|Day's Range||0.9700 - 1.3200|
Amazon's Echo Show 5 brings Alexa to your nightstand in a smart screen packing an appealingly understated design.
Yahoo Finance's Adam Shapiro, Julie Hyman, and Jessica Smith discuss.
(Bloomberg) -- Peter Thiel, the technology industry’s most prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, called Elizabeth Warren the most “dangerous” Democratic presidential candidate.In a rare television interview, Thiel said Monday night that Warren, a Massachusetts senator, was the only Democrat talking about important issues like the economy.“All the others are almost equally unimpressive, in that it’s all identity politics in one flavor or another,” he told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. “I’m most scared by Elizabeth Warren. I think she’s the one who’s actually talking about the economy, which is the only thing, the thing that I think matters by far the most.”Thiel spent most of the interview discussing the subject of a speech he gave Sunday at a conservative conference in Washington: what he called “seemingly treasonous” conduct by Google. The billionaire, who sits on the board of Facebook Inc., said the U.S. should investigate Google’s ties to China. In response, Google denied it works with the Chinese military.In 2016, Thiel established himself as a Silicon Valley pariah when he endorsed Trump for president. The venture capitalist donated $1.25 million to the campaign and spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention. He reiterated his support of Trump in Sunday’s speech by praising the administration’s foreign policy, in particular the trade battle with China.During the speech, Thiel made reference to Warren, who has advocated for breaking up big technology companies including Google and Facebook. She has said concentration of corporate power punishes small businesses and average Americans. Thiel said Google employees had donated to Warren’s campaign, suggesting “a little bit of a bad conscience.”Monday’s Fox News interview concluded with Thiel’s comments about the presidential race: “Elizabeth Warren is the dangerous one.”(Updates with Thiel background in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Lizette Chapman in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Amazon.com Inc. is to be investigated by the European Union as the bloc’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager prepares for a summer finale to her five-year crackdown on U.S. technology giants.The Dane, who heads the EU’s competition division, is poised to open a formal investigation into Amazon within days, according to two people familiar with the case, who asked not to be named because the process isn’t public. Vestager has hinted for months that she wanted to escalate a preliminary inquiry into how Amazon may be unfairly using sales data to undercut smaller shops on its Marketplace platform.The probe comes as Qualcomm Inc. could be hit with a second hefty EU penalty as soon as next week for allegedly underpricing chips to squeeze a smaller competitor. The U.S. chipmaker was fined last year for thwarting rival suppliers to Apple Inc. and has been the subject of on-and-off antitrust scrutiny since 2005.Vestager has already slapped Google with record fines and ordered Apple to repay billions of euros in back taxes. By taking on Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, Vestager is keeping up the pressure on big tech right to the very end of her mandate, due to end in October.Amazon and the European Commission in Brussels both declined to comment on the plans to open the probe. Qualcomm representatives declined to immediately comment.Business ModelWhile it will be the first time the EU has directly targeted Amazon’s online retail business model, it’s the third time the company has been probed by the regulator, following tax and e-book investigations.Opening a formal probe means regulators can start building firm evidence of antitrust violations, a process that can lead to a charge sheet, or statement of objections, and may eventually culminate in fines or an order to change the way a business operates.Although Google has been fined once a year for the past three years, racking up 8.2 billion euros ($9.2 billion) in penalties, the Alphabet Inc. unit still faces early-stage inquiries into local business and jobs searches. Apple also has to contend with a complaint from Spotify Technology SA and Facebook Inc. is getting questions on how it uses and shares data from apps.To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Chapman at email@example.com, Giles TurnerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Executives from tech giants Apple Inc , Amazon.com Inc , Facebook Inc and Alphabet's Google go before the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel Tuesday to discuss competition in online markets. The committee is likely to discuss antitrust probes of the four companies under way at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, as well as allegations that the companies seek to thwart nascent competitors. Democrats, in particular, are expected to press Facebook about a proposed $5 billion settlement between the company and the FTC to resolve allegations that the company violated a 2011 consent agreement by inappropriately sharing information on 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- England won the Cricket World Cup on Sunday, defeating New Zealand in one of the greatest one-day games ever played. The victory was characterized by the sort of risk-taking and inventiveness which Comcast Corp.’s British pay-TV arm could also use.Sky has long been the broadcast home of English Premier League soccer games. In the past 15 years, it has also hoovered up the rights to cricket matches, Formula One racing, and much more besides. Popular as these sports are in the U.K., though, they don’t have the same cultural pervasiveness as soccer. As more and more games have disappeared behind a paywall, younger viewers have switched off.This is a strategic threat to Sky, which built a pay-TV empire by charging viewers to watch English soccer matches and then adding more sports. The fewer fans there are, the more difficult it will be to attract new customers. The 4.2 billion pounds ($5.3 billion) it spent on domestic Premier League rights alone over the past three years represented almost a quarter of its total European programming costs. But there is a counter-intuitive way to head this off, particularly when it comes to less popular sports: show matches for free occasionally.The need to do this will become more pressing as the giants of Silicon Valley take their first, tentative steps into sports. Amazon.com Inc. will broadcast a handful of Premier League games next season, Facebook Inc. has deals to show Spanish soccer in India, and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube will show some Major League Baseball games this year.The hope for the league administrators and teams that own the broadcast rights is that these new entrants offer a way out of the almost Faustian pact they have made with subscription broadcasters: in return for more money, they have had to sacrifice some of their audience. The tech firms have both huge user bases and seemingly bottomless pockets of cash. Little wonder the Premier League went so far as to give Amazon a cut-price deal to give it a taster of its appeal.Look at what happened when Sky allowed Channel Four, a British free-to-air broadcaster, to broadcast Sunday’s important match: the number of viewers doubled. Contrast that with the wider decline: Since Sky took English cricket behind a paywall in 2006, the audience for the Ashes, England’s biennial series against Australia, has fallen by almost 90%. The figures for F1 are also falling.The appetite for watching live sport on TV appears to be waning as people have got used to highlights on social media. If Sky can rekindle enthusiasm for these events among younger viewers, it would have a chance of reversing that trajectory. Give them a taste, foster their interest, and they might buy a subscription.The broadcaster, which Comcast acquired for 36 billion pounds in 2018, has time to experiment. The tech giants might take a few years to start bidding on rights for big sporting events as they establish whether the economics add up. For the broadcasters, there are inevitable risks, not least of losing existing subscribers who are happy with just the free-to-air matches. The trick will be selecting carefully which games it picks – and keeping the very best content behind the paywall.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Amsterdam reckons it has more data centers than any other major city in the world, and that’s turned out to be too much of a good thing.The Dutch capital, which lured tech companies with attractive taxes and relatively cheap electricity, is halting the setting up of any more data centers until the end of the year, saying the speed with which they’ve opened is putting an untenable strain on its property market and power networks.“It is necessary to take a break and formulate policy first, so that we can get a better grip on the location of data centers,” said Mariëtte Sedee, Alderman for Spatial Development, Environment and Agricultural Affairs in Haarlemmermeer, a municipality southwest of Amsterdam.The Amsterdam region, which encompasses a radius of about 50 kilometers (31 miles) around the capital, houses about 70% of the data centers in the Netherlands. The area in and around the city is home to about a third of all data centers in Europe, including those run by Interxion Holding NV and EdgeConnex Inc to E-Shelter UK LTD and NLDC BV. Many of them opened in just the last five years.Tech companies have rushed to build such facilities because businesses and individuals increasingly store data online and want rapid access to it. The push for such centers has also coincided with demand spurred by a vast number of online transactions. The Netherlands is among Europe’s largest fintech hubs, with more than 430 companies active in the market, according to Holland Fintech.Digitization HinderedThe Dutch Data Center Association said it was dismayed by the city government’s decision to suspend data-center investments.“Our excellent data center infrastructure is a magnet for (international) tech companies and brings a lot of employment with it,” the group said in a statement. “We are surprised that a rigorous decision like this is being taken right now and so suddenly.”Big technology companies like Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have built large data centers outside Amsterdam, in Middenmeer and Groningen, while laying a cable to the capital. Microsoft’s regional hub for cloud-computing services is in the Netherlands while Google unveiled plans at the end of June to invest 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to expand its data center infrastructure. A new facility will be built in Agriport, about 30 miles north of Amsterdam, while an existing site about 130 miles further north, in Eemshaven, will be expanded.Amsterdam has gone out of its way to lure such companies. The Netherlands also offers a relatively cheap supply of sustainable electricity, according to its foreign investment agency.The suspension of approvals for new data centers is aimed at taking stock of the situation, according to the city government. At present, municipalities have few means at their disposal to steer where data centers are located, or the requirements they must meet, it said. The aim is to ensure data centers occupy as little space as possible and that they fit well -- architecturally -- with the environment, the government concluded.The demand on commercial property and the need for new housing, combined with policies for safeguarding space for other businesses and nature, is putting pressure on Amsterdam’s real estate market. Property prices in Amsterdam have steadily hit records as more companies and people have moved to the city -- many after the Brexit vote in the U.K.[For more on Dutch Housing Turmoil: Amsterdam Housing Market Gets Some Help From Dutch Government.]While the Dutch Data Center Association asserted that its members are at the top of the list in terms of sustainable development “with data centers fully electrified and running for 80% on green energy,” the city says it may need more.“We are going to set requirements in the area of making available residual heat free of charge for the heating of homes and the use of green energy,” said Marieke van Doorninck, Alderman for Sustainability and Spatial Development in Amsterdam.To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Proper in Amsterdam at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at email@example.com, Vidya Root, Giles TurnerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Meredith Whittaker, who helped lead employee protests at Google over the search giant’s military work, artificial intelligence and policies, is leaving the company.A Google spokeswoman confirmed Whittaker’s departure after another Google worker tweeted about the move on Monday. Whittaker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment."Today is @mer__edith’s final day at Google. Watching her experience as a whistleblower at Google and a victim of retaliation cannot signal good things for how AI institutions will react to negative criticism. NotOkGoogle," Chris Lu, a software engineer at Google, wrote on Twitter.Over the past year, some staff at Alphabet Inc.’s Google have erupted in protest, prompting the company to drop a Pentagon AI contract and a search project in China. Whittaker, who led Google’s Open Research group, was one of the most outspoken voices. She was one of six women who organized massive walkouts after reports that Google paid handsome sums to executives accused of sexual harassment.While at Google, Whittaker also served with AI Now, an ethics organization affiliated with New York University that she co-founded. The group often criticizes businesses and government agencies for using AI systems, like facial recognition, in policing and surveillance. Whittaker also publicly denounced some Google decisions, including the appointment of Kay Coles James, a conservative think tank leader, to an AI ethics board. Google soon nixed the board."People in the AI field who know the limitations of this tech, and the shaky foundation on which these grand claims are perched, need to speak up, loudly. The consequences of this kind of BS marketing are deadly (if profitable for a few)," Whittaker wrote on Twitter on Sunday.In April, about six months after the big employee walkout, Whittaker and another protest leader, Claire Stapleton, said the company was retaliating against them for their role in the activity. In an email to colleagues, Whittaker said her Google manager told her to "abandon [her] work on AI ethics" and blocked a request to transfer internally. At the time, Google denied it retaliated against Whittaker.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Joshua Brustein in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Corporate profits for 2Q 2019 are expected to be weak, and a growing number of CEOs and other top executives are offering negative guidance.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- India is killing off the one industry that can bring badly behaving tycoons into line while nudging savers away from an unproductive lust for gold. That industry is domestic hedge funds, which have taken seven years to reach $6 billion in investment commitments from nothing. By contrast, equity investment in India by overseas financial investors is upward of $400 billion.Even that measly $6 billion figure for so-called Category 3 Alternative Investment Funds overstates the industry’s development. Some managers of vanilla mutual funds now seek the AiF registration to avoid regulatory restrictions on what they can pay distributors for selling to mom-and-pop investors. Alternatives that are meant for the rich don’t have such restraints. But leave aside the pretenders. Rather than encourage a community of investment vigilantes who target firms falsifying accounts or stealing from investors, the Indian taxman is threatening to disband it.The increase to 42.7% from 35.9% in the tax rate on annual earnings over 50 million rupees ($730,000), announced in the first annual budget after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reelection, has a more vocal victim: overseas funds investing in India. These are seeing red. Often structured as trusts or associations, they too will have to pay the higher levy that applies on all non-corporate income. The head of the tax authority in New Delhi has told them they’re “collateral damage.” Offshore investors can always find other markets. What will onshore hedge fund managers do, except leave the country perhaps? Singapore doesn’t tax capital gains; in India profits on cash equities bought and sold within a year will be charged at 21%, up from 18%. It gets even more draconian. Alternative funds now have to withhold 42.7% of all income on derivatives trading before they pass on the returns to investors. This is bread and butter business for long-short hedge funds, which frequently use derivatives to mount leveraged bets. Worse, the ultimate investors won’t be able to set off that tax against any other business losses.The Securities and Exchange Board of India, or SEBI, has always been suspicious of the source of capital for hedge funds investing in India from Singapore or Hong Kong. It believes dirty money – proceeds of crime, corruption or tax evasion – comes back home from offshore financial centers after being laundered. Whatever the rational basis of those fears, the regulator’s efforts to set up from scratch a domestic industry in alternative assets is being torpedoed by the taxman. “They may be unwittingly about to kill off the onshore hedge fund industry that SEBI created, even before it has begun to crawl,” Vijay Krishna-Kumar, head of IDFC Asset Management’s liquid alternatives investment, told me.That would be a shame. Stamping out short sellers will tilt an already-skewed playing field even more toward long-only investors. Those who profit only when share prices rise will happily overlook corporate skulduggery, especially if the tycoons riding roughshod over minority shareholders make the fund managers feel important by giving them access. At this rate, India’s abysmal governance standards will never improve.At $6 trillion, India’s household wealth is a fraction of China’s $52 trillion. Even so, the country had 343,000 dollar millionaires this time last year, according to Credit Suisse Group AG. For them, it’s important to have access to assets uncorrelated with stock market returns that they can replicate with index funds. If hedge funds die because of taxation, the rich in India will be left with two sub-optimal options. “Offshore tax centers can breathe easy now,” says Krishna-Kumar. “India will remain an underdeveloped market where only gold and property would be your alternatives.”So much of India’s private wealth is trapped in gold that any more will be a colossal social waste. For a country that aims to elevate GDP to $5 trillion by the end of Modi’s second term in 2024, from $2.8 trillion now, India needs risk capital to go into productive assets. Yet policy makers are jacking up tax rates on the one avenue for risk-taking they should be nourishing. The money they collect will be chump change compared with the cost of the hedge fund industry’s arrested development. Cronyism thrives on finance – and only finance can stop it. Without an industry that has their back, which analyst will pore over obscure company filings; meet suppliers, customers, and regulators; and use LinkedIn and Google Maps to verify whether employees and facilities exist? In India, taking on important people means risking one’s livelihood – and even liberty. If nothing else, the domestic alternatives business is worth saving because it can speak truth to power and put its money where its mouth is. To contact the author of this story: Andy Mukherjee at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Monday pressed major social media companies on how they plan to handle the threat of deepfake images and videos on their platforms ahead of the 2020 elections. The Democratic congressman wrote letters to the chief executives of Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Google, which owns YouTube, asking about the companies' formal policies on deepfakes and their research into technologies to detect the doctored content. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone confirmed the company had received the letter and said it would respond to Schiff accordingly.
Executives from Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., and Facebook Inc. should brace for tough questions around antitrust as federal probes gain steam.
Impact Engine Inc filed the complaint in federal court in San Diego, California, alleging various Google online advertising platforms, including Google Ads and Google AdSense, infringed on six patents. The allegedly violated patents, granted to San Diego-based Impact Engine between 2011 and 2018, relate to so-called "programmatic creative" technology for rapidly producing and customising online advertisements. Google did not immediately comment on the case.
Blockstack has initiated the first SEC-approved token sale, even as shares of bitcoin fell below $10,000 and amid President Trump's strong criticisms of the cryptocurrency, along with Facebook's Libra. Muneeb Ali, Blockstack CEO, joins Yahoo Finance with the details.
Big Tech is in the spotlight on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers are set to grill giants like Facebook and Google in multiple hearings. Yahoo Finance's Dan Roberts and Jessica Smith break down the details.
Jul.15 -- Peter Thiel, one of President Donald Trump’s top Silicon Valley supporters and donors, took aim at Google and the tech industry over the companies’ focus on global markets while brushing aside U.S. interests. Bloomberg's Lizette Chapman has more on "Bloomberg Markets: The Close."