AMZN - Amazon.com, Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real-time price. Currency in USD
1,754.60
+1.49 (+0.08%)
At close: 4:00PM EST

1,755.50 +0.90 (0.05%)
After hours: 6:06PM EST

Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous close1,753.11
Open1,751.43
Bid1,753.89 x 1300
Ask1,754.76 x 800
Day's range1,749.56 - 1,766.37
52-week range1,307.00 - 2,035.80
Volume2,079,553
Avg. volume2,980,373
Market cap857.748B
Beta (3Y monthly)1.57
PE ratio (TTM)77.75
EPS (TTM)N/A
Earnings dateN/A
Forward dividend & yieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-dividend dateN/A
1y target estN/A
  • How Walmart proves retail is a 'transformation, not an apocalypse'
    Yahoo Finance

    How Walmart proves retail is a 'transformation, not an apocalypse'

    Walmart’s posted a strong third quarter earnings report on Thursday led by a 41% pop in online sales the company saw during the quarter.

  • Walmart's stock is trading at a record high and one sentence reveals why
    Yahoo Finance

    Walmart's stock is trading at a record high and one sentence reveals why

    The world’s largest retailer’s third quarter results on Thursday showed that yet again, CEO Doug McMillon continues to pull almost all the right strings operationally.

  • U.K. Labour Pledges to Nationalize BT’s Openreach Broadband Unit
    Bloomberg

    U.K. Labour Pledges to Nationalize BT’s Openreach Broadband Unit

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. Labour Party pledged to deliver free full-fiber broadband for all nationwide within 10 years, with a 20 billion-pound ($26 billion) nationalization of BT Group Plc’s Openreach unit.If elected to power Dec. 12, a Labour government “will undertake a massive upgrade in the U.K.’s internet infrastructure, delivering fast, secure, reliable internet connections for everyone and putting an end to patchy and slow coverage,” the party said in an emailed statement late Thursday. Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will announce details of the policy in a speech in Lancaster, northern England on Friday.“What was once a luxury is now an essential utility,” Corbyn will say. “It’s time to make the very fastest full-fiber broadband free to everybody, in every home in every corner of our country.”It’s the biggest new pledge yet of the election campaign from Labour, which already has plans to nationalize the postal service, the railways and water and energy utilities. The party’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said in a BBC News interview that it would cost about 20 billion pounds. Labour said the plan would be paid for partly by taxing multinational corporations such as Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.Nicky Morgan the cabinet minister with responsibility for digital services, in a statement dismissed Corbyn’s plan as a “fantasy” that “would cost hardworking taxpayers tens of billions” of pounds.“It should be a top political priority to super-charge the roll-out of full-fiber broadband and 5G right across the U.K.,” a BT spokesman said by email in response to the announcement, without directly addressing the privatization proposal . “We’d encourage the next government to work with all parts of the industry to achieve that. It’s a national mission that’s bigger than any one company.”’A Disaster’TechUK, the industry’s main trade body, was more emphatic, with Chief Executive Officer Julian David, calling the plan “a disaster” for the telecoms sector. “Renationalization would immediately halt the investment being driven not just by BT but the growing number of new and innovative companies that compete with BT,” he said.The announcement will provide more fodder for the arguments by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives that a Labour government risks plunging the country into an economic crisis. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid over the weekend released analysis estimating Labour would raise spending by 1.2 trillion pounds ($1.5 trillion) over five years. McDonnell at the time called it “fake news.”McDonnell told the BBC that Parliament would set the value of Openreach when it’s taken into public ownership and that shareholders would be compensated with government bonds. He said the expenditure was needed because only 10% to 12% of the country has coverage now, compared with near complete coverage in Japan and South Korea.Under Labour’s plan, the roll-out would begin in areas with the worst broadband access, including rural communities followed by towns and then by areas that are currently well-served by fast broadband.\--With assistance from Thomas Seal.To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Robert JamesonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • 3 REITs for Dividend Investors to Buy with Stock Market at New Highs
    Zacks

    3 REITs for Dividend Investors to Buy with Stock Market at New Highs

    Here are three highly-ranked REITs we found using our Zacks Stock Screener that dividend investors might want to buy with stock indexes at new highs...

  • Google Checking Account, Facebook Cross-Platform Payments
    Zacks

    Google Checking Account, Facebook Cross-Platform Payments

    Big tech is jumping into the payments business in a big way.

  • Bloomberg

    Yang Proposes Tax on Digital Ads in Swipe at Facebook, Google

    (Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang proposed a tax on digital ads that takes aim at the revenue models of companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.Along with a proposal for a cabinet-level secretary of technology, the value-added tax was among a series of ideas for regulating privacy, antitrust issues and digital platforms’ impact on democracy released Thursday by the former tech entrepreneur.“Digital giants such as Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple have scale and power that renders them more quasi-sovereign states than conventional companies,” said Yang, who founded Venture for America, a fellowship program for people who want to work in start-ups.The proposal would use revenue from the tax to grant “a slice of every digital ad” to those whose data is used to deliver the advertisements, while also ensuring customers can opt out of data collection, have their existing information deleted and move their data between rival services.Tech giants such as Facebook and Google have risen to the heights of the digital economy by helping companies target ads to users based on the data collected from social media and search platforms. Yang’s proposal would aim to restructure the sector, and the tax would be part of an explicit effort “to incentivize companies to shift to an ad-free, subscription model.”Yang has made his tech experience key to his outsider presidential bid, focusing on the issue of automation and his desire to respond to it by guaranteeing Americans a basic income regardless of their work. He is polling at around 2.8%, far behind leaders such as Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, according to Real Clear Politics’ average of polls.Plan CriticizedNetChoice, a lobbying group that counts Facebook and Google as members, criticized Yang’s proposal.“The current online advertising model enables consumers to access high quality content and sophisticated services for free,” NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said in a statement. “Yang’s policy would create more paywalls around content and diminish the presence of free services.”In addition to the tax, Yang would create a government Department of Technology focused on artificial intelligence and based in Silicon Valley, alongside a department of the “Attention Economy that focuses specifically on how to responsibly design and use smartphones, social media, gaming, and chat apps.”Yang would also amend a liability shield that tech companies prize because it stops lawsuits over content that others publish on their platforms. The changes weren’t detailed but were listed among measures designed to combat online misinformation, including a requirement that companies such as Facebook disclose their algorithms publicly, or to the Department of the Attention Economy.He also proposed making sure that companies such as Amazon.com Inc. provide “an even playing field for competitor products or services on their platforms” to assuage antitrust concerns. The e-commerce giant has been criticized for competing against the third-party merchants that also sell through its site. The proposal echoes one from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who would break up the company.Yang suggested new rules around cryptocurrencies and “free” games that often push purchases during play.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, ;Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Walmart E-Commerce Growth, Economic Overview & Buy PLOW Stock - Free Lunch
    Zacks

    Walmart E-Commerce Growth, Economic Overview & Buy PLOW Stock - Free Lunch

    The latest U.S.-China trade war setback. Walmart's blowout quarterly earnings and early Disney+ success. Other quarterly results. And why Douglas Dynamics (PLOW) is a Zacks Rank 1 (Strong Buy) stock at the moment...

  • Bloomberg

    Is Your TV Service a Streaming, Confusing Mess, Too?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- When I read my colleague Tara Lachapelle’s column on Wednesday about how the “great unbundling” of cable television could turn into the “great re-bundling,” I had to chuckle. It was inevitable that once consumers got a taste of what an unbundled world looked like, they would begin to appreciate some of the virtues of the once-despised cable bundle.Yet not many people realized that a decade or so ago, when talk about a-la-carte television (as unbundling was then called) was all the rage. Back then, it seemed so simple. As cable bills grew more expensive, consumers questioned why they were forced to take — and pay for — 300 channels when they only really watched 9 or 10. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just get the stations they cared about? More to the point, wouldn’t it be cheaper once they were rid of the 290 stations they didn’t want? Obviously, the bundle was the problem.In Washington, two successive Republican chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, were big advocates of a-la-carte television back in the 2000s. Gene Kimmelman, an executive with Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports,  told me in 2007 that a-la-carte television “would create marketplace pressure to reduce prices.”  I wrote about cable television frequently in the mid-2000s, and the reader feedback was almost unanimous. “What we really need is a la carte TV,” one reader wrote. “That way I can buy what I want rather than what someone forces into my TV.”The one person I knew who never bought the hype was a Wall Street analyst named Craig Moffett. Today, Moffett is a partner at MoffettNathanson LLC, a research boutique he co-founded in 2013. When I first got to know him, he was with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC(1) covering the telecom and cable industries. I recently went back and looked at his old research — not only because it has turned out to be prophetic, but because a-la-carte television is a good example of why we should be careful of what we wish for.What Moffett understood, and unbundling’s proponents didn’t, was that the economics of cable was, in one important sense, illusory. Cable companies paid stations based on the number of total subscribers — not on the number of people who actually watched. This system had two big benefits. It allowed niche stations without a lot of advertising to reap enough revenue to make a go of it. And it allowed the more popular stations to charge more for advertising than if they were unbundled.Without the cable bundle, Moffett said, many of the niche channels wouldn’t survive. And the bigger ones would have to charge so much that it wouldn’t be long before consumers were paying more for their 10 channels than they had for 300.One example he used in a note to clients in 2007 was Black Entertainment Television.  Without the cable bundle, Moffett estimated that BET would need to raise its subscription price by 588% to maintain its revenue at the time — and that would have only been possible if every African-American household in the U.S. subscribed. “If just half opted in — a wildly optimistic scenario — the price would rise by 1,200%,” he wrote.Moffett saw early on that streaming, barely a blip on the horizon, would disrupt the bundle. During this past decade, millions of American households have cut the cord. Perhaps more important, according to one survey, almost three-fourths of all U.S. households subscribe to at least one streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.Streaming obviously has a lot of upside. The quality of a typical, streamed TV show today is superior to the vast majority of shows the networks used to offer. Being able to watch on demand is a blessing. The fact that shows on Amazon Prime or Netflix have no ads, well, who doesn’t love that?But there have also been downsides, just as Moffett predicted. Let’s face it: you’re not really saving money. I pay $15.99 a month for a Netflix premium subscription, $11.99 for Hulu premium (which means no ads), $14.99 for HBO NOW, $11 for Showtime, and $4.99 for the new Apple TV service. If I decide to add Disney+ that’ll be another $6.99 a month.Because I’m a sports fan, I need a way to get ESPN and ESPN 2, which remain tethered to the bundle because their costs are so enormous they would simply be unaffordable as stand-alone streaming services. I’ve been using PlayStation Vue’s mini-bundle, which costs $54.99. Sony Corp. recently announced it will be ending the service at the end of January, so I’ll have to find a replacement. But they’re all in the same basic price range.When you add it all up — something I’d avoided doing until I wrote this column — it comes to $113.95. A month. Ouch. And that doesn’t include the $12.99 a month I pay to be an Amazon Prime member, which gives me access to shows like “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”Here’s another data point. Remember Moffett’s prediction about what would happen if BET left the bundle? We now have the proof.  Cable subscribers pay 27 cents a month for BET, according to research from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. A subscriber to its spanking new streaming app, BET Plus: Try $9.99. So much for all the money we were going to save.The other problem, as Tara noted in her column, is the frustration that has come with dealing with all these different services. It means “knowing which TV programs and movies reside where, having to toggle among those different apps — which isn’t as smooth as simply channel-surfing — and managing multiple monthly subscriptions,” Tara wrote.Wouldn’t you know it: Moffett saw this coming too. In 2006, he wrote a tongue-in-cheek note to clients from sometime in the future. Streaming, he predicted, had become a burden:The complexity was overwhelming. Forgotten passwords. Balky navigation. And lord, were the subscription fees astronomical, what with the average consumer having to sign up for six or seven different companies’ offerings in order to satisfy all the different members of the family.The solution, Moffett projected, would come from a clever entrepreneur with a once-in-a-lifetime idea:What if we could aggregate all the channels in one place? Disney, Fox, Turner, ABC, NBC, YouTube, CBS, MTV, the whole works, accessible from a single source. For one monthly subscription, we could bring viewers all of this amazing content, smoothly and easily! One navigation framework. A single interface. One bill. All the channels at your fingertips. And even huge libraries of content, available on demand!!!We’re not there yet. But we’re heading in that direction. It won’t be cheap. But I have my own prediction: This time around, nobody’s going to be complaining about the bundle.(1) The firm is now known as AllianceBernstein L.P.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netThis 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/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Walmart (WMT) Q3 Earnings Top Estimates, E-commerce Sales Up
    Zacks

    Walmart (WMT) Q3 Earnings Top Estimates, E-commerce Sales Up

    Walmart (WMT) raises earnings guidance on solid third-quarter fiscal 2020 results. Continued strength in Walmart U.S. is a positive.

  • Disney, Apple Join Streaming War, Netflix Might Take a Backseat
    Zacks

    Disney, Apple Join Streaming War, Netflix Might Take a Backseat

    Video-streaming space gets increasingly intense as Disney and Apple join the bandwagon amid flaring up price war and content exclusivity.

  • Startups Like Uber and Airbnb See All. You Do Not.
    Bloomberg

    Startups Like Uber and Airbnb See All. You Do Not.

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Startups and tech companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Gojek, Bird and Compass operate in many cities and often multiple countries, and they typically have a repeatable playbook for each time they arrive in a new place.What Gojek, the food delivery and rides startup in Southeast Asia, learns about optimal pay for couriers in Jakarta can translate, at least in part, to Ho Chi Minh City. Airbnb’s experience in navigating local bureaucracies has been honed from its experience in hundreds of cities around the world.That’s not necessarily true for the people, industries and policy makers with whom these companies work. The Gojek courier in Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t necessarily know how to avoid the pitfalls his counterparts in Jakarta already encountered. A city planner in New York may not have the luxury of learning from a counterpart in Paris what taxes or guardrails were effective for Airbnb rentals in that city.The companies are armed with centralized knowledge and act consistently based on those experiences. On the other side, there is often highly fragmented knowledge and action by the contract drivers, homeowners, mom-and-pop restaurants, local real estate agents, trucking companies and governments that deal with startups trying to shake up how the real world functions.This imbalance is what I think about when I read articles like this one about hotel operators, delivery couriers and others who feel they got the short end of the stick from startups backed by SoftBank Group Corp. or its Vision Fund. Bloomberg News has also covered the continuing city-by-city or state-by-state efforts to tax or put limits on on-demand companies such as Airbnb and Uber. (Disclosure: A family member works for a labor organization that has advocated for legislation of short-term home rentals, such as those provided by Airbnb.)There are exceptions. Chain restaurants that deal with delivery startups have the advantage of identifying patterns in their dealings with the tech disruptors, as do multi-city adversaries such as hotel industry trade groups. U.S. cities that were caught off guard by on-demand ride services a few years ago learned to move more quickly when scooter-rental companies came to town. It helped that cities could force companies to comply by impounding scooters, said Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities.Coordinated knowledge and action isn’t easy, though. In recently published research on regulating ride-hail services, the New York University Rudin Center for Transportation found that local policy makers were so overwhelmed that it was difficult for cities to learn best practices from one another. Rainwater said that some cities were coordinating a few years ago on effective policies for on-demand ride companies. Then the companies and some lawmakers pushed to take action out of city planners’ hands in favor of statewide rules. Meera Joshi, an NYU visiting scholar and one of the authors of the Rudin Center’s report, said some cities are coordinating directly or have been inspired by others. Mexico City is taking steps that may lead to sliding, per-kilometer fees for on-demand rides similar to those of Sao Paulo, which imposed the surcharges to mitigate traffic congestion. New York and Chicago, she said, gained confidence from talking to each other about compelling ride companies to provide data that can help cities with transportation planning and other goals. The superior knowledge and power of sprawling companies isn’t unique to on-demand startups, of course. When General Motors builds a factory, Walmart opens a distribution center and Amazon pushes for a local tax break, the lawmakers, workers and business partners with whom they’re dealing probably don’t have the same experience as a company that has gone through this process many times before.The scale of the startups, however, is on a whole other level. Uber had 3.9 million contract drivers and couriers working on its system at the end of 2018, and it operates in more than 700 cities. There are more than 100,000 cities with Airbnb listings and more than 7 million listings globally. There are not 100,000 cities with a Walmart.The bigger the startups get, the more the parties they deal with will become fragmented. That is a lot of people potentially learning from scratch how to work a system the companies have mastered.A version of this column originally appeared in Bloomberg’s Fully Charged technology newsletter. You can sign up here.To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at sovide@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    How Amazon’s Klutzy Politicking Backfired in Seattle

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- For a company that is so good at so many things, Amazon is remarkably bad at politics.Exhibit A is the latest debacle in its hometown of Seattle, where the company’s push to seat a more politically moderate city council backfired. Campaign cash aimed at producing a less tax-happy council triggered the opposite result and turned a socialist headed for defeat into a martyr.Amazon has never been known for subtlety. The $1.45 million it spread around in political contributions to City Council candidates not only set a record, but also changed the trajectory of the election. Polls showed that voters who were poised to replace some leftist council members changed course. After Amazon’s donations became public, they elected five of seven candidates opposed by a business coalition. One of them was Councilmember Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative party, who declared her come-from-behind re-election victory in front of a giant red sign that declared, “Tax Amazon.” Which the newly Amazon-unfriendly council almost certainly will do.Amazon employs 54,000 people in Seattle and owns or occupies 47 buildings there. That’s made the city seem like the biggest company town in the U.S., and has probably blinded Amazon’s leaders to the angst and tumult they’ve unleashed in a place that’s become both more prosperous and less livable.Sawant, who managed less than 40% of the vote in the August primary, went so far as to call Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, “our enemy,” and described her victory as a win for working people against the world’s richest man.“Amazon overplayed their hand,” said Egan Orion, the candidate who lost to Sawant. “I wasn’t able to make my closing arguments. There was so much noise.”Once Amazon donated in such a big way, the race became nationalized. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the presidential candidates vying for the hearts of the Democratic Party’s left flank, chimed in via Twitter to trash the Amazon contributions.Here’s what Warren had to say:Here’s Sanders:Another winner, Tammy Morales, favors a bevy of local tax options to raise money for homeless services, housing and other needs. Her list includes revisiting an employee head tax similar to one Amazon successfully fought in 2018, plus a local estate tax and a tax on high salaries dubbed an “excess compensation tax.”Amazon has been trying to fine-tune its relationship with Seattle for years, and concern about relations with the City Council was among the reasons it announced in 2017 that it was looking for a second headquarters location — another endeavor that showcased the company’s limited political skills.That contest blew up in New York City when politicians and others protested the size of an Amazon enticement package — up to $3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives.In Seattle, Amazon had mostly maintained a quiet political presence until May 2018, when the City Council passed the Amazon Tax on larger companies, a head tax of $275 per employee.Amazon promptly announced that it would stop construction on one of its new buildings if the tax were imposed.The council then hastily repealed it when polls showed it could harm the council at the next election — the contest that ended so disastrously for the company this month.Starbucks, also headquartered in Seattle, took a different approach, donating a much smaller sum to the business campaign. A Starbucks executive also sent a letter to employees urging a vote for unspecified “change” and invited the public to have a cup of coffee. This was a subtle, defter move, in part because it was hard to tell exactly what the company was saying.At this juncture, perhaps after apologizing or remaining quiet a while, Amazon has a few choices. It could face probable new taxes gamely or think along the lines of Apple, which recently announced a $2.5 billion plan to ease the housing shortages and affordability crisis in California. Or take a page from Microsoft, the tech giant across Lake Washington from Amazon, which last winter offered a well received $500 million investment in affordable housing and homelessness relief across the region.To be fair, Amazon has invested in a homeless shelter in Seattle for families, Mary’s Place, which will eventually occupy eight floors in one of the new Amazon buildings. Mary’s Place does great work. But that answer to the enormous problem of homelessness and housing affordability now seems a trifle. The overall contribution to challenges facing the city is too small to those who believe Amazon needs to step up and invest in ways commensurate with its size and impact.To contact the author of this story: Joni Balter at jcbalter@gmail.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joni Balter is a longtime Seattle columnist and writer who contributes to local NPR and PBS affiliates.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Facebook Pay Takes the Digital Payment Game a Notch Higher
    Zacks

    Facebook Pay Takes the Digital Payment Game a Notch Higher

    Facebook (FB) launches Facebook Pay that is likely to stir-up competition in the digital payments space.

  • Walgreens Boots Rallies on KKR's Bid but Market View Mixed
    Zacks

    Walgreens Boots Rallies on KKR's Bid but Market View Mixed

    Albeit the market sentiment is bullish on Walgreens Boots' (WBA) potential acquisition deal, many analysts are in doubt about the company's effective approach to get privatized.

  • Bloomberg

    Microsoft and Salesforce Strike Partnership, Helping Thaw Chilly Relations

    (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc. are connecting more of their software and Salesforce will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud for part of its business, a thaw in a relationship that grew chilly several years ago when both companies pursued the same acquisition. The agreement, to connect some of Salesforce’s software with Microsoft’s Teams corporate chat and use Azure for Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, expands an existing strategic relationship forged in the early days of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s tenure. But the relationship grew strained in 2016 after Microsoft beat Salesforce to acquire LinkedIn and Salesforce complained to European regulators about the deal. The two companies have not announced any partnerships since. Microsoft and Salesforce compete for customers who want cloud-based software programs for customer management. Nadella, who once ran that business for Microsoft, has invested more effort into bolstering his company’s products in that area. The LinkedIn purchase was a key part of that plan, and Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff was said to have been angered at Microsoft’s actions. Still the two companies, among the biggest makers of cloud-based corporate applications, have many areas in which they can cooperate and Microsoft wants to lure large technology company customers to Azure, which trails cloud-computing market leader Amazon.com Inc. As part of the deal, Salesforce will connect its Sales Cloud and Service Cloud with Microsoft’s Teams, the companies said Thursday in a statement. Teams is trying to gain customers from rival Slack Technologies Inc. Salesforce had previously run Marketing Cloud on its internal systems, but uses other cloud providers for different parts of its business. The San Francisco-based company has leveraged infrastructure cloud deals as a way to sweeten partnerships. In 2017, as part of a tie-up with Alphabet Inc. to connect Google Analytics to Salesforce programs, Salesforce said it would host some of its core services on Google Cloud Platform as it expands globally—calling Google a “preferred public cloud provider.” The following year, Salesforce dubbed International Business Machines Corp. a "preferred cloud services provider" as part of an alliance to use IBM’s artificial intelligence with Salesforce software. It also does business with Amazon Web Services.Microsoft and Salesforce's deepening partnership in some areas comes amid greater competition between the companies elsewhere. Salesforce said in June it would pay more than $15 billion to buy Tableau Software Inc., a maker of analytics programs. Tableau and Microsoft compete in the market for business intelligence software. To contact the authors of this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at dbass2@bloomberg.netNico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Pollack at apollack1@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrJillian WardFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Walmart Shows How to Compete Against Amazon
    Bloomberg

    Walmart Shows How to Compete Against Amazon

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The uncertainties for Walmart Inc. were piling up in the third quarter, both external (tariff whiplash, recession fears) and internal (a management shuffle in the U.S.). Judging by its Thursday earnings report, though, the big-box giant was unruffled by all the change.Walmart boosted its full-year earnings outlook and reported that U.S. comparable sales in the latest quarter rose 3.2% from a year earlier, slightly ahead of analysts’ estimates.The increase in comparable sales reflects both growth in transactions, a proxy for traffic, as well as ticket prices, which can reflect consumers buying pricier goods or filling their baskets with more items. The company also recorded a 41% increase in e-commerce sales from a year earlier, putting its full-year estimate for online sales growth of about 35% within easier reach.It all adds up to a business-as-usual quarter for a company that has now recorded 21 straight quarters of comparable sales growth in the U.S. Walmart’s growth has been so steady, in fact — and its components so consistent — that there is little doubt that the retailing giant can hold its own in its showdown with Amazon.com Inc.The key to Walmart’s strategy and growth potential is its grocery department. This division, which accounts for more than half of U.S. sales, recorded “mid-single digit” comparable sales growth in the quarter, easily outpacing the low-single digit growth that has been routine at supermarket giant Kroger Co.Continued momentum in grocery is Walmart’s best way of playing offense against Amazon at a time when the e-commerce behemoth’s strategy for the category looks increasingly incoherent. After plunking down $13.7 billion for Whole Foods Market in 2017, Amazon confirmed this week it is building an entirely different brick-and-mortar grocery chain. When Amazon talked up price cuts at Whole Foods, it seemed like it was trying to broaden the grocery chain’s appeal. Why does it now need a second chain to reach more shoppers? And how and why do these endeavors coexist with Amazon Fresh, its e-commerce delivery service?Meanwhile, Walmart’s strategy is clearly defined and appears to be effective. It has rolled out click-and-collect grocery shopping at more than 3,000 stores and offers grocery delivery from 1,400. The company continues to work not just on logistics, but on the food itself: Executives said improvements to fresh food, including in its bakery and meat department, helped power its market share gains in the quarter. It has spiffed up its private-label food offering in recent years, and said sales continued to be “strong” in those products.None of this is to say that Walmart’s future in the food business is assured. Now that its pickup service has reached so many stores, it’s going to get more challenging to add new customers. Grocery delivery is not as widely available yet, and will require Walmart to nail some new logistical gymnastics. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News has reported on the tension between Walmart’s digital and brick-and-mortar teams, which if left unaddressed could undermine the collaboration and innovation so crucial to Walmart’s growth.For now, however, Walmart looks to be in solid shape, with food as its primary fuel for success.To contact the author of this story: Sarah Halzack at shalzack@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Sarah Halzack is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She was previously a national retail reporter for the Washington Post.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Stock Investors Could Use a Refresher on the Basics
    Bloomberg

    Stock Investors Could Use a Refresher on the Basics

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- I’ve always thought someone should write a book titled “All I Really Need to Know About Stock Investing I Learned in the First Year of B-School” or something like it. The gist would be that investors should look for companies that:Make money or have a realistic chance of making money soon. Have sensible policies that align the interests of management and shareholders. Sell for a reasonable price.Granted, that could just as easily be scribbled on a cocktail napkin, but the point of the book wouldn’t be to catalog the nuances of equity investing — investors already have Benjamin Graham and David Dodd’s terrific tome “Security Analysis” for that — but to have a handy reminder on the bookshelf of how to get the crucial parts right.        I’d like to think such a book would have saved Masayoshi Son, the chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., some heartache. SoftBank reported a staggering $6.5 billion quarterly loss last week, resulting from Son’s sour investments in WeWork, Uber Technologies Inc. and other once-highflying startups. In comments accompanying SoftBank’s results, Son acknowledged that, “There was a problem with my own judgment, that’s something I have to reflect on.”One problem, according to Son, is he overlooked that startups need solid governance and a path to profits. The book would have covered that, and neither WeWork nor Uber would have credibly checked those boxes. And don’t forget about price. It’s not easy to make money when paying a fortune for companies, as Son routinely does, no matter how good their governance or path to profits.None of that mattered in recent years because investors eagerly paid ever-higher prices for startups. The frenzy has no doubt contributed to Son’s confidence, on display again last week, that he has a knack for venture investing. It’s true that SoftBank’s stock outpaced the Cambridge Associates U.S. Venture Capital Index by 3.1 percentage points a year through March, including dividends, since SoftBank embarked on its recent spree of acquisitions in 2010, and by 2.7 percentage points a year since it launched the Vision Fund in 2017, which houses its stakes in WeWork, Uber and roughly 70 other startups.If SoftBank got a boost from Son’s venture bets, it’s almost certainly not alone. Consider that the net internal rate of return of the bottom quartile of the Venture Capital Index was negative every year from 1997 to 2006, with an average IRR of negative 4.8% during the period. The following decade was just the opposite. The bottom quartile posted a positive IRR every year from 2007 to 2016, with an average of 6.5%. In other words, venture investors have been paid for just showing up in recent years.Investors’ loose standards have also spilled into public markets, as I recently pointed out. Glamour stocks, or companies with big expectations and pricey shares, but little or no profit, outpaced shares of the cheapest and most profitable companies by 12.5 percentage points a year over the last five years through September, according to numbers compiled by Dartmouth professor Ken French.  The appeal is obvious. Investors love to think they can spot the next big thing, never mind profits, governance or price. Amazon.com Inc. is cited frequently as an example. It generated little or no profit during its first two decades. It’s been tightly controlled by founder Jeff Bezos, a king in all but name. Its price-to-earnings ratio has averaged — wait for it — 227 times since 2002, based on monthly observations. And yet a $10,000 investment in the company when it went public in 1997 would now be worth roughly $11.8 million.But Amazon is the vast exception, of course. As University of Chicago professor Eugene Fama told my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Barry Ritholtz in an interview last week, if you have 100,000 people picking stocks, “one of them will look extraordinary purely on a chance basis.” The same can be said for stocks themselves.There are signs investors are ready to give the dice a rest. Son’s newfound appreciation for profits appears to be more widely shared. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon told Bloomberg TV recently that, “there’s got to be a clear and articulated path to profitability” and that he thinks “there’s a little more market discipline coming into play.”Seeing red tends to sober up investors. Glamour stocks are down 9.1% over the last year through September, even as the S&P 500 has returned 4.3%. And that bottom quartile of venture funds posted a negative IRR of 9.2% in 2017, the most recent year for which numbers are available.At some point, the growth-at-all-cost fad will end, if it hasn’t already. But it never disappears, which is why everyone could use a reminder that profits, governance and price never go out of style.To contact the author of this story: Nir Kaissar at nkaissar1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nir Kaissar is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the markets. He is the founder of Unison Advisors, an asset management firm. He has worked as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and a consultant at Ernst & Young. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Apple Plans Mega Bundle of Music, News, TV as Early as 2020
    Bloomberg

    Apple Plans Mega Bundle of Music, News, TV as Early as 2020

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is considering bundling its paid internet services, including News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Music, as soon as 2020, in a bid to gain more subscribers, according to people familiar with the matter.The latest sign of this strategy is a provision that Apple included in deals with publishers that lets the iPhone maker bundle the News+ subscription service with other paid digital offerings, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private deals.Apple News+, which debuted in March, sells access to dozens of publications for $10 a month. It’s often called the “Netflix of News.” Apple keeps about half of the monthly subscription price, while magazines and newspapers pocket the other half.If Apple sold Apple News+ as part of a bundle with Apple TV+ and Apple Music, publishers would get less money because the cost of the news service would likely be reduced, the people said.As the smartphone market stagnates, Apple is seeking growth by selling online subscriptions to news, music, video and other content. This month, it launched Apple TV+ for $4.99 a month with shows from stars including Jennifer Aniston and Jason Momoa.Bundling these offerings could attract more subscribers, as Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime service has done. Apple is already experimenting with this kind of approach. It recently began offering a free Apple TV+ subscription to students who are Apple Music subscribers. Still, the company’s plans may change, given how complex deals like these can be.Some media executives say the amount they’ve received from Apple News+ so far has been less than expected. One publisher typically gets under $20,000 a month, less revenue than it saw from Texture, a previous iteration of the service that Apple acquired last year, one person said.Apple News+ offers dozens of magazines, like the New Yorker, GQ and People, as well as major newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Bloomberg Businessweek, owned by Bloomberg LP, also participates.It remains unclear whether publishers are seeing less revenue than they expected because Apple News+ has few subscribers, or because their content isn’t being widely read. Publishers share the remaining 50% of the revenue based on how much time Apple News+ subscribers spend reading their articles. Apple has not revealed subscriber numbers for Apple News+. The company recently expanded the service to Australia and the U.K.Advertisers have been less interested in Apple News+ because Apple’s restrictive data policy makes it difficult for marketers to target specific readers, one of the people said. Some publishers also would like Apple to share data about subscribers, like email addresses, which they could use to sell other offerings.As part of the contracts, media companies have the right to pull their magazines or newspapers from Apple News+ after a year if they’re unhappy with the service, one person said.The media industry was initially wary of Apple News+ before it launched, fearing their readers might cancel existing subscriptions and get their articles at a cheaper price from Apple. For that reason, some did not make all their articles or magazines available. Others, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, didn’t sign up.Still, some news executives are pleased with how Apple News+ has gone so far.“The financial results to date are consistent with our expectations,” Norm Pearlstine, the executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, said in a statement. “We are optimistic that they will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.”To contact the reporters on this story: Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.net;Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Jared Kushner Helped Put Cadre on the Map, Then Held It Back
    Bloomberg

    Jared Kushner Helped Put Cadre on the Map, Then Held It Back

    (Bloomberg) -- Executives at Cadre eagerly watched SoftBank’s Vision Fund dole out billions of dollars to companies like Uber, WeWork and Slack Technologies. Then they got their chance.After presenting Cadre’s real estate platform and its budding technology to the fund’s representatives in New York, CEO Ryan Williams flew to Tokyo in early 2018 at the invitation of Masayoshi Son, who oversees the $100 billion fund. The talks were promising.But there was a hitch: Cadre co-founder Jared Kushner.SoftBank wanted him to divest his ownership stake in the company, according to two people familiar with the matter. The request, not previously reported, was meant to head off any possible conflicts of interest or any suggestions that people doing business with Cadre were trying to curry political favor. That’s because Kushner has become a top adviser to his father in law, President Donald Trump, overseeing a broad foreign policy portfolio.The SoftBank talks fizzled. Like Trump, Kushner declined to shed all of his business interests upon joining the White House. Asked about his Cadre holdings and possible conflicts, a spokesman for Kushner said he “took himself out of all decisions and operations and became only a passive shareholder in Cadre” when he moved to Washington.Cadre and SoftBank declined to comment about the matter or whether Kushner ever entertained selling his stake.SoftBank’s decision to take a pass was a missed opportunity for Cadre that frustrated some top executives. Founded five years ago by Williams with a Harvard classmate, Josh Kushner, and his brother Jared, the company has grown into a midsize real estate manager with more than $800 million invested through its web marketplace.Despite that growth, its biggest ambition hasn’t been realized. Williams’ vision was to make real estate investments easy for the masses, sort of an Amazon for the real-estate obsessed who want to buy and sell shares of commercial properties. Only accredited, high net worth individuals can participate under current regulations, however. Similarly, Cadre’s plans to use artificial intelligence to uncover hidden investment opportunities have run up against the limits of property data, which is scattered and disorganized.Along with those obstacles, Cadre has had to weave a path around the Kushners' rising political profile, executive departures and some inflated business claims, according to company documents reviewed by Bloomberg News and interviews with more than a dozen investors, current and former employees, and others with knowledge of its inner workings. Forceful PitchCadre's engagement with SoftBank exemplified those problems. When Vision Fund representatives traveled to Cadre’s offices in the Kushners’ historic Puck Building in downtown New York early last year, Williams’ executives made a forceful pitch.The Cadre executives said they were already making “data-enhanced” decisions. In a demo, executives typed in a street address to get all sorts of data that might interest an investor: net operating income, occupancy rate, lease terms. But Cadre hadn’t been using the tool; instead, Cadre had built it in the weeks ahead of the presentation, expressly to impress SoftBank, two people familiar with the matter said.There’s no indication that SoftBank questioned the viability of the software. Start-up companies seeking financing often present an aspirational version of their product, even if it’s not yet ready for commercial use. Vision Fund executives were impressed enough by the meeting to push Cadre up the chain to SoftBank’s Son, several people familiar with the matter said.Tech ProgressCadre declined to comment on the contents of its SoftBank pitch. The company has made progress with its technology, Williams told Bloomberg News in a September interview at the company’s offices. For example, he said, Cadre has enhanced its marketplace to allow investors to trade property stakes. In theory, if that secondary sales platform grew large enough to meet regulatory requirements for a liquid market, ordinary investors might be allowed to trade on the Cadre platform.The company has also started a project called Keystone to organize data in the way the company pitched to SoftBank. Williams said he believes Cadre will eventually be able to expand into other alternative asset classes, including infrastructure and energy.“You learn, you pivot, you make quick decisions about what’s working and what’s not working,” Williams said. “We’re not here promising we’re building crazy machine-learning models or predictive analytics that are going to replace the need for humans.”Cadre has good reason to position itself as a cutting-edge technology provider rather than a more pedestrian buyer of real estate. Investors eager to bet on a disruptive force have valued property technology firms like Cadre and the brokerage Compass at multiples of their revenue. Cadre’s last funding round, in 2017, valued it at $800 million, even though it had bought stakes in only a handful of properties worth far less. Traditional real estate firms are generally valued at a small fraction of the assets they oversee. Newfangled real estate firms have lost some of their shine lately. WeWork’s valuation has collapsed to about $8 billion, down from $47 billion just months ago, after a canceled initial public offering and a $9.5 billion rescue package from SoftBank. Compass, another firm backed by SoftBank that promises to pair technology with residential real estate brokers, has faced questions about whether its technology is game-changing.From Cadre, SoftBank wanted a significant stake that would have doubled the company’s valuation to $2 billion or more, according to people familiar with the matter.Small InvestorsWilliams says the idea for Cadre came after he realized that small investors had limited options for buying real estate: They could either plow money into their own residence or buy shares in broad-based real estate investment trusts. Why couldn’t investors instead buy slivers of several properties the way they could buy shares in companies? He wanted to “democratize” access to the asset class.Since then, Cadre has teamed up with developers and landlords to buy stakes in properties across the U.S. — more than two dozen multifamily, hotel and office properties from Maryland to Texas to California. The aim is to be highly selective about deals, using metrics including rent growth and rent affordability, to generate outsize returns for clients.In September, Cadre said it sold stakes in suburban apartment complexes outside Chicago and Atlanta for an internalized rate of return exceeding 20 percent. “It has been exciting to see the concept we envisioned proved out,” Williams said, “and to show our investors that we honor the trust they are placing in us.'”Cadre’s aspiration to offer sophisticated real estate investments to the masses is limited, for now, by regulations concerning investments sold privately. As a result, Cadre’s customer base is made up of institutions and high-net-worth individuals. Many of those wealthy clients are overseas.About 20 percent of Cadre’s funds come from outside the U.S., the company says. The company’s international clientele is mostly wealthy individuals and family offices, as opposed to institutions, according to Williams.“We haven’t done a ton of international marketing,” he said. “It’s a testament to the brand awareness.”Foreign-Policy RoleAs the SoftBank courtship made clear, Cadre’s interactions with foreign investors could make for particularly messy optics because of Jared Kushner’s hefty foreign-policy portfolio in the White House.Almost half of the Vision Fund’s money comes from the government of Saudi Arabia, where Kushner has developed deep diplomatic ties. Kushner’s Saudi forays included an all-night desert meeting in October 2017 with the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, about a year before the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.Critics saw any SoftBank infusion in Cadre as a possible way for Saudi Arabia to curry favor with the Trump administration by enriching Kushner.Kushner’s lawyers have long said he follows all ethics rules.As he joined the White House, Kushner transferred stakes in dozens of other assets to close family. Cadre was an exception, two friends explained, because Kushner sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, with great potential for gains. Kushner’s stake was recently valued at as much as $50 million, according to a federal financial disclosure.Cadre executives including Mike Fascitelli, the former CEO of Vornado Real Estate who oversees Cadre’s investment committee, were disappointed that Kushner’s involvement in the company had caused the missed opportunity, according to a person familiar with the deal talks.Williams’ exasperation over the Kushner scrutiny bubbled over in a February cover story in Forbes magazine. “Jared is a passive investor who has no operational control,” he told the magazine, adding that “I can’t force anybody, really, to sell their equity.”Kushner Cos.Without the Kushners, there would be no Cadre. The young firm tapped capital from the Kushner family and executives of Kushner Cos. (The overall size of those investments hasn’t been disclosed.)Cadre is housed in the 19th-century Puck Building, among the Kushners’ prized assets. Two floors up are the offices of Thrive Capital, the venture capital firm of Josh Kushner, who continues to advise Cadre. Cadre’s first two investments came as part of Kushner Cos. deals for apartments in Queens and suburban New Jersey, giving the start-up early viability.Now, Williams is trying to create distance between Cadre and Kushner Cos., people familiar with the matter say. Earlier this year, the Kushners bought a $1 billion portfolio of apartments in Maryland and Virginia, their biggest purchase in a decade. As with most of their acquisitions, they needed outside investors to complete the deal.Executives from Kushner Cos. approached Cadre about the prospect, putting Williams and other executives in the awkward position of having to decline, according to a person familiar with the talks. The size of the deal and the Kushner connection were both factors, the person said.Kushner Cos. didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Williams declined to comment on the Kushner Cos. decision.Although SoftBank took a pass, several name-brand investors have shown confidence in Cadre. George Soros and Andrew Farkas have backed the firm, along with major Silicon Valley firms including Khosla Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has invested its clients' money using the Cadre platform.Blackstone HistoryWilliams, a 31-year-old fitness devotee with a broad smile, had a short resume with similar blue-chip names when he began the company. After a stint at Goldman Sachs, he moved to the Blackstone Group as an analyst in its real estate division.There’s been some friction between Williams and Blackstone since his departure in 2014. Several of his former colleagues say he has at times overstated his role and accomplishments at the firm.Williams has said, for example, that he played a central role in the launch of a single-family home-rental business at Blackstone. A Cadre press statement also credited him with acquiring a $550 million hotel while at Blackstone, despite his relatively junior role.After he poached about a half dozen Blackstone employees to join him at Cadre, Williams was summoned to a meeting at Blackstone’s Park Avenue offices with Jon Gray, the billionaire heir apparent to the Blackstone CEO job who was then leading its real estate arm.When asked about the April 2016 meeting, a Blackstone spokesman, Matthew Anderson, said that the firm wouldn’t discuss private talks but that it “was an entirely cordial and pleasant conversation.”A video from a Google conference last year in which Williams talked about his decision to start Cadre caught the attention of a Blackstone-aligned person.“When I told Blackstone what I was doing,” Williams says in the video, “I’d just been promoted, they gave me this quick, accelerated path to partner and told me they’d let me go to Europe and help with the debt business out there.”Two people familiar with his role said Williams hadn’t been told he'd be promoted to partner. Through a spokesman, Williams declined to comment on those assertions.More: Kushners’ Blackstone Connection Put on Display in Saudi Arabia Team ‘Tagma’Cadre has also been hobbled by departures from its senior executive ranks. The team, known internally as “Tagma,” a Greek term used to describe an infantry battalion, recently lost several top staff including investment leaders and the head of human resources. The company has been searching for a chief investment officer for over a year.Just before the Tagma team pitched the Vision Fund, its chief technology officer, Jean Sini, left the company. Several people said Cadre’s lack of technology progress frustrated Sini, an alumnus of Intuit Inc. and Oracle Corp. Sini declined to comment.Got a tip?Click for a secure and anonymous link to Bloomberg reporters.The company’s technology efforts are now focused on automation and analysis of data about its own properties, with the hope that this could yield investing insights in the future.The big question for investors and potential partners is whether Cadre is merely a tech-enabled real estate company or a game-changer.“You can hire as many developers as you want,” said David Friedman, CEO of a property tech start-up known as Knox Financial that doesn’t compete directly with Cadre. He declined to speak specifically about Cadre. “But if your tech doesn’t deliver a new way of doing business that’s measurably more profitable, then you’re not a tech company.”Cadre's website alternates between describing what it can do now and where it hopes to go. “We acquire and aggregate data, create algorithms that use machine learning and statistics to derive insights, and visualize findings,” one page reads.It has also posted jobs for engineers who can help the company crunch data the way it wants. The ideal candidate? Someone who’s “driven to solve hard problems in novel, elegant ways.”  \--With assistance from Stephanie Baker and David Ingold.To contact the authors of this story: Caleb Melby in New York at cmelby@bloomberg.netGillian Tan in New York at gtan129@bloomberg.netDavid Kocieniewski in New York at dkocieniewsk@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Winnie O'Kelley at wokelley@bloomberg.net, David S JoachimFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Macron and Merkel Are Caught in a New Cold War

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- “Technological sovereignty” is one of the European Union’s buzzwords of the moment, conjuring up an image of a safe and secure space for zettabytes of home-grown data, free from interference or capture by the U.S. and China.Both France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel have used the phrase to kick-start all sorts of initiatives, from artificial intelligence programs to state-backed cloud computing. The new European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen has etched the concept into her political guidelines.It’s a noble goal, if only because it acknowledges Europe is anything but technologically sovereign right now. The internet behemoths are in America and China — Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd — and an estimated 92% of the Western world’s data is stored in the U.S., according to the CEPS think tank. China accounts for more than one-third of global patent applications for 5G mobile technology. Amazon boasts that 80% of blue-chip German companies on the DAX exchange use its cloud services business AWS. The trigger to do something about it is the race for supremacy between Beijing and Washington, which is spilling over into the tech sector and undercutting the EU’s ability to protect its turf. President Donald Trump’s ban on Huawei Technologies Co. and his attempts to bully allies into doing the same was a wake-up call, however valid his security concerns. The U.S. “Cloud Act,” which forces American businesses to hand over data if ordered regardless of where it’s stored, was another. Both China and the U.S. see the EU as an easy mark in the global tech tussle. And they’re right. Europe’s problem is that recapturing sovereignty is neither easy nor cheap. Take cloud computing, one area where France and Germany are eyeing the building of “sovereign” domestic infrastructure for use by national and European companies. This is a $220 billion global market dominated by U.S. suppliers with market values of close to $1 trillion, which invests tens of billions of dollars every year on infrastructure. Their power isn’t just technological: When Microsoft Corp. spends $7.5 billion on an acquisition such as GitHub, a forum for open-source coding, it’s bringing valuable developers into its own orbit. Likewise, Amazon’s AWS has the scale, cheap pricing and perks that lock in customers.France and Germany won’t win a head-on battle in this field. Paris is still smarting from a failed attempt years ago at building a sovereign cloud for the princely sum of 150 million euros ($165 million). Germany has Gaia-X, which looks like a common space for the sharing of data by the leading lights of the DAX , from SAP SE to Siemens  AG. It’s hard to see how such initiatives will lead to true digital sovereignty, though; not just because of a lack of serious investment, but because it’s hard to avoid using U.S. cloud tech.Still, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if this trend led to France and Germany collaborating more — laying the groundwork for more ambitious spending — and to Brussels doing what it does best: setting the rules of engagement for tech companies everywhere. Digital commissioner Margrethe Vestager is already demanding tougher enforcement of data protection laws and taking a consistently muscular approach to antitrust violations by the Silicon Valley and Seattle giants. It’s not sovereignty, but it’s a start.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Ben Horowitz joins Influencers with Andy Serwer
    Yahoo Finance Video

    Ben Horowitz joins Influencers with Andy Serwer

    Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer sits down with cofounder and general partner of Andreessen Horowitz, Ben Horowitz, author of the new book, What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture.