|Bid||1,090.01 x 800|
|Ask||1,099.40 x 1100|
|Day's range||1,079.81 - 1,123.54|
|52-week range||1,013.54 - 1,532.11|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.03|
|PE ratio (TTM)||22.33|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||1,546.75|
(Bloomberg) -- New York State reported the most deaths in a single day while Italy, the nation with the most fatalities in the world, had the fewest since March 26. Spain plans to extend its lockdown.U.S. deaths rose to more than 7,500 and the global tally exceeds 62,000. At least a half-dozen cruise ships remain at sea with passengers and crew as companies navigate long trips and struggle to find ports willing to let them dock. The big question remains: When, and how, will this end?Key Developments:Global cases top 1.1 million; deaths exceed 62,000: Johns HopkinsBread lines are forming in Mar-a-Lago’s shadowThe virus is destroying jobs around the worldLandlords in peril as retailers withhold rentCruise ships, linked to the early spread, are still sailingThe maker of Purell gets tariff exclusionsNew York’s Deadliest Day (2 p.m. NY)New York, the worst-hit U.S. state, recorded the biggest daily death toll yet, adding 630 fatalities for a total of 3,565, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. One thousand ventilators are due to arrive from China on Saturday. “This is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us,” Cuomo said. Oregon donated another 140. “We’re not at the apex,” Cuomo told reporters. New York City’s total rose to 63,306 cases and 2,624 deaths.Read the full story here.Trudeau Plans Trump Call Amid Spat (1 p.m. NY)Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will speak to Donald Trump soon as the U.S. president escalates a battle with allies and 3M Co. over exports of medical equipment and N95 masks. Trudeau said he wasn’t looking to retaliate or limit exports to the U.S. but will note that Canada also sends key equipment across the border.“In terms of gloves and other types of equipment and test kits, the fact is we’ve supplied that equipment to the United States,” Trudeau said at a news conference. It would hurt both countries to interrupt those supplies, Trudeau said.Read story here.Italy’s Daily Deaths Lowest Since March 26 (1:10 p.m. NY)Italy reported 681 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, including a police officer in Premier Giuseppe Conte’s security team. Authorities warned that a return to normalcy remains distant. The daily toll was the lowest since March 26 and fell from 766 on Friday, according to civil protection data. There were 4,805 new cases, an increase from 4,585 a day earlier.While efforts to contain the virus have started bearing fruit, “It’s way too early to think the battle is won,” according to emergency response czar Domenico Arcuri.Read the full story hereDubai Extends Restrictions to 24 Hours (1:05 p.m. NY)Dubai imposed further restrictions on the movement of people and halted metro services as the Middle East’s business hub seeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.A program to clear the streets will be extended to 24 hours for two weeks from Saturday, Dubai’s media office said by tweet. Supermarkets, pharmacies and food delivery services will operate, it said. Violators could face legal action, it said.Dubai will suspend metro and tram services from Sunday until further notice, Gulf News reported earlier. The Gulf nation has 1,505 cases so far, with 241 added on Saturday.U.K. Has ‘Reasons to Be Hopeful’ (12:30 p.m. NY)The measures put in place by the U.K. to fight the virus are providing “reasons to be hopeful,” NHS England Medical Director Stephen Powis said at a press briefing. Existing lockdown procedures will be reviewed next weekend, as the government previously announced, and financial assistance to help people and companies are constantly under review, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said.Greece Extends Lockdown (12:30 p.m. NY)Greece is extending its national lockdown, with restrictions on movement, until early April 27, Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Chardalias said. The country introduced a total lockdown on March 22 after moving quickly to put in place restrictions following the first confirmed case on Feb. 26. Greece so far has 1,673 cases and 68 deaths.A Quarter of French Workers on Benefits (11:30 a.m. NY)French Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud said on BFM TV that 5 million workers, about a quarter of the nation’s people on payrolls, have been granted temporary unemployment benefits, a system put in place to help companies reduce operations without laying off staff.NYC Seeks U.S. Doctors, Nurses (11 a.m. NY)Mayor Bill de Blasio repeated calls for a national system to help move doctors and nurses from other states to areas with high need, saying the weeks ahead will be New York City’s “the toughest time.”“This is going to be a reality where you are going to have many cities and states simultaneously in crisis, needing health care professionals, needing ventilators,” de Blasio said on MSNBC, adding that the thinning ranks of health care workers was the city’s biggest challenge.The city on Friday sent an emergency mobile alert pleading for licensed health-care workers to volunteer at its hospitals. The mayor said the city needs 45,000 more medical personnel through April and May. “We need as many health workers as possible right here, right now,” he said.Egypt National Projects Postponed (11:15 a.m. NY)Egypt delayed the start of large national projects including the Grand Egyptian Museum and Museum of Egyptian Civilization, and postponed to 2021 moving the country’s administrative capital city due to the pandemic.Poland Weighs Easter Restrictions (10 a.m. NY)Poland is considering further restrictions ahead of the Easter holiday to keep the coronavirus from spreading via traditional family visits, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said.Poles have been under a lockdown for three weeks. While the government previously predicted a peak in the outbreak by mid-April, crediting its early restrictions, Szumowski said it’s now expected to keep growing over the coming weeks.Singapore Has Another 75 Cases (9:55 a.m. NY)Singapore’s Ministry of Health confirmed an additional 75 cases of Covid-19 infection, of which six are imported and 69 are local cases who have no recent travel history abroad.Spain Plans to Extend Lockdown (9:14 a.m. NY)Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced plans to extend the country’s lockdown by two weeks until April 25. “I understand it’s difficult to extend the effort and sacrifice two more weeks,” Sanchez said in a televised speech. “These are very difficult days for everyone.” A longer lockdown would be subject to cabinet and legislative approval.U.K. Deaths Increase (9:02 a.m. NY)The U.K. reported its deadliest day yet, with an increase of 708 coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 4,313. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, 41,903 people have tested positive for the virus.Keir Starmer, newly elected as leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, said he would have the “courage” to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson where necessary in the national interest to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, while holding him accountable for mistakes.Hungary Funds Crisis Measures (7 a.m. NY)Hungary’s government announced cuts to political party finances and pledged tax increases for banks and retail chains as part of efforts to fund crisis measures. The steps are the latest in contentious measure that have seen Prime Minister Viktor Orban assume powers to rule by decree indefinitely.The cabinet will announce a major economic policy plan amounting to 18-22% of GDP on Tuesday, Gergely Gulyas, the minister in charge of the premier’s office said Saturday. The central bank will also announce measures of its own that day, he said.Herd Immunity Could Take Years (6:39 a.m. NY)Herd immunity against the coronavirus may take years to develop, Jaap Goudsmit, adjunct professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at Harvard, said in an interview with Dutch daily De Telegraaf.The number of deaths in the Netherlands rose by 164, or 11%, to 1,651, according to a daily update from the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The tally of confirmed virus cases increased by 6% to 16,627, slightly below the growth rate seen in the beginning of the week. The amount of people hospitalized with the virus rose by 336 to 6,622.Spain Cases Pass Italy (5:50 p.m. HK)A slower pace of fatalities and new cases though is offering hope that Spain’s outbreak may be edging toward a peak.Spain said the number of confirmed cases increased to 124,736, from 117,710 a day earlier, according to Health Ministry data. In Italy, total cases stood at 119,827. In what could be a sign of hope, the number of new deaths in Spain declined for a second day, with an additional 809 fatalities in the past 24 hours for a total of 11,744.Swedish Deaths Seen in Thousands (5:48 p.m. HK)Sweden must expect to count its dead from the coronavirus in the “thousands,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in an interview in Dagens Nyheter. The biggest Nordic economy, which has opted for less restrictive measures than many countries in the fight against the pandemic, has had more than 330 deaths after confirmed cases topped 6,000 this week. Lofven also said the country will need to contend with the pandemic and its economic impact for “months, not weeks.”Sweden’s government is preparing to seek extraordinary powers, allowing it to bypass Parliament for certain regulations, Expressen reported late Friday. The proposal, which has been sent to opposition lawmakers, suggests the coalition led by the Social Democrats might be planning to tighten its response to the pandemic.Russia Following ‘Optimistic Scenario’ (5:30 p.m. HK)The outbreak in Russia so far is following the “optimistic scenario, in large part because in the previous two months of contact with this virus, Russia took all the necessary measures,” Anna Popova, the country’s top public-health official, told state television.The government reported the second straight day of declines in new cases on Saturday. The latest figures showed 582 additional infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 4,731, with 43 deaths.France Extends Tax Delay (4:05 p.m. HK)France will allow companies to postpone their tax and social security payments again for the month of April, Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said in an interview with Ouest France newspaper. The government will decide later whether those taxes will eventually be canceled entirely, he said. On Twitter, Darmanin said 450,000 small businesses have applied for a 1,500-euro ($1,620) payment from the government’s “solidarity fund.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. acquired Voysis, an artificial intelligence startup that developed a platform for digital voice assistants to better understand people’s natural language.Dublin, Ireland-based Voysis focused on improving digital assistants inside online shopping apps, so the software could respond more accurately to voice commands from users. A now-removed company webpage said the technology could narrow product search results by processing shopping phrases such as “I need a new LED TV” and “My budget is $1,000.” Voysis provided this AI to other companies to incorporate it into their own apps and voice assistants.Read more about the startup here: Synthesizing Realistic Human Speech Just Got a Lot EasierAn Apple spokesman said the company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”Voysis’s system taps into Wavenets, an AI-based method for creating more human-like computer speech that was first developed by Google’s DeepMind in 2016. Voysis co-founder Peter Cahill said in 2018 that his company managed to shrink its system to the point where, once the AI is trained, the software uses as little as 25 megabytes of memory -- about the same size as four Apple Music songs. That made it much easier to run on smartphones without an internet connection.Apple could use the acquired know-how improve Siri’s understanding of natural language or to offer the Voysis platform to thousands of developers that already integrate with the Apple digital assistant. Apple has been the top buyer of AI startups in recent years and has a portfolio that already includes former startups including Turi, Xnor.ai, and Laserlike.Read more: Big Tech Swallows Most of the Hot AI StartupsVoysis was founded in 2012 and sold its services to several companies. It also had offices in Edinburgh and Boston and got $8 million in venture funding from Polaris Partners in 2017.The acquisition is the second Apple deal disclosed this week. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant also bought Dark Sky, a popular weather app for iPhones and iPads.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google is working with researchers in Europe to track the spread of the coronavirus using troves of location data gathered from smartphones.The search engine giant is collaborating with academics from the University of Southampton in the U.K., who in turn are working with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, according to several people involved in the project.The location data, which Google collects from location-enabled apps such as Google Maps, has been shared with the researchers in an aggregated and anonymized format. It can’t be used to track an individual person; rather, it shows broad patterns of movement across entire countries over periods of time, according to the people.The data is helping researchers analyze the relationship between travel patterns and transmission rates of the virus within different countries, according to the people, while also providing insight into the effectiveness of lock downs in European countries.“We are looking at inner-city movement across the EU and what it means for controlling Covid-19,” said Nick Ruktanonchai, an infectious disease epidemiologist and lecturer at the University of Southampton. “With the location data, we are testing different scenarios and simulating what might happen if countries don’t end their lock downs in a coordinated way. It’s about buying time. We want to make sure a big second epidemic doesn’t happen months down the line.”Ruktanonchai’s description was confirmed by three others familiar with the project, who requested anonymity.A spokesman for Google pointed to a blog post the company published on Friday, which stated that it was “collaborating with select epidemiologists working on Covid-19 with updates to an existing aggregate, anonymized dataset that can be used to better understand and forecast the pandemic.”The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control didn’t respond to a request for comment.The researchers are also working with telecommunications giant Vodafone Group Plc, Ruktanonchai said, and have combined data from Vodafone’s mobile phone networks with the Google location data in an effort to create more accurate models of movement patterns in Europe.A spokesman for Vodafone Group confirmed that the company was working with Southampton researchers on a project to monitor how the coronavirus might develop in different scenarios.In recent weeks, more than a dozen countries -- including the U.S., U.K., Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, South Korea, Iran and Taiwan -- have turned to mobile phone location data as a method of monitoring people’s movements during the coronavirus pandemic.Two of the U.K.’s largest telecommunications companies – British Telecom and Telefonica UK Ltd – have said that they have provided anonymized location data to the government to support policy planning during the coronavirus crisis. In Austria and Italy, authorities are using location data provided by Telekom Austria and Vodafone to keep tabs on whether people are following restrictions on movement.The data has proved useful in determining whether lock down measures have been successful. However, privacy experts have raised concerns about its use. On Thursday, a coalition of more than 100 human-rights groups issued a joint statement that called on governments not to “disregard rights such as privacy and freedom of expression in the name of tackling a public health crisis.”The work being done in the U.K. not only offers an insight into current movement patterns but also enables the researchers to try and predict future scenarios. “We’re looking at what happens if all countries coordinate lock downs” or end their lock downs at different times, said Andy Tatem, director of the University of Southampton’s WorldPop project, which is leading the research.If countries in Europe don’t coordinate, Tatem said, it could lead to a resurgence of the virus.Teams at Alphabet Inc.’s Google have been working for weeks to find ways to use the company’s large stores of data to assist governments and organizations to manage their response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to two people familiar with those efforts.On Friday, Google announced that it would begin publishing “mobility reports” that show movement trends in 131 countries during the coronavirus pandemic. Google said the reports would document trends across different categories of places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces and residential.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court postponed its April argument sitting, bringing its total number of delayed cases to 20 as the coronavirus outbreak continued to scuttle the justices’ plans.The court said it will reschedule some of the 20 cases during its current term “if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance” and will consider a “range of scheduling options and other alternatives” if courtroom arguments can’t be held. The court’s term normally runs through June.The delayed cases include clashes over congressional and grand jury subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records. The president’s critics are seeking a quick resolution, hoping to obtain the documents before the November presidential election. Arguments had been scheduled for March 31.The now-delayed April cases included a dispute over the Electoral College, the body that will formally select the next president. At issue is whether states can stop “faithless electors” who try to cast a vote for someone other the candidate who won their state’s balloting. The justices had been aiming to resolve that issue before it arises in a disputed election.The court has also put on hold an $8 billion copyright dispute between Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Oracle Corp.The court’s statement Friday left open the possibility that the justices might eventually break with their traditional practice of holding a formal courtroom argument for each case they are considering. Unlike lower courts, the Supreme Court doesn’t hold arguments by telephone or other electronic means.Although the court has postponed arguments because of the coronavirus outbreak, the justices are continuing to issue orders and opinions, with more expected Monday. They are forgoing their traditional practice of announcing opinions from the bench.(Adds details on postponed cases starting in third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (FB) releases Messenger App For Windows and MacOS as usage of desktop browser increases 100% amid coronavirus-induced lockdown.
(Bloomberg) -- Los Angeles resident Matt Hauer has been renting out his Toyota Corolla to strangers since last May using the popular car-sharing app Getaround Inc. Occasionally his renters got parking tickets or left messes, but he was always satisfied with how Getaround addressed the issues. Then last month, his front bumper partly fell off and began dragging—which he said his mechanic assessed as the result of a renter’s fender-bender. But this time, Hauer’s attempts to get Getaround pay the $1,200 bill degenerated into a string of unanswered emails and long stretches of waiting on hold. His last interaction with the company was a phone call last week. “They told me they’d call me back in 10 minutes,” he said. “I have yet to hear back.”The economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting startups hard. More than 7,000 employees at young tech companies have lost their jobs since March 11, according to the website Layoffs.fyi, which compiles public reporting. The so-called sharing economy in particular has been hobbled by the reaction to the pandemic. On March 20, Bloomberg reported that Getaround was actively looking to sell itself and could seek bankruptcy protection if it couldn’t secure a deal. It cut jobs in late March.“Like most startups, we are often in discussions with potential investors and strategic partners, some of whom may also be potential acquirers,” a Getaround representative said in a statement. “With the amount of uncertainty related to Covid-19—we are continuing to model scenarios for the business as we often do throughout the year. We are not actively seeking bankruptcy protection.”Getaround’s main competitor, Turo Inc., said this week it had also reduced its staff by 30%. A Turo spokesman said it was in a “great cash position to weather this storm.”In interviews with Bloomberg, six car owners said they’ve had increasing trouble in recent months getting Getaround to pay for costs related to rentals. In two cases, car owners said Getaround had agreed to pay repair shops directly, but that mechanics wouldn’t release their cars for days because the money didn’t come through even after Getaround assured them it had been taken care of. In another incident, a user said the company has yet to send her the money renters paid to drive her car.Getaround, most recently valued by investors at well over $1 billion, had been having trouble before the pandemic. Starting late last year, there were noticeable changes in the startup’s responsiveness and willingness to pay for rental-related costs, the car owners said. Like Hauer, they said the shift was particularly stark given Getaround’s reasonable track record before then. In January, the company announced a round of job cuts, which it attributed to being “pressure tested due to rapid growth.” “We acknowledge that there is still work to be done to achieve our goals and we are working directly with a small group of owners who have experienced delays in the recent past in having their claims resolved,” a Getaround spokeswoman said in an email. She said the company had brought on new employees and managers to its claims team. Getaround said it rarely pays mechanics directly for repairs, which may have led to delays in those cases where it did so, and that it is unaware of any cases of car owners not receiving rental income. But frustrated car owners began to worry that the issues they’ve been experiencing reflected deeper problems at the company. One Los Angeles resident who began renting out two cars on Getaround in early 2019 said she had been so worn down by the difficulties in recouping costs for parking tickets and cleaning costs related to renters smoking that she had just paid for some of them.This person, who asked not to be named because she works in entertainment and doesn’t want a dispute with a car-sharing company showing up when people search for her on Google, said she’s now concerned about paying her leases without the $900 in monthly car-sharing income she had been making. “Honestly I feel so bad for whoever the founder of the company is,” she said. "At the same time, if they do go out of business, I can’t afford to lose that money.” Andie Kantor, a librarian who lives in Hawthorne, California, is just the type of car-owner you might expect to see in a Getaround ad. A single mother, Kantor saw the platform as an appealing way to make extra income. She purchased a Prius last year specifically to rent on Getaround, using the money to cover both its monthly costs and those of her primary vehicle. “My finances are tied up with this car,” she said. In February, a Getaround renter got into an accident that left the Prius seriously damaged. It took Kantor more than a week to get Getaround to arrange for a tow truck to take the car to a service shop, she said. Then, when she went to pick it up, the mechanic refused to release it, saying that Getaround hadn’t yet paid him, and still owed him money for a previous job. It took another 10 days of haggling, Kantor said, to get the company to pay. In total, she lost a month of rental income and now can’t rent out the car at all because of the pandemic. Hauer, the man whose bumper became detatched, has temporarily removed his car from the platform because he doesn’t think it’s safe to drive. Both he and Kantor said they’re considering selling their vehicles. “It all depends on the virus and how this works out,” Kantor said. “I don’t even know how to sell it at this point, because no one’s open.” For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google is releasing new data about how the coronavirus pandemic has cut down on foot traffic to transit centers, retail stores and public parks in more than 130 countries.The “mobility reports” will be posted publicly online. They come in response to requests from public health officials who want more data on how people are moving around cities to better combat the spread of Covid-19, the Alphabet Inc. unit said in a blog post. Each report will show how traffic to certain categories of places, such as parks and transportation hubs, has declined in the last month. The information won’t show individual places or people.Google arguably has the most accurate and granular data about people’s location of any organization, public or private. More than a billion people worldwide use the company’s Maps app to navigate places they live and travel to, giving Google real-time insight into how people move around their environments. With Covid-19 infecting more than a million people and killing tens of thousands, governments are looking for location information to help them curb the disease and enforce lockdown orders.At the same time, privacy advocates argue the crisis will give authorities unprecedented access to personal information that could be used to surveil and oppress populations long after the virus is stopped. Google said the mobility reports don’t impinge on privacy because they only use data from people who have agreed to share their location with the company, and the information can’t be tied to individual accounts.“Knowing the general pattern of how a community moves can play a critical role in responding to the novel coronavirus and preventing future pandemics,” said Sara Cody, health officer and director for Santa Clara County’s public health department. “This information can help us understand how seriously people are taking the shelter at home order and what additional steps might be needed to slow the spread.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Humu Inc., a software firm run by Google’s former human resources chief, is the latest Silicon Valley startup to cut jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus.The startup made the reductions this week and is planning to lower its hiring goal for the year by 40%. Laszlo Bock, Humu’s co-founder and chief executive officer, confirmed the moves but declined to say how many people were involved. The company had about 80 workers recently.“Reductions are always tough, but against the backdrop of the greatest economic slowdown in a century, everyone is being forced to make painful decisions,” he wrote in an email. “We’ve focused on being as empathetic as possible, though of course there’s no way to make this a positive experience for people.”Startups have been hit particularly hard during the crisis. An estimated 8,000 employees were let go at roughly 100 U.S. startups since March 11, when the the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. That figure comes from Layoffs.fyi, a tracker that measures publicly announced job cuts. The actual total is likely far higher.Young firms that burn through cash quickly or haven’t raised outside funds recently are especially vulnerable. Humu, which sells data-analytics software for companies to improve workplace cultures, said last year that it had raised $40 million from two financing rounds.Some tech employees have reported traumatic downsizing experiences, such as having job cuts announced on group video calls. Bock said Humu founders delivered the news personally. “I and the other leaders in the company are 100% focused on helping people land in a good spot, opening our networks and relationships to every one of our people, and calling in every favor we can,” he said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discusses Facebook's effort to boost local news as the industry struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
(Bloomberg) -- Google will allow political ads that mention the coronavirus, reversing a policy that’s been in place since January, after some U.S. politicians complained it was stifling their campaigns during an election year.The company initially blocked all ads related to the virus under its policy of not letting marketers capitalize on major unexpected events like epidemics and natural disasters. As the virus spread, Google started allowing health authorities to buy ads for public service announcements. Soon, political advertisers will be able to jump in, too, according to a memo sent to advertisers by Google’s head of industry, elections, Mark Beatty. More information will be provided “in the next few days,” he added.In the U.S., politicians have criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the crisis, and some political groups complained that Google’s ad ban prevented them from telling potential voters about this. The virus has also added more fuel to the debate over whether the U.S. should adopt a single-payer health-care system, one of the central issues in the Democratic presidential primary. Google and its YouTube video service have become a big part of election strategies for many politicians. Axios previously reported on the memo.“COVID-19 is becoming an important part of everyday conversation, including a relevant topic in political discourse,” a Google spokesperson said. “We’re planning to allow more advertisers to run ads related to COVID-19.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Google today announced the beta of Memorystore for Memcached, a new service that provides a fully managed in-memory datastore that is compatible with the open-source Memcached protocol. It will join Redis in the Memorystore family, which first launched in 2018. As Gopal Ashok, Google's product manager for Memorystore, notes in today's announcement, Redis remains a popular choice for use cases like session stores, gaming leaderboards, stream analytics, threat detection and API rate limiting, while Memcached is typically used as a caching layer for databases.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Cash is dirty. Credit cards may be even dirtier. That’s a problem in this new germophobic world created by the coronavirus. There will likely be new winners and losers as consumers shift to products and services that help them keep their social distance even after this outbreak subsides. Is it finally time to embrace the digital wallet?Take Apple Inc.’s Apple Pay, a service that stores your credit-card information and lets you pay for purchases via your iPhone. The tech giant launched the product six years ago, but it didn’t bring about the revolution it hoped it would, where mobile payments lead the move toward a cashless society as it had in China. Here in the U.S., there just wasn’t a compelling enough reason for many consumers to change their entrenched routines. Now, though, Apple Pay’s ability to let customers shop inside physical stores and pay for things without having to make physical contact with a counter or card-reader may be the catalyst it needs to finally disrupt the payments industry.My own habits are noticeably changing on this front. Though I had my card information inside Apple Pay for years, I rarely ever used it. Old habits die hard, and I simply didn’t mind pulling out my credit card and paying for things the usual way. Nowadays? Not so much. Due to virus fears, I would rather not tap on a payment terminal’s numeric key pads or use my finger to sign for purchases when there is a much cleaner alternative. As a result, Apple Pay has now become the main way I pay for things whenever I venture outside.The way Apple Pay works is, you type in your credit card information into the Apple Wallet app. Once entered, you can pay for items at most physical store retailers by double-clicking the power button, authenticating using Face ID or Touch ID and then hovering your iPhone a few inches above the payment terminal. Google Pay and Samsung Pay work similarly on their respective smartphones. This type of proximity-based mobile payment enables consumers to pay for items without touching or handing over anything. Traditional paper bills and physical card payment alternatives are filthy in comparison. An academic study cited by Mastercard found the average cash note has 26,000 bacterial colonies. And according to LendEDU, a personal finance products comparison website, credit cards contain even more germs than cash or New York City subway poles. It makes sense as cards are often put on tables, inside restaurant bill folders and are rarely cleaned, while cash is constantly circulated by hand.Yes, the credit-card companies are rolling out their own version of contactless or “tap-to-pay” payments. Visa and Mastercard both said in their most recent reported quarters that about one-third of global transactions are now contactless. But the usage rate of the new cards is much lower in the U.S. as many Americans have yet to receive them. Further, it still requires touching the physical card and tapping the terminal (or at least getting the card within a couple of inches). This year, Apple Pay will command 47% of the U.S. proximity-based mobile payment market, with Google capturing 19% and Samsung Pay 17%, according to an eMarketer forecast.Admittedly, the U.S. market is still small, and expectations were relatively muted heading into this year before the pandemic struck. Only about 33 million Americans were expected to use Apple Pay’s proximity-based payment feature in 2020, or 14.5% of smartphone users, according to an eMarketer forecast made in September. But things are a lot different now.If Apple Pay and its brethren do take off, there will be deeper ramifications across the industry. Credit-card companies will do fine because their card networks are still being utilized by the smartphone maker’s service. But it could be a negative for PayPal Holdings Inc., the payments company that dominates the adjacent market of digital checkout buttons for online retailers.PayPal’s e-commerce checkout button enables its users to pay for online orders on retailer websites without having to re-type address or payment information, reducing friction to complete orders. It is a critical cash cow for the company and accounts for nearly 90% of its earnings, according to MoffettNathanson.But Apple Pay also offers a competing digital checkout feature. And if Apple Pay became increasingly used inside physical stores, it seems likely customers will be inclined to use the service for e-commerce transactions as well, eating into PayPal’s business.With new consumer habits being formed in a coronavirus world, Apple’s gain may be PayPal’s pain.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
In a newly released interview, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg says the crisis is a “wake-up call” for the U.S. to address longstanding problems, like the gender pay disparity and domestic violence, that put women at especially heightened economic risk.
Google is shutting down Neighbourly, a Q&A social app that it launched in Mumbai two years ago, the company has informed users. A spokesperson confirmed the move to TechCrunch. The app, developed by company’s Next Billion Initiative, aimed to give local communities an outlet to seek answers to practical questions about life, routine and more.
(Bloomberg) -- Fitness-tracking gadgets are selling out, home exercise classes have never been more popular and industrial robot designers are pivoting to making sanitation bots. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a seismic wave of health awareness and anxiety, which is energizing a new category of virus-fighting tech.The fear of infection has accelerated the adoption of apps and wearables as a means to feel better protected. “Having accurate and immediate feedback about our body temperature, blood pressure and other health signals helps to restore people’s sense of control,” said Andy Yap, a social psychologist at the INSEAD business school.Users, insurers and health-care providers are all seeing the benefit of health gadgets, in a shift expected to persist long after the outbreak subsides. That’s galvanizing the development of new devices by startups and gadget outfits in Asia, where the novel coronavirus first struck and consumers are known to be early adopters.The Withings Thermo is a contactless thermometer that uses 16 sensors to take more than 4,000 measurements in 2 seconds -- which it then syncs to a mobile app. It costs $99.95, but nobody can buy one until mid-April because all inventory was depleted two weeks ago, according to the company. Use of the Thermo has been significantly higher than usual for this time of year, the company added.Until the start of this year, CrucialTec Co. used to give away its thumb-sized thermometer dongle as a gift to clients, finding no market for the health gadget. That all changed when “orders came pouring in after the virus outbreak,” said President Jay Yim, and the South Korean company’s now ramping up production with the goal of making “more than 500,000 within the first half of this year.”Local governments in China, retailers in Japan and U.S. wholesalers are all putting in orders for the $65 Temon thermometer, and Yim expects one or two Chinese smartphone makers to come out with prototype devices with the technology built in this fall. Sister company CrucialTrak, which sells the module, has seen orders for its touch-less biometric ID solutions -- facial, vein and iris scanning -- rise fivefold after the initial outbreak, according to Senior Vice President Seung Y. Park. It plans to go public in 2022.Youibot Robotics Technologies Co. took 18 days to design and build a human-height robot that can sanitize rooms using two ultraviolet lights as well as measure the body temperature of passersby. The Shenzhen-based startup, which partnered with Michelin on robot tire inspectors in 2017, is looking to sell more than 200 of these “anti-epidemic” robots in the first half of this year, said Cody Zhang, founder and chief executive officer, virtually doubling the company’s entire sales output from last year.“A robot that fights virus pandemics is something new, but we are prepared because it was our goal to bring robotic equipment to emerging sectors,” said Zhang, who was born in 1992. The company already had the basic building blocks on hand and sourced ultraviolet tubes from Philips along with other off-the-shelf components like cameras and temperature sensors. Zhang expects the sanitizing robots to deliver close to a third of Youibot’s 70 million yuan ($9 million) sales target this year.Another small Chinese startup, the Hangzhou-based MegaHealth Information Technology Co., saw a fivefold increase in its sales the past two months compared to the last quarter of 2019 -- largely thanks to its medical ring that can monitor heart rate and blood oxygen levels. “We initially developed the product for patients who have breathing problems, but the coronavirus outbreak extended its use,” said CEO Hu Jun, whose gadget is in use in around 100 Chinese hospitals now. It will be in the U.S. and Europe in the second half of the year, he added, and once production catches up with demand, MegaHealth will sell it direct to consumers as well.Fitness app and gadget provider Chengdu Music Information Technology Co., trading under the name Codoon, has seen the number of its users exercising at home almost triple. Responding to user and government demand, the company’s also added a thermometer function to its fitness watches. “We have a new app, an AI temperature-measuring system, following the government’s encouragement,” said founder and CEO Shen Bo. Codoon is investing more in software, Shen added, because he sees gadgets with personalized programming as the key to sustaining user interest.Bhrugu Pange, managing director at global consultants AArete, expects that the surge in usage now -- as people grapple with the uncertainty around infection and treatment -- will lead to a domino effect producing lasting change. Users, insurers and health-care providers will all “start taking fitness-tracking devices and apps more seriously as a tool for preventive and proactive maintenance of patient health. This in turn will lead to more serious collaboration between device makers and healthcare institutions.”Read more: Quarantined Doctors Turn to Video So They Can See PatientsBeyond hardware, health experts and startups are looking into mobilizing health data to help consumers. John Torous, a researcher at the Harvard-associated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is integrating Apple Watch and Google Fit device data into a common platform, allowing patients to consult with doctors online and share their measurable health indicators.“After (and during) periods of high stress and anxiety like we are in now, often demand and need for mental health services expands. With telehealth we can meet this demand and ensure everyone has access to care,” said Torous. He’s among the strongest advocates of a widespread move toward remote medicine, hastened by the rapid spread of Covid-19.Read more: Doctor Anywhere Secures Funding to Ride Telemedicine SurgeWorking toward a similar goal, Huami Corp., which makes Xiaomi’s popular fitness-tracking bands, looked back on the sleep data it had from 115,000 users in Wuhan -- epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- and the neighboring Anhui province from July 2017 to Feb. 2020. The company saw a detectable deviation in reported sleeping heart rate, which peaked on Jan. 21, weeks earlier than in previous years. Similar spikes showed up in other Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou as the virus started spreading to them. Huami is now developing an early-warning signal to flag these anomalies as they occur and accelerate the reaction to the next major epidemic.Ultimately, the current wave of new consumer gadgets and the data they churn out have the potential to produce big technological breakthroughs.“Historically, new tech emerged after major incidents such as the Spanish flu outbreak and the two World Wars,” said Suh Yonggu, dean of the business school at Sookmyung Women’s University. He expects the novel coronavirus to have long-lasting impact. “Even after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, I believe offline health-care will be shifted to online training and home health-care, fueled by changes in people’s value for family and house.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- In August 2019, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association built a 16-foot pyramid of jugs in its main entrance in Phoenix. The goal was to show residents of this desert region how much water they each use a day—120 gallons—and to encourage conservation. “We must continue to do our part every day,” executive director Warren Tenney wrote in a blog post. “Some of us are still high-end water users who could look for more ways to use water a bit more wisely.”A few weeks earlier in nearby Mesa, Google proposed a plan for a giant data center among the cacti and tumbleweeds. The town is a founding member of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, but water conservation took a back seat in the deal it struck with the largest U.S. internet company. Google is guaranteed 1 million gallons a day to cool the data center, and up to 4 million gallons a day if it hits project milestones. If that was a pyramid of water jugs, it would tower thousands of feet into Arizona’s cloudless sky.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is building more data centers across the U.S. to power online searches, web advertising and cloud services. The company has boasted for years that these huge computer-filled warehouses are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. But there’s a cost that the company tries to keep secret. These facilities use billions of gallons of water, sometimes in dry areas that are struggling to conserve this limited public resource.“Data centers are expanding, they’re going everywhere. They need to be built in a way that ensures they are not taking critical resources away from water-scarce communities,” said Gary Cook, global climate campaigns director at Stand.earth, an environmental advocacy group.Google considers its water use a proprietary trade secret and bars even public officials from disclosing the company’s consumption. But information has leaked out, sometimes through legal battles with local utilities and conservation groups. In 2019 alone, Google requested, or was granted, more than 2.3 billion gallons of water for data centers in three different states, according to public records posted online and legal filings. Clashes over the company’s water use may increase as it chases Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in the booming cloud-computing market. Google has 21 data center locations currently. After pumping $13 billion into offices and data centers in 2019, it plans to spend another $10 billion across the U.S. this year.“The race for data centers to keep up with it all is pretty frantic,” said Kevin Kent, chief executive officer of consulting firm Critical Facilities Efficiency Solutions. “They can’t always make the most environmentally best choices.”Google often puts data centers close to large population hubs to help its web services respond quickly. Sometimes that means building in hot and dry regions. The processing units inside heat up easily and water is needed to cool them down.“We strive to build sustainability into everything we do,” said Gary Demasi, senior director of energy and location operations at Google. “We’re proud that our data centers are some of the most efficient in the world, and we have worked to reduce their environmental impact even as demand for our products has dramatically risen.” In Red Oak, Texas, a town about 20 miles south of Dallas, Google wants as much as 1.46 billion gallons of water a year for a new data center by 2021, according to a legal filing. Ellis County, which includes Red Oak and roughly 20 other towns, will need almost 15 billion gallons this year for everything from irrigation to residential use, data from the Texas Water Development Board show.Many parts of Texas are already seeing high water demand, according to Venki Uddameri, director of the water resources center at Texas Tech University. “With climate change, we are expected to have more prolonged droughts,” he said. “These kinds of water-intensive operations add to the local stress.” Water-scarce cities have to make trade-offs between conservation and economic development, and cash-rich Google is a big draw. “It’s a constant battle in Texas because of wanting both,” said Uddameri. In August, Google filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to strip a local utility in Red Oak, Rockett Special Utility District, of its federal right to be the sole water supplier to the property. Google said it filed the petition after Rockett confirmed it doesn’t have the capacity to meet the company’s demands. If approved, the petition would let Google get water from another provider. Rockett contested this in a legal response and said Google provided little information on how the water will be used, both in its application to the utility and in “vague” conversations involving company representatives. Despite that, Google made “incessant” requests for the utility to assess if it can meet the company’s water needs, Rockett said in legal filings. Google paid Rockett to do a report on whether the utility could provide enough water for the project. That report has not been submitted and the internet company has been pressing the utility to complete it, according to Google. Rockett brought a case against Texas’ public utility commissioners for refusing to dismiss Google’s petition despite being aware of the utility’s rights. A Google entity, Alamo Mission LLC, is named as a defendant in the case. Lawyers for Rockett declined to comment on the ongoing case. Google says it's not the only one looking for an alternative to Rockett. Another development in Red Oak is also seeking an alternate water supply, according to the company.The planned data center in Red Oak would be Google’s second in Texas. It struck a deal with the city in July 2019. Red Oak officials told residents about Google’s plans ahead of time, according to Todd Fuller, the city manager. There wasn’t much concern about the impact the data center could have on local resources including water, according to Fuller. “Our water system is pretty robust,” he said, adding that the city doesn’t use its full water capacity.Red Oak isn’t so laid back about water use on its website, though. On a page dedicated to water conservation, the city says it gets half its water supply from Dallas and encourages residents to reduce water use because Dallas’ six reservoirs are 18% depleted. Mandatory water restrictions will kick in if those sources become 35% depleted. Fuller did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.Google said it doesn’t use all the water it requests, but the company must make sure enough is available for periods of high demand, or when the weather’s particularly hot. That’s necessary to keep internet services reliable, according to the company.Google’s data center water use became a subject of controversy last year in Berkeley County, South Carolina. An environmental group opposed the company’s request for 1.5 million gallons of groundwater a day from what it said was a “historically threatened” source. The company has also worked with Berkeley County Water & Sanitation to get 5 million gallons a day from the Charleston Water system. Google said its share of this supply is far less than 5 million gallons a day, with the rest available for the broader community.Google has been trying to secure the 1.5 million gallons—triple the daily amount it’s currently allowed in Berkeley County—since 2016. The Coastal Conservation League took issue with Google’s refusal to share information on how it will be using the extra water. Despite the opposition, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control granted Google’s request, triggering a backlash from some residents.The conservation league called out the DHEC for giving Google so much water while asking a local public utility, Mount Pleasant Waterworks, to reduce its withdrawal from the aquifer by 57% over the next four years. The utility exceeded its previous peak use demand by 25% in May 2019, one of the driest months last year in Berkeley County, according to Clay Duffie, general manager of Mount Pleasant Waterworks.“It’s unfair that the DHEC is asking us to reduce our water withdrawal while someone like Google can come in and ask for three times more than their original permit and get it,” Duffie said.Google eventually backed off its groundwater request and reached an agreement with the league to only use it as a last resort. The deal still lets the company withdraw groundwater if there’s a shortfall, when conducting maintenance, or when demand exceeds available potable or storm water supplies during peak user activity.The Arizona town of Mesa, where Google plans a 750,000 square-foot data center, gets half its water from the drought-prone Colorado River. A contingency plan was signed into law last year requiring states dependent on the river to take voluntary conservation measures. Still, Mesa officials say they remain confident about future supply while continuing to remind residents to limit their water consumption. “We do not have any immediate concerns,” said Kathy Macdonald, a water resources planning adviser with the city. In 2019, Mesa used 28 billion gallons of water, according to Macdonald. City officials expect that to reach 60 billion gallons a year by 2040, a demand Mesa is capable of meeting, she said.Big companies like Google wouldn’t locate to the city if it couldn’t meet their water demands, Macdonald said. Mesa passed an ordinance in 2019 to ensure sustainable water use by large operations and fine them if they exceed their allowance.Google has toiled for years to reduce the carbon footprint of data centers. Today, the facilities churn out a lot more computer power for every watt of energy used. In its 2019 environmental report, the company argued that reducing its energy use also makes it more water-efficient. “Generating electricity requires water, so the less energy we use to power our data centers, the less water we use as well,” it said.However, data center experts say there’s usually a trade-off between water and energy use. “If the water consumption goes down, energy consumption goes up and vice versa,” said Otto Van Geet, a principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.Google relies on “evaporative cooling,” which evaporates water to cool the air around the processing units stacked inside data centers, according to its environmental report. The most common systems, known as computer room air conditioners, are energy intensive. Evaporative cooling uses less energy, but the process requires more water. Operators will often embrace the thirstier approach because it’s less expensive, said Cook from Stand.earth.“Water’s cheap. In many places, the energy costs are much higher” he added. In a data center application the company filed in Henderson, Nevada, in 2018, Google’s considerations included utility and real estate costs, tax incentives and availability of qualified workers.Google has paid more attention to water use in recent years. It relies on recycled water or seawater where it can to avoid using drinking water or draining local supplies. Google also says it saves water by recirculating it through cooling systems multiple times. In Mesa, the company is working with authorities on a water credits program, but said it’s too early to share more details.From 2007 to 2012, Google used regular drinking water to cool its data center in Douglas County, just outside Atlanta. After realizing the water “didn’t need to be clean enough to drink,” the company shifted to recycled water to help conserve the nearby Chattahoochee River. It’s difficult to use similar approaches for other data center locations because the required technology isn’t always available, according to the company.“The Chattahoochee provides drinking water, public greenspace and recreational activities for millions of people,” the company said in a blog post at the time. “We’re glad to do our part in creating an environmentally sustainable economy along the shores of the Hooch.” (Updates with Google comments in 15th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. has relaxed a controversial policy that took a 30% cut of payments when video apps on its platform sold TV shows and movies.Amazon.com Inc. started taking advantage of the change on Wednesday, selling and renting movies via its Prime Video service on Apple devices without needing to give Apple a share of the money.“Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits,” the Cupertino, California-based technology giant said in a emailed statement. The program applies to multiple services, including Amazon Prime Video. Canal+, a unit of Vivendi SA, started participating in 2018. Altice One, a cloud-based video service from Altice USA Inc., signed up in February.The program lets these premium services charge viewers via their own payment method instead of Apple’s in-app-purchase system, which takes a 30% cut. “Customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription,” Apple said in the statement.Apple said the program also provides a number of other benefits, including “integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on.”Most other types of apps and services on Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV require the use of Apple’s in-app-purchase system for downloads and upgrades. Some developers, including Spotify Technology SA, have said Apple’s system is an antitrust issue and have had to raise their prices by 30% for iPhone users to offset Apple’s fees.Read more: Apple and Google Face Growing Revolt Over App Store ‘Tax’ (Updates with details of program participants in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Google has released its mobile phone users' location data for 131 countries, hoping that the trove will show whether people are obeying the world's various lockdowns and social distancing measures. It may be the world's largest such data dump available to the public and covers a span from mid-February to the end of March. The results are varied. Italy for example has seen a drop in traffic to places like shopping centers and recreational areas by 94% compared to the same time last year. California though, the first state in the U.S. to impose a lockdown, has only seen a drop by half. Arkansas is the lowest American state, with only a 29% drop. The data also shows surges in activity at parks and grocery stores in some countries, such as the UK. Google says the info is anonymous -- without names, locations of individuals, or other personal info -- hoping to allay privacy concerns. But it declined to say whether any authorities had requested more info. Facebook is also sharing some location data with researchers and governments, but has not made their findings public.
In this episode of Influencers, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg joins Andy Serwer to discuss the company’s efforts to boost small business and the COVID-19 impact on social media habits.