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  • Google Launches Stadia Gaming Service
    Bloomberg

    Google Launches Stadia Gaming Service

    Nov.19 -- Google's streaming game platform Stadia is now live. Access to games will start at just under $10 a month. Kenny Rosenblatt, Arkadium president, appears on "Bloomberg Technology."

  • Why Sonos paid almost $40 million for an AI startup
    Yahoo Finance

    Why Sonos paid almost $40 million for an AI startup

    Sonos CEO Patrick Spence speaks with Yahoo Finance fresh off the company's first-ever acquisition as a public company.

  • Selling a Truck to Detroit’s Loyal Owners May Be Tesla’s Toughest Challenge Yet
    Bloomberg

    Selling a Truck to Detroit’s Loyal Owners May Be Tesla’s Toughest Challenge Yet

    (Bloomberg) -- A year before Elon Musk was ready to unveil Tesla’s first pickup model, the chief executive officer was setting a low bar for the amount of demand it will draw. Dig into the dynamics of the fiercely competitive and tough-to-crack U.S. truck market, and it’s easy to see why.Japanese automakers have spent two decades and billions of dollars trying to get in on the big pickup gravy train. But 20 years after Toyota first started making the Tundra, Detroit brands continue to crush the competition, controlling almost 92% of the half-ton truck segment, according to IHS Markit. Customers who own Ram pickups are more loyal than owners of any other model line in the U.S., the researcher says, and brand loyalty to Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet isn’t far behind.Late Thursday, Musk will start his ascent up arguably the toughest hill Tesla has tried to climb yet with the debut of Cybertruck. He cautioned in November of last year that he wasn’t sure if a lot of people will buy the pickup and in June said the design won’t be for everyone. The comments contrast starkly with the bold predictions the billionaire has made about how many Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers his company will manage to sell in the coming years.“An electric pickup truck needs to meet the needs and capabilities of current pickup trucks and deliver a little bit more,” Stephanie Brinley, an IHS Markit analyst, said by phone. “A traditional pickup-truck buyer may consider electric, but they are not going to give up on capability.”Detroit automakers aren’t waiting for Musk to take the wraps off his truck before starting to talk a little trash. Thirteen months after the Tesla boss tweeted that his pickup will boast 300,000 pounds of towing capacity, Ford released a video of an electric F-150 prototype dragging 1 million pounds of double-decker rail cars.GM CEO Mary Barra told investors at an event in New York on Thursday her company’s first electric pickup will debut in showrooms in late 2021, and it will have a leg up on the competition. “General Motors understands truck buyers,” she said. Other GM executives also are confident that Tesla’s pickup won’t be in the same league as their electric truck.“I suspect price-wise there might be some similarities, but I think in terms of size and capabilities, there might be a difference,” Phil Brook, the vice president of marketing for GM’s GMC brand, said in an interview. “People who buy our trucks, they are very proud of the fact that they’ll take their trucks anywhere, they’ll get them dirty, then they’ll wash them out and go to a five-star restaurant for dinner. So they’re not people who just drive them around and want to look good.”On a RollMusk told a Tesla enthusiast podcast earlier this year that he wants his truck to start at less than $50,000. Not all of his comments about the pickup have moderated expectations: During an October earnings call, he declared it will be the company’s “best product ever.”Tesla shares have been on a roll since that quarterly report, surging 42% on optimism the company can produce profits on a more sustainable basis. But it’s unclear how soon the new truck will contribute to those efforts. The Model Y crossover is scheduled to launch next summer, and limited production of the Semi truck is planned for next year. Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, expects Tesla to begin building the pickup in late 2020 or early 2021.Tesla shares rose 1.2% to $356.58 as of 2:04 p.m. Thursday in New York.Tesla probably won’t have the electric-truck market to itself for long, if at all. Amazon-backed Rivian Automotive plans to launch its R1T pickup late next year. Ford has vowed to start selling hybrid-electric and battery-electric versions of the F-150 starting in 2020, and GM has committed to producing plug-in pickups at a plant it had been planning to shutter in the Detroit area.Battery prices will have to drop significantly for electric trucks to reach parity with combustion engine-powered pickups, according to Dan Levy, an analyst at Credit Suisse.“Given electrification cost constraints and customer preferences, we expect the large-truck segment will be among the last segments to see an inflection in volumes toward electrification,” Levy wrote in a report this week. He assumes Tesla will be selling about 50,000 pickups by 2025, compared with roughly 300,000 Model 3 and 400,000 Model Y.One obstacle that shouldn’t be overlooked is the tough time Tesla has had operating in truck country. Texas, which bars manufacturers from selling vehicles direct to consumers, is the top state for U.S. registrations of half-ton pickups, according to IHS. The state’s share of the nationwide total this year through September -- 14% -- is more than double the runner-up, Michigan, which also has a ban.‘Blade Runner’Tesla’s Thursday night event bookends the press days for the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Ford generated buzz with the debut of the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. But seeking attention of his own wasn’t the only motivation for Musk to stage his truck reveal now and near the show. When announcing the date and locale, he joked on Twitter they were “strangely familiar” and shared a link to the opening credits and scene of the 1982 film “Blade Runner,” which was set in November 2019. He had referenced the movie before as inspiration for the pickup’s futuristic design.“Musk has indicated it ‘looks like an armored personnel carrier from the future,’ from the set of Blade Runner, and is ‘unrecognizable from the trucks from the past 20-40 years,’ which we think could carry the risk of not attracting traditional pickup buyers, leaving it a lower-volume niche product,” Emmanuel Rosner, a Deutsche Bank analyst, wrote in a report this week. Investors will want to know more about production timing, increased capital-spending requirements and where Tesla will build the truck, he said.Musk is scheduled to begin making remarks around 8 p.m. local time at Tesla’s design center in Hawthorne, California.(Updates with GM CEO comments from sixth paragraph)\--With assistance from Keith Naughton and Chester Dawson.To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chester Dawson at cdawson54@bloomberg.net, Craig Trudell, Melinda GrenierFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Microsoft Delays Its AirPods Rival Until After the Key Holiday Season

    (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. delayed the launch of its Surface Earbuds, missing the 2019 holiday shopping season. The software giant is the latest company to stumble in a race to catch up with Apple Inc.’s popular AirPods.The Surface Earbuds will come out in spring 2020, not this year as previously planned. The announcement was made by Panos Panay, the company’s chief product officer, on Twitter.The wireless earbuds were announced earlier this year, and like AirPods, are cord free. The Microsoft version has a circular shape, integrates with a voice assistant and can be used to control Microsoft software like PowerPoint.At $249, the Surface Earbuds are priced the same as Apple’s new AirPods Pro, but the delay means Microsoft will be missing out on a key category this holiday season.Google has also been working to upgrade its wireless earbuds. That product will also be missing this holiday season. The company is aiming for a release in the spring at a price of $179.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Google’s Micro-Targeting Ban Won’t Improve Political Ads

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Google says it will limit the targeting of political ads to make it harder to sneak misinformation to impressionable voters. That puts the company ahead of the pack when it comes to making the political business of big internet platforms look less threatening. But the efficiency of political micro-targeting is questionable, and Google is responding to a moral panic rather than any real danger to democracy.Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the public has become aware of techniques that allow advertisers to aim their messages at narrow groups of people, sliced not just by place of residence, age and sex, but also by consumer and political preferences, browsing histories, voting records and other kinds of personal data. This culminated in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, when news reports showed that the U.K.-based micro-targeting firm had improperly harvested lots of private user data from Facebook. The platforms were on the spot to do something. Twitter has banned political ads entirely, but then it didn’t sell many, anyway, serving instead as a free platform for political messages. In an op-ed in the Washington Post following Twitter’s announcement, Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Election Commission, called for an end to political micro-targeting instead of an ad ban. “It is easy to single out susceptible groups and direct political misinformation to them with little accountability, because the public at large never sees the ad,” she argued.That was a controversial proposal. Writing in the same newspaper, Chris Wilson, who had been responsible for digital strategy in Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign (which was the first in that election to hire Cambridge Analytica), countered that micro-targeting has helped increase voter turnout and drive down advertising costs for campaigns. His suggestion was to make the targeting more transparent.Google, however, found it more expedient to go along with Weintraub’s proposal than to fight an uphill battle using Wilson’s arguments. In a blog post on Wednesday, the company said it would no longer let advertisers target messages “based on public voter records and general political affiliations (left-leaning, right-leaning, and independent).” Only basic targeting by age, gender and postal code would be allowed.This, is course, is no more than Russian trolls would have required in 2016 — as Wilson pointed out in his Washington Post op-ed. Their propaganda campaign was largely geographically targeted. There’s still no proof that micro-targeting is more effective than other forms of advertising. Academic work on the subject has tended to be rather theoretical, while experimental evidence is scarce. In a paper published this year, German researcher Lennart Krotzek concluded after an experiment matching ads to personality profiles that “candidate messages are more effective in improving a voter’s feeling toward a candidate when the messages are congruent with the voter’s personality profile, but they do not result in a higher propensity to vote for the advertised candidate.”Internet platforms have done little to further the study of political targeting.Google offers a transparency report on political ads placed on its various properties — search pages, YouTube, the sites of media partners. It says that the biggest U.S. advertiser in the last 12 months is the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which has spent $8.5 million. The report discloses that the pro-Trump group has targeted its most recent ads at all people older than 18 throughout the U.S., but offers no clues as to whether any more precise targeting was used. That’s the case with the rest of the advertisers, too.Facebook’s transparency report is just as opaque when it comes to the precise targeting of ads by voters’ interests and political leanings.  It’s easier for Google than for Facebook to abandon precise targeting, because one of its key strengths is being able to link ads to search words. That’s a form of rather precise targeting not affected by Google’s policy change. Slicing and dicing the audience is at the heart of Facebook’s offering to advertisers, so it’s understandably hesitant to disable the feature, thought it, too, has been mulling some targeting curbs.But Facebook doesn’t have to make the sacrifice. It would make more sense to reveal exactly how each political ad is targeted — and to cooperate with researchers interested in evaluating the ads’ efficiency. Facebook has the means to deliver messages from such researchers to the target audiences, which would help them recruit subjects for experiments. Google should have done the same instead of introducing drastic curbs that probably won’t do much to raise the level of political discourse, anyway. Policymakers need data, not hype, to make informed decisions on how to regulate modern advertising.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Auto Stock Roundup: Volkswagen and Daimler's Financial Plans & More
    Zacks

    Auto Stock Roundup: Volkswagen and Daimler's Financial Plans & More

    While Volkswagen (VWAGY) plans to rev up spending on EVs in the coming years, its rival Daimler (DDAIF) intends to limit capital outlay to revive profit margins.

  • Inside Apple’s iPhone Software Shakeup After Buggy iOS 13 Debut
    Bloomberg

    Inside Apple’s iPhone Software Shakeup After Buggy iOS 13 Debut

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is overhauling how it tests software after a swarm of bugs marred the latest iPhone and iPad operating systems, according to people familiar with the shift.Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple's development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.When the company’s iOS 13 was released alongside the iPhone 11 in September, iPhone owners and app developers were confronted with a litany of software glitches. Apps crashed or launched slowly. Cellular signal was inconsistent. There were user interface errors in apps like Messages, system-wide search issues and problems loading emails. Some new features, such as sharing file folders over iCloud and streaming music to multiple sets of AirPods, were either delayed or are still missing. This amounted to one of the most troubled and unpolished operating system updates in Apple’s history.“iOS 13 continues to destroy my morale,” Marco Arment, a well known developer, wrote on Twitter. “Same,” replied Jason Marr, co-creator of grocery list app AnyList. “Apple's really shown a lack of respect for both its developers and its customers with iOS 13.” The issues show how complex iPhones have become and how easily users can be disappointed by a company known for the smooth integration of hardware and software. Annual software updates timed for release with the latest iPhones are a critical way for Apple to add new capabilities and keep users from defecting to archrival Android. Refreshed operating systems also give developers more tools for app creation, catalyzing more revenue for Apple from its App Store. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.The new development process will help early internal iOS versions to be more usable, or “livable,” in Apple parlance. Prior to iOS 14’s development, some teams would add features every day that weren’t fully tested, while other teams would contribute changes weekly. “Daily builds were like a recipe with lots of cooks adding ingredients,” a person with knowledge of the process said. Test software got so crammed with changes at different stages of development that the devices often became difficult to use. Because of this, some “testers would go days without a livable build, so they wouldn’t really have a handle on what’s working and not working,” the person said. This defeated the main goal of the testing process as Apple engineers struggled to check how the operating system was reacting to many of the new features, leading to some of iOS 13’s problems.Apple measures and ranks the quality of its software using a scale of 1 to 100 that’s based on what’s known internally as a “white glove” test. Buggy releases might get a score in the low 60s whereas more stable software would be above 80. iOS 13 scored lower on that scale than the more polished iOS 12 that preceded it. Apple teams also assign green, yellow and red color codes to features to indicate their quality during development. A priority scale of 0 through 5, with 0 being a critical issue and 5 being minor, is used to determine the gravity of individual bugs.The new strategy is already being applied to the development of  iOS 14, codenamed “Azul” internally, ahead of its debut next year. Apple has also considered delaying some iOS 14 features until 2021 — in an update called “Azul +1” internally that will likely become known as iOS 15 externally — to give the company more time to focus on performance. Still, iOS 14 is expected to rival iOS 13 in the breadth of its new capabilities, the people familiar with Apple’s plans said.The testing shift will apply to all of Apple’s operating systems, including iPadOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS. The latest Mac computer operating system, macOS Catalina, has also manifested bugs such as incompatibility with many apps and missing messages in Mail. Some HomePod speakers, which run an iOS-based operating system, stopped working after a recent iOS 13 update, leading Apple to temporarily pull the upgrade. The latest Apple Watch and Apple TV updates, on the other hand, have gone more smoothly. Apple executives hope that the overhauled testing approach will improve the quality of the company’s software over the long term. But this isn’t the first time that Apple engineers have heard this from management.Last year, Apple delayed several iOS 12 features — including redesigns for CarPlay and the iPad home screen — specifically so it could focus on reliability and performance. At an all-hands meeting in January 2018, Federighi said the company had prioritized new features too much and should return to giving consumers the quality and stability that they wanted first.Apple then established so-called Tiger Teams to address performance issues in specific parts of iOS. The company reassigned engineers from across the software division to focus on tasks such as speeding up app launch times, improving network connectivity and boosting battery life. When iOS 12 came out in the fall of 2018, it was a stable release that required just two updates in the first two months.That success didn’t carry over to this year. The initial version of iOS 13 was so buggy that Apple has had to rush out several patches. In the first two months of iOS 13, there have been eight updates, the most since 2012 when Federighi took over Apple’s iOS software engineering group. The company is currently testing another new version, iOS 13.3, and there’s already a follow-up in the works for the spring.About a month before Apple’s 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company’s software engineers started to realize that iOS 13, then known internally as “Yukon,” wasn’t performing as well as previous versions. Some people who worked on the project said development was a “mess.”By August, realizing that the initial iOS 13.0 set to ship with new iPhones a few weeks later wouldn’t hit quality standards, Apple engineers decided to mostly abandon that work and focus on improving iOS 13.1, the first update. Apple privately considered iOS 13.1 the “actual public release” with a quality level matching iOS 12. The company expected only die-hard Apple fans to load iOS 13.0 onto their phones.The timing of the iOS 13.1 update was moved up by a week to Sept. 24, compressing the time that iOS 13.0 was Apple’s flagship OS release. New iPhones are so tightly integrated with Apple software that it would have been technically impossible to launch the iPhone 11 with iOS 12, and since 13.1 wasn’t ready in time, Apple’s only choice was to ship with 13.0 and update everyone to 13.1 as quickly as it could.While the iOS 13 issues did upset iPhone owners, they still updated fairly quickly. As of mid-October, half of all Apple device users were running a version of iOS 13, according to Apple. That upgrade pace is still far ahead of Google’s Android.Once iOS 13.1 was released, Apple’s software engineering division pivoted to iOS 13.2 with a quality goal of being better than iOS 12. This update has had fewer complaints than its predecessors in the iOS 13 family but did introduce a short-lived bug around apps closing in the background when they shouldn’t.“iOS 13 has felt like a super-messy release, something we haven't seen this bad since iOS 8 or so,” Steve Troughton-Smith, a veteran developer of Apple apps, wrote on Twitter.To contact the author of this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Sony in Talks to Buy Stake in Ambani’s TV Network
    Bloomberg

    Sony in Talks to Buy Stake in Ambani’s TV Network

    (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp. is in talks to acquire a stake in the Indian television network controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, as the Japanese giant seeks to tap booming demand for content in the South Asian nation, according to people familiar with the matter.The Tokyo-based company is currently conducting due diligence on Ambani’s Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. before any possible offer, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public. Sony is considering several potential deal structures, including a bid for the company or a merger of its own Indian business with Network18’s entertainment channels, one of the people said.Talks are at a preliminary stage and may not result in a transaction, the people said. Shares of Network18 surged as much as 19% in Mumbai on Thursday, while unit TV18 Broadcast Ltd. jumped 9.7%.While a successful deal may help Sony bolster its local offerings and take on upstart rivals such as Netflix Inc., it will give Ambani access to international content. The Indian tycoon’s wireless carrier, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., has spent almost $50 billion in the past few years on its network to disrupt India’s telecommunications industry and has been luring users by offering local and overseas programming.“Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis,” a spokesman for Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., said in an email, declining to comment further. Representatives for Sony in India and Japan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.The talks come at a time when competition is heating up for paying viewers in a potentially lucrative market with more than half a billion smartphone users. Streaming companies such as Netflix to Amazon.com Inc. Prime are increasingly offering programs created locally to lure subscribers. Ambani’s Jio, while having the technology platform, is limited by the paucity of content it can stream, making such a deal with Sony crucial.“India is a massive OTT market, and any international OTT play will need to bolster its local strategy,” said Utkarsh Sinha, managing director at Bexley Advisors, a boutique firm in Mumbai, referring to over-the-top or streaming media services. “More partnerships or strategic alliances like this are likely in the next year or so.”Inside the Most Watched YouTube Channel in the WorldReliance Industries, the oil-to-petrochemicals conglomerate, unveiled plans last month to set up a digital-services holding company to fulfill the mogul’s ambitions for an e-commerce platform aimed at taking on the likes of Amazon.com and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart Online Services Pvt.Sony operates in the South Asian country through Sony Pictures Networks India, which has a bouquet of channels including Sony Entertainment Television, reaching over 700 million viewers in India.TV18 Broadcast owns and operates 56 channels in India spanning news and entertainment. It also caters to the global Indian diaspora through 16 international channels.(Updates with analyst’s comment in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Baiju Kalesh in Mumbai at bkalesh@bloomberg.net;Anto Antony in Mumbai at aantony1@bloomberg.net;P R Sanjai in Mumbai at psanjai@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, ;Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.net, Arijit GhoshFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Tech and the fake news factory

    Tech companies are having a hard time traversing the political minefields of elections looming in the UK and US. Apple is under fire for allowing President Trump to get away with campaigning boosterism on a visit to a facility in Texas on Wednesday.

  • Financial Times

    Tories risk new backlash over spoof Labour website

    Timed to coincide with the launch of the Labour election manifesto in Birmingham on Thursday morning, the Tories’ website attacked the UK’s opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and his party’s policies on Brexit and taxation. Although the site states clearly that it is “a website by the Conservative party” it is branded in the Labour party’s red colours and uses the web address www.labourmanifesto.co.uk.

  • Singapore ‘Repatriates’ Hongkonger Who Held Political Meeting
    Bloomberg

    Singapore ‘Repatriates’ Hongkonger Who Held Political Meeting

    (Bloomberg) -- A Hong Kong resident living in Singapore has been “repatriated” home after organizing an illegal gathering of mostly ethnic Chinese last month to talk about the ongoing protests, according to local media reports.Restaurant owner Alex Yeung, along with a 55-year-old former Hong Kong resident, were issued a “stern warning” over what was said to be a gathering of about 10 people sharing their views of the escalating protests, which is an offense under the Public Order Act. Yeung, who has a Youtube channel of largely pro-Beijing content was further instructed he would not be allowed to enter Singapore again without permission from the authorities.“Singapore has always been clear that foreigners should not advocate their political causes in Singapore, through public assemblies, and other prohibited means,” the Singapore Police Force told Channel News Asia late on Wednesday.Speaking from Singapore’s Changi Airport on Thursday morning ahead of his flight, Yeung said he was now free to go where he pleased and thanked Singapore for upholding the rule of law.Illegal Gatherings“The Singapore Police Force has made no indictment against me. I am warned to refrain from any criminal conduct in the future under their discretion,” he said in a video posted to YouTube. “Singapore is a very civilized country with very good security.”In 2017, Singapore revoked the permanent residency of prominent academic and China expert Huang Jing after he allegedly used his position to covertly advance the agenda of an unnamed foreign country at Singapore’s expense.Hong Kong has been gripped for days by the standoff at the city’s Polytechnic University, where hard-core protesters remain surrounded by police. The unrest began in June with largely peaceful marches against legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China and have since mushroomed into a broader push for demands including an independent probe into police violence and the ability to nominate and elect city leaders.Speaking to reporters on Monday, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing warned a similar situation could “easily happen” in his country if the government is complacent. Under restrictive laws, cause-related gatherings are illegal without a police permit and participants are subject to fines without it.\--With assistance from Chester Yung.To contact the reporter on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Google curbs targeted political advertising

    Google has said that political advertisers will no longer be able to narrowly target users through their characteristics such as interests or email addresses, ahead of next year’s US election. Alphabet’s search platform said in a blog post on Wednesday that political advertisers will now only be able to target audiences by age, gender and general location at the postcode level. Until the changes, advertisers could target commercials in Google searches, sites using its ads technology and on its video platform YouTube based on email lists that they had collected, or by broad interests, such as fandom of a particular sport.

  • Google, Facebook at Center of Rising Political-Ad Tensions
    Bloomberg

    Google, Facebook at Center of Rising Political-Ad Tensions

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and Google were drawn into an escalating battle of wills Wednesday over the use of political advertising on social media.Trump campaign officials pressured Facebook to maintain its permissive political advertising rules, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google announced an overhaul of how campaigns may target their messages across the world’s largest search engine.The ability of candidates to show different messages to people based on their physical location, age, or other characteristic, referred to as micro-targeting, has become an increasing focus of the broader debate about political advertising online. Last month, Twitter Inc. said it will ban political ads on its platform altogether, and is restricting targeting for other ads related to some politically charged issues, like climate change.Google on Wednesday said it will ban candidates from targeting election ads based on people’s political affiliation, though the messages can be tailored based on gender, age and geography. The company also is eliminating a feature called Customer Match for political advertisers. The tool lets marketers upload their own lists of email addresses or phone numbers, and target ads specifically at those people.Facebook, the largest platform for online political advertising, has been under pressure to follow suit. Several prominent Democrats have attacked the company for refusing to fact-check political ads. Facebook has rebuffed those calls, saying it doesn’t want to police political speech. In October, hundreds of Facebook employees sent a letter to the company’s executives calling for new limits on ad targeting for political campaigns. The letter became public after it was obtained by the New York Times.Carolyn Everson, a Facebook vice president, said Monday at a Recode conference that the social-media company wasn’t considering changes to its targeted advertising options for political ads. Later that day, however, she told Axios, the news website, that Facebook hadn’t ruled out any specific changes, raising the prospect the company may change course and limit targeting in some way.The Trump campaign reacted directly to Everson’s comments. It sees Facebook as an essential tool for speaking directly to voters, instead of relying on critical media outlets that the president says treat him unfairly.Gary Coby, the Trump campaign’s digital director, argued on Twitter Wednesday that stopping campaigns from pairing in-house data with Facebook’s advertising tools would suppress voter engagement. “This would unevenly hurt the little guy, smaller voices, & issues the public is not aware of OR news is NOT covering,” Coby tweeted, saying it was very “dangerous” and a “huge blow to speech.”Tim Cameron, chief executive officer at FlexPoint Media, a Republican media strategy firm, said the Trump campaign is likely concerned that new restrictions could result in Facebook deciding to begin fact-checking political ads. “I think the Trump campaign is looking down the road beyond this decision and are actually more afraid of subsequent decisions that Facebook may make,” he said.Facebook hasn’t announced any changes to its policies. “For over a year, we’ve provided unprecedented transparency into all U.S. federal and state campaigns -- and we prohibit voter suppression in all ads,” a company spokesman said. “As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”During the 2016 election, the Trump campaign ran 5.9 million different versions of ads, constantly testing them against different groups to increase engagement, according to internal Facebook documents reviewed by Bloomberg in 2018. It spent $44 million on Facebook in the six months before the 2016 election. So far in 2019, the Trump campaign has spent more than $15 million in ads, and is the largest political spender on the platform, according to Facebook’s political ad library.Before Google announced its changes, the company touted its ability to target voters based on political affiliations, like “right-leaning,” as a major selling point. “They were all heartily selling us this for years as the coolest thing since sliced bread,” said Will Ritter, the founder of Poolhouse, a political advertising firm.Google’s new restrictions mean campaigns may have to spend more after losing the ability to hit key voters, Ritter added. For instance, a candidate could identify frequent Republican voters in Democratic-heavy areas of the country, and reach them with ads on search and YouTube. Now they can’t.“It’s just going to increase costs because there’s going to be so much waste,” Ritter said.Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who now works for Tech Inquiry, a political advocacy group focused on ethical issues related to technology, said the ability to target makes online advertising particularly susceptible to abuse. Campaigns can test messages on certain audiences, find which ones resonate, then use tools provided by Facebook or Google to target those people with new ads while also reaching people with similar characteristics. Misleading messaging can be directed at specific audiences without drawing widespread attention.“You can be seeing one message that seems fine, and your next-door neighbor can be seeing some misinformation that is cleverly targeted to produce a very different response or action,” Knapp said.Knapp said Google’s Customer Match tool could be used to target racial groups, or engage in other behavior that violates the policies of the platforms. The equivalent tool on Facebook, “Custom Audiences,” still exists.(Updates with details on Google rules in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Alistair Barr.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at enewcomer@bloomberg.net;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.net;Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Limits Political Ad Targeting, Bans Misleading Info
    Bloomberg

    Google Limits Political Ad Targeting, Bans Misleading Info

    (Bloomberg) -- Google is severely limiting how political advertisers can target people online, a decision made after weeks of furious debate over how online platforms handle campaign messages.The Alphabet Inc. unit said in a blog post on Wednesday it will no longer allow election ads to be targeted based on political affiliation on Google Search, YouTube and across the web. The company is also restricting misinformation and banning doctored media known as deepfakes in ads following criticism that Google and rival Facebook Inc. ran ads from U.S. President Donald Trump that were intentionally misleading.Google’s steps could curtail campaigns just as they are escalating spending for the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. The internet search giant also said it is removing access to a valuable tool called Customer Match for political ads. This technology lets advertisers combine their own data, such as email lists, with Google’s massive corpus of digital information, to target audiences even more accurately.Still, Google isn’t limiting political targeting altogether. Election ads will still be able to target users based on age, gender and location by postal code. Nonprofits that register as political advertisers will be affected by the new policies, a Google spokeswoman said.Additionally, Google said it’s updating its overall ads policy to prohibit “misleading claims about the census process, and ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.”Online platforms’ handling of political ad spending has become a lightning rod in recent weeks. Twitter Inc.’s decision to ban campaign advertising in October was met with both praise and scorn from politicians and advocacy groups. Facebook has taken a different stance, with top executives repeating several times that the social network won’t fact-check ads from politicians, saying it’s not the place of technology companies to become arbiters of truth.Google has reported just over $127 million in revenue from U.S. political ads since June 2018, representing a small sliver of the company’s overall sales.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • FCC Spectrum Proposal Spotlights Automaker Technological Divide
    Bloomberg

    FCC Spectrum Proposal Spotlights Automaker Technological Divide

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed reallocating to mobile devices airwaves long assigned to vehicle safety while preserving some of the spectrum for carmakers planning to deploy new technology.“We want to move on from something we’ve tried for a long time that wasn’t working, and open the door to new and exciting opportunities,” Pai said in a speech at a Washington event. “After 20 years of seeing these prime airwaves go largely unused, the time has come for the FCC to take a fresh look.”Auto industry reaction highlighted a division between companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. that have already invested in the old technology and a growing number of others, including Ford Motor Co., that back the newer system that they say performs better.Pai set a Dec. 12 vote on his proposal, which would commence a months-long comment period on giving Wi-Fi gadgets access to 60% of the airwaves reserved for auto safety in 1999. Automakers would retain use of the remainder.The change wouldn’t be final until another vote by the FCC, which under Pai has worked to free airwaves bands for new uses. Because Pai leads a Republican majority, his proposals usually pass.In 1999, the frequencies were reserved by the FCC to link cars, roadside beacons and traffic lights into a seamless wireless communication web to help avoid collisions and alert drivers to road hazards, among other uses.In a concession to carmakers, Pai’s plan would devote most of their remaining portion of the spectrum to the new cellular-based safety technology that several have recently embraced. A thin remaining slice would be used for either the new system or for an older accident-avoidance technology foreseen two decades ago but is little used today.Ford announced earlier this year that it would outfit all its new U.S. models starting in 2022 with newer cellular vehicle-to-everything technology. Toyota, meanwhile, halted in April plans to deploy the older systems in 2021 citing dwindling support from regulators and other carmakers.However, Toyota said in a statement on Wednesday that it remains committed to the older technology and that the entire spectrum band currently allocated for auto safety should remain available to them.General Motors Co. deferred comment to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which, along with several groups, including the American Automobile Association, urged caution.‘Harmful Interference’The groups issued a joint statement asking the FCC to refrain from sharing the frequencies with non-safety devices “until test results clearly indicate that sharing with unlicensed devices can occur without harmful interference.”The U.S. Transportation Department said it hadn’t changed its position that the entire airwaves swath needs to be retained for auto safety. The government has spent hundreds of millions on the older, competing technology called dedicated short-range communications.“We’re hoping to preserve that 75 megahertz because it is now time, the technology is now there, that we can start deploying this potentially life-saving technology,” James Owens, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a Senate hearing.The 5G Automotive Association, a group that backs the new cellular safety system, applauded Pai’s proposal.Public Safety“Extensive crash avoidance testing continues to demonstrate that C-V2X technology will deliver safety benefits to the American public,” said the group. It represents most major automakers including Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and Honda Motor Co., in addition to wireless companies such as Verizon Communications Inc. and gear makers Samsung Electronics Co. and Qualcomm Inc.“This visionary FCC proposal will enable us to bring the tremendous, unmatched safety benefits from C-V2X to US drivers, passengers, and pedestrians,” Dean Brenner, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of spectrum strategy and technology, said in a statement.The Intelligent Transportation Society of America, an advocacy group with members including GM and several states that have deployed safety equipment that works off the older technology said the “FCC is prepared to trade safer roads for more connectivity.”“In a country that reels from nearly 36,000 roadway deaths every year, it is unfathomable that the United States would literally give away our top safety tool -- and with it, our best chance to save tens of thousands of lives,” ITS America president Shailen Bhatt said in the group’s emailed statement.Cable providers that offer Wi-Fi for customers’ wireless use welcomed Pai’s move. Charter Communications Inc. said it was “thrilled” and Comcast Corp. said the “spectrum is too valuable a national resource to lie fallow any longer.”The airwaves could be used for fast communications including machine-to-machine links, and smart city applications such as smart cameras, traffic monitoring and security sensors, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, a trade group for companies including Comcast and Charter the FCC in a Sept. 25 filing.\--With assistance from Keith Naughton.To contact the reporters on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net;Ryan Beene in Washington at rbeene@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Todd ShieldsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Streaming Cools Off and Gaming Warms Up
    Zacks

    Streaming Cools Off and Gaming Warms Up

    Let's review. Disney+ is killing it and the video game field is about to get more muddy. We've made some smart moves, let's predict the future.

  • Volkswagen Bets Big on EVs, Revs Up 5-Year Investment Plan
    Zacks

    Volkswagen Bets Big on EVs, Revs Up 5-Year Investment Plan

    Per the new five-year (2020-2024) investment budget of Volkswagen (VWAGY), it plans to spend 60 billion euros in electric cars, hybrid technology and digitization over the said time frame.

  • Markets May Welcome Capitalism-Friendly Buttigieg Presidency, Cowen Says
    Bloomberg

    Markets May Welcome Capitalism-Friendly Buttigieg Presidency, Cowen Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg may be well received by markets due to his pragmatic approach to governing and his “appreciation for the benefits of capitalism,” according to Cowen. Buttigieg is due to take the debate stage on Wednesday night as the emerging front-runner in Iowa.The Indiana mayor is probably one of the better Democratic candidates for financial and housing stocks, analyst Jaret Seiberg wrote in a note. Buttigieg’s “experience is solving problems rather than partisan brawling,” while he hasn’t endorsed “some of the more radical policy plans that other Democrats are advocating,” Seiberg said.Seiberg noted that though Buttigieg hasn’t articulated many views on financial firms while campaigning, he’s “Harvard and Oxford educated and worked for McKinsey on economic stabilization in war-torn areas.” He also presents himself as a “Democratic Capitalist,” and has touted his business experience. Seiberg pointed as well to national policy adviser Sonal Shah, formerly with Goldman Sachs and Google, who “sounds like another progressive pragmatist.”Buttigieg is probably likely to pick a Federal Reserve chairman who’s similar to Janet Yellen, Seiberg added, as he may understand the “importance of an independent central bank that can put the long-term interests of economy ahead of short-term political gains.” Buttigieg is unlikely to choose a central banker who endorses modern monetary theory, Seiberg said.Seiberg highlighted Buttigieg’s known policy views on financials and housing:Buttigieg has been vocal about ensuring consumers can sue credit card companies rather than having to use arbitration.He would restore corporate tax rates to 35% to pay for his health care plan, which means that higher taxes aren’t a separate priority, reducing risk.He has endorsed a transaction tax, possibly aimed at high frequency trading rather than traditional trading.He supports higher estate and top individual tax rates.Buttigieg may be good for housing as he wants to create a federal program to provide downpayment assistance for 1 million families.Buttigieg’s discussion of using affordable housing trust funds to finance two million units of affordable housing may be an “implicit endorsement” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Cowen hasn’t heard Buttigieg discuss bank regulation, noting that the candidate hasn’t weighed in on breaking up banks or objected to plans to reduce reliance on leverage ratios in the Federal Reserve’s stress test.Like most of Democratic candidates, Buttigieg favors legalizing cannabis.U.S. futures fell on Wednesday amid tensions with China. Big banks slipped in pre-market trading, with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., and JPMorgan Chase and Co. all down about 0.7%.To contact the reporter on this story: Felice Maranz in New York at fmaranz@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at clarkin4@bloomberg.net, Steven Fromm, Will DaleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • India Plans Incentives to Bring In Foreign Manufacturers From Tesla to Glaxo
    Bloomberg

    India Plans Incentives to Bring In Foreign Manufacturers From Tesla to Glaxo

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. India is planning to offer 324 companies including Tesla Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc incentives to set up factories in the South Asian nation in a bid to capitalize from the trade war between China and the U.S., according to a document seen by Bloomberg.The government proposes to provide the manufacturers land to set up a factory along with power, water and road access, according to draft of the document prepared by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Invest India. Other companies that officials will reach out to include Eli Lilly & Co., South Korea’s Hanwha Chemical Corp., and Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.While the trade war has benefited countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia, rigid land acquisition rules and labor laws have prompted investors to largely ignore India when looking for alternatives to China. The latest proposal may reduce red tape, and set the nation, which expanded at the slowest pace in six years last quarter, on a path to double its gross domestic product to $5 trillion by 2025 -- a goal set Prime Minister Narendra Modi.“While in the initial leg of relocation we have seen companies moving to Vietnam, I don’t think it is too late for India to start making an effort,” said Sonal Varma, chief economist for India and Asia-ex Japan at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Singapore. “India offers a unique advantage of being a huge domestic market too, so it is definitely an opportunity for the government to attract investment.”Under the plan, the government will create a land bank for ready-to-move-in industrial clusters, offer investment and location-based incentives and rationalize anti-dumping duties. The proposal includes incentives for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, fuel efficiency and carbon taxation. For the electronics and telecom sector, flexible employment, manufacturing-related incentives linked to investments and value addition have been sought.The country has made progress, rising 37 spots since 2017 in the World Bank’s ranking for ease of doing business, but it still comes in at 63rd, trailing not only China, but also Rwanda and Kosovo. At present, investors keen on setting up a factory need to acquire land on their own which, in some cases, involves a time consuming process of negotiating with small plot owners to part with their holding.The Prime Minister’s Office is considering the proposal and a decision is expected soon. An email sent to the spokeswoman at the commerce and industry ministry wasn’t immediately answered.Asia’s third-largest economy expanded 5% in the June quarter, with slew of data pointing to weaker economic activity.Getting investment inflows and boosting exports is therefore high on economic agenda of the government. It has already slashed corporate tax rate, making it competitive with rest of Asia, and has relaxed foreign investment rules to attract fund inflows in the country.(Updates with economist’s comment in fourth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Shruti Srivastava in New Delhi at ssrivastav74@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Arijit Ghosh at aghosh@bloomberg.net, Unni KrishnanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Financial Times

    Tesla’s German factory plan illustrates the harm from Brexit

    Tesla chief executive Elon Musk announced last week that the electric carmaker plans to build its first major European factory on the outskirts of Berlin. Dubbed “Tesla Gigafactory Europe”, it will build batteries, powertrains and full vehicles, providing a significant boon for Germany’s electric vehicles industry.

  • Bloomberg

    Google CEO Opens New Japan Campus in Tokyo’s Trendy Shibuya District

    (Bloomberg) -- Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was in Tokyo Tuesday to inaugurate the relocation of the company’s Japanese head office to an expansive new complex in the trendy district of Shibuya.Taking up the majority of the gleaming new 35-floor Shibuya Stream skyscraper, Google has put its name on the building and dedicated two floors to a newly launched Google for Startups Campus, which is its seventh in the world and second in Asia after Seoul.Agnieszka Hryniewicz-Bieniek, the director of Google for Startups, said that the company will run an accelerator program early next year that will select 12 startups looking to scale up their work on artificial intelligence and machine learning, both critical aspects of Google’s current and future operations. She also stressed the importance of inclusiveness at an event where the Wi-Fi password was BuildInclusiveTeams.“We would like Campus Tokyo to support women founders,” she said, and that Google is proud that 37% of its Campus participants are female entrepreneurs, a higher proportion than the wider startup ecosystem. “So when they go to the next stage of growth, we’re behind them, we’re supporting them.”The Campus initiative extends Google’s effort to combine education and training for startups with evangelism for the use of its cloud and business services. Co-location with Google’s main office will make it easy for experts from Google’s developer relations and web marketing teams to make themselves available to help budding entrepreneurs, Google said.Joined by Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi on stage, Pichai said he had toured some of the venues for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, which Google will be supporting through its various services like Google Maps and Translate. “Ultimately, we want to make sure the legacy of technology innovation extends far beyond 2020. This Google for Startups Campus is one part of that,” he said at the opening.AI has been topical in Japan recently, with SoftBank Group Corp. announcing plans to combine its Yahoo Japan internet business with Naver Corp.’s Line messaging service in an effort to create an AI tech leader capable of rivaling U.S. juggernauts like Google and Facebook Inc. On Monday, Peter Thiel visited Tokyo to introduce Palantir Technologies Japan Co., which will use AI to make sense of large volumes of unwieldy data in the fields of health and cybersecurity.Google has said the move to Shibuya Stream will double its employee headcount in Japan to beyond 2,000. The company’s first office outside the U.S. was in Tokyo, opening in 2001. It said it has “invested heavily” in Japan over the years and earlier in 2019 committed to training 10 million people in digital skills by 2022. Its so-called Grow with Google program is the Campus equivalent for individual job-seekers and students.“At Google, we are deeply committed to fostering Japanese startups,” Pichai said.(Updates with details of accelerator from second paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at vsavov5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.