to this sci-fi series villain story line. Pundits often cite how the technology giants’ vast financial resources and R&D budgets will lead to an inexorable march to control more and more of the economy. And sure, on the surface it makes sense. Apple Inc. and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. sport net cash balances of roughly $100 billion each and dominate their respective markets, generating vast profit streams from smartphones to search engines. Together with Facebook Inc., Netflix Inc. and Microsoft Corp., these behemoths also reign over the stock market with their ballooning valuations. How can any smaller company hope to compete against such power in the current difficult environment?The reality paints a much less daunting picture. It turns out that the Covid-19 era has led to an explosion of innovation and rapid growth for dozens of smaller technology companies. Many of these upstarts — from video-conferencing software maker Zoom Video Communications Inc. to cloud-computing firm Datadog Inc. — are emphatically winning even as the tech giants try to squash them. And they’re doing it in many cases by simply making a better product and having a laser focus on it. There’s a flaw in the concept that Big Tech can easily expand into new markets by leveraging the power of their core businesses. The reason is all companies – big or small – have finite top-tier engineering talent. And of course, companies tend to put their best people on their most important profit-making segments, versus any peripheral new markets, opening the door for the upstart specialists to thrive.Earlier this year, I wrote how corporations were flocking to software vendors such as Zoom for solutions on how to get the job done at a time when their employees were forced to work from home amid lockdown restrictions. Since then, Big Tech has taken particular aim at the software company as they sought to push their own video-conferencing tools. Last month, Google added a large, blue-colored “Add Google Meet video conferencing” button any time a Google Calendar user tries to add an appointment, while its Gmail accounts with its billion-plus user base also conspicuously have Google Meet in the lower left corner at all times. Microsoft, meantime, has sought to capitalize on early security concerns with Zoom to promote its Teams product. Despite the aggressive moves, you couldn’t see any negative impact in Zoom’s results. Late Tuesday, the upstart posted April-quarter sales results that crushed Wall Street estimates. The company posted first-quarter revenue of $328 million, up 169% from a year earlier, versus the $203 million Bloomberg consensus. It also projected a sales range of $495 million to $500 million for the current quarter, more than double the $222 million analyst estimate. Zoom shares climbed 5% on Wednesday, adding to year-to-date gains that already topped 200%.That’s just Zoom. There are plethora of cloud software names — including monitoring analytics provider Datadog and user authentication company Okta, Inc. — that are also seeing surging demand for their services and the soaring stock prices to match. These companies are building out comprehensive offerings and stronger leadership positions in their respective categories that will be harder to displace as they grow in stature. And it’s still early innings on the growth curve for many of these firms. The move to cloud-computing is a seminal paradigm shift similar in scope to the transition to mobile smartphones nearly a decade ago. Gartner said the world-wide enterprise technology market was $3.7 trillion last year. Even if the economy contracts, it will be a large market, with lots of room for fast-growing companies to make meaningful share gains as spending shifts toward new technologies. “The trends of digital transformation and cloud migration remain very much intact over the long term and may even be accelerated or amplified,” Datadog CEO Olivier Pomel said during his May earning call with investors. Another recent example of Big Tech’s failure is Amazon.com Inc.’s foray into gaming. After years of development, the e-commerce giant released its first big-budget video game “Crucible” last month to much fanfare, even advertising the title on the front page of its website. It was meant to be the Amazon’s beachhead into the large attractive gaming market. It didn’t go well. To illustrate, just a couple weeks after its launch “Crucible” has precipitously fallen in the Twitch charts, a key indicator of gamer engagement, to roughly 100 viewers or barely in the top 500 titles. It turned out to be a complete flop, even as Epic Games Inc.’s Fortnite remains a fan favorite.Despite the worries over Big Tech’s growing dominance, the flip side may actually be the bigger risk. Last month, I wrote how other retailers appear to be taking advantage of Amazon’s service troubles to make incursions, which has allowed them to grow their e-commerce businesses at triple-digit rates. In social media, the short-video platform TikTok has also surged in popularity. Last week, Bloomberg News reported TikTok’s parent ByteDance Ltd.’s revenue for last year more than doubled to more than $17 billion from $7.4 billion in 2018, a level of sales nearly triple that of Twitter Inc. and Snap Inc. combined. Incredibly, if TikTok continues it current growth trajectory, it has the potential to surpass some of Facebook’s key platforms within a few years. And speaking of Facebook, its latest big push into e-commerce space, Facebook Shops, relies in great deal on a partnership with online-store software maker Shopify Inc. and its extensive array of commerce tools for small businesses.History shows the tech industry’s reputation for disruption is unmatched. And if it is any guide, investors shouldn’t overlook or underestimate the industry’s up-and-comers, even in — or should I say especially in — times like these. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 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.
Microblogging veteran Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) is under new leadership. Chairman Omid Kordestani stepped down from his post on June 1 and former Google CFO Patrick Pichette has taken his place. What's new? Pichette also serves as chairman of Twitter's audit committee and a member of the board's compensation committee.
(Bloomberg) -- Coronavirus has exposed a lack of investment in the big batteries crucial to unlocking solar and wind power.A drop in energy demand caused by the pandemic has left European grids overloaded with green electricity, raising the threat of blackouts and underlining the need for energy storage in a low-carbon energy system.Europe is striving to rid its power grids of carbon emissions by the middle of the century. But what should be an incentive to increase the use of batteries isn’t happening nearly fast enough with installations dropping last year, according to BloombergNEF.“Batteries are extremely critical,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in an interview. “They are ready for the big time” and should be included in post-virus economic recovery packages, he said.One reason for the drop in battery installations comes down to how power markets are set up, according to Marco van Daele, co-chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Susi Partners AG, a clean energy infrastructure fund manager. The newness of storage technology and the lack of long-term income streams has put investors off.“An obstacle for much wider investment in the space is the lack of contracted and visible revenue,” he said. Even as the costs of building batteries come down, “the remuneration of that capacity needs to become more visible in order to attract the large-scale investment needed.”For decades, power markets have been designed around demand and ensuring there is enough supply to fulfill peak consumption. Slowly the focus is changing to how to control an oversupply when it’s sunny or windy. And with renewables having priority feeding into the grid, they have more influence over how the system is managed.Read more about how renewables are impacting the grid in BritainThe slide in demand caused by the virus lockdowns has been “like pressing a fast-forward button in power markets to where you have large amounts of generation but not the investment in flexibility,” said Peter Osbaldstone, research director on European power and renewables at Wood Mackenzie Group Ltd.For its part, the EU has proposed a 750 billion-euro ($824 billion) recovery plan to accelerate the transition to clean transport, increase energy savings and boost the production of renewable power.Read more about the Green Deal hereThe European Battery Alliance wants to use the opportunity to accelerate projects that would create 1 million jobs in the sector that could be worth 210 billion euros within the next 2-1/2 years, according to European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic.European carbon emissions are on track for a 17% reduction this year, thanks to a higher proportion of renewables used to meet demand. A combination of wind and solar power could make up the largest share of power capacity in Europe’s major markets as early as 2023, according to Wood Mackenzie.For battery owners, swings in prices when renewables hit the grid could be a major opportunity. Batteries can charge up when solar and wind generation is plentiful and market rates are low, and then sell power to the grid when prices are higher. With enough capacity on the system, buying and selling from battery operators could ultimately help ease the price swings.The U.K., Ireland, Italy, France and Germany have high potential for growth in the short-term, according to Marek Kubik, market director for U.K. and Ireland at Fluence Energy LLC.Factors such as retiring thermal generation, fast-growing variable renewable generation and a move to electrify sectors like transport and heat all point to a need for flexibility that can be easily supplied by battery-based energy storage, he said.(Adds analysis from Woodmac in 11th 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 chief executive of the Japanese investment bank said he would 'like to discuss' whether the bank now needed to much space in central Tokyo.