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1y target est1,616.37
  • China Cases Top 70,000; U.S. Ship Passengers Leave: Virus Update

    China Cases Top 70,000; U.S. Ship Passengers Leave: Virus Update

    (Bloomberg) -- China said the number of coronavirus cases climbed above 70,000 as the province at the epicenter of the outbreak reported 1,933 new cases, slightly higher than a day earlier.The head of a Wuhan hospital said a turning point has been reached as new cases fell over the weekend, but the outlook was more cautionary outside of China. The head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the outbreak is on the verge of a global pandemic if containment steps fail to show more success.Deaths were reported in France and Taiwan over the weekend, bringing to five the number of fatalities outside mainland China. The U.S. evacuated some passengers from a cruise ship in Japan, where 355 people have the coronavirus.New DevelopmentsChina deaths at 1,770, up 105; mainland cases rise to 70,548; 10,844 dischargedHubei adds 1,933 new cases, up from 1,843 a day earlierChina, Asia Bulk Up Economy Defenses Against Virus Ahead of G-20Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the novel coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Coronavirus Cases Top 70,000 (9:13 a.m. HK)China reported 2,048 additional coronavirus cases by end of Feb. 16, bringing the total case count to 70,548, according to a statement from National Health Commission.China’s Hubei province reported 1,933 additional confirmed cases. While that’s slightly higher than a day earlier, it’s in line with a lower trend over the past several days. The province announced a stunning 15,000 new cases on Thursday after revising its method for counting infections.The death toll in China increased by 105 to 1,770. More than 10,000 patients have been discharged so far.Fatalities outside of mainland China rose to five over the weekend, as France and Taiwan reported deaths.U.S. in Contact With Malaysia Over Westerdam Case (7:42 a.m. HK)The U.S. State Department said Sunday it’s in “close contact” with Malaysian authorities after an 83-year-old American woman fell ill with the coronavirus a day after leaving a cruise ship that showed no signs of the illness.The woman was aboard the Westerdam, which over two weeks at sea was turned away by five different ports before docking late last week in Cambodia. Passengers were screened during the trip and all results were negative. A spokesperson for the State Department said because the ship was at sea for the required 14-day quarantine, passengers were free to travel after they left.The woman, who hasn’t been identified, flew to Malaysia then showed symptoms of the virus. Malaysian authorities confirmed a positive test and the woman was taken to a hospital.The U.S. doesn’t have “sufficient evidence” to determine when she may have been exposed or where, said the spokesperson.U.S. officials are paying close attention to several cruise ships at sea during the onset and spread the virus, the spokesperson said.Hubei Province Reports 100 New Fatalities (6:54 a.m. HK)China’s Hubei reported 1,933 additional confirmed cases for Feb. 16, taking the total case count in the province to 58,182, Hubei’s health commission said in a statement.The death toll in the province rose by 100 to 1,696, while 6,639 patients have been discharged.U.S. Evacuates Cruise Passengers From Japan (6:42 a.m. HK)A pair of aircraft chartered by the State Department have taken off from Tokyo to bring back home Americans evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan, according the U.S. embassy’s website.The passengers will be kept in quarantine for 14 days, separate from other travelers who, because they visited China, are isolated at the U.S. bases.More than 40 U.S. citizens infected by the virus aboard the Diamond Princess were expected to stay behind in hospitals. A total of 355 people on the Carnival Corp. cruise have tested positive for the coronavirus.Canada is using a chartered plane to repatriate Canadians from the ship. Hong Kong also plans to send a plane for its nationals.Virus to Cause ‘Demand Shock’ for Copper (4:30 p.m. NY)Disruptions from the coronavirus and other “significant” knock-on effects will lead to a full-year demand loss for copper of 300,000 metric tons, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in an analysis that assumes the outbreak is contained to the first quarter.Disruptions at smelters could reduce production, partially offsetting the impact of declining demand.Read the full story here.Briton on Ship Feels ‘Forgotten’ (4:15 p.m. NY)The U.K. is ignoring British citizens trapped on the quarantined Diamond Princess in Japan as other nations charter aircraft for evacuation flights, one passenger said in a video posting.David Abel, traveling with his wife, Sally, said passengers on the ship docked in Yokohama are aware that the U.S., Canada and Italy are flying their citizens home. Passengers are getting despondent, he said.“Every country, except the U.K., has become involved and that is really wonderful,” he said in a video message on YouTube. “Can I just tell you, U.K., how this makes me really feel? It feels that we have been forgotten, that you don’t really care about us and that you’re actually not wanting us to come home.”Abel said the couple is confined to the cabin and wear a mask when they open the door. They’ve been interviewed by British TV during the ordeal. He said fewer than 80 Britons are on the ship.Separately, Australia is considering plans to bring back its citizens this week, and a decision could be made as soon as Monday, Australian Associated Press said.The ship, with 355 ill passengers, is the largest infection cluster outside China.China, Asia Bulk Up Against Virus (3 p.m. NY)China, Hong Kong and Singapore are pledging extra fiscal stimulus to counter the economic hit from the coronavirus.China will enact more-efficient stimulus measures, including lower corporate taxes. Hong Kong faces “tsunami-like” shocks that may lead to a record budget deficit. Singapore, which is losing as many as 20,000 tourists a day to travel curbs, will get a “strong” package of budget measures this week.Malaysia Says Westerdam Passengers Negative for Virus (9:42 a.m. NY)Six passengers who were quarantined after arriving in Malaysia from the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia have tested negative for the virus, Malaysia’s health ministry said. The two Americans and four Dutch nationals arrived on a flight with an 83-year-old woman who tested positive for the coronavirus twice after arrival.Taiwan Victim Worked as Taxi Driver (9:23 a.m. NY)The deceased was a taxi driver, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said in a statement late Sunday. He carried three passengers returning to Taiwan from China, Hong Kong and Macau, who later visited doctors for respiratory symptoms. CDC is tracking the three people and all close contacts of the man who died.Hospital Head Says Coronavirus Turning Point Reached (8:45 a.m. NY)The turning point for the novel coronavirus epidemic has been reached and the number of new outbreaks is declining, the state-run China Central Television reports, citing Wang Xinghuan, head of Wuhan Leishenshan Hospital.The number of people with a fever has been sliding steadily and has never rebounded, Wang was cited as saying.Some Positive Economic Signs From Epidemic, Xinhua Says (8:05 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus epidemic had some temporary impact on China’s economy but won’t overwhelm it, the official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary on its website. The Chinese economy is a sea, not a small pond, it said.Taiwan Confirms First Death From Coronavirus (6:13 a.m. NY)Taiwan reported the first death from coronavirus on Sunday, and added two more confirmed cases, bringing the total to 20, according to a statement from the country’s Centers for Disease Control via text message. The man in his 60s had a history of hepatitis B and diabetes, the CDC said in a statement on its website. He went to the hospital on Feb. 3 with shortness of breath and died from pneumonia and sepsis on Feb. 15.\--With assistance from Abeer Abu Omar, Ryan Beene, Dong Lyu and Jing Jin.To contact the reporters on this story: Steve Geimann in Washington at;Karen Leigh in Hong Kong at kleigh4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    EU to Launch Grand Plan on AI, Tech In Challenge to U.S, China

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world threatened by trade wars. Sign up here. China might have data and the U.S. might have money, but Europe has purpose.That’s the message European Union tech czar Margrethe Vestager aims to convey on Wednesday when she unveils plans to help the bloc compete with the U.S. and China’s technological might on its own terms, conforming with fundamental EU rights including strict privacy and non-discrimination rules.On the EU’s menu: new rules for AI, possible legislation for gate-keeping platforms, plans to make data centers carbon-neutral, as well as incentives for businesses to share information with the aim of forming data pools that bolster innovation.Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice president for digital affairs, is trying to reassure anxious Europeans that she can handle concerns Europe is becoming irrelevant while Asian and American companies dominate high-tech markets.The strategy “will produce and deploy much more artificial intelligence” in Europe, but “it will not be the same” as in the U.S. and China, Vestager said in a press briefing to journalists ahead of the announcement. Based on what she knows about their practices, Chinese AI might not meet European standards, she said.Artificial intelligence has started to penetrate every part of society, from shopping suggestions and voice assistants to decisions around hiring, insurance and law enforcement, provoking concerns about privacy, accuracy, safety and fairness. The EU wants to ensure technology deployed in Europe is transparent and has human oversight, particularly for high-risk cases.In situations where the use of AI could pose risks to people’s safety or their legal or employment status, such as those involving self-driving cars or biometric identification, the EU’s requirements could include implementing conformity checks by public authorities, Vestager said.Facial Recognition RulesAccording to a recent draft of the EU document, companies could have to retrain their systems with European data sets if they can’t guarantee the facial recognition or other risky technology was developed in accordance with European values.Facial recognition has sparked an intense debate in the U.S. and Europe as police departments have started testing the technology. In the U.S., reports that police were using technology from Clearview AI -- a startup that’s scraped billions of photos from social media accounts with the aim of helping law enforcement find suspects without criminal records -- caused a backlash from privacy groups and lawmakers.The same groups are urging legislation to prevent abuses of a technology they say is often inaccurate and could restrict people’s freedom to assemble. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials warn against banning a tool that can make societies safer.With the EU’s AI white paper, Vestager said she wanted to start a debate to determine which circumstances it would be justified to deploy remote facial-recognition technology, warning that without such a debate agencies and companies would steam ahead.“Then it will just be everywhere,” Vestager said. She added that one solution for the EU could be to draw up a European-wide legal framework to govern use of the technology.Valley ViewsFollowing Wednesday’s announcement, the EU will begin a 12-week consultation, inviting the public to submit comments to their AI plans before the commission formally proposes legislation as soon as the end of the year.The EU’s plans have already drawn top executives from Silicon Valley to Brussels, including Alphabet Inc.’s Sundar Pichai, to voice their views on how AI should be regulated.Tech firms have seen before that when the EU sets sweeping laws on tech, like the General Data Protection Regulation, the impact can sprawl far beyond its borders. The EU’s GDPR has spurred similar legislation in Brazil and forced businesses selling into Europe to revise how they collect, store and process information.”EU regulation in this area is likely to have an effect similar to GDPR. People outside Europe are watching the commission,” said Mark Coeckelbergh, a professor of philosophy of media and technology at the University of Vienna. “This is a chance for the EU to set an example of regulation that supports ethical development of AI.”Other parts of the EU’s digital strategy will also serve to rein in U.S. and Chinese companies, potentially to the benefit of European business.Antitrust RulesVestager is also promising a review of antitrust rules, including potential legislation for “gate-keeping platforms,” that would give the EU the ability to crackdown on big tech. While she has fined Google, investigated Inc. and ordered Apple Inc. to pay a massive back-tax bill, the EU has also been criticized for failing to make real changes to how mostly U.S. tech companies have gained power in digital markets.Meanwhile, China’s rapid success in moving into new business areas, taking a global lead on technology and manufacturing where Europe and the U.S. were once ascendant, has also alarmed both Washington and Brussels. German firms have pushed for more barriers to Chinese takeovers and for looser antitrust rules that hinder consolidation between rivals, measures Vestager said she would examine.While EU officials have come to terms with the fact the next Facebook or Google probably won’t come from Europe, they are optimistic about local innovation in robotics, machinery, payments and other business-to-business companies.Plans to encourage data sharing among businesses and with governments -- also to be announced Wednesday --could further boost these firms’ leadership positions. That scheme is also designed to advance the bloc’s AI ambitions by pooling large sets of high-quality industrial data.“We are what we eat and that also goes for artificial intelligence,” Vestager said. “If you eat crappy stuff, well you’re not likely to be a fit for purpose algorithm either.”To contact the reporters on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at;Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at, Amy ThomsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Big Data Won't Save You From Coronavirus

    Big Data Won't Save You From Coronavirus

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- How often do you see a piece of economic or financial information revised upward by 45%? And how reliable would you regard a data set that’s subject to such adjustments?This is the problem confronting epidemiologists trying to make sense of the novel coronavirus spreading from China’s Hubei province. On Thursday, the tally there surged by 45% — or 14,480 cases. The revision was largely due to health authorities adding patients diagnosed on the basis of lung scans to a previous count, which was mostly limited to those whose swab tests came back positive.The medical data emerging from hospitals and clinics around the world are invaluable in determining how this outbreak will evolve — but the picture painted by the information is changing almost as fast as the disease itself, and isn’t always of impeccable provenance. Just as novel infections exploit weaknesses in the body’s immune defenses, epidemics have an unnerving habit of spotting the vulnerabilities of the data-driven society we’ve built for ourselves.That’s not a comforting thought. We live in an era where everything seems quantifiable, from our daily movements to our internet search habits and even our heartbeats. At a time when people are scared and seeking certainty, it’s alarming that the knowledge we have on this most important issue is at best an approximate guide to what’s happening.“It’s so easy these days to capture data on anything, but to make meaning of it is not easy at all,” said John Carlin, a professor at the University of Melbourne specializing in medical statistics and epidemiology. “There’s genuinely a lot of uncertainty, but that’s not what people want to know. They want to know it’s under control.”That’s most visible in the contradictory information we’re seeing around how many people have been infected, and what share of them have died. While those figures are essential for getting a handle on the situation, as we’ve argued, they’re subject to errors in sampling and measurement that are compounded in high-pressure, strained circumstances. The physical capacity to do timely testing and diagnosis can’t be taken for granted either, as my colleague Max Nisen has written.Early case fatality rates for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome were often 40% or higher before settling down to figures in the region of 15% or less. The age of patients, whether they get sick in the community or in a hospital, and doctors’ capacity and experience in offering treatment can all affect those numbers dramatically.Even the way that coronavirus cases are defined and counted has changed several times, said Professor Raina MacIntyre, head of the University of New South Wales’s Biosecurity Research Program: From “pneumonia of unknown cause” in the early days, through laboratory-confirmed cases once a virus was identified, to the current standard that includes lung scans. That’s a common phenomenon during outbreaks, she said. Those problems are exacerbated by the fact that China’s government has already shown itself willing to suppress medical information for political reasons. While you’d hope the seriousness of the situation would have changed that instinct, the fact casts a shadow of doubt over everything we know.How should the world respond amid this fog of uncertainty?While every piece of information is subject to revision and the usual statistical rule of garbage-in, garbage-out, epidemiologists have ways to make better sense of what is going on. Well-established statistical techniques can be used to clean up messy data. A study this week by Imperial College London used screening of passengers flying to Japan and Germany to estimate the fatality rate for all cases was about 1% — below the 2.7% of confirmed ones found in Hubei province, but higher than the 0.5% seen for the rest of the world.When studies from different researchers using varying techniques start to converge toward common conclusions, that’s also a strong if not faultless indication that we’re on the right track. The number of new infections caused by each coronavirus case has now been identified in the region of 2.2 or 2.3 by several separate  studies, for instance — although that number itself can be subject to change as people quarantine themselves and self-segregate to prevent infection.The troubling truth, though, is that in a society that expects to know everything, this most crucial piece of knowledge is still uncertain.Google can track my every move and tell me where I ate lunch last week, but viruses don’t carry phones. The facts about this disease are hidden in the activity of billions of nanometer-scale particles, spreading through the cells of tens of thousands of humans and the environments we traverse. Big data can barely scratch the surface of solving that problem.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at dfickling@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Facebook Prepares for Wave of Influencer Marketing in Politics

    Facebook Prepares for Wave of Influencer Marketing in Politics

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is trying to clarify how it will handle a new wrinkle in the world of digital political advertising: politicians paying influencers to post on social media platforms like Instagram, which it owns.In the past, political entities were technically barred from offering money for posts, which has become a common practice for marketers. But Facebook is changing its policy after a New York Times report this week about how Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is paying Instagram creators to make and distribute posts making him “look cool.”(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)A company spokeswoman said Facebook has heard from multiple campaigns about the subject, and wanted it to be easy for users to identify paid political speech, whether it was direct advertising or branded content. “Branded content is different from advertising, but in either case we believe it’s important people know when they’re seeing paid content on our platforms,” the spokeswoman said.Now Facebook is stepping up enforcement of rules — which had been inconsistent —  requiring influencers to use Facebook’s tool to tag paid posts with a prominent disclaimer. It said Friday it will require users who worked with the Bloomberg campaign to retroactively add these disclaimers to branded posts the campaign sponsored. “The campaign was explicitly clear that these posts were ads and sponsored content,” said Sabrina Singh, a Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman. “We went above and beyond to follow Instagram’s rules and the text of the post clearly shows that these are the campaign’s paid ads.” Facebook will now require political candidates buying branded content to register as political advertisers with the company. Unlike other political ads, branded posts won't end up in Facebook's ad archive unless the politician also pays Facebook to promote the posts.  Elizabeth Warren criticized Facebook for creating a new loophole. "Refusing to catalogue paid political ads because the Bloomberg campaign found a workaround means there will be less transparency for the content he is paying to promote. Mike Bloomberg cannot be allowed to buy an election with zero accountability," she wrote on Twitter.  The emergence of political branded content is a reminder of how hard companies have to work to keep up with the changing landscape of political speech.  These posts, also known as sponsored content —  or, if you must, “sponcon” — have pushed the boundaries of advertising for the last half-decade or so. As individual users on Instagram, Google’s YouTube, Inc.’s Twitch and other platforms amassed large audiences, marketers began seeing them as a viable alternative to standard advertising. Influencers now regularly tout products in their posts.  Regulators have complained for years that they often do so without explaining that they’re being paid. In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission sent dozens of letters to influencers and marketers requiring them to disclose any “material connection” that someone pitching a product had to advertisers. The commission is currently reviewing its endorsement policies, with an eye toward social media. “We may need new rules for tech platforms and for companies that pay influencers to promote products,” FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra wrote on Twitter this week. While Bloomberg’s campaign has drawn unprecedented attention to political branded content, he isn’t the first politician to fall for the charms of social media influencers. And as more money pours into political advertising in coming months, there will likely be candidates and other political entities willing to explore any potential advantage.  Gil Eyal, the chief executive of Hypr, a company that helps marketers find influencers for sponsored content deals, said he’s noticed a recent wave of interest from political entities. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries about how we can do this,” he said. He declined to name anyone who had contacted him, and said they’ve turned down the proposals. “We truthfully say this isn’t our forte,” he said. “I think they underestimate how hard this is to do.”  Main Street One, a New York-based startup, has been pitching Democratic and progressive organizations on influencer campaigns for months as a way to drown out online disinformation. It has run several such experiments. Late last year, it helped run an influencer campaign promoting Cory Booker funded by United We Win, a Democratic super PAC. This sparked a debate among influencers about whether accepting money from politicians was appropriate, and whether doing so would be bad for their personal brands.   Curtis Hougland, Main Street One’s chief executive officer, said the group doesn’t always pay influencers for posting — it’s also seeking out volunteers. But those it does pay can get as much as $500 per post. Finding the right influencers, he said, is a side-door way to effectively target messages. The company might pay more, he said, for posts from someone whose followers are clustered in a particular geographic region, or who fall into some other demographic they’re trying to reach.  The response has been mixed, said Hougland, with some potential clients concerned that the risk of such campaigns outweigh the benefits. In his view, mobilizing left-leaning social media influencers is the best way to reach voters in a distracted and messy online media environment. “Can we live with that risk tolerance?” he said. “I think by being less precious we can be more effective.” (Updates with comments from Bloomberg campaign in the sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Mark Niquette.To contact the author of this story: Joshua Brustein in New York at jbrustein@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tech Daily: NVIDIA & Intel Earnings, JEDI Stay Order, Facebook App, More

    Tech Daily: NVIDIA & Intel Earnings, JEDI Stay Order, Facebook App, More

    Earnings reports from NVIDIA and Cisco, a stay order on the JEDI contract, Facebook's app to compete with Pinterest and other stories are covered in this daily.

  • Shopify’s Sweetheart Week Has It Encroaching on Market Stalwarts

    Shopify’s Sweetheart Week Has It Encroaching on Market Stalwarts

    (Bloomberg) -- Canada’s homegrown tech company Shopify Inc. is on a tear.After surging annually since its 2015 initial public offering, it has rallied 36% to a market value of almost C$82 billion ($62 billion) in 2020, making it the seventh largest company on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. That puts it about C$8 billion away from usurping Bank of Nova Scotia -- the fifth biggest company. Canadian National Railway Co. -- is No. 6 on the benchmark.Shopify’s value has climbed about C$7.9 billion just this week as fourth-quarter revenue topped analysts’ estimates and the provider of online shopping tools gave an optimistic forecast for the year.Shares of Shopify have skyrocketed to fresh records amid a dearth of quality tech companies on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. The benchmark tech gauge has a mere 10 members compared with over 71 on the S&P 500’s tech index, which includes FAANG giants such as Facebook Inc., Inc., Apple Inc., Netflix Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc.Still, Shopify’s meteoric rise has some analysts calling for caution. Credit Suisse analyst Brad Zelnick downgraded the stock to the equivalent of a hold on its “lofty valuation” but raised his share price target for the U.S.-listed stock to $575 from $450. He did, however, contend that company has a “great business.” The stock is currently sitting at about $527.Markets -- Just The NumbersChart of The WeekPoliticsPrime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will do everything it can to resolve protests that have crippled parts of the country’s railways, leading to disruptions in passenger travel and the shipment of key goods. RBC Capital Markets said the demonstrations are another reason the Bank of Canada will be “biased to ease.”Get the latest news on the pipeline protests hereThe coronavirus continues to spread within China. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that the epidemic will take a “real” toll on Canada’s economy given it’s global knock-on effects. Reduced tourism from China and lower commodity prices will also impact Canada’s growth.EconomyA new survey showed that Canadians are growing increasingly confident of getting a job with better pay were they to leave their current workplace, another indication of the health of the nation’s labor market as the unemployment rate sits at historic lows and wages climb near the fastest pace since the recession.The housing market in major Canadian cities continued to tighten as home sales fell and prices rose in January. A combination of steady population growth, low unemployment and cheap borrowing costs have brought buyers into the market but shrinking supply is damping transactions and driving bids for homes higher in places like Toronto.Up next, economists will be watching manufacturing sales figures on Feb. 18, inflation data due Feb. 19 and retail sales expected on Feb. 21. The stock market is closed on Monday for a holiday in Ontario and some other provinces.TrendingInCanada1\. Former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, also known as “Hurricane Hazel” turned 99 with NHL’s Maple Leafs team celebrating her birthday. She was in office for 12 terms before stepping back in 2014.2\. An extreme cold warning alert was issued for the city of Toronto Friday as temperatures dip below 30 degrees Celsius (that’s -22 degrees Farenheit).\--With assistance from Shelly Hagan.To contact the reporter on this story: Divya Balji in Toronto at dbalji1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyung Bok Cho at, Jacqueline Thorpe, Danielle BochoveFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google’s $2.6 Billion Fine Is Like Loose Change, Judge Says

    Google’s $2.6 Billion Fine Is Like Loose Change, Judge Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Google’s 2.4 billion-euro ($2.6 billion) fine is “a small amount of cash” to the search-engine giant, according to a European Union judge, who also raised the prospect of increasing the antitrust penalty that the company is seeking to overturn.Colm Mac Eochaidh’s persistent questioning of Google’s representatives during the third day of a hearing at the EU’s General Court caused lawyers to scramble through papers seeking a response when he told them the tribunal had the right to increase the 2017 fine, then the highest the EU had ever levied for antitrust abuse. The Irish judge is one of five justices who will rule in the coming months on whether Google unfairly discriminated against smaller shopping rivals.“Did that level of fine deter you from repeating the behavior?” Mac Eochaidh asked before wondering how “might it be justified to increase or alter the fine.” He suggested that the penalty meant little to Google since it was only “a small amount of your cash in hand, so not actually that eye-catching in the light of day.”Google hadn’t bargained for a potentially bigger fine when it attacked the EU’s antitrust findings during the hearing. Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, EU investigators and company executives were in the Luxembourg court to hear Google argue that regulators had overreached and made crucial errors. The case is the first of three lawsuits against EU antitrust decisions and a loss for the EU could halt its tough enforcement of big tech firms.When Google’s attorney Christopher Thomas said there could be no increase in the fine because EU regulators hadn’t asked for one, Mac Eochaidh immediately contradicted him. The EU’s second highest-court has “unlimited jurisdiction” to increase the fine even if the issue hasn’t been explored, he said.The senior judge on the panel, Stephane Gervasoni, stopped his Irish colleague, asking if his questioning was theoretical or if there were actual reasons to increase the fine. It’s rare for one judge to question another. Judges appeared to move away from the possibility of a higher penalty in the case, stressing that any such move would need additional legal analysis and the opportunity for Google to give its views.It isn’t the first time Mac Eochaidh has needled Google during the three days of hearings on the appeal. On Thursday, he said it was “perfectly apparent” that the company had promoted its own services and demoted others -- a key point for the EU side.On Friday, Mac Eochaidh urged Google’s lawyer to imagine he had savings of 120 euros in his back pocket but was fined 2.4 euros for dropping some litter.“Would you miss the 2.4 euros?” the judge asked.(Updates with judge’s questioning in third paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Aoife White in Luxembourg at;Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at, Joe Schneider, Anthony LinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • New York and San Francisco Tech Industries Are Leaving Women Behind

    New York and San Francisco Tech Industries Are Leaving Women Behind

    (Bloomberg) -- San Francisco and New York have created thousands of lucrative jobs in technology, but despite efforts to increase diversity in the industry, women are still being left behind.The two cities, sometimes rivals for attracting tech talent, slid backwards in recent years on gender diversity, according to data from SmartAsset, a financial technology company that provides personal finance advice online. From 2013 to 2018 they either did worse or made little progress on women’s workforce participation in tech and gender pay gaps.“No single city or no city’s tech sector has figured this out,” said Eli Dvorkin, editorial and policy director at the Center for an Urban Future in New York. “Tech jobs are falling behind the diversity of the workforce overall. They tend to be whiter, they tend to be much more male and typically see a notable under-representation of blacks and Hispanics.”In the U.S., women made up about 26% of the tech workforce nationally, according to SmartAsset. But while jobs for computer and information technology workers are expected to grow by 12% overall from 2018-2028, employment opportunities for these often well-paying positions still usually favor men, according to the report released earlier this month. Racial diversity isn’t much better. In 2017, the latest year for which data is available, only about 20% of New York’s tech workforce was either black or Hispanic, and only 7.5% of San Francisco’s, according to a 2019 analysis by the Center for an Urban Future.San Francisco and the broader Bay Area is home to many of the biggest U.S. tech companies, as well as major venture capital firms. In recent years, tech giants from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Facebook Inc. and Inc. have been expanding in New York, too, adding to a burgeoning startup scene, helping technology rival finance as the city’s growth engine. But despite industry efforts to increase women in the workforce, progress in the two cities has been limited.One of the main reasons for the lack of representation is limited access to tech skills training. New York in particular, despite having a strong pipeline of programs, is failing to reach under-served communities, according to a study by the Center for an Urban Future and Tech:NYC released Wednesday. The city’s programs focus more on basic digital skills instead of the advanced training required for tech jobs.Exposure to tech training early on is also important to break social conditioning surrounding who belongs in science, tech, engineering, and mathematical occupations. “By the time they get to high school, many boys are socialized to think STEM is for them, while many girls are socialized to think the opposite,” said Dvorkin.Part of the issue is also the high cost of living in the two cities. Women are choosing to move to more affordable cities with growing tech opportunities, according to Denise Roy-Desrosiers, managing director at the nonprofit Girls in Tech New York.“New York has become a less friendly city for both women and men,” said Roy-Desrosiers. “Women are still being paid less to do the same jobs and so while that is still the case, women will take advantage of working in places where they can afford to live comfortably and independently.”New York went from being the fifth-best city for women in tech in 2013 to 27 in 2018, according to SmartAsset data. The percentage of women working in tech declined to 25% from 26%, while the gender pay gap, defined as the percentage of men’s salaries women make for the same jobs, widened. Women in the industry were making 84% of what men made in 2018 compared with 96% five years earlier.Google and other big tech companies expanding in New York represent a significant chunk of the industry’s workforce and the gender imbalance within their ranks is also making New York less like the “haven for disruption and innovative work culture that it once was,” Roy-Desrosiers said.Still, New York does better than San Francisco on most diversity metrics. San Francisco never made it to the Top 10 best cities on SmartAsset’s list for women. It dropped to 33 in 2018 from 23 in 2013. While women’s participation in the workforce increased marginally over five years, the gender pay gap increased to 79% from 88% in the city. Topping the 2020 list of the best cities for women in tech was Baltimore, where women make up 33% of the tech workforce and their average earnings are about 94% that of men in the industry.To contact the reporter on this story: Nikitha Sattiraju in New York at nsattiraju@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Boeing, Apple, Google top growing list of companies warning about a coronavirus impact
    Yahoo Finance

    Boeing, Apple, Google top growing list of companies warning about a coronavirus impact

    Yahoo Finance is maintaining a working list companies that have been affected by the outbreak, and are expected to feel the effects through the first half of the year.

  • Google In Talks with Publishers to Pay for Displaying News

    Google In Talks with Publishers to Pay for Displaying News

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google is in discussions with publishers about paying licensing fees to include excerpts of their articles in Google News search results.The early-stage talks are taking place primarily with French and other European publishers, and may not lead to any agreements, a person familiar with the matter said. A deal would apply only to news products like the Google News vertical, they added, not general web content queries.Google sparked an outcry in France last fall after it said it would show stripped-down French news search results that wouldn’t include article previews or snippets following a new copyright law.It led French publishers and officials, who had hoped to win compensation from platforms as part of the new law, to accuse the search giant of strong-arming them. French antitrust regulators at the time said they would investigate Google over its implementation of the rules.News executives have been calling on Facebook Inc. and Google to pay for the rights to host their articles. They argue that their journalism is what’s drawing users to those platforms, while the two tech giants are capturing most of the online ad dollars.Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of news, said helping people find quality journalism is “important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry.”“We’re talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers,” he added.In Europe, Google’s rocky relationships with publishers have led to legal action, long European Union antitrust investigations and an EU copyright directive that allows news outlets to seek payment from internet sites that display their articles. France was the first country to implement the new rules.In October, Facebook introduced a separate news section in its flagship app and agreed to pay some publishers $1 million to $3 million a year to put their articles in it.In an earnings call last week, News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson mentioned Google by name, saying there are “positive signs” the search company’s CEO Sundar Pichai “has a thoughtful appreciation for the profound social influence of high quality journalism.”The Wall Street Journal reported the discussions earlier.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at;Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at, Nate Lanxon, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    For Self-Driving Startups, Revenue Is Elusive, But Miles Add Up

    (Bloomberg) -- May Mobility Inc.’s boxy white-and-green self-driving shuttle pulls up to a damp corner in downtown Detroit. Its big doors swing out revealing a safety driver and six seats that face each other. It’s more comfortable than a subway car or most buses, but not by much.The shuttle slips down a bus lane and stops at a corner to look for passengers. It’s a fixed route that covers a little less than a mile in Detroit, ferrying passengers from cheap parking near Greektown, a small entertainment district, to the crowded headquarters of Quicken Loans and other towers that employ some 18,000 people.May’s shuttle tops out at 25 mph. The toaster-shaped cruiser isn’t sexy, and the ride is about as exhilarating as a merry-go-round at the county fair. But it’s bringing in revenue from the general public (it charges for services in Detroit but declines to say how much; it makes $800,000 a year in Providence, where it runs a similar service), which deep-pocketed giants such as General Motors’ Cruise LLC and Argo AI, which is backed by Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, have yet to do with autonomous vehicles. Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, considered by many to be the technology leader, does charge riders but limits that group to 1,500 selected patrons.  Although those well-funded players aim for superhuman levels of driving, startups like May are tailoring their ambitions to what autonomous technology can safely do today.The difference between what May is doing vs. the moonshot being attempted by the better-funded carmakers underscores the real state of autonomous driving. As recently as a year ago, the popular imagination and investor dreams saw self-driving vehicles replacing Uber drivers and car ownership in the not-so-distant future. Then Cruise and Waymo both delayed true driverless services to the public, and the buttons for autonomy were reset. “Everyone working on this realizes it hit a wall,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal with Navigant Research.May  has managed to get a public service going by keeping it simple. It provides slow rides on easy fixed routes that serve a specific need. “Our progress is that we’ve delivered 200,000 revenue-generating rides,” said May Chief Executive Officer and founder Edwin Olson. “Some companies have the bankroll to be in R&D mode, but a few of us are working toward sustainable operations.”For those companies trying to master self-driving software, the stakes are huge. Cruise, which has raised $6.15 billion from outside investors and gets $1 billion a year from GM, may yet start running ride-hailing services this year but hasn’t committed to a date after missing its December target. Waymo, backed by Alphabet’s cash hoard, also delayed a shift to commercializing a purely driverless fleet, prompting Morgan Stanley to cut the estimated value of the unit from $175 billion to $105 billion in September.Argo, Cruise, Waymo, and other companies are trying to master all driving scenarios and do it better than human beings can. It’s what Cruise CEO Dan Ammann called “superhuman” levels of safety, at an event in January, when the company showed off its four-passenger Origin self-driving vehicle.Waymo is starting to charge passengers fees. Riders of the company’s Waymo One program must pay, even though they are selected from a group of volunteers who’ve signed up to test the service. Aptiv PLC has developed self-driving cars and put them in Lyft Inc.’s fleet in Las Vegas. Waymo runs cars with Lyft, too. For now those cars always include a test driver for safety.May has raised a comparatively tiny $84 million. Another startup called Voyage, which specializes in autonomous rides in retirement communities, has raised $52 million; it plans to start charging a fee for its services soon, said CEO Oliver Cameron, without giving a date.With a much smaller purse, startups needs to bring in revenue faster, Olson said. They can’t keep going back to investors for cash.In Detroit, May provides self-driving shuttles for Bedrock LLC, the real estate company owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert, carrying people from its parking garage to offices almost one mile out along the loop that it runs. Bedrock pays May for the service.May runs 25 vehicles in three cities. Olson said that as he adds vehicles to the fleet in each market, bigger scale gets him closer to a profit.In Providence, May started operating a ride-share shuttle service in May 2019, running from an Amtrak station about five miles to downtown, with 10 stops on the entire route. Olson said May will pick up routes that are too small for public transit but still serve a need. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation pays the company annually for the service. Once corporate or government entities define the need, May ensures its vehicles can handle the route. It also knows what its operating costs will be in that market.Voyage is making a similar play at the Villages, a retirement community with 125,000 residents about 45 miles from Orlando. The company has been running test vehicles using Chrysler Pacifica minivans that pick up elderly commuters traveling to different points in the village.Cameron said Voyage’s cars also top out at about 25 mph. Its service is door to door, so there is some variation in the route. Still, this is simple driving in low-traffic areas. The company is running test vehicles and refining its service in California and plans to introduce hundreds of vehicles at The Villages, a large retirement community in Sumter County, Florida.Cameron likens Voyage’s approach to the early days of Amazon. The online retail giant didn’t start off selling everything. It began with books, then moved to music before taking on the entire world of retailing. Tesla Inc., too, started with a small two-seat roadster before it moved to larger, more passenger-friendly electric cars. “Amazon and books is a great example,” Cameron said. “Let’s put one thing online, then figure out warehousing, logistics, and online payment, and then expand. We’re imitating Amazon books.”Similarly, Olson said May is learning how to manage its business. Part of running a simple business model is that the cars are cheaper to build, so capital costs are lower. “I can put $500,000 worth of sensors on a vehicle, but that’s a research vehicle,” Olson said. “It’s cheaper to operate at 25 mph instead of one that goes 60 mph.”The companies developing AV software have faced two big challenges, Abuelsamid said. One is how the computer brain perceives image data gathered by cameras, lidar, and different kinds of sensors to tell whether something is a pedestrian, a fixed object, or a plastic bag blowing in the wind. The other is predicting what those objects, especially pedestrians, will do in the next few seconds so the car can make a decision. When a car is moving more slowly on routes with fewer objects, it’s much easier to run autonomous vehicles. That’s what makes the advanced approach from the likes of Cruise and Waymo such a technological challenge, Abuelsamid said.May has an advantage with its approach, Olson said. Rather than identify and have programmers try to solve every rare and difficult driving scenario, called edge cases, May’s vehicles have their own simulator on board that can read an upcoming situation, such as a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The software then runs predictive solutions—should the car speed up before the pedestrian gets in the crosswalk or stop? The simulators are teaching the car how to manage edge cases.Olson is betting that May will be able to get a commercial advantage before his rivals get to market. He predicts he will close in on a profit in two years while most of his competitors won’t be commercializing for three to five years. “By then,” he said, “we will be a multi-billion company with years of experience with the technology and providing service.” May will have to move fast. If the likes of Cruise, Argo or Waymo get paid services to the mass market faster than he thinks, their sheer financial muscle could create a business for autonomous technology that is controlled by a few players, almost like computing has just a handful of operating systems. Then there will be a shakeout.“There will be a handful of companies that produce AV software,” Abuelsamid said. “In the next few years, the number of companies developing the software will be culled down significantly.”To contact the author of this story: David Welch in Southfield at dwelch12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Dimitra Kessenides at dkessenides1@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google’s Waze Deal Is a Likely Target in FTC Antitrust Sweep

    Google’s Waze Deal Is a Likely Target in FTC Antitrust Sweep

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission just ordered major technology companies to fork over details on waves of small acquisitions made during the last decade. A more sizable deal is also seen as a target for the regulator: Google’s $1.1 billion purchase of mapping app Waze.The FTC quickly approved the 2013 transaction, but antitrust experts say the regulator will take a second look because it combined two popular digital mapping services under the same corporate roof, eliminated a fast-growing Google rival and solidified the internet giant’s grip on valuable data.Bilal Sayyed, the FTC’s director for the Office of Policy Planning, told reporters on Tuesday that the agency is planning to examine many deals that were reviewed in the past, while declining to share specific examples.“Certainly, Waze is one of them,” said Robert Litan, a partner at Korein Tillery LLC and former Justice Department antitrust official. Google declined to comment.Alphabet Inc.’s Google has acquired dozens of startups over the years to add technical talent, fill product holes, gather new users and accumulate more data. Few of these transactions rang traditional antitrust alarm bells, but in aggregate they helped the company build the western world’s largest online search, digital mapping and advertising businesses. Global watchdogs are now investigating whether this dominance is harming business customers and consumers. Reassessing past acquisitions is part of this effort, and the Waze deal is a clear candidate.“It was literally Google acquiring its number one competitor in maps,” said Sally Hubbard, director of enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute, which is pushing for a crackdown on big internet platforms. “It was a bad deal that should have been blocked.”Back in 2013, the acquisition was a strategic coup. Google faced two existential threats at the time: social media and smartphones. Social networks, like Facebook, were stealing eyeballs and advertising, while mobile apps risked displacing key Google services, including its digital maps, that were mainly used on desktop computers. Waze was riding both trends. The startup’s mobile app drew in dedicated fans who posted frequent updates on traffic and interacted with one another, generating social and location-related data in new ways that Google couldn’t match.When Google announced the deal, Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said the “move eliminates Waze as a potential acquisition target for competitors who could use the app’s collection of data and 50 million users to bolster their own location-based products.”Antitrust regulators in the U.K. launched a more in-depth investigation of the Waze deal, asking Google to keep Waze separate from the rest of its businesses while conducting the probe. The final report from the Office of Fair Trading, published in December 2013, cited concerns from other companies that Google was knocking out a threat to its mapping service. One complainant said “the acquisition removed Google’s closest competitor.”Read more: How Tech’s New Monopolies Test Old Antitrust Thinking: QuickTakeTrustbusters didn’t have to rely on rivals. Waze Chief Executive Officer Noam Bardin offered the same assessment two months before joining Google. “We’re the only reasonable competition to [Google] in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers -- for the new world that we’re moving into,“ he said at an industry conference.A Google spokeswoman said the company’s former employees have created “more than 2,000 startups -- including companies like Pinterest, Quip and Instagram -- that’s orders of magnitude more than the number of companies we’ve acquired. We always seek to work constructively with regulators and we’re happy to provide information about our business.”In late 2012, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook suggested his customers should use map apps, including Waze, sparking a surge of downloads.By 2013, the Israeli startup was close to a deal to pre-install its app on devices made by an unnamed smartphone company, according to the U.K. investigation. There was also the potential to work with Facebook Inc. to enable people to chat and meet up with friends driving to the same location, which could have given Waze more users, the report said. Google’s acquisition abruptly halted those initiatives.The regulator concluded that the deal would not damage competition in the U.K., citing Apple’s Maps app as a rival. But last year, it asked economists to evaluate some of its past decisions, including the Waze ruling. That study found that the U.K. agency didn’t consider how Google and Waze would make money from their maps -- even though this was already relevant when the deal happened.“The merger with Waze might have made Google an even more relevant provider of location data, reinforcing its competitive position for the provision of online advertising across all its services,” according the study from consulting firm Lear.European regulators have since targeted the data that big internet companies collect as a competition issue. If the FTC takes a similar approach, the agency could probe how much of Waze’s driving data feeds back into Google’s ads business. “These free map apps are just data-suction tools,” Hubbard said. “Regulators are starting to figure it out.”Google has kept Waze a separate service, but the internet giant has used data from the app to improve its ads, according to RBC’s Mahaney. “New ad formats in Google Maps have clear similarities to existing formats in Waze (coincidence?),” the analysts wrote in a September note to investors. “Google has now collected enough data through Waze to effectively roll out broader solutions for advertisers in Google Maps and provide them attractive returns on investment without severely impacting the user experience.”Read more: Google Flips the Switch on Maps, Its Next Big Money MakerFiona Scott Morton, a Yale University economist and former Justice Department antitrust official, said Waze may be of particular interest to the FTC because location data makes Google’s dominant Search advertising much more potent. “Another party that wanted to be good at search advertising would need a good map,” she added.On Tuesday, the FTC demanded internal documents from Google, Facebook, Apple, Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to see if they “are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors.”The regulator is eyeing deals that weren’t reported under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act, which requires companies to tell enforcement agencies about acquisitions of a certain size. While Google declared plans to buy Waze, it never filed the purchase under HSR, likely relying on an exemption related to the startup’s lack of U.S. revenue at the time.The FTC can investigate deals even when there’s no HSR filing. The agency also has the power to probe acquisitions that it cleared in the past. In some ways, the recent attention on the tech sector in Washington and Europe is an attempt to revisit the earlier laissez-faire approach to industry consolidation.“They weren’t examined carefully by the agencies,” said Scott Morton. “Now that they understand that these companies have acquired market power, they’re interested in finding out how that happened.”(Updates with comment from Google in 11th paragraph)\--With assistance from David McLaughlin and Aoife White.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Dealmakers, Beware: A ‘52-Headed Monster’ Is Watching

    Dealmakers, Beware: A ‘52-Headed Monster’ Is Watching

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The anything-goes world of megamergers under President Donald Trump has encountered new resistance. More than a dozen U.S. states sued to stop T-Mobile US Inc.’s takeover of Sprint Corp. and failed when a judge ruled against them this week. But their unusual effort to step in as de facto antitrust regulators in the era of a lax Trump administration — and the fact that the case was seen as such a close call — is sure to unnerve other dealmakers who may be contemplating their own controversial mergers and acquisitions. The Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are the main regulatory bodies that deal-hungry telecommunications CEOs must appease to get their transactions over the antitrust hurdle. (Other industries may have to answer to the Federal Trade Commission.) But the states have emerged as one more powerful group to worry about. In the T-Mobile-Sprint matter, state attorneys general from around the country, led by New York and California, demonstrated a willingness to go beyond the convention of securing one-off concessions for their own constituents when a deal raises concerns. Instead, if regulators drop the ball, the states are prepared to team up and take companies to court, with proceedings that could potentially stretch on for months — and time is money. With the DOJ, FCC and now the states, it’s become “a three-headed monster,” said John Stephens, AT&T Inc.’s chief financial officer. “Or maybe a 52-headed monster, I should say,” he added, speaking during a post-earnings phone interview on Jan. 29, before the Sprint ruling.District Judge Victor Marrero ultimately ruled in favor of the wireless carriers this week, rejecting the states’ arguments that the merger will lead to higher prices for consumers and that wireless newbie Dish Network Corp. won’t become a viable competitor capable of replacing Sprint. The deal, which the companies expect to close by April, will shrink the number of U.S. national wireless carriers from four to three, a level of market concentration that was taboo under previous administrations.On the one hand, the ruling has the potential to open the floodgates for other megamergers that traditionally would have been considered off-limits. To use a hypohetical, take Dish and AT&T’s DirecTV: They compete in providing satellite-TV service to U.S. households, and both parties have said in the past that there would, in theory, be benefits to putting the businesses together, if not for the regulatory hurdles. (AT&T executives have since said they aren’t planning to sell DirecTV.) But just as T-Mobile and Sprint successfully argued that their industry is different now thanks to changing technologies, satellite providers could make that claim, too. Even so, the states’ persistence in the Sprint matter may make some would-be dealmakers think twice about how far they’re willing to go to get a transaction across the finish line. Keeping with the Dish-DirecTV example, those are precisely the kinds of well-known brands that the states could go after in a merger fight. And if it weren’t for the states, T-Mobile and Sprint would have had the major regulatory approvals they needed wrapped up months ago; FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave his blessing back in May, and the Justice Department cleared the deal in July. As the battle with the states dragged on, Sprint’s market value shrank, its business deteriorated, and now T-Mobile wants to renegotiate the price it pays Sprint’s shareholders. In a bit of irony, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it’s looking into whether past purchases by U.S. technology giants such as Inc., Google and Facebook Inc. that slipped by regulators’ radars were, in fact, anticompetitive. The FTC’s announcement — part of the ongoing scrutiny of the power wielded by Big Tech — came hours after the ruling for T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, one of the most anticompetitive megadeals in the tech sphere.Letitia James, the New York attorney general who led the T-Mobile-Sprint opposition, said in response to Tuesday’s court decision that while she disagrees with the outcome, the states “will continue to fight the kind of consumer-harming megamergers our antitrust laws were designed to prevent.” Think she means it?To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at tlachapelle@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Google in talks with French publishers on paying for news

    Exploratory discussions with media groups including Le Monde and Le Figaro have touched on developing new products that would include financial deals to license news. Google has also talked to some US media groups about the plans, according to people familiar with the matter. “We want to help people find quality journalism — it’s important to informed democracy and helps support a sustainable news industry,” said Richard Gingras, vice-president for news at Google, who said the group was “talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers”.

  • Bloomberg

    Expedia Jumps After Projecting ‘Double-Digit’ Profit Growth

    (Bloomberg) -- Expedia Group Inc. gave a 2020 profit forecast for “double-digit” growth, topping analysts’ estimates and suggesting the company will be able to maintain bookings in the face of slowing global travel demand caused by the spreading coronavirus. Shares gained more than 10% in extended trading.The online travel giant reported revenue gained 7.3% to $2.75 billion in the fourth quarter, just missing the $2.77 billion analysts’ projected. Gross bookings climbed 5.9% to $23.2 billion in the period ended Dec. 31, the Seattle-based company said Thursday in a statement.Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $478 million, beating the analysts’ average estimate of $451.6 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“We are not providing a specific guidance range given uncertainty on how much cost savings we’ll recognize this year and the full effect of coronavirus,” Chairman Barry Diller and vice chairman Peter Kern said in the statement. “However, taking these factors into account, we expect 2020 Adjusted EBITDA growth to be in the double-digits.”The pair said they were targeting $300 million to $500 million in “run-rate cost savings across our business.”Diller said the company will streamline and simplify the business. “For several years we have really lost clarity and discipline,” he said on a conference call with analysts. “We were a bloated organization.”Shares jumped to a high of $124.25 in extended trading after closing at $110.59 in New York. The stock has dropped 13% in the past 12 months.The recent outbreak of the coronavirus, known as Covid-19, which originated in China and has spread to more than 20 countries, is battering hospitality companies from airlines to hotels to cruise operators as tourists cancel trips and businesses shutter events. The virus will dent the company’s bottom line by $30 million to $40 million in the current period, executives said on the call. However, Diller conceded the economic impact is difficult to predict.“We don’t truly know the extent of it,” Diller said, adding shortly after that he believes “it will go beyond Asia.”The health crisis is one of several challenges facing the company since Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom and Chief Financial Officer Alan Pickerill were ousted in December after clashing with the board over prospects for growth. Diller said the company isn’t hunting for a new CEO. Instead, the 78-year-old billionaire media mogul will remain in control of the company’s day-to-day operations, along with Kern, for the foreseeable future -- but not beyond 2020.“I haven’t been on one of these analyst calls in endless amount of time so I’m probably a bit draggy,” said Diller, who is chairman and founder of IAC/InterActiveCorp. “Having been chairman of Expedia for, I don’t know, I think 20 years or so, I thought I knew a lot about the company, but there is nothing like being on the ground. And we’ve been on the ground.”In November, Okerstrom lowered the outlook for 2019 earnings after missing analysts’ estimates in the third quarter. Expedia largely blamed Google, which has been cramming the top of its search results with more advertising, pushing down free listings from travel companies and forcing them to spend more on marketing.Diller said he has reached out to Google’s senior management, telling them “exactly what we feel about this. “I have implored them to stop actually taking away the profits from businesses that are one of the main contributors to their advertising revenue.”Diller called for the federal government to regulate Google, saying the new search engine optimization changes were an “existential issue” for online travel agencies. The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department already have announced broad antitrust reviews of the major tech companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google.Expedia has been squeezed by Airbnb Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. in vacation home rentals -- the fastest growing sector of the travel market. Last year, the company revamped its short-term rental unit Vrbo to try to catch up with its rivals. Vrbo reported revenue growth of 13% in the fourth quarter to $259 million. The unit generates about 10% of Expedia’s total revenue, but analysts and investors focus on Vrbo because it represents the company’s best bet for growth.In the fourth quarter, net income rose to $76 million. Profit, excluding certain items, was $1.24 a share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.14.(Updates with coronavirus impact in the eighth paragraph; comments from chairman throughout.)To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Carville in New York at ocarville1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Social media ads 'posing as articles' are a problem, says media exec Vivek Shah
    Yahoo Finance

    Social media ads 'posing as articles' are a problem, says media exec Vivek Shah

    The most concerning ads on social media are not necessarily false but rather those “posing as articles,” says Vivek Shah, who runs J2 Global, an advertising and media company that owns sites including Mashable, IGN, and PCMag.

  • Google closes $2.6B Looker acquisition

    Google closes $2.6B Looker acquisition

    When Google announced that it was acquiring data analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion, it was a big deal on a couple of levels. It was a lot of money and it represented the first large deal under the leadership of Thomas Kurian. Today, the company announced that deal has officially closed and Looker is part of the Google Cloud Platform.

  • Bloomberg

    Radical New West Side Story Paints an Angry Young America

    (Bloomberg) -- In spring 2016, Belgian theater director Ivo van Hove was in New York, preparing his Broadway production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Between rehearsals, he found himself captivated by the crowded and chaotic Republican presidential primaries. Like the rest of the country, he watched in awe as Donald Trump moved from the sidelines to center stage in a drama as startling as Miller’s. Van Hove realized that the issues bubbling up in the campaign—racism, immigration, issues of integration, tribal loyalty—were all in a certain 1957 musical, van Hove realized. “I thought: Well, West Side Story talked about this in a very accessible way,” he says. “With great music.” After directing a string of critically acclaimed reinterpretations of American classics, including A View from the Bridge and A Streetcar Named Desire, among others, he decided the Shakespearean story of star-crossed lovers in midcentury New York would come next. One presidential election cycle later, van Hove’s West Side Story will open on Feb. 20 at the Broadway Theatre in a production that feels as urgent as its themes, thanks to a slimmed one-act structure and video projections that leave the vast stage bare for hurricanes of dancers to blow through. (The production will precede Steven Spielberg’s big-screen remake of the 1961 Academy Award-winning film adaptation, due in December.) Six decades after its debut, it seems West Side Story is again the story of our time. Reinventing a TreasureBack in 2016, after Trump secured the nomination, van Hove took his vision to producer Scott Rudin, who liked it. But van Hove had a few conditions. “I want to make a West Side Story for the 21st century,” he told Rudin. “Not a recreation of what it was in the ‘50s.” In particular, that meant new choreography.New moves are hardly a radical request for your typical musical revamp, but the choreography for West Side Story by Jerome Robbins, a dance and theater legend who also conceived and directed the show, is sacred. It may be the most celebrated in American musical theater, thanks largely to the success of the film Robbins co-directed with RobertWise. Think of those crisp, menacing finger snaps; the hungry, open palms reaching skyward; and Rita Moreno as Anita, spiritedly tossing back her head at the ecstasy of being in America. “There had been ambitious dances integral to a show’s plot before,” wrote dance historian Deborah Jowitt in her biography of Robbins, “but none in which dance is a way of defining character from the outset.” Eyebrows were raised, then, when van Hove brought on board choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, a compatriot who traces her dance lineage to the American post-modernists, an influential group that, beginning in the 1960s and ‘70s, eschewed spectacle in favor of such pedestrian movements as walking and shrugging. In the early 1980s, while Robbins was prolifically creating work for New York City Ballet uptown, De Keersmaeker, who lived in New York for a time, was downtown absorbing the ethos of abstraction from such artists as Trisha Brown and Yvonne Reiner. (She also saw Cats on Broadway, which was not her thing.) Van Hove says he invited her to do the show because “her dance is deeply rooted in New York.”De Keersmaeker was intrigued by van Hove’s invitation—and cautious. “I could only accept [the project] if I was allowed to relate to my own past and vocabulary and way of working,” she says. De Keersmaeker calls herself a formalist, meaning she pays more attention to patterns and spatial relationships than to character and story. That philosophy is clear at the start of this production: Instead of launching straight into the famous, 10-minute, wordless opening ballet, De Keersmaeker scraps the snaps and introduces characters through grim-faced posturing and subtle shifts in balance, projecting their power through stillness, rather than motion. But musical theater audiences aren’t as patient as the ones who go to concert dance. They expect excitement. “I was not used to thinking in those terms,” she explains. “I had to sharpen my pencil. I learned a lot.” She had to find a way to mix abstraction with the plot’s emotional demands. One vivid example comes at the conclusion of Tonight, a ballad sung shortly after protagonists Maria and Tony first meet. De Keersmaeker creates a tableau fit for a Renaissance painting in which the lovers are held back by their respective clans as they fight to connect. It’s a simple, nearly still, poignant image that casts a shadow of foreboding over what is usually the show’s uncomplicated romantic apex.  A Vast Screen—and YouTubeFrequently in this production, the entire back wall becomes a movie screen, sometimes capturing live scenes on or just off stage. At other times, the camera tracks along empty New York streets (vacant until we stumble upon a dreamlike, distant dancing figure). There are prerecorded images of the actors up close, which serves to supersize their emotions. At times, it can be difficult to know where to look, or challenging to focus on the human bodies dwarfed by their amplified images; yet, for better or worse, the method may speak to young audiences in the digital language they know best. De Keersmaeker herself turned to YouTube, which she calls “the hugest dance library,” to study forms of urban dance such as hip-hop, house, krumping, and Latin dance styles. “There are so many styles that we’re doing,” says Dharon E. Jones, who plays Riff, the Jets’ leader. “It speaks to the melting pot of people in the show, the melting pot of people in New York, and bringing all those backgrounds onto the stage.” For the raucous Dance at the Gym, for example, the opposing gangs assert their dominance through artful strides and assertive leaps in their own ways: The Sharks use more Latin steps; the Jets employ house dance footwork and floorwork. These styles were not part of De Keersmaeker’s own physical vocabulary, so she and van Hove brought in veteran Broadway choreographer Sergio Trujillo and Patricia Delgado, a ballerina from Miami, as consultants. They spent days with the cast adding Latin and house dance details—decorative moves for the arms and hips—that De Keersmaeker then integrated into her style.That process stemmed from conversations around identity and representation, which, in many ways, are baked into the DNA of Arthur Laurents’s original book and Stephen Sondheim’s original lyrics (Jets member Anybodys was already genderqueer in the film), and De Keersmaeker and van Hove updated and heightened it in their version. This revival’s casting became a statement of its values and added an important insight: Both  Sharks and the Jets are multi-hued gangs to such a degree that they become indistinguishable at times. Blurring Color Lines“I never saw myself playing a Jet, because I thought they’d always be white,” Jones says. “I never thought there’d be black people or Asian people as Jets. It’s special that people of color are playing all parts in West Side Story.” The blurring of the previously firm lines between the gangs highlights their shared experiences. As De Keersmaeker describes it: “They're both immigrants. And they're both asking for recognition. And they're both facing poverty.”This is starkly illustrated in the musical number Officer Krupke, which the Jets sing about a local policeman who’s been harassing them. In the film, it’s practically a gag number; in this revival, it becomes a screed against police brutality and mass incarceration. During rehearsals, the creative team initiated a dialogue about those issues, inviting cast members to share their experiences and perspectives. “They encouraged us to bring ourselves to the show so the team can speak to the audience,” Jones says. “It means the world to us.” Officer Krupke may be the show’s most radical update, more than its new choreography—in a way, the show’s thesis. “It's about the structural abuse of institutions, the police, the justice system, the social system, the health-care system,” van Hove says. “It was very clear that this was a very political song.”And it helps drive home the idea that the issues the show grapples with—the toxic camaraderie that comes with shared hatred, the demonization of difference—are issues waiting for viewers right outside the theater. Now, in 2020, another combative presidential election is in process. The man who once stood on the periphery of the debate stage is well-poised for reelection. And two Belgian artists have reimagined a quintessentially American story to confront new audiences with the tragedy at its heart. To contact the author of this story: Brian Schaefer in New York atTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Rovzar at crovzar@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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    Bankers, Apple Possible Casualties in Irish Politics Shock

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.If Ireland’s populist Sinn Fein party manages to form a government, Apple Inc., bankers and real-estate companies may be among the biggest losers.The party, which won the popular vote in Ireland’s general election last week, is opening discussions with others to try and form a coalition. There’s no guarantee it will find enough allies, with the established parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail wary of the Sinn Fein’s past links to the IRA terror group and its economic policesFianna Fail leader will seek to create a possible government with all parties except Sinn Fein, Irish media said Friday. Nonetheless, the election results spooked investors, sending bank and real-estate shares plunging. Here are a few of of those who stand to lose from a Sinn Fein-influenced government.Apple Inc.One of the country’s biggest employers, Apple was hit with a 13 billion-euro ($14.13 billion) tax bill in 2016 from the European Commission, which said it got a sweetheart deal from the Irish state. Until now, the Irish government has vehemently denied any wrong-doing and is appealing the decision.Sinn Fein criticized the government for fighting the case, saying the money should be accepted as a windfall to build homes and hospitals. It wants to stop the appeal, a move which would likely prove politically popular. However, it’s not clear that Ireland dropping its fight would end the matter. Apple is also appealing the decision, and that may well continue no matter what the Irish decide. Sinn Fein and any potential coalition partners would also need to carefully monitor whether such a move would jeopardize the 6,000 jobs the company provides in Ireland.Google Etc.Ireland’s economy is underpinned by foreign direct investment, with companies like Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. employing thousands in Dublin and elsewhere. Many of these jobs are highly paid, and so may be hit by Sinn Fein’s plan to raise taxes on employers and the wealthy.For example, the party wants to introduce a 15.75% rate of employers’ social security on the portion of salaries over 100,000 euros, bring in a 5% levy on individual incomes above 140,000 euros and abolish a tax break for the “wealthiest” workers at multinationals.There may be some push back from potential coalition partners, who might argue such measures would hurt foreign investment and eat away at the tax base. However, the party might be tempted to push on regardless, given the likely political dividend of taxing the better off.Senior BankersA stream of senior bankers such as AIB Chief Executive Officer Bernard Byrne have exited over the last two years, and that’s the put a spotlight on government pay policy in the sector.Bonuses are banned, and salaries capped at 500,000 euros per year for lenders that were bailed out by the state during the financial crisis. The government commissioned a report which set out the case for easing constraints on bankers’ compensation, and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was considering his next move when the election was called.Now, it’s quietly accepted the prospect of any changes in the medium term is dead. During the campaign, Sinn Fein has made clear it wants the bonus ban to remain, and with pay still a lightning rod for taxpayers forced to bail out the banks, no coalition partner is going to argue against them.Bank InvestorsIn the wake of the bailout, a tax was placed on the sector. Sinn Fein wants to increase that levy, to raise an extra 50 million euros a year, and stop lenders offsetting tax bills with historic losses. It also wants to give the nation’s central bank power to cap mortgage rates and keep the government’s majority stake in AIB.Much of this would be politically popular, but again may not necessarily be straight forward. For example, banks could legally challenge any effort to treat them differently from other kind of companies. Even then though, the banks would likely hoard capital and ease back lending just in case things went wrong.Real-Estate CompaniesSinn Fein wants to raise the rate of commercial stamp duties to 12.5% from 7.5%, pushing builders and developers to construct homes rather than offices.It also wants to cut rents by as much as 1,500 euros a year, and freeze rents for three years. This too, may not be easy. One potential coalition partner, Fianna Fail, backed away from such a proposal during the campaign, arguing it was legally impossible.(Adds government formation developments in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Peter Flanagan.To contact the reporter on this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at, Morwenna Coniam, Richard BravoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • GameSnacks, from Google's Area 120, brings fast, casual online games to developing markets

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  • Google in talks with publishers to pay for news -WSJ
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    Google is reportedly in talks with select publishers to pay for their news content. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that most of the publishers are outside the U.S. - including some in France and Europe and that the talks center around Google paying licensing fees for content that would be packaged in a news product. Google's Vice President of News on Friday responded to the report by releasing a statement, saying the company is in talks with its partners and looking at more ways to expand its ongoing work with publishers. While talks are in the early-stage, according to the Journal, and it's not yet clear whether agreements will be reached, such a deal would mark a shift in the search giant's relationship with the news media. While Google sends traffic to news websites by featuring their stories on its feed, it doesn't pay publishers a licensing fee for the content that appears. The tech industry has been blamed for contributing to a decline in revenues at traditional news organizations but there are signs Silicon Valley is looking to rectify that. Last year, Facebook announced it will pay news media for content and for the first time put all professional news articles in a dedicated place on its app. And Apple launched Apple News+, a paid subscription service, in partnership with major news organizations.

  • Google calls on European court to dismiss antitrust fine
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    Google and the European Union have wrapped three days of court appeals as the tech giant attempts to overturn $2.6 billion in fines from alleged antitrust breaches. Google has called for Europe's second highest court to throw out it out. A lawyer for the company said the amount may be "an eye-catching amount, it might attract headlines, but it is not justified by the actual facts of this case." The Alphabet unit also argued that additional amounts tacked on to the fine imposed by the European Commission in 2017 in an effort to deter anti-competitive behavior were excessive and unwarranted. They believe existing case law shows that Google's behavior was not anti-competitive while its market shares -- and the 13 countries where the infringement was committed did not justify the size the penalty. A ruling is expected next year and can be appealed to Europe's highest court-- the Court of Justice.