• FTC fines kids' app developer HyperBeard $150K for use of third-party ad trackers
    TechCrunch

    FTC fines kids' app developer HyperBeard $150K for use of third-party ad trackers

    The company's applications had been downloaded more than 50 million times on a worldwide basis to date, according to data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. A complaint filed by the Dept. of Justice on behalf of the FTC alleged that HyperBeard had violated COPPA by allowing third-party ad networks to collect personal information in the form of persistent identifiers to track users of the company’s child-directed apps.

  • Amazon reportedly considering $2 billion stake in Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel
    TechCrunch

    Amazon reportedly considering $2 billion stake in Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel

    Amazon .com may follow its American peer Facebook's footsteps in securing a slice of India’s booming telecom market. The e-commerce giant, which has invested over $6.5 billion in India, is in early-stage talks to buy a 5% stake worth at least $2 billion in Bharti Airtel, the third-largest telecom operator in India, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

  • OPEC+ Set to Extend Cuts After Breakthrough With Iraq
    Bloomberg

    OPEC+ Set to Extend Cuts After Breakthrough With Iraq

    (Bloomberg) -- OPEC+ is set to extend production cuts to prop up the oil market after a breakthrough in high-stakes negotiations, and the cartel could meet as soon as this weekend to sign off on the deal.After almost a week of wrangling, OPEC+ leaders Russia and Saudi Arabia clinched a tentative deal with holdout member Iraq, according to a delegate. The pair were pushing Iraq to stop shirking its share of cuts and even to compensate for failure to comply with cuts in the past.The agreement -- though still to be ratified -- means OPEC+ will extend its record production curbs for another month until the end of July. Russia’s Tass news service reported Friday that the OPEC Secretariat has scheduled a June 6 ministerial meeting, citing a source participating in the negotiations. Brent crude, the global benchmark, edged higher and rose above $40 a barrel.The 23-nation partnership between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major producers has helped engineer a doubling in Brent prices since April. The oil price surge has revived the fortunes of major energy companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and reduced the fiscal hole in the budgets of oil-rich nations.Failure to reach an agreement this month could have brought millions of barrels of oil onto the market, undermining a tentative recovery as the coronavirus lockdown eases. With U.S. shale production starting to come back online, OPEC’s careful management of the demand recovery is crucial.The kingdom and the Kremlin, who were on opposite sides of a vicious price war until a peace deal in April, are now united against those in OPEC who have consistently failed to shoulder their share of the burden. Russia, a habitual laggard, has complied punctiliously with the historic deal brokered by President Donald Trump in April, and wants to make sure others are too.“Reunited in leadership of OPEC+ and grimly facing many more months, if not years, of oversupply, Russia and Saudi Arabia had little to lose and much to gain by imposing concrete measure to improve compliance by the laggards, especially Iraq,” said Bob McNally, founder of consultant Rapidan Energy Group and a former White House official.The details of the deal between OPEC+ and Iraq on compliance weren’t clear late on Thursday. A delegate said countries were waiting for a formal letter from Baghdad spelling out the details before calling for an official meeting. OPEC+ is used to dramatic glitches endangering deals at the last minute, so delegates said nothing would be agreed until formal communications take place.Tougher conditions will be difficult for Iraq to accept. It made less than half of its assigned cutbacks last month, so compensating fully would require it to slash production by a further 24% to about 3.28 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg calculations.For a country still rebuilding its economy following decades of war, sanctions and Islamist insurgency, that’s a tall order. The government risks a backlash from parliamentarians and rival political parties by acceding to foreign pressure and foregoing crucial oil sales.Three other nations -- Angola, Kazakhstan and Nigeria -- also produced above their OPEC+ quotas in May. The three had earlier on Thursday already agreed to bring their production in line with the agreement.The DealEnforcing better compliance among OPEC+ nations has been a motif since Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman was appointed.In his first public outing after becoming energy minister, in Abu Dhabi last September, the prince was literally applauded for securing loud pledges of atonement from Iraq and Nigeria.His tenure has also been stormy. In March, the prince’s attempt to force Russia to make deeper output reductions backfired spectacularly, splintering the entire alliance and igniting a destructive price war.Two months ago, Prince Abdulaziz’s achievement in successfully restoring the OPEC+ coalition and forging an agreement for historic production cuts was overshadowed -- and delayed -- by a spat over Mexico’s contribution.The final deal in April set out historic cuts of 9.7 million barrels a day, or roughly 10% of global oil supplies, to offset the unprecedented collapse in demand caused by the virus lockdowns. Then a few weeks later, Saudi Arabia and its closest allies in the Persian Gulf promised additional supply restraint of 1.2 million barrels a day in June.If a new accord is signed this weekend, the impact on the oil market could be dramatic. After the massive oversupply earlier this year, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak predicts there could be a supply deficit of 3 million to 5 million barrels a day next month, Interfax reported. That’s roughly in line with projections from an OPEC committee that met on Wednesday, a delegate said.That would provide a stronger foundation for the crude price recovery, and also allow the cartel to start chipping away at the billion-barrel stockpile that’s built up during the crisis.Separately, OPEC+’s technical committee and the ministerial monitoring committee are set to meet on June 17-18, according to Tass.(Updates with June 6 meeting from Tass report 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.

  • Bloomberg

    NetEase Guides Price Hong Kong Listing at HK$123

    (Bloomberg) -- NetEase Inc. raised about HK$21 billion ($2.7 billion) in its Hong Kong stock offering, people with knowledge of the matter said, as Chinese companies grapple with rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.China’s second-largest gaming company priced 171 million new shares at HK$123 each, equivalent to a 2% discount to its Thursday closing price on Nasdaq, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. That comes after investors subscribed for many times more than the total stock offered. The company earlier set a maximum price of HK$126. The shares are expected to start trading in Hong Kong on June 11.The U.S.-listed internet giant makes its debut in Hong Kong as tensions between Washington and Beijing threaten to curtail Chinese companies’ access to U.S. capital markets, particularly after once high-flying Luckin Coffee Inc. crashed amid an accounting scandal. It’s also a victory for Hong Kong, coming on the heels of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $13 billion share sale and the passing of a national security law that critics fear could jeopardize its status as a financial hub. No. 2 Chinese online retailer JD.com Inc. plans to start taking orders on Friday for its listing in the city .NetEase is a distant second to Tencent Holdings Ltd. in the world’s largest video game market. The creator of popular franchises like Fantasy Westward Journey and Onmyoji reported a 14% rise in online games revenue for the coronavirus-stricken March quarter, less than half of the pace Tencent’s gaming division managed during the same period.Much like Tencent, NetEase is looking globally for the next chapter of growth, teaming up with Japan’s Studio Ghibli and investing in Canadian game creator Behaviour Interactive. After selling its cross-border e-commerce platform Kaola to Alibaba, the 22-year-old company has shifted its focus to music streaming and online learning, despite worsening competition in these areas. NetEase company representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.China International Capital Corp., Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase and Co. are joint sponsors.(Updates throughout as the deal is priced. An earlier version corrected the currency denomination in first paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon Eyes $2 Billion Stake in Bharti Airtel: Report
    Bloomberg

    Amazon Eyes $2 Billion Stake in Bharti Airtel: Report

    (Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. is in preliminary talks to buy a stake in No. 2 Indian carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd. for at least $2 billion, Reuters reported, joining Facebook Inc. and other U.S. giants in betting on one of the world’s fastest-growing internet arenas.The U.S. online retailer is in early-stage discussions to buy about a 5% stake in the Indian wireless operator, Reuters said, citing anonymous sources. A deal will help Amazon access Bharti’s 300 million subscribers -- a user base akin to the entire U.S. population. On Friday, the Indian carrier said in a statement it wasn’t considering any proposal to sell a stake to Amazon, referring to reports as “speculative.”American technology and investment giants have been buying stakes in Indian companies to build their presence in Asia’s second-most populous nation. Facebook agreed to invest about $5.7 billion into a unit of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. in April, while Microsoft Corp. is reportedly considering a stake in the same company.Amazon already has deep roots in India, where Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos has visited and vowed to build one of his biggest e-commerce operations outside of the U.S. Bezos, now the world’s richest man, said during a trip in January that his company would invest another $1 billion on top of the billions it’s shelled out to bring small and medium-size businesses online. Amazon is now vying with Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart to tap an increasingly affluent population adopting smartphones at a rapid clip.Read more: Jeff Bezos’s India Visit Marked by Probe and ProtestsAn Amazon spokeswoman in India declined to comment. “We routinely work with all digital and OTT players and have deep engagement with them to bring their products, content and services for our wide customer base. Beyond that there is no other activity to report,” a Bharti spokesperson said.An influx of capital would be welcome to New Delhi-based Bharti Airtel, which has come under pressure to beef up its offerings ever since Ambani’s technology venture went on a deal spree to secure about $10 billion in investment from Facebook to KKR & Co. Airtel’s billionaire Chairman Sunil Mittal may be looking to leverage the diverse businesses in his empire just as Ambani goes into overdrive to transform his oil-and-petrochemicals company into an Indian e-commerce and digital payments titan with Jio Platforms.Read more: How Facebook’s Reliance Deal Upends a $1 Trillion Digital ArenaIn its 25 years of operations, Bharti Airtel has survived frequent policy changes in one of the world’s toughest telecommunications markets. It lost its position as India’s largest wireless carrier last year to Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which debuted in 2016 and shook up the industry with free calls and cheap data. The most recent blow to Bharti Airtel came in October, when the nation’s top court in a shock ruling ordered it to pay $3 billion in back fees.The technology ambitions of Ambani, Asia’s richest man, have turned the spotlight on his telecommunications rivals, including Vodafone Idea Ltd., the struggling Indian business of British operator Vodafone Group Plc. The Financial Times reported May 28 that Alphabet Inc.’s Google is considering acquiring a stake in that venture. Vodafone Idea said it isn’t currently considering any such proposal.Besides telecommunications, Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises has businesses spanning insurance, real estate, education and farm food.(Updates with Bharti Airtel’s comment from the second 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.

  • Financial Times

    Fortress Silicon Valley fastens its gates, but trouble lies ahead

    As anger and upheaval have spread on to American streets, the tame annual meeting season has added to the sense that Big Tech, insulated from the worst of the economic devastation, has retreated into a digital cocoon. Annual shareholder meetings are usually carefully stage-managed by companies to allow shareholders a say without giving up any real control. In person, they are also a chance for shareholders to grab the microphone, at least for a moment, and berate the directors and managers who theoretically act in their name.

  • China’s JD.com Said to Open Books For Hong Kong Listing
    Bloomberg

    China’s JD.com Said to Open Books For Hong Kong Listing

    (Bloomberg) -- China’s No. 2 online retailer JD.com Inc will start taking investor orders Friday for its second Hong Kong listing, according to people familiar with the matter, hot on the heels of NetEase Inc.’s $2.7 billion share sale in the city, as the U.S.-listed firms seek a foothold closer to home amid rising U.S.-China tensions.JD.com filed a preliminary prospectus on Friday with the Hong Kong stock exchange, which doesn’t contain any share sale details. The company could raise at least $2 billion, Bloomberg News has reported. The filing comes on the same day online gaming firm NetEase told prospective investors it was planning to price its Hong Kong listing at HK$123 each.A company spokesperson declined to comment on whether it planned to begin taking orders Friday.Escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing are increasing risks for Chinese companies like JD and NetEase who seek to broaden their investor base. U.S. capital markets are becoming frosty toward Chinese firms, and there have been fears over the impact of national security legislation set to be imposed on Hong Kong, including the resumption of protests in the city.The twin debuts would follow Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $13 billion Hong Kong stock sale last year, hailed as a homecoming for Chinese companies and a win for the Hong Kong stock exchange, which lost many of the largest tech corporations to U.S. bourses because it didn’t allow dual-class share voting at the time -- a requirement that’s since been relaxed.Bank of America Corp., UBS Group AG and CLSA Ltd. are joint sponsors of JD’s Hong Kong share sale.(Updates with details of Hong Kong listing in first paragraph and spokesman response 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.

  • Ambani’s Jio Platforms Sells $1.2 Billion Stake to Mubadala
    Bloomberg

    Ambani’s Jio Platforms Sells $1.2 Billion Stake to Mubadala

    (Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd. added to the roster of marquee backers piling into its digital upstart Jio Platforms Ltd. with a $1.2 billion investment by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.The deal gives the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund a stake of 1.85% at an equity value of $65 billion for Jio Platforms, the Mumbai-based company said Friday in a statement. Reliance, backed by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is also in advanced talks with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News this week.The Mubadala agreement adds to the $10 billion that Jio Platforms has raised in recent weeks as it starts early preparations for an overseas stock listing. High-profile backers from Facebook Inc. to KKR & Co. are betting on Jio’s access to India’s 1.35 billion people as the country’s No. 1 wireless carrier and its potential to use online services to grow in industries including retail, entertainment and payments.Read more: Asia’s Richest Man Takes on the Comeback Kid After Wireless WarThe string of investments will go toward Ambani’s stated goal of slashing net debt to zero at Reliance Industries, an oil refining, petrochemicals, retail and telecommunications conglomerate that’s India’s largest company. The outside money has also helped set a valuation for Jio as it prepares for a listing. The Mubadala deal gives Jio an enterprise value of $68 billion, according to Reliance.Also, the string of deals have sent Reliance Industries shares soaring 80% since late March.Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio in April for a roughly 10% stake. The vast social media network is looking to build a commerce business for its WhatsApp messaging service and was eager to work with Jio to take advantage of the company’s JioMart e-commerce platform and its relationship with Indian merchants. Facebook has a massive presence in India, with more than 400 million WhatsApp users alone, and the two sides had worked together previously when Facebook built a version of its WhatsApp messaging product for a Jio phone in 2018.Read more: Zuckerberg Just Gave Asia’s Richest Man a Sorely Needed WinMubadala, which has offices outside Abu Dhabi in San Francisco, New York, Moscow and elsewhere, made a $15 billion commitment to the SoftBank Vision Fund and launched a number of tech funds in the U.S., Europe and its home base. The fund, which has $229 billion in assets, has also been divesting some of its technology and other assets to redeploy proceeds to new investments. Last year, it sold 34.9 million shares in Advanced Micro Devices Inc. In March, Mubadala helped lead a $2.25 billion investment in Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car unit.(Updates with Reliance Industries share gains in fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Broadcom Suggests New iPhone Launch Will Be Delayed
    Bloomberg

    Broadcom Suggests New iPhone Launch Will Be Delayed

    (Bloomberg) -- Broadcom Inc., a major Apple Inc. supplier, suggested the latest iPhones will be launched later than usual this year.Hock Tan, chief executive officer of Broadcom, discussed a “major product cycle delay” at a “large North American mobile phone” customer, during an earnings conference call with analysts on Thursday.Tan often refers to Apple this way. This time, the executive said the delay will mean the bump in wireless revenue experienced by Broadcom will happen one quarter later than usual this year.“We are in,” Hock said, referring Broadcom components in the iPhone. “The question is timing.”“This year, we do not expect to see this uptick in revenue until our fourth fiscal quarter,” the CEO added. “So accordingly, we expect, our wireless revenue in Q3 will be down sequentially.”Apple is planning to release its next iPhone line multiple weeks later than usual, Bloomberg News previously reported. The company typically unveils its new iPhones in the second half of September, but has occasionally, like in the case of the iPhone X in 2017, launched major new models later in the year.Phone makers usually order components months ahead of product launches. Apple typically releases new versions of the iPhone in September. If it followed that time line, Broadcom would receive orders in the current quarter, which runs through July. The chipmaker said that’s not happening this year. “Because of product cycle delays the trough for our fiscal year will be Q3. This coming quarter,” Tan said. “Nothing has changed in terms of designs, nothing has changed in terms of the content,” including more 5G components, the CEO added. The delay to the new iPhone release is due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has slowed Apple engineer travel to China to finalize the devices and required employees to mostly work from home in the early months of 2020.Broadcom’s Tan also warned about “supply constraints and an expected substantial reset in wireless” when the company’s results came out on Thursday. With much of the world’s population confined to their homes, handset demand has dropped.(Updates with CEO comment in eighth 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

    Slack Plunges After Withdrawing Billings View on Uncertainty

    (Bloomberg) -- Slack Technologies Inc. withdrew its annual billings forecast, citing business uncertainty, signaling the company isn’t confident it will benefit as much from the work-from-home era as investors expect. Shares fell 16% in extended trading.Slack had earlier projected billings of as much as $1 billion this fiscal year. Investors closely track this metric for cloud-based software companies because it gives a view of the strength of the company’s pipeline.Chief Executive Officer Stewart Butterfield has sought to strengthen his company’s market position during the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced millions of people to work and learn from home to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The software maker’s app is a combination of an office chat room and a workflow platform to automate tasks. In March, Slack simplified the design of the program in a bid to remain competitive with Microsoft Corp.’s Teams application. Slack has a growing rivalry with the world’s largest software maker, whose product bundles chat, video conferencing and other collaboration tools.“The second half of the year is just too complex,” Butterfield said in an interview. “There are significant tailwinds, there’s some headwinds, and it’s hard to know how that factors out. If you set that aside, I think this is a generational shift in how people work and we’ll be able to play a major role in that going forward.”Investors also were disappointed by Slack’s annual revenue forecast of $855 million to $870 million, up just slightly from the company’s projection in mid-March. Analysts, on average, estimated $856.5 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Slack’s withdrawal of full-year billings guidance looks conservative to us and likely suggests a pull-forward of revenue amid faster new-customer additions due to remote work,” Mandeep Singh, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, wrote Thursday in a note. Microsoft is also pricing Teams cheaply, which may cause Slack to lose a higher number of customers than usual, he said. Microsoft bundles Teams with its 365 productivity suite.In the fiscal first quarter, sales gained 50% to $201.7 million, the San Francisco-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts estimated $187 million. The company reported a loss, excluding some items, of 2 cents a share, in the period ended April 30, compared with analysts’ projections of a loss of 6 cents.Slack now has more than 122,000 paying customers, an increase of 28% compared with a year earlier. The company said the number of clients who spend more than $100,000 for the platform jumped 49% to 963.Slack’s results were especially disappointing because Zoom Video Communications Inc., a video-conferencing software maker, on Tuesday projected soaring revenue for the rest of the year. Investors expected Slack to greatly benefit from the boom in remote work as well, but many of the company’s customers are small- and mid-sized businesses, which have struggled during the pandemic.The company also announced a major partnership with Amazon.com Inc., which will make Slack available to all of its employees. Some of Amazon’s workers already use the service. Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing arm of the retail giant, is now Slack’s preferred cloud vendor. The appmaker will use a raft of AWS products, including Chime, an audio and video call service, to power the backend of Slack calls.Shares fell to a low of $31.30 in extended trading after closing at $37.94 Thursday in New York. The stock has climbed 69% this year.“I can’t care about the stock price on the level of individual days,” Butterfield said when asked about the reaction to earnings. “I just wouldn’t be able to do my job. I care about where the share price is five years from now and 10 years from now. This is just a very volatile time.”(Updates with comments from CEO starting 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.

  • Bloomberg

    Broadcom Warns of Weak Demand for Smartphone Components

    (Bloomberg) -- Broadcom Inc., a chipmaker that supplies Apple Inc. and other large electronics makers, gave a lackluster forecast, as weak demand for smartphone parts overshadowed rising orders from data center owners.Revenue in the three months ended in July will be $5.75 billion, plus or minus $150 million. That compares with an average analyst prediction of $5.77 billion, according to data compiled earlier on Thursday by Bloomberg.The San Jose, California-based company makes chips that filter radio signals and provide WiFi connections in iPhones and other smartphones. With much of the world’s population confined to their homes, handset demand has dropped. Broadcom is also a key supplier of switch chips, the complex semiconductors that manage data traffic in networking equipment, an area where demand is surging.Read more: Smartphone Shipments Projected to Fall a Record 12% in 2020“Looking ahead, our third-quarter guidance for semiconductors reflects a surge in demand from cloud, telecom and enterprise customers, offset by supply chain constraints and an expected substantial reset in wireless,” Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan said in a statement.Tan explained that his “large North American smartphone customer” -- typically how he refers to Apple -- is undergoing a “product cycle delay.” That means the usual improvement in wireless-related orders that comes in the company’s fiscal third quarter, which runs through July, will now be seen in the following three-month period. This implies the debut of the next iPhone will come later than its usual September release. Phone makers typically order chips months in advance of building the devices.Balancing that weakness in smartphones, orders for chips used in data center gear have strengthened into the current period, Tan said. Bookings remain “extremely strong” he said. A bright spot for the industry has been the rush to buy equipment by the large cloud-computing providers, who are spending to increase their capacity in an effort to meet a flood of extra traffic caused by the boom in remote work.Three months ago, Broadcom withdrew its annual sales forecast and gave weak near-term guidance, citing the coronavirus pandemic. Tan said in March that the supply chain hadn’t been hurt by the lockdown. Then in April, the company told customers to place orders at least six months ahead of time because of shelter-in-place rules in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. That supply chain is now on the mend, he said.Read more: Broadcom Sounds Alarm on Unforeseen Tech Industry DisruptionsBroadcom, one of the latest to report earnings in the tech sector, is giving an up-to-date view on demand as the economy crumbles in the midst of the pandemic. The stock gained about 1% in extended trading following an initial decline. The shares closed at $308.89 earlier in New York.The company, one of the world’s largest chipmakers, has branched out into mainframe computer and security software. Tan assembled Broadcom in a string of acquisitions, giving its products a role in everything from powerful data center networking gear to smartphones.Net revenue in the fiscal second quarter rose 4% to $5.74 billion, the company said. Before certain items, profit was $5.14 a share.(Updates with comments from CEO throughout.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Search a Target of U.S. Antitrust Probes, Rival Says
    Bloomberg

    Google Search a Target of U.S. Antitrust Probes, Rival Says

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. federal and state authorities are asking detailed questions about how to limit Google’s power in the online search market as part of their antitrust investigations into the tech giant, according to rival DuckDuckGo Inc.Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive officer of the privacy-focused search engine, said the company has spoken with state regulators, and talked with the U.S. Justice Department as recently as a few weeks ago.Justice Department officials and state attorneys general asked the company about requiring Google to give consumers alternatives to its search engine on Android devices and in Google’s Chrome web browser, Weinberg said in an interview.“We’ve been talking to all of them about search and all of them have asked us detailed search questions,” he added.Weinberg’s comments shine a light into how the inquiry is examining Google’s core business -- online search. Bloomberg has reported that the Justice Department and Texas are already examining Google’s dominance of the digital advertising market. The Justice Department and a coalition of states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have been investigating the company for a year, and the DOJ has begun drafting a lawsuit, which could be filed in the coming months. It would kick off one of the most significant antitrust cases in the U.S. since the government sued Microsoft Corp. in 1998.The investigations have been wide-ranging and are looking into various parts of Google’s business. States including Utah and Iowa are focusing on search, according to people familiar with the matter. Texas is looking at the digital ad market and related technology.Google handles the majority of online searches in the U.S., with Microsoft’s Bing, DuckDuckGo and other providers trailing far behind. Google Search is free for users, but the company’s lead helps it charge thousands of businesses high prices for ads that run above the free web listings in results. Last year, that business generated almost $100 billion in revenue.Read more: Google Search Dominance Has Businesses Paying for Their Name“We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton, and we don’t have any updates or comments on speculation,” a Google spokeswoman said. In the past, the company has said that online competition is just a click away.The Federal Trade Commission previously investigated whether Google stifled competition in the market for online search advertising, but it closed the probe in 2013 after the company agreed to relatively minor changes. However, portions of communications between FTC commissioners and staff later showed that staffers recommended bringing an antitrust lawsuit against Google.Read more: Google Should Be Afraid of Latest U.S. ScrutinyWeinberg said the questions he has fielded recently about requiring Google to present users of its tech alternatives to its own search engine suggest that’s something the government could include in a possible future settlement.“That’s one direction we think has a decent probability,” he added. The Justice Department declined to comment. Attorneys general in Utah and Iowa didn’t respond to requests for comment.In Europe, Google was fined a record $5 billion for antitrust violations in 2018. As part of that ruling, the company is required to give consumers using phones that run its Android operating system a choice of different search engines and web browsers. Competing services must bid in an auction to be included in a “choice screen.”“Could this be a precursor to similar changes in the U.S.?” Mark Shmulik, Toni Sacconaghi and other analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in a note to investors earlier this week.Europe’s remedy has gone through various iterations and some rivals have argued that having to pay to be included in the choice screen is unfair.Read more: Google App Prompts Watched ‘Very Very Closely’ by EU’s VestagerEcosia, a not-for-profit search engine based in Germany, boycotted the auction. DuckDuckGo participated in the most recent auction, but said it may not be able to compete if prices rise.“This auction remedy, proposed by Google, was constructed to make Google money, not to provide meaningful consumer choice,” DuckDuckGo said in a blog post last week.It suggested scrapping the auction and said that an unpaid “search preference menu” has increased competition already in Russia. In 2010, Microsoft created a successful browser preference menu without an auction where the top five web browsers by market share appeared randomly, DuckDuckGo said.“While our view is that users are unlikely to switch search engines, Yandex grew their search engine share by 2,000 basis points to 58% in three years following a similar ruling in Russia,” Bernstein’s Shmulik wrote in the recent Bernstein note to investors.If the U.S. incorporates these suggestions, it could bypass Europe as the most successful regulator of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Weinberg said.“The U.S. gets criticized for being behind Europe but in reality what’s happened in Europe hasn’t worked,” the CEO added. “The U.S. not only can do it right from the start but has the opportunity to leapfrog the EU.”(Updates with analyst comment in 13th 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.

  • Why Shares of General Electric Were Up Today
    Motley Fool

    Why Shares of General Electric Were Up Today

    Shares of General Electric (NYSE: GE) gained 5% on Thursday on growing optimism about a recovery in the airline industry. GE faced a number of challenges even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but a normalization of air travel would at least provide a boost to one of the industrial conglomerate's most important business units. GE shares have lost about 70% of their value over the past five years as the company has been weighed down by debt accumulated from a number of ill-timed acquisitions.

  • Bloomberg

    Apple Offering Covid-19 Testing to Staff Returning to Offices

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. employees heading back to work at the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley will face new realities in the Covid-19 era, such as optional testing for the virus, closed kitchens and a requirement to wear masks.Apple began bringing some workers in to the main Apple Park office in May, including some hardware and software engineers. When they arrive, they’ll have the option of taking a nasal-swab test to check for the virus, according to people familiar with the process. Temperature checks are required.As the building gradually reopens, some employees are working from the Apple campus only a few days a week. Apple is also limiting the number of people allowed in confined spaces at its offices. For example, as few as two are permitted in elevators at the same time, which normally would fit as many as 10 employees. The company has also closed many break-room kitchens and has posted signs asking employees to wear masks.The Apple campus in Cupertino, California, has several open floor work areas where staff members are used to working in close proximity, but the company will need to make changes to that layout in order to bring back the rest of its workforce. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.In a sign of a return to normalcy, some members of the company’s executive team have returned to the main campus instead of working from home. Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail and human resources, for example, sent her most recent video update to staff from Apple Park.Many large U.S. corporations are rethinking how to get thousands of employees safely back to work before a vaccine is widely available. Testing is seen as one way to help control the spread of the disease, as is limiting the number of people in spaces and wearing masks.Some Silicon Valley rivals, including Facebook Inc., recently told staff they won’t be offering testing in the near future, though the company has extended remote work through the end of the year, except for those developing critical hardware, which will return sooner. Amazon.com Inc. is offering tests to workers at some warehouses, while employees at the company’s Seattle headquarters expect testing to be done when staff returns in early October.Facebook has also said it would “aggressively” hire remote workers and that as much as half of its staff could eventually be remote. But Apple has long prioritized in-person meetings and hands-on product development, and its central business is hardware, which is less conducive to off-site work.Still, the company has taken the pandemic seriously and acted quickly to protect its staff and the public, shuttering all of its retail stores at different points this year to help curb the spread of the virus. It has since reopened more than half of its stores globally.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.

  • AWS and Slack Join Forces to Deliver the Future of the Enterprise Workplace
    Business Wire

    AWS and Slack Join Forces to Deliver the Future of the Enterprise Workplace

    Today, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Slack Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: WORK) announced a new multi-year agreement to deliver solutions for enhanced enterprise workforce collaboration. Slack and AWS will strategically partner to help distributed development teams communicate and become more efficient and agile in managing their AWS resources from inside Slack. Slack will migrate its Slack Calls capability for all voice and video calling to Amazon Chime, AWS’s communications service that lets users meet, chat, and place business calls. Slack is also leveraging AWS’s global infrastructure to support enterprise customers’ rapid adoption of its platform and to offer them data residency – the ability to choose which country or region their data is stored at rest in while fulfilling compliance requirements. Slack continues to rely on AWS as its preferred cloud provider and will use a range of AWS services, including storage, compute, database, security, analytics, and machine learning, to develop new collaboration features. Additionally, AWS has agreed to use Slack to simplify the way teams at AWS communicate and work together.

  • Bloomberg

    Ford Postpones Office Reopen in Midst of Factory Floor Tension

    (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. is putting off plans to have salaried employees return to offices as some union leaders question whether the company is doing enough to protect hourly workers who are back on the factory floor.Staff who have been working from home won’t return to offices until at least the beginning of September, said T.R. Reid, a Ford spokesman. The company said it’s putting off earlier plans to call employees back starting this month due to shortages of personal protective equipment and the need to establish new safety protocols at buildings including its headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.“We’re obviously prioritizing places where jobs can’t be done remotely, like manufacturing,” Reid said. “And we’re still working on the plan for when people are coming back and what they come back to in terms of how it’s set up.”Ford has had workers at several U.S. factories test positive for Covid-19 since the facilities reopened May 18. While the company has stopped production on multiple occasions to clean work spaces and required surrounding staff to quarantine, union locals at Ford F-150 factories in Missouri and Michigan have accused the automaker of not doing enough.Reid said Thursday that Ford is prioritizing the safety and well-being of workers in its plants.Ford said in April it would begin bringing back its 30,000 U.S. salaried workers in late June and early July. Since then, about 12,000 salaried employees who can’t work remotely have returned, the spokesman said. Worldwide, more than 100,000 Ford workers are back on the job as the automaker also has resumed operations in China and Europe.CNBC reported earlier Thursday that Ford had postponed plans for salaried employees to return to offices.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

    Musk Says ‘Time To Break Up Amazon,’ Fueling Feud with Bezos

    (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said it’s “time to break up Amazon” in a tweet Thursday, escalating a rivalry with Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, another billionaire investing in space exploration.“Monopolies are wrong,” Musk tweeted while tagging Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man. The online retailer is among tech companies being scrutinized by federal regulators and lawmakers for the increasing size and the scope of its business.Musk’s post came in response to a tweet from a writer who said his book titled “Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and The Lockdown” was being removed from Amazon’s Kindle publishing division for violating unspecified guidelines.An Amazon spokeswoman said the book was removed in error and is being reinstated. “We have notified the author,” she said in an email.Last year, a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. executive said Amazon’s effort to build a constellation of broadband internet satellites was years behind the closely held company. Musk founded SpaceX eight years before Bezos started rival manufacturer Blue Origin.With more than 35 million followers, Musk is a prolific tweeter. He has been criticized in the past for his posts on various subjects ranging from the coronavirus outbreak to Tesla’s stock price.(Updates with Amazon comment.)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.

  • Slack earnings beat estimates, adds 12,000 net new paid customers in fiscal Q1
    Yahoo Finance

    Slack earnings beat estimates, adds 12,000 net new paid customers in fiscal Q1

    Slack enjoyed a huge first quarter as people worked from home due to COVID-19. Here's what Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield told Yahoo Finance.

  • Facebook Begins Labeling News, Ads From State-Controlled Media
    Motley Fool

    Facebook Begins Labeling News, Ads From State-Controlled Media

    Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is following through with its vow of a few months ago, announcing it will begin labeling state-controlled media outlets that post on its platform. In a blog post, the social media giant, which has faced backlash from employees for refusing to remove inflammatory posts from President Trump regarding the murder of George Floyd in police custody and the ensuing protests, said labels will begin appearing as of Wednesday. Facebook isn't removing state-controlled news, but by labeling it, which Facebook says better equips users to understand who is behind the news.

  • Bloomberg

    Google Shakes Up Top Search, Advertising Leadership

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google is shaking up its leadership, putting control over the company’s search engine and advertising product teams under the same person and moving leaders who have been around since the company’s founding to less visible teams.Prabhakar Raghavan, who led advertising product since 2018, will replace Ben Gomes as head of search. The new advertising product chief, Jerry Dischler, will report to Raghavan, signaling that the two groups will now be run by one central leader.Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer who oversees the company’s advertising operation and large ad sales force, will continue to report to Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai. Gomes, an engineer who has been at the company for two decades, will work on educational and culture projects, according to a Google spokesman. Jen Fitzpatrick, another 20-year Google employee, will move from Maps to lead a group of engineers running the company’s internal tech infrastructure. The moves were first reported by news site Search Engine Land and confirmed by a Google spokeswoman.The executive changes are the most significant since Pichai took over the dual role of Google and Alphabet CEO after founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page stepped down. Google shares fell 1.9% at 3:36 p.m. in New York(Updates with role of chief business officer 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.