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(Bloomberg) -- Online mattress retailer Casper Sleep Inc. is working with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on a U.S. initial public offering, according to people with knowledge of the matter.The New York-based company could go public as soon as this year or the first half of 2020, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.Casper, which sells and delivers mattresses directly to consumers, reached a $1.1 billion valuation this year in its most recent private funding round. Target Corp., New Enterprise Associates and Dani Reiss, the chief executive officer of Canada Goose Holdings Inc., are among its investors.The company could attain a higher valuation in an IPO, one of the people said.Representatives for Casper, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.Despite poor performances by high-profile listings including Peloton Interactive Inc. and the collapse of WeWork’s IPO plans, many companies are still aiming to go public before end of the year.Casper, which has expanded its products to include bedding, pillows and bed frames, operates in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Austria. CEO Philip Krim said in March that the company’s next big international market would be Asia.The company also plans to open hundreds of physical stores. Part of its motive for going public is to raise capital for that expansion, one of the people said.(Updates with Casper’s response in fifth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Crystal Tse in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Alistair Barr in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Michael Hytha, Matthew MonksFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- While the idea Donald Trump’s White House might have leaked market-moving news isn’t crazy, a new magazine story suggesting traders made billions of dollars front-running geopolitical events failed to pass the smell test among Wall Street professionals.Analysts and investors who spoke to Bloomberg News were mostly skeptical of a Vanity Fair article titled “The Fantastically Profitable Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades” that raises the possibility traders did more than get lucky buying S&P 500 futures right before big market swings. While nothing is impossible, experts who examined the story said any implication that people traded on inside information fell short of being proven.“I don’t see where the dots are connected,” said Michael O’Rourke, JonesTrading’s chief market strategist. “Unless you have the trading records, which you don’t, you can’t tie one and one together to make two the way this story is laid out.”The story’s author, William D. Cohan, said “of course I’m standing by my reports,” which reflected the accounts of sources in Chicago trading pits. The one-time Bloomberg Opinion columnist said he was alerted to trading patterns that caught the attention of professionals with decades of experience, and that alternate explanations could exist.“I don’t make any allegations, I don’t know what really happened. I was just being reportorial about what traders in the pit were seeing,” he said. “Do I trust my sources? Absolutely. Are they vastly experienced? Absolutely. Does everybody see things differently? Probably. What I’m saying is ‘Hey, there are regulators whose job it is to see these things and investigate them.’”The article describes five big trades in S&P 500 e-mini futures from June 28 to Sept. 13, ranging from 55,000 to 420,000 contracts. It said each position was taken shortly before market-moving news -- three times involving the U.S.-China trade war, once the bombing of Saudi oil fields and once Hong Kong politics. Thanks to market reactions, the magazine said, people involved in the transactions could’ve booked gains of $82.5 million on the smallest to $1.8 billion on the biggest.But attributing sinister intent to a handful of trades that quickly became money-makers ignores how common such large trades are in the futures market, said industry pros. Given how often people move tens of thousands of futures contracts at once -- and how often people like President Donald Trump send stocks reeling -- someone looking for suspicious timing is guaranteed to find it.“Typically these stories focus on the times you’re right. No one writes about people buying a couple hundred million of e-minis and the market doesn’t do anything,” said Max Gokhman, the head of asset allocation for Pacific Life Fund Advisors. “Volume spikes happen all the time.”Anita Liskey, a spokeswoman for CME Group Inc., the exchange where S&P 500 futures trade, declined to comment. The Vanity Fair article cited a spokeswoman for the CME saying the trades in question didn’t originate from a single source and they were of no concern.One trading expert, the chief executive officer of a major quantitative shop who asked not to be identified, said an analysis by his firm suggests no giant trades like the ones the article described appear to have happened. The story says that in the last 10 minutes of trading on Aug. 23, someone bought 386,000 of the September S&P 500 contracts. That number is close to the total volume for September e-minis from 3:50 p.m. to 4 p.m. New York time, spread over thousands of trades -- unlikely to be the work of a single person.Moreover, CME rules prohibit anyone from owning more than 60,000 e-minis at a time. And such a trade would’ve been gargantuan: worth nearly $60 billion. That’s big enough to send the stock market sharply higher and probably trigger trading halts, according to the CEO. That didn’t happen.The Vanity Fair story described Chicago pit traders concerned that people got inside information on “Trump or Beijing’s latest thinking” before taking the positions. Others saw coincidence. In a world where the president sends markets up and down multiple times a day, they said, it’s possible to depict virtually all trading as a reaction to something he does.“Every time stocks move after some crazy Donald Trump news -- which, again, is every time stocks move -- half the people who traded futures ahead of the move will look smart (and the other half will look dumb), and you can, if you want, build a conspiracy theory out of that,” Bloomberg Opinion columnist Matt Levine wrote Thursday.Prompted by the Vanity Fair article, Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice called for a federal investigation into the timing around sales of e-mini futures contracts before significant geopolitical events or statements from Trump.“Millions of futures contracts trade a day, billions of dollars trade a day, so to make a connection, I feel like it’s very hard to do,” said JonesTrading’s O’Rourke. “To me the article just speaks more about the national sentiment about the office of the president.”(Adds U.S. House members calling for an investigation. An earlier version of this story was corrected to remove erroneous volume data.)To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Ponczek in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Nick Baker in Chicago at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Nagi at firstname.lastname@example.org;Jeremy Herron at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Analyst Christopher Eberle reiterated a "buy" rating and a price target of $161 on Microsoft stock. He predicts that Azure could grow 61.6% in Q1.
(Bloomberg) -- Mark Hurd, who was chief executive officer of three major technology companies including Oracle Corp., has died. He was 62.Most recently Hurd was co-CEO at Oracle with Safra Catz where he focused on sales, marketing and press and investor relations, while she ran finances and legal matters. Oracle announced on Sept. 11 that Hurd had begun a leave of absence for unspecified health-related reasons and that Catz and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison would assume his responsibilities during his leave. The company didn’t disclose a cause of death Friday.“It is with a profound sense of sadness and loss that I tell everyone here at Oracle that Mark Hurd passed away early this morning,” Ellison wrote in an online post. “Mark was my close and irreplaceable friend, and trusted colleague. Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle.”Hurd began his career in 1980 as a salesman for National Cash Register Corp. (now NCR), before rising in the ranks to the CEO post. In 2005, he was hired away as CEO by Hewlett-Packard Co., then the world’s biggest personal-computer maker. Hurd joined Oracle as a co-president in 2010, after resigning from HP following a sexual-harassment probe. While an internal investigation didn’t find a violation of the company’s sexual-harassment policy, it concluded that he violated company standards by filing inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with a contractor.During his Oracle tenure, Hurd produced solid revenue and profits as the Redwood City, California-based company’s stock price hit a historic high in 2019. He was also a key driver in Oracle’s turn from an old model of licensing software toward the use of cloud computing, a burgeoning business dominated by rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.When he hired Hurd, Ellison said, “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark.” Ellison described Hurd’s dismissal by HP as the “worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs.”Transformed SalesforceHurd reshaped Oracle’s salesforce. Beginning in 2013, he implemented a “specialist” model that made each member an expert in a single product category. In that year alone, he hired more than 4,000 people to implement his idea.He also created the “Class of” program that was designed to inject a startup feel into Oracle. College graduates were hired for a dedicated program that prepared them to become Oracle’s future sales leaders.In 2014, Hurd and Catz were named co-CEOs, while Ellison continued to serve as chairman of the board, orchestrate management changes and develop products as chief technology officer.Hurd was regarded as the most media-friendly of the trio, frequently serving as the public face of the company to outline its goals. At the time Hurd and Catz were named CEOs, Oracle’s central business was selling software designed to run on gear owned by the customer and charging a license fee. Hurd was among those inside Oracle who saw the company’s future in cloud computing -- which would let customers rent software and run their data on servers owned by vendors such as Oracle. He predicted in 2015 that by 2025 all enterprise data would be stored in the cloud and that 100% of software development and testing would run through it.Today, the company is much less ambitious in its cloud efforts, and has been making smaller promises. In June, Oracle said it would partner with Microsoft, a decades-long rival, to connect the two companies’ cloud services, so customers can use Oracle databases or applications tied to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. While Catz said Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, wanted an alliance to give clients access to Oracle’s AI-driven databases, the move was a concession—signaling Oracle knew it could no longer go at it alone.It’s now Catz who will have to go it alone, at least for now. Some analysts expect the company will move to appoint a new partner soon. “It’s much more manageable to have two CEOs, so we would be surprised if Oracle goes back to one CEO going forward,” said John Barrett, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Service. “The larger question is how Oracle will go about searching for the co-CEO role and how quickly they can find a successor.”The succession will likely come from within the company’s deep bench. One option is Jeff Henley, Oracle’s vice chairman and former chief financial officer, according to Abby Adlerman, CEO of Boardspan, which provides software and services to address board governance. “I think from a succession planning perspective, they are in a much better place than most companies. They have a lot of options.” Ellison will likely stay close and in the long term, “it’s a matter of if Safra wants to go at it alone. It’s such a big company that there was a reason for the co-CEO role.”Ellison has mentioned Don Johnson, head of Oracle’s cloud infrastructure division, and Steve Miranda, head of Oracle’s applications unit, as possible partners to Catz in the future.Growth StrategyHurd led the charge to make Oracle one of the dominant cloud players, investing heavily in research and development and acquisitions, such as the $9.3 billion purchase of NetSuite Inc., sometimes called the first cloud company, in 2016. Oracle also bought Eloqua Inc., a marketing software company, and Taleo Corp., which makes talent-management.He secured significant deals with AT&T Inc., Bank of America Corp., and Qantas Airlines to transfer their existing databases to the cloud through Oracle. By late 2019, Oracle served more than 420,000 customers in 195 countries and territories, he said.Hurd had gone on a similar acquisition binge at HP, managing about $24 billion in deals, including buying Electronic Data Systems (EDS), as part of a larger plan to diversify the computer maker.He was also a drastic cost cutter who was responsible for firing thousands of workers when he first took over as HP’s CEO and laying off thousands more after the $13.9 billion purchase in 2008 of a struggling EDS, a move many investors disliked.Still, under Hurd’s tenure, HP increased profits for 22 straight quarters, while its revenue rose about 60% and its stock price doubled, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He also helped HP surpass International Business Machines Corp. as the largest computer maker by sales.There were some dark moments at HP too. In 2006, it was disclosed that Hurd had helped launch an investigation into internal leaks from the company’s board. Outside security consultants conducted surveillance on a journalist and HP board member, and used a subterfuge to acquire phone and fax records for HP employees, board members and journalists. The California attorney general’s office opened a criminal probe into possible privacy violations, and HP’s chairwoman at the time, Patricia Dunn, resigned her post when the scandal broke.For his part, Hurd defended the need to investigate company leakers, but claimed he didn’t know about the investigators’ tawdry tactics because he’d ducked out of a briefing on the investigation and, several months later, ignored a verbal and written summary of the leak probe.After Hurd was ousted following the sexual harassment probe in 2010, HP discontinued making smartphones and its tablet computer. Eventually it split into two companies, one focused on personal computers and printers and the other on software and services.Top CEODespite navigating several scandals, Hurd was lauded by the industry. In 2007, he was named one of Fortune magazine’s 25 most powerful business leaders. In 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle named Hurd CEO of the Year.“Saddened by the loss of Mark Hurd,” wrote Bill McDermott, who stepped down as CEO of SAP SE this month, on Twitter. “He was a self-made success in the industry & presided over mega accomplishments. While we competed vigorously in the market, we enjoyed professional respect. My heartfelt prayers are with Mark’s family on this solemn day.”Mark Vincent Hurd was born on Jan. 1, 1957, in New York and lived on the affluent Upper East Side of Manhattan. His Yale-educated father was a financier who moved the family to Miami while Hurd was in high school. His mother was a debutante.Hurd received a tennis scholarship to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979.He was hired in 1980 as a junior sales person by National Cash Register in San Antonio. He eventually became president, chief operating officer and CEO of the maker of automatic teller machines and cash registers.Based on his NCR record, HP hired him in 2005 as its CEO and added the chairman title the following year.“Mark just blew everybody else out of the water,” said Tom Perkins, a former HP executive who interviewed Hurd for the CEO job.Hurd served on a number of corporate boards and was a Baylor University trustee since 2014.He was married to the former Paula Kalupa in 1990. They had two daughters, Kathryn and Kelly.(Updates with comments from analyst in 12th paragraph)\--With assistance from Nico Grant, Peter Waldman and Candy Cheng.To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Oster in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Let's dive into three tech stocks that we found using our Zacks Stock Screener that growth investors might want to consider buying during Q3 2019 earnings season...
(Bloomberg) -- Canada’s dollar is the best-performing major currency this year and the nation’s stocks are going strong. But now isn’t the time for investors to rest on their laurels. The upcoming federal election is the next big event to test the market’s resilience.With less than a week left to the Oct. 21 vote, Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in a neck-and-neck race with Conservatives leader Andrew Scheer. While the most likely scenario is a government that doesn’t command an absolute majority in its own right, some strategists say that a minority administration led by Scheer could be better for the loonie in the near term than one under Trudeau.“Between a Liberal-led minority and a Conservative-led minority, we expect the first one to be more CAD-negative,” Francesco Pesole, a foreign-exchange strategist at ING Bank, said in an Oct. 17 report. “The balance of risks for the loonie appears tilted to the downside.”The loonie has been in the No. 1 spot among Group-of-10 currencies this year, rising almost 4% against the U.S. dollar amid a sound economy and a low unemployment rate. Canada’s benchmark equity index has rallied 15% in 2019, making it one of the top gainers among developed markets. It was little changed against the greenback Friday.A Conservative minority government would be better for market sentiment than a Liberal minority administration, according to Pesole. He said this is in part because it would likely exclude smaller parties that oppose more oil pipelines, a subject that has been a focus of political debate.A rebound in housing, solid economic growth and one of the strongest job markets in recent times has helped give Trudeau something positive to talk about during his campaign. While major central banks in other parts of the world have been cutting interest rates, the Bank of Canada has been reluctant to do so thus far -- strengthening the Canadian dollar’s position as one of the highest yielders among G-10 currencies.Michael Hsueh, a currency strategist at Deutsche Bank AG, says a Trudeau-led minority government could be negative for the Canadian dollar given the reduced capacity to pass legislation. It could also potentially hinder growth in oil, a key industry for Canada, one of the world’s largest energy exporters.The Oil FactorStewardship of the energy industry has become a central issue of the elections. The Conservative Party has portrayed itself as a champion of the sector and has promised to remove regulations Trudeau implemented. The Liberals, meanwhile, are trying to strike a balance between developing Alberta’s energy resources and making Canada a leader in combating climate change.From Binge to Bust: Canadian Oil Town Lines Up at the Food BankThe loonie, often seen as a petrocurrency, has benefited from the nation’s massive oil exports. Still, bringing more oil reserves to market has divided Canadians -- with two pipelines being scrapped on Trudeau’s watch.Foreign-exchange strategists are concerned that a Trudeau-led government, propped up by other left-leaning parties, could be an obstacle in passing legislation favorable to business leaders and the country’s energy sector.A Liberal minority government is “likely to push for more regulation and rules on capital inflows into Canada,” which could be negative for the Canadian dollar, Mark McCormick, global head of currency strategy at Toronto-based TD Securities, said in an email.Stock MarketWhile Canadian politics rarely play a significant role in the nation’s equity market, a minority government could be positive for stocks, according to Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets.“Although on average the market has posted relatively strong performance post federal elections, there appears to be little to no performance preference around the outcome,” he said in a September report. “The only potentially meaningful outcome appears to be a minority government versus a majority government.”Since 1935, Canadian stocks have returned on average 12% in the 12 months after the election of a minority government, compared with 8% in the year following a majority victory, according to Belski’s research.For others, volatility is the name of the game. Stripping out the global rout in 2008, National Bank Financial’s Warren Lovely said that Canadian stocks had a “mixed/choppy” performance after a minority government was formed from 2004 to 2011.“In terms of capital markets, the formation of a minority government creates greater potential uncertainty – especially if a coalition government is the end result,” Credit Suisse’s equity analyst Andrew Kuske said in an Oct. 8 report.Still, election-related market moves might be short-lived this month with both the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve reporting their monetary policy decisions on Oct. 30. Futures traders are pricing in almost no probability of a rate cut at the BOC meeting, while a quarter point reduction from the Fed is seen as likely by the market. Canadian two-year yields on Wednesday climbed above their U.S. equivalents by the most since 2017 -- a good sign for loonie bulls.Trade deals will also have an impact on the Canadian dollar. The U.S. and China are still working to finalize their trade deal, which is likely to boost investors’ appetite for risk, a positive for the currency. And on Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on CNBC that he expects the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to be approved in Congress before the American Thanksgiving holiday.(Adds loonie trading.)\--With assistance from Divya Balji and Kristine Owram.To contact the reporter on this story: Susanne Barton in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Benjamin Purvis at email@example.com, Divya Balji, Rita NazarethFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Software companies fell on Friday, extending recent losses after results from Atlassian Corp. topped analyst forecasts yet failed to provide enough upside to assuage concerns over the group’s valuation.Atlassian shares dropped as much as 11% to their lowest level since May. The stock was on track for its third straight decline, as was Veeva Systems Inc., off 5.4%, and ServiceNow Inc., down 3.8%, which reports its own results next week. Coupa Software Inc. sank 8.4% in its fourth straight drop, a period over which it has shed more than 20% of its valuation. Twilio Inc. was down 4.5%. Alteryx Inc. was down 7.2% and Crowdstrike Holdings Inc. dropped 7.3%, heading for the eighth decline in the past nine sessions.A basket of high-multiple software stocks tracked by Goldman Sachs fell 5.7% in its fifth straight decline, hitting its lowest since March, while the Russell Midcap Technology Growth Index was down 2.2%.“When investors have lost conviction, it usually means the best strategy is to stay conservative until the coast is at least somewhat clear,” wrote Richard Davis, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity. “We are in that time in the cycle.”Davis has a buy rating on Atlassian, writing that it “fits the description of a safe harbor company.” However, he said the stock has a “high-ish valuation” and suggested that multiples could be hard to justify. “In this macro environment,” he wrote, “if anyone expected an over-sized guide up, they haven’t been paying attention.”Recent weakness in the sector included both Workday Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. tumbling in the wake of their respective investor events, which underlined growth concerns.Atlassian’s results included a raised full-year revenue forecast, and Cowen wrote that this could ease broader concerns over the sector.This “was one of the more anticipated prints in software as a result of emerging macro concerns in the space and it being one of the first to report,” analyst J. Derrick Wood wrote. The “solid numbers & outlook, along with constructive commentary on stable demand conditions, should give investors greater comfort in the potential for stability in software spending.”To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Vlastelica in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at email@example.com, Jim SilverFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Microsoft (MSFT) partners Nuance Communications (NUAN) to deliver robust conversational AI and ambient intelligence technologies to transform doctor-patient interaction.
PayPal (PYPL) third-quarter 2019 results are anticipated to reflect portfolio strength. However, losses from investments in MercadoLibre and Uber have weighed on the results.
(Bloomberg) -- A House hearing scheduled for Wednesday with Mark Zuckerberg as the sole witness will kick off the “next phase” in the battle between big tech companies and the U.S. government, according to Wedbush.“The drum-roll has started” for the Financial Services committee hearing, with Zuckerberg set to defend the Libra cryptocurrency effort, which still faces a “massive regulatory spotlight,” analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note. The hearing is titled “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors.”“We fully expect politicians to use this forum as another major shot across the bow on broader antitrust concerns for FAANG names,” Ives said. He sees a regulatory and legal focus on Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions, with “the convergence of Facebook’s messaging platforms likely a hot button issue.”Ives described Facebook’s Libra as a bid to “further penetrate its customer base with a financial currency that enables the company to become more entrenched in the purchasing cycle of its 2 billion-plus users.”Other tech companies are making similar efforts, he said, flagging Apple Inc.’s Apple Card with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and an “enhanced” Apple Pay tool. On Tuesday, Goldman CEO David Solomon said the Apple credit card was the most successful card launch ever.Several payments companies left Facebook’s cryptocurrency project earlier this month. Analysts said the departures would likely delay the coin’s launch and shift Congress’s attention to other matters. That might give Zuckerberg some breathing room, they said.On Thursday, David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading Libra, said China’s progress toward a digital payments system with global reach could pose a threat to U.S. influence. Marcus had earlier this month said that payments companies exiting Libra was in a way “liberating.”Facebook’s shares declined as much as 1.4% on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Felice Maranz in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at email@example.com, Debarati RoyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Old Mutual selects Amazon's (AMZN) AWS as the preferred cloud provider, which highlights the reliability of the company's cloud computing services.
E*TRADE's (ETFC) Q3 performance displays a rise in non-interest income, a benefit to provision for loan losses and improved DARTs, partly muted by fall in net interest income and higher expenses.
Investing.com - Goya Foods reportedly is in late-stage talks to sell a majority stake to The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ:CG) in a deal that would value the canned-foods giant at about $3.5 billion, The New York Post reported.
(Bloomberg) -- The MeToo movement has helped uncover the many ways men abuse positions of power, as well as the corporate fixers and financial settlements that enable such behavior. But what happens at a company just getting its start, with a few dozen employees, a board consisting of three men and no HR department?For Priyanka Wali, the experience was disillusioning. Soon after going to work for a two-year-old health care startup in San Francisco, she said her boss touched her knee and later commented in a meeting that he “wouldn’t mind” if she were his girlfriend. Wali, a contract physician, didn’t report the alleged behavior when it occurred in 2016, she said, because the company, Virta Health Corp., didn’t have a human resources department at the time.The situation festered until this year, when she and a colleague filed formal complaints with the company against the same manager. Virta, which now has 165 employees and a three-person HR team, commissioned an investigation in March and found their claims of harassment to be credible, according to a copy of the report reviewed by Bloomberg. The initial determination was that Wali would keep reporting to her boss because there wasn’t another manager available. That sparked an uproar in the office, and she was eventually reassigned to a new boss. But by then, damage had been done, former employees said. Their faith in management had been shaken, and several people said they sought jobs elsewhere as a result.“It is already hard enough to come forward after experiencing harassment,” Wali wrote in an email to Bloomberg. “I came forward to HR, and I ended up experiencing more stress as a result and had to eventually leave my job for my own psychological wellness.”Sami Inkinen, Virta’s chief executive officer, said in an emailed statement that his company “immediately took the complaint very seriously, worked hard to get the process right but should have handled parts of it better.” The company held an all-hands meeting in May, he said, “to openly acknowledge where we fell short, to explain what we did right and establish the highest possible bar for handling situations like this in the future.”A Virta spokesman said the initial decision to have Wali continue reporting to her manager was “a mistake” and that the company has taken steps to improve. The alleged harasser, Michael Scahill, no longer works at Virta. “I was very saddened and sorry to learn, years after the events, that some of my actions offended colleagues whom I respect greatly,” Scahill wrote in a email. “I never wanted to upset anyone and have apologized to those involved.”The allegations, whispered about within the office over the last couple years, caught the attention of the San Francisco Business Times in August, when the newspaper reported on a company investigation into claims by two unnamed women. One of the women, Wali, spoke to Bloomberg, as did three other employees who were there at the time. Their accounts, along with the investigator’s statement, shed new light on a dynamic that routinely goes unreported at very young companies and illustrates how workers can feel helpless when a startup isn’t equipped to field their complaints. California law extends sexual harassment protections to independent contractors, but neither woman has filed a lawsuit.“I came forward to HR, and I ended up experiencing more stress as a result.”For all the horror stories about established corporate policies and HR departments failing to protect employees or worse, the alternative can be similarly destructive. Many entrepreneurs wait years before establishing HR departments, said Elaine Varelas, a managing partner at Keystone Partners, an HR consulting and executive coaching firm. Startups tend to prioritize other specialties, such as finance or legal, as a cost-saving decision that can leave employees without recourse and allow culture problems to linger, Varelas said. “They say it’s for money, or they’ll say they have an employment attorney,” she said, “but it’s not the same.”Good HR policies can be undervalued at startups, Varelas said. Companies rarely advertise their response to sexual misconduct claims, despite how commonplace the issue is today. “Women aren’t going to work at a company that ‘deals with sexual harassment well,’” she said. “It’s not an enticing ad.”Inkinen started Virta in 2014 with two nutrition researchers and a noble mission: reverse diabetes in 100 million people. The Finland-born entrepreneur, a competitive cyclist and triathlete who once rowed across the Pacific Ocean with his wife, had little experience in health care but plenty at big companies. He worked at McKinsey & Co. and Microsoft Corp. He then helped start and run Trulia, a real estate search engine, until Zillow Group Inc. bought the company in 2014. For Virta, Inkinen would go on to raise more than $80 million from investors, including Venrock and Playground Global, an incubator founded by former Google executive Andy Rubin.Wali, a doctor specializing in internal medicine and obesity treatments, was working with patients and teaching medical students in the San Francisco Bay Area when Virta was starting up. She joined the company in late 2016 as a contractor, with the hope of soon getting promoted to full time. That plan quickly got complicated. In her first week on the job, Wali’s boss put his hand on her knee during a one-on-one meeting, according to the legal investigator’s report. Although it’s not covered in the report, Wali said the touching happened more than once. He made the comment about not minding if she were his girlfriend on a video conference call with colleagues present, according to Wali and the report. (Wali declined to name the man, but the report identifies him as Scahill.)In Virta’s early days, the company’s chief of staff handled what typically would be considered HR responsibilities. Virta hired a head of HR in October 2016, but she lasted less than two months—departing just two days before the alleged touching began, Wali said. A new chief of staff took on HR responsibilities. But Wali said it wasn’t clear to her who was in charge of HR at that time and that she saw no options for recourse. “I was worried that if I spoke up to someone in upper management about my boss’s behavior, it would jeopardize my chance of being hired as a full-time physician,” Wali wrote. “I kept quiet.” About a week later, Scahill invited her to join him at a medical society gala that he had initially planned to bring his girlfriend to, she said. His reasoning, she said, was that they could network together. She declined and purchased her own ticket.Around the same time, according to the investigator’s report, Scahill made repeated comments to another female contractor at Virta. He complimented her appearance and told her once that she was “gorgeous,” the woman told the investigator.Workers began making efforts to communicate the alleged behavior to management in 2017. The second woman contributed feedback for Scahill’s performance review that year describing him as “too flirtatious in the workplace,” though his supervisors didn’t read the responses before passing it on to him, the company spokesman said. In a survey the next year, a male employee wrote that Scahill “has made several disrespectful comments about women.” The feedback was reviewed by a supervisor, who discussed it with Scahill, the spokesman said.Like in other offices across the U.S., management at Virta were closely monitoring the fallout from the MeToo movement. The company put out its first employee handbook in April 2018, outlining a policy against harassment in the workplace, and instated a website for employees to share feedback and complaints anonymously. However, Virta still lacked a head of HR and reopened a search for the role in August that year. The general counsel was overseeing personnel matters, alongside legal functions, finance and other areas. At a staff meeting in October 2018, a worker asked about a post on the employer review site Glassdoor that referenced sexual harassment at Virta. Inkinen, the CEO, responded that the fastest way to get fired at Virta was to harass someone, according to a former employee who attended the meeting.Virta hired a new head of HR in January. A couple months later, Wali discovered she wasn’t the only one with concerns about Scahill. Colleagues openly discussed his behavior at a happy hour event in the office that Wali attended. Wali filed a complaint with the new HR boss, as did the second woman.In response, Virta hired an attorney from an employment law firm to investigate. Over the course of a week, the lawyer interviewed the two women, Scahill and six other employees. The resulting report described allegations of inappropriate comments and touching as credible and said he had stopped the behavior after early or mid-2017.Meanwhile, HR was staffing up. An HR representative, by then one of three people in the department, met with Wali in April and recounted the investigator’s findings, Wali said. She also learned in the meeting that she would still need to have the same boss, she said. “I asked the HR manager how on earth I could be asked to continue reporting to someone who had touched me inappropriately and made comments to me that made me feel uncomfortable?” Wali wrote in an email to Bloomberg.Distressed, Wali took time off to process the news. Virta management acknowledges it didn’t share the results of the investigation with staff, but word spread quickly of the report’s conclusions, former employees said. Some cited an inconsistency with what Inkinen had said the year before about taking a hard line on sexual harassment, one of the people said. Several asked their managers why Wali wasn’t offered a different boss.Four days after Wali was told she’d keep the same boss, Virta contacted her to schedule a call about the situation. She heard from another manager four days after that saying she could now report to him. She asked him to elaborate on the decision-making process and didn’t get a clear answer, she said. “At this point, I became very uncomfortable with how the company handled harassment in the workplace—specifically with what I felt was a lack of accountability and transparency with these decisions,” Wali wrote.Wali and the second woman quit on the same day in early May. Soon after, Virta executives asked for Scahill’s resignation. The following Monday, Inkinen held another staff meeting, this time to apologize. He said the company had made a misstep in not taking into account the emotional safety of its workers, according to a former employee who attended. The message didn’t stop several other Virta employees from leaving and citing the handling of the complaint as an impetus, said two ex-employees.One person who quit over the issue said they lost faith that executives took the welfare of their workers seriously. “No one reports stuff for fun,” the former employee said. “I think they underestimated the impact this would have on the team.”To contact the author of this story: Ellen Huet in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Investing.com -- China's economy grew at its slowest rate in nearly 30 years in the third quarter, and Boris Johnson is battling to get his Brexit deal through a recalcitrant House of Commons, while Saudi Arabia has postponed the IPO of national company Saudi Aramco - again. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Friday, 18th October.
(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s plan to spend as much as $15 billion on technology and capacity in 2019 -- roughly 50% higher than originally envisioned -- is spurring hopes that the dawn of fifth-generation networks will rev up global chip and smartphone demand.The primary chip supplier to Apple Inc. told investors it’s sharply increasing its estimate for 2019 capital expenditure to between $14 billion to $15 billion from as much as $11 billion previously, and Chief Financial Officer Wendell Huang said 2020 spending will be similar. The Taiwanese company also projected current-quarter revenue ahead of estimates, an affirmation that the latest iPhones have proven a hit with consumers.Chief Executive Officer C. C. Wei sketched out hopes that the emergence of 5G, the foundation of future technologies from automated factories and smart homes to blazing-fast consumer electronics, will help underpin its business in coming years. TSMC, which is the world’s largest contract chipmaker, and is seen as a barometer for the tech industry thanks to its heft and place in the supply chain, said the advent of 5G-enabled smartphones will result in more chips in devices than before.“We are much more optimistic than six months ago,” Wei said, adding that the 5G momentum was larger than the company expected. TSMC has increased its forecast of the 5G smartphone penetration rate in 2020 to a percentage in the mid-teens from its previous single-digit estimate. Many countries, especially larger ones, were rapidly pushing ahead with 5G rollout plans, Wei added.TSMC Puts All Its Chips on Capex. That’s a Smart Bet: Tim CulpanTSMC’s capital spending plan and outlook prompted price-target hikes from several analysts including at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Its shares, which notched a lifetime high just this month, stood largely unchanged Friday in Taipei. More broadly, suppliers including ASML Holding NV, Applied Materials Inc. and Tokyo Electron Ltd. could stand to benefit from TSMC’s capex increase.In addition to 5G, TSMC’s push is driven by growing demand from tech giants such as Apple and Huawei Technologies Co., said Roger Sheng, a semiconductor analyst with Gartner. Although the outlook remains uncertain for 2020, the global semiconductor market is set to make a gradual recovery on the back of the demand related to 5G, AI and automotive applications, according to a note from TrendForce on Oct. 2.“Everyone is waiting to see a bounce back of global smartphone market next year after Apple adopts 5G. The self-designed Huawei chipsets will also push demand, as will Qualcomm’s 5nm chips for next year and AMD’s server chip demand,” Sheng said.On Thursday, TSMC also underlined expectations that Apple, its largest customer, is riding a bounce-back in demand for the iPhones after a lukewarm 2018 iteration. Lower prices and aging handsets are helping drive demand for the iPhone 11 range, and Apple is said to be asking its assemblers to target the high end of an original forecast for 70 million to 75 million unit shipments in 2019.Read more: Apple’s Lower Prices, Users’ Aging Handsets Drive IPhone DemandThe Taiwanese company foresees revenue of $10.2 billion to $10.3 billion in the pivotal December holiday quarter, surpassing an average projection for about $9.9 billion. TSMC gave that sales outlook after reporting net income of NT$101.1 billion ($3.3 billion) for the September quarter, handily beating estimates as the global chip market recovers.Still, fallout from ongoing trade conflicts could crimp an industry revival. While TSMC doesn’t factor trade conflicts into its capex plans, any international trade war will have a negative effect on the semiconductor sector, Wei said. China is an especially important market for TSMC and the semiconductor industry, he added.TSMC and its industry peers had grappled with a plateauing smartphone market, efforts by Apple to move beyond hardware, and U.S. tech-export curbs on No. 2 customer Huawei. But investors are growing more confident that the emergence of 5G will prop up chip prices and demand, while the latest iPhones are firing up consumers. TSMC is in fact straining against capacity constraints in the current quarter, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Mark Li said.The “iPhone is driving stronger near-term demand. We believe the competitive pricing of iPhone 11 is garnering good traction and has prompted Apple to place more orders at the supply chain,” Li said in an Oct. 10 note.Read more: Taiwan’s Market Fortunes Are Tied to TSMC Like Never Before(Updates with analysts’ hikes and shares from the fifth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at firstname.lastname@example.org;Gao Yuan in Beijing at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin Chan, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Intel stock has lagged far behind the broader semiconductor industry's 2019 climb. So let's take a look at what to expect from Intel's upcoming Q3 2019 earnings results to see if INTC stock might be set to pop...