GOOG Jan 2020 1880.000 call

OPR - OPR Delayed Price. Currency in USD
0.0800
0.0000 (0.00%)
As of 11:38AM EST. Market open.
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Previous Close0.0800
Open0.0800
Bid0.0000
Ask0.1500
Strike1,880.00
Expire Date2020-01-17
Day's Range0.0800 - 0.0800
Contract RangeN/A
Volume1
Open Interest531
  • 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, Akradium president, appears on "Bloomberg Technology."

  • Google Scoops Up Chunk of Vodafone in Battle With Microsoft and Amazon
    Bloomberg

    Google Scoops Up Chunk of Vodafone in Battle With Microsoft and Amazon

    Nov.19 -- Google is taking over a chunk of Vodafone Group Plc’s data operations to help make the phone company's operations more efficient. Google is vying with Amazon and Microsoft for dominance in the data center and cloud computing business. Bloomberg's Alistair Barr reports on "Bloomberg Technology."

  • 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.

  • Investopedia

    Heavy Hitters Drive Nasdaq 100 Performance

    The strong performance of the Nasdaq 100 is being driven by five companies. Can the index move higher without its largest components?

  • Fatal Self-Driving Uber Crash Prompts Call for Tighter Oversight
    Bloomberg

    Fatal Self-Driving Uber Crash Prompts Call for Tighter Oversight

    (Bloomberg) -- The National Transportation Safety Board concluded its first investigation of a fatal crash involving an autonomous test vehicle by issuing several recommendations aimed at tightening the limited oversight of companies that test self-driving cars on public roads.Among other things, the board called for developers of autonomous vehicles to be required to assess their safety procedures and not test cars on the road until regulators sign off on the document.“We feel that we’ve identified certain gaps and these gaps need to be filled, especially when we’re out testing vehicles on public roadways,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said after a board meeting on the March 2018 crash involving an Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving test vehicle and a pedestrian.The case had been closely watched in the emerging autonomous vehicle industry, which has attracted billions of dollars in investment from companies such as General Motors Co. and Alphabet Inc. in an attempt to transform transportation.“Ultimately, it will be the public that accepts or rejects automated driving systems and the testing of such systems on public roads,” Sumwalt said. “Any company’s crash affects the public confidence. Anybody’s crash is everybody’s crash.”The NTSB detailed a litany of failings by Uber that contributed to the death of Elaine Herzberg, 49, who was hit by an Uber self-driving SUV as she walked her bicycle across a road at night in Tempe, Arizona.Uber halted self-driving car tests after the accident. Information released since then highlighted a series of lapses -- both technological and human -- that the board cited as having contributed to the crash.Uber resumed self-driving testing late last year in Pittsburgh.The “immediate cause” of the crash was the backup safety driver’s failure to monitor the road ahead because she was distracted by her mobile device, the board found. A lax safety program at Uber contributed to the accident, the NTSB found.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would review the NTSB’s report and recommendations. “While the technology is rapidly developing, it’s important for the public to note that all vehicles on the road today require a fully attentive operator at all times,” the agency said in a statement.In a statement, Uber said it regrets the fatal crash and is committed to improving the safety of its self-driving program, and implementing the NTSB’s recommendations. “Over the last 20 months, we have provided the NTSB with complete access to information about our technology and the developments we have made since the crash,” Nat Beuse, head of safety for Uber’s self-driving car operation, said in a statement. “While we are proud of our progress, we will never lose sight of what brought us here or our responsibility to continue raising the bar on safety.”The Uber vehicle’s radar sensors first observed Herzberg about 5.6 seconds prior to impact before she entered the vehicle’s lane of travel and initially classified her as a vehicle. The self-driving computers changed its classification of her as different types of objects several times and failed to predict that her path would cross the lane of self-driving test SUV, according to the NTSB.The modified Volvo SUV being tested by Uber wasn’t programmed to recognize and respond to pedestrians walking outside of marked crosswalks, nor did the system allow the vehicle to automatically brake before an imminent collision. The responsibility to avoid accidents fell to the lone safety driver monitoring the vehicle’s automation system. Other companies place a second human in the vehicle for added safety.The safety driver was streaming a television show on her phone in the moments before the crash, despite company policy prohibiting drivers from using mobile devices, according to police. The NTSB has also said that Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group that was testing self-driving cars on public streets in Tempe didn’t have a standalone safety division, a formal safety plan, standard operating procedures or a manager focused on preventing accidents.“The inappropriate actions of both the automatic driving system as implemented and the vehicle’s human operator were symptoms of a deeper problem, the ineffective safety culture that existed at the time,” Sumwalt said at the opening of the hearing.Uber made extensive changes to its self-driving system after several reviews of its operation and findings by NTSB investigators. The board pointed out that Uber had been very cooperative with its inquiry. The company told the NTSB that the new software would have been able to correctly identify Herzberg and triggered controlled braking to avoid her more than 4 seconds before the original impact, the NTSB has said.To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at rbeene@bloomberg.net;Alan Levin in Washington at alevin24@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Elizabeth WassermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Stock: Stadia Cloud Gaming Seen As Revenue Booster By Third Year
    Investor's Business Daily

    Google Stock: Stadia Cloud Gaming Seen As Revenue Booster By Third Year

    Google will have $890 million in sales from the Stadia cloud gaming service in its third year of operation, says an analyst. Google stock dipped Tuesday amid the Stadia streaming launch.

  • Google enters gaming with cloud-based streaming service Stadia
    Reuters

    Google enters gaming with cloud-based streaming service Stadia

    The service will start with a slate of 22 games and stream 4K videos at 60 frames per second, which can also be accessed through Google's Chromecast and Pixel devices. Google is offering the 4K version as part of its premium service, Stadia Pro, priced at $9.99 per month. "We have over 450 games in development right now that will be coming out in 2020 and beyond," Google Vice President and General Manager Phil Harrison told Reuters.

  • Reuters

    UPDATE 1-Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple offer defense in congressional antitrust probe

    WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Four top U.S. tech companies, Alphabet's Google, Facebook, Amazon.com and Apple, responded to questions from a congressional committee by defending their practices and declining to answer some questions. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which released the answers Tuesday, had sent the queries as part of its antitrust probe of the four giants, which face a long list of other antitrust probes. Facebook and Apple declined comment for this story while Amazon and Google had no immediate comment.

  • Conoco's 2020s Plan Is to Embrace the FUD
    Bloomberg

    Conoco's 2020s Plan Is to Embrace the FUD

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- ConocoPhillips knows how to please a crowd, even one as shrunken and beaten-down as energy investors. By Tuesday lunchtime, as Conoco’s analyst day was wrapping up in Houston, it was the only big U.S. oil and gas stock flashing green, what with oil prices slipping almost 3%.This says a lot about why Conoco’s message resonates: It comes with a hefty dollop of FUD.“Fear, uncertainty, doubt” is what bears thrive on, but Conoco has refined it into something useful. CEO Ryan Lance set the tone with an opening slide called “Two Charts We Can’t Ignore,” showing how oil had dropped from its pre-2015 triple-digit level to the “new normal of lower, more volatile prices” and how the sector’s weighting in the S&P 500 had slumped from 12% in 2012 to today’s 4%. The subtitle of that slide could have been “but Lord knows the industry has tried to ignore them anyway,” which is how it ended up at that 4% weighting.Hence, Conoco continues to beat a different drum. The common thread running through Tuesday’s 152 slides is that oil and gas production is a mature business with a bad track record on capital management and a future clouded by climate change. There is no room for banking on higher commodity prices, and investors have given up paying for the oil option in E&P equities anyway.So forget exuberance and focus on resilience. Conoco’s message can be boiled down to cutting its breakeven cost per barrel and returning a lot of cash to shareholders. It plans on generating $12 billion a year of cash from operations, on average, through the 2020s, of which 60% goes to capital expenditure and 40% to buybacks and dividends. The latter equate to about 80% of the current market cap and are split themselves 60/40 in favor of buybacks, reflecting the reality of the cycle.Conoco bases its math on a $50 real oil price and expects production would grow by roughly a third over the next decade — or, factoring in the buybacks, significantly more than doubling on a per-share basis. Altogether, a projected average return made up of 8% free cash flow yield plus 3% growth is tailor-made for today’s energy investor, in contrast to the old, failed paradigm of a 10%-plus return owing everything to growth and nothing to payouts. Needless to say, Conoco was at pains to emphasize its cautious view on potential acquisitions, fear of which has weighed on the stock this year as fracker valuations have collapsed.None of this makes Conoco immune to oil’s vicissitudes, of course. Free cash flow tilts toward the back end of the decade, and the company would effectively borrow to fund some of its buybacks through 2025, at $50 oil. That said, having cut net debt by two-thirds since the end of 2016, Conoco doesn’t envisage leverage rising to even one times Ebitda in 2025. Under a stress-test scenario, where oil prices average $40 a barrel between 2023-25, the company doesn’t see leverage breaching two times Ebitda.Let’s just step back here in 2019 and acknowledge that, looking back at everything that’s unfolded in oil over the past decade, any 10-year projection should be treated less like a Google map and more like asking someone on the street for directions. Indeed, for me, the most important slide in Conoco’s deck looked back rather than forward(1). Here, COO Matt Fox talked through lessons learned from prior investment programs, chief of which is to stop committing the industry’s original sin: pro-cyclicality. In other words, don’t base your spending on how much spending power you have at any given moment. Rather, by targeting low breakeven costs, which factor in wherever the industry happens to be in the cycle, you smooth out investment and minimize spending when cost inflation is high and bringing on new production just as commodity prices turn down.This spend high/sell low approach pretty much sums up what the industry did over the past 10 years, vaporizing capital in the process. The chart below uses the U.S. onshore rig count as a proxy for industry capex, and you can see how it surged in the early years on the back of high oil prices, with much of the subsequent growth in production arriving after prices crashed. Even though frackers made real gains in efficiency in that time, the performance of the sector ETF tells you what this did to returns:This is especially important in the context of the new mantra being preached by many E&P companies today: namely, that they will live within their means. Conoco’s message is that just ensuring you don’t spend more than you make in a given year isn’t the cure for the sector’s ills. Rather, it’s about smoothing spending, production — and thereby payouts — over time in order to escape the boom and bust cycle. It is the latter that has eroded confidence in the industry’s earnings and, hence, led to lower and lower multiples being put on those earnings.Fear and doubt will always attach to oil prices, but companies can do something about uncertainty.(1) Slide 32 if you download the deck.To contact the author of this story: Liam Denning at ldenning1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Liam Denning is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy, mining and commodities. He previously was editor of the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column and wrote for the Financial Times' Lex column. He was also an investment banker.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple offer defense in congressional antitrust probe
    Reuters

    Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple offer defense in congressional antitrust probe

    WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four top U.S. tech companies, Alphabet's Google, Facebook, Amazon.com and Apple, responded to questions from a congressional committee by defending their practices and declining to answer some questions. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which released the answers Tuesday, had sent the queries as part of its antitrust probe of the four giants, which face a long list of other antitrust probes. Facebook and Apple declined comment for this story while Amazon and Google had no immediate comment.

  • Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple Push Back on House Tech Concerns
    Bloomberg

    Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple Push Back on House Tech Concerns

    (Bloomberg) -- Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple defended their business practices in responses to detailed questions by lawmakers conducting an inquiry into antitrust issues in the tech sector.The answers, released Tuesday by the House subcommittee overseeing the probe, come as antitrust scrutiny of the companies has escalated rapidly, with federal and state enforcers opening formal investigations into Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.The four companies received the questions from Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who chairs the panel, in September. Separately, the whole committee issued requests for extensive records on the firms’ business practices, acquisitions, executive communications and other issues. The companies also are in the process of responding to those requests.Here’s what the four firms said:GoogleDisputed the idea that it controls too much of the search market and the digital ad ecosystem.Downplayed suggestions that it prioritizes its own services.Denied that advertisers can only use Google Display & Video 360 ad service to purchase advertising inventory on its YouTube video platform, saying certain partners can buy ads directly from Google’s sales team.Denied that its search ranking system considers whether a publisher has adopted use of its Accelerated Mobile Pages -- a format that hosts web content directly inside search results. Google has said that the new format significantly accelerated loading times on websites.FacebookDefended policies that restricted some third-party app developers from using its platform, insisting it has never tied access to its data to spending on advertising even though documents from a lawsuit have told a different story.Said its changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy were consistent with its promises not to alter the chat platform’s sharing practices.Explained that it restricted video app Vine from its platform in 2013 because it “considered Vine to be an app that replicated Facebook’s core News Feed functionality.”AmazonPushed back against criticism that it unfairly competes with third-party sellers in its marketplace with its own products, saying its decision-making for how third-party sellers are treated is driven by a desire to give consumers wide selection, low prices and convenient delivery.Defended its private-label line known as AmazonBasics, saying private-label products are a “common retail practice.” It said it “generally does not distinguish the treatment of brands” based on the brand owner.Said its algorithm for listing shopping results doesn’t consider whether a merchant uses its Fulfillment by Amazon logistics service or whether a product is Amazon’s private label.Said it prohibits its private-label business from using individual sellers’ data to make decisions about product introductions, pricing or inventory.ApplePointed out that there are many apps that compete with its own services such as web browsing, maps, music and video.Said that users cannot uninstall its Safari web browser from the iPhone or switch to another default because Safari is “an essential part of iPhone’s functionality” as an operating system app.Explained that it’s not possible to reliably repair some products “because it is not feasible to split products into its component parts without significant risk of damage to those components.”\--With assistance from Naomi Nix, Gerrit De Vynck, Joe Light, David McLaughlin and Mark Gurman.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Mark NiquetteFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Soaring salaries at Facebook, Netflix and Silicon Valley giants show where 'the rest' can win
    American City Business Journals

    Soaring salaries at Facebook, Netflix and Silicon Valley giants show where 'the rest' can win

    The soaring salaries at Silicon Valley stalwarts like Facebook, Netflix and Google create a number of opportunities – and could be a wake-up call.

  • Top Tech Stocks for December 2019
    Investopedia

    Top Tech Stocks for December 2019

    The technology sector is made up of companies that, among other things, manufacture consumer electronics and their components, develop software, and provide information technology (IT) services like cloud hosting. Below, we'll examine the top three stocks in the tech sector for best value, fastest earnings growth, and most momentum. HP announced in November that its board of directors had unanimously rejected an unsolicited proposal from Xerox to acquire the computer manufacturing company.

  • Bloomberg

    ‘Hipster Antitrust’ Might End the Megamerger Party

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- A few months ago, a group of Democratic senators, several of them presidential candidates and all members of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee(1), wrote a letter to Joseph Simons, the Republican chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, to criticize two monster pharma deals under regulatory review: the $63 billion Allergan PLC-AbbVie Inc. merger, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s $74 billion purchase of Celgene Corp.Consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry, the senators wrote,is occurring against a backdrop of ever-rising prescription drug spending….It is more important than ever that the FTC take appropriate action to protect consumers. The Federal Trade Commission must carefully consider whether the proposed transactions may lessen competition, stifle innovation, or harm consumers.“The proposed AbbVie/Allergan and Bristol-Myers Squibb/Celgene transactions,” they added, “raise significant antitrust issues.”The FTC has not yet ruled on the Allergan-AbbVie deal, which was only announced in June, and which the companies hope to complete in early 2020.But on Friday, Simons and the two other Republican commissioners on the five-member FTC brushed aside the concerns of the Democrats and approved the Bristol-Myers Squibb deal with Celgene. Its only condition was that Celgene sell Otezla, its blockbuster psoriasis drug, apparently because Bristol-Myers Squibb has a promising psoriasis drug of its own in a phase 3 trial. The FTC has historically frowned on merged drug companies keeping overlapping drugs, fearing excessive market control.The FTC’s two Democratic commissioners, Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, dissented, something Chopra in particular has made a habit of doing since he joined the FTC in 2018. During the Obama administration, Chopra was the student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he attempted to spur competition in student lending.  At the FTC, he quickly gained a reputation for being in the vanguard of what’s sometimes called “hipster antitrust” — the effort to infuse new thinking into the antitrust arena.Much of this new thinking has been spurred by the rise of the big three tech giants, Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and Amazon.com Inc. Chopra has criticized the fines the FTC has levied against Facebook and YouTube (which is owned by Google), saying that “when a company can pay a fine from its ill-gotten gains, that’s not a penalty — that’s an incentive.”  He seeks remedies that will diminish their market power and permanently alter their behavior.But Chopra isn’t just focused on Big Tech. He believes that in industry after industry, concentration has gone too far. The result, he concludes, has been less innovation, higher barriers to entry for new market entrants and higher prices for consumers. And because the FTC must approve mergers in a variety of sectors — chemical companies, agricultural concerns and, yes, pharmaceuticals — he is in a position to do something about it. Or rather, he may be soon, depending on the result of the 2020 election.Which is also why his dissents are worth noting. They offer an insight into how a Democratic administration might tackle market power and industry consolidation at a time when the status quo no longer seems acceptable.At the FTC, there has long been a bipartisan consensus that so long as two drug companies didn’t have overlapping products — or if they were willing to divest them — the merger would be approved. This long-standing practice, Chopra wrote in his dissent, is no longer good enough: “Some evidence shows that these mergers have choked off innovation, creating harms that are immeasurable for those waiting for a cure.”  He then lays out all the elements of Bristol-Myers Squibb merger with Celgene that he believes the FTC should have considered:This massive $74 billion merger between Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) may have significant implications for patients and inventors, so we must be especially vigilant. In my view, this transaction appears to be heavily motivated by financial engineering and tax considerations (as opposed to a genuine drive for greater discovery of lifesaving medications), without clear benefits to patients or the public….In addition, there are also concerns about a history of anticompetitive conduct.(2)Expansive investigation for mergers like these is time well spent.He then goes on to list the questions he believes the FTC should have tried to answer—questions that go well beyond overlapping drugs:Will the merger facilitate a capital structure that magnifies incentives to engage in anticompetitive conduct or abuse of intellectual property? Will the merger deter formation of biotechnology firms that fuel much of the industry’s innovation? How can we know the effects on competition if we do not rigorously study or investigate these and other critical questions? Given our approach, I am not confident that the Commission has sufficient information to determine the full scope of potential harms to competition of this massive merger.Here is something else Chopra believes: The FTC has plenty of statutory authority to bring antitrust actions — or block mergers on antitrust grounds. It’s just that it has rarely used that authority, preferring instead to take the same laissez faire approach as the Justice Department and the courts. “What we’re advocating is not radical,” Chopra told me recently. “It’s a restoration. We have to see this as a core part of the economic policy tool kit.”So far in this early phase of the presidential race, corporate executives have tended to focus on, say, Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax. That’s understandable, but a wealth tax will require Congress to pass a bill. So will Medicare For All, and any number of policies the various Democratic candidates hope to implement.But changing the government’s approach to antitrust — getting tougher on mergers and maybe even calling for some companies to be broken up — doesn’t require legislation. When a group of senators (some of whom also happen to be presidential candidates) writes to the FTC calling for greater scrutiny of a big pharma merger — and a leading light of the new antitrust movement is in the vanguard — it’s a pretty good bet that this is one thing that will change if there’s a new administration.Brace yourselves, Corporate America. The merger party may be coming to an end.(1) Its official name is the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.(2) Chopra’s dissent links to this 2018 NPR article, about the steps Celgene took to keep its multiple myeloma drug, Revlimid, away from generic competition.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • U.S. Big Tech Could Learn From Russia's Yandex
    Bloomberg

    U.S. Big Tech Could Learn From Russia's Yandex

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Yandex NV, Russia’s biggest technology company, has figured out how to avoid nationalization or a foreign ownership ban. Big Tech in the U.S. should pay attention: The governance scheme Yandex appears to have worked out in consultation with the Russian government could be a good solution for companies that are de facto public utilities under private control.Yandex, set up in 2000 to monetize a search engine developed in the 1990s by the team of co-founder Arkady Volozh, is as close as it gets in Russia to a Silicon Valley-style internet giant. For a long time, it mainly aped Google’s services for the Russian market, but it has grown into a conglomerate that developed or bought up other businesses, from marketplaces to delivery projects. It’s not just Russia’s Google but Russia’s Amazon and Russia’s Uber, too (it first outcompeted Uber’s Russian operation, then swallowed it up). In fact, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a “sovereign internet” law earlier this year, officially meant to keep web services functioning inside Russia should the U.S. cut the country off from the worldwide computer network, many said Yandex would be that “sovereign internet.”Yandex’s size and its ability to match the tech giants have made the company strategic for the Russian government. As early as 2009, Volozh had to protect Yandex from nationalization or from being taken over by one of Putin’s billionaire friends by issuing a “golden share,” which could block the sale of more than 25% of the company’s stock, to state-controlled Sberbank.But the government also could be helpful when Yandex needed it. In 2015, the Russian tech giant filed an antitrust complaint against Google, which had been eating into its market share on mobile, and in 2017 Google had to settle with the Russian antitrust authority, allowing Android smartphone vendors to install Yandex apps. Now, the Russian parliament is considering a bill that would ban the sale of phones and computers without pre-installed Russian software. Yandex would be the  main beneficiary.In Putin’s mind, that kind of protection comes at a price: Yandex must guarantee that it will never fall under foreign control. The previous “golden share” arrangement didn’t quite rule that out. Volozh and top employees control the company’s Class B stock, which gives them 57% of the voting power. If those shares are sold or their owners die, Class B shares will automatically convert to Class A ones, which are traded on stock exchanges, and foreign shareholders will end up with the most voting power.In July, legislator Anton Gorelkin introduced a bill that would limit the foreign ownership of strategically important internet companies to 20%. Yandex opposed it, but the government approved it, and it became clear that the bill would be passed. So Volozh began working feverishly on a solution, which was finally announced on Monday “after many months of discussion,” as Volozh wrote in a letter to employees. The company has set up a special body called the Public Interests Foundation, made up of representatives of Russia’s top math, engineering and business schools (most of them owned by the state) and Russia’s big-business lobby, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The foundation will have two seats out of 12 on Yandex’s board of directors, and it will have a veto on all deals involving 10% or more of Yandex stock, big intellectual property sales and any transfer of Russian citizens’ personal data.Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, denied that the Kremlin had taken part in the discussions mentioned in Volozh’s letter, but praised Yandex for appreciating the company’s “special responsibility” and the “special attention” on the part of the state that it enjoys. Immediately after the Yandex announcement, Gorelkin called the solution “elegant” and pulled his bill. All this was immediately reflected in a share price spike.This may read like a distinctively Russian story, in which a group of business founders is trying to avoid a state takeover and the Kremlin prefers not to establish formal control over the national tech champion while keeping a close eye on it. The schools provide a convenient smokescreen both for the government and for investors. But what Yandex has done isn’t only relevant within the context of Putin’s Russia. It could be seen as a template for Big Tech, even though Yandex’s market capitalization, at $13.2 billion, is only a fraction of Alphabet Inc.’s ($910.6 billion) or Facebook Inc.’s ($562.9 billion).These two companies that make up the internet’s advertising duopoly, are often discussed along with Amazon.com Inc. as public services rather than mere businesses by politicians on both the right and the left of the U.S. political spectrum. Last year, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa proposed treating Google and Facebook as public utilities. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, would break up some of the Big Tech companies and designate some as “platform utilities” that would be banned from sharing user data with third parties and required to treat all users equally.Obviously, the tech firms are opposed to such heavy-handed regulation, but what they do on their own only brings them closer to a confrontation with governments, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Facebook’s refusal to police misleading political advertising and Google’s data-sharing practices scream for some kind of state interference. Like Yandex, the companies could act preemptively to set up governance structures that would veto business ideas viewed as damaging to society’s interests. Vesting veto powers in councils made up of the representatives of top universities and nongovernmental organizations could accomplish that purpose. If such a structure can win approval even from an authoritarian regime such as the Russian one (with the caveat that academic institutions in Russia aren’t as independent as those in the West), it could probably satisfy most Big Tech critics in democracies, too.  The alternative, as in Yandex’s case, could be far more restrictive.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.

  • TheStreet.com

    [video]Google Stadia Reviews Show Why Microsoft's Cloud Gaming Strategy Is Smarter

    Whereas Google is betting on cloud gaming alone, Microsoft is taking a more practical approach to supporting the technology.

  • Benzinga

    Google Stadia Launch Update: Stadia Codes Being Sent Out 'Throughout The Day'

    Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) Google launches its cloud gaming platform Stadia on Tuesday, allowing players to play games on their mobile devices instead of a gaming computer or console, and with no downloading. How Much Does Stadia Cost? Initially Google had included only 12 games but made a late decision to add 10 more. Google sent an email to people who pre-ordered Stadia, explaining the set-up, and it does still require some hardware.

  • Marissa Mayer is back with a new startup focusing on artificial intelligence
    MarketWatch

    Marissa Mayer is back with a new startup focusing on artificial intelligence

    Mayer has been tight-lipped about her new venture, Lumi Labs, which is focused on building A.I. applications for consumers.

  • Oracle Delays Decision to Replace Mark Hurd
    Bloomberg

    Oracle Delays Decision to Replace Mark Hurd

    (Bloomberg) -- A month after the death of Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd, Oracle Corp.’s succession plan is to leave control in the hands of Chairman Larry Ellison and Hurd’s fellow CEO Safra Catz while an internal successor is groomed, people familiar with the matter said. While Ellison has put forth five candidates, none has emerged quickly as the front-runner to join Catz as CEO, and the company is likely to appoint someone president first—or at least give that executive more time to grow into the role, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the company’s private deliberations. Oracle has considered promoting an executive with product or technical experience, one of the people said.Hurd, Oracle’s chief salesman, died in October after taking a short medical leave. Ellison, 75, and Catz, 57, have said they are splitting Hurd’s duties. In September, Ellison promised to give five names to Oracle’s board of executives who could one day be a “next-gen” CEO. He name-checked Steve Miranda, 50, executive vice president of applications development, and Don Johnson, EVP of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, as leaders who would grow over time. Ellison, who also serves as technology chief, said at that time that the software maker would be in no rush to directly replace Hurd, and Oracle remains committed to taking a slow approach, said the people. The software maker has had only three chief executive officers in its 42-year history. Ellison presided over the company for decades before stepping down in 2014, when he was succeeded by Catz and Hurd. The latter two served as presidents before sharing the top job. Currently, Oracle doesn’t have any presidents. Ellison’s desire to promote from within makes it likely the next person appointed to be CEO will first serve as a president.“We should have people in the company that are capable of being promoted into that position,” Ellison said at a meeting with financial analysts in September. “So when there is this succession, it's not rushing out and doing a search. It's knowing we have these assets that are familiar with the company, familiar with the personnel.”While there’s no current rush in naming a CEO, Oracle could accelerate the appointment should the right candidate emerge, the people said. Ellison may be asked about a successor to Hurd at Tuesday's annual shareholder meeting at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood City, California.Amid Catz’s aversion to public speaking and media interviews, and Ellison’s limited public appearances, Hurd played a special role in Oracle’s C-suite. The usually outgoing executive oversaw sales and regularly met with big corporate customers who spent tens of millions of dollars on Oracle’s collection of software programs. He frequently outlined the company’s vision in meetings with the press and on television.“Mark Hurd loved sales and he loved the deal,” Pat Walravens, an analyst at JMP Securities, said in an interview. “Because of that, he ended up touching so much of Oracle. That’s what they need in a successor. Safra’s got the operations. You need somebody who loves sales and is really good at it.”The management succession issue comes at an important time for Oracle. Fiscal-year revenue has increased an average of less than 1% annually in the past five years as Oracle has transitioned to cloud-based computing. The company's sales have declined year-over-year for two of the past four quarters and analysts project growth of just 1.4% in fiscal 2020. Still, investors appear satisfied—the company's shares have gained about 25% this year, matching the rise of the S&P 500.Ellison has placed great trust in Oracle’s product executives, describing some of them as “people who are really running the company.” Besides Miranda and Johnson, Ed Screven, 55, Oracle’s chief corporate architect who ensures products are consistent with the company’s strategy; Andy Mendelsohn, the EVP in charge of database server technologies; and Juan Loaiza, EVP of mission-critical database technologies, are senior leaders who are well-regarded by Ellison, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing his thinking. Many of the executives have proven their loyalty to the boss by staying at Oracle for decades, since it was a much smaller business, but they’re seen as lacking Hurd’s panache and charisma, the people added.By contrast, Loïc Le Guisquet, the chairman for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Asia Pacific and Japan, has sales experience and oversees a sprawling portion of the company’s business. Le Guisquet is set to be promoted to a new global role, said one of the people, but his new title couldn't be confirmed. Oracle didn’t respond to a request for comment on its succession plans.Given Ellison’s second title as Oracle’s CTO, and his ownership of a third of the business, he would almost certainly retain veto power over product decisions as long as he remains at the company.Thomas Kurian was seen as an heir to Ellison as the company’s president of product development until he left in September 2018 after an acrimonious split with the billionaire chairman, Bloomberg News has reported. Kurian is now CEO of Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud Platform. Rather than replace Kurian directly, Ellison has largely absorbed his responsibilities and now oversees the executives who reported to Kurian.If Oracle seeks a candidate other than Le Guisquet with more of Hurd’s skills, it has other strong options, the people said. David Donatelli, 54, Oracle’s EVP of the cloud business group, leads sales and marketing strategy for the company’s cloud efforts and was one of Hurd’s deputies. Rich Geraffo, 56, the EVP of a multibillion-dollar part of Oracle’s North American sales organization, also used to answer to Hurd.“We think we're in pretty good shape,” Ellison said in September. “We've got quality and quantity in our management team. These people are all slightly younger than I am. So I think hopefully they're going to be around a long time.”\--With assistance from Ashlee Vance.To contact the author of this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Pollack at apollack1@bloomberg.net, Jillian WardMolly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Google Wins Vodafone Data Deal in Battle With Amazon, Microsoft

    (Bloomberg) -- Google is taking over a chunk of Vodafone Group Plc’s data operations to help the world’s second-biggest mobile phone company identify cost savings using artificial intelligence.Vodafone will shift data processing and storage from its own premises to Google’s cloud and use Google’s real-time analysis tools to develop new services for business clients and streamline the carrier’s operations in 24 countries, the companies told Bloomberg.It will become “the brains of our business as we transform ourselves into a digital tech company,” said Simon Harris, Vodafone’s head of big data delivery.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is vying with Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. for dominance in data centers and cloud computing. Vodafone has launched an internal platform dubbed “Neuron” to aggregate and crunch the ocean of data from its customers and networks. Chief Technology Officer Johan Wibergh said Vodafone can’t do that without Google’s capabilities.The companies didn’t give the price of the contract.Many phone companies are closing their aging data centers and outsourcing the work to a new generation of huge server farms developed by U.S. tech giants. Telecom Italia SpA has partnered with Google to sell cloud and edge computing services to corporate clients. Britain’s BT Group Plc is shifting from owning its data infrastructure to partnering with tech giants and selling complementary services such as system integration and cybersecurity.The Google deal is much more cost-effective than trying to build the same technological tools in-house, said Wibergh by phone. Vodafone is not selling its own data centers as they are still being used for other things, he added.To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Seal in London at tseal@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, Thomas Pfeiffer, Jennifer RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    This Search Engine Is Planting Trees Every Time You Browse

    (Bloomberg) -- When fires raged across Brazil this summer and deforestation rates reached startling highs, users began downloading a small German search engine in a modest effort to counteract the devastation.Ecosia GmBH, a Berlin-based alternative to Google, donates as much as 80% of the profit it makes from running ads alongside search results to plant trees around the world.As awareness increases around the impact of climate change -- from floods wiping out harvests or droughts forcing water restrictions -- Ecosia says it’s attracting more users as a result.“It’s easy to underestimate the massive impact that planting trees can have, with reforestation found to be the cheapest and most immediately effective weapon in the fight to save the planet,” Chief Executive Officer Christian Kroll said in an interview.The company says searches on its service have increased 82% compared to last year, as people become increasingly conscious of climate issues, aided in part by teenage activist Greta Thunberg. On Aug. 22, installs of Ecosia jumped 1,150% up from daily average figures, as news outlets around the world reported about the Amazon fires in Brazil.Ecosia typically sees up to 25,000 installs per day, but on Aug. 22 that jumped to over 250,000, the company said.On average, every 45 searches on Ecosia generates enough profit to plant one tree, which costs $0.25, Kroll said. Alongside its tree-planting, the company also has a program in Brazil to prevent the spread of forest fires, paying local firefighters to snuff them out and educating people in those areas to not start them in the first place.Kroll said he started trading stocks at age 16 and studied business administration in college, before he decided to shift course after extended trips to India, Nepal and Latin America, where he was exposed to poverty and mass extinction.He used his earnings from trading to launch Ecosia 10 years ago, which has since grown to bring in revenue of more than 9 million euros ($10 million) last year. It now has more than 8 million active users, according to a spokesman, allowing the certified benefit corporation to plant more than 74 million trees around the world, including in Brazil, Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Indonesia.The company says it targets tree-planting in biodiversity hotpots to protect as many plant and animal species as possible. It works with local organizations to plant trees that target the local community’s most urgent needs, like providing jobs, firewood, food or fertile soil.Unlike Google, Ecosia doesn’t target ads to users, though doing so could earn the company more money to plant trees. It says it also aims to protect user privacy as much as possible by not tracking its users or selling their data to advertisers and by encrypting their searches.The German search engine said it’s looking into rolling out more green services, like highlighting more sustainable options for travel in search results.Another possibility it’s mulling for the future: a personal assistant with a green conscience. “But without being too annoying,” Kroll said.To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Kylie Jenner Is Keeping Up With the Billionaires
    Bloomberg

    Kylie Jenner Is Keeping Up With the Billionaires

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Coty Inc. just turned into Koty Inc.The American beauty group controlled by Germany’s billionaire Reimann family has agreed to pay $600 million for a majority stake in the cosmetics brand founded by Kylie Jenner, the youngest member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. The deal, in which Coty will acquire a 51% stake, values Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics business at about $1.2 billion, not bad for the line of lip kits the reality TV star created when still a teenager.You can see why Coty is paying up for a piece of the “Konsumer” action. Jenner, with 270 million social media followers is at the vanguard of the celebrity-influencer beauty industry, where company founders engage their fans via Instagram and YouTube and turn them into customers. Jenner — alongside other new media stars such as pop singer Rihanna, who’s partnered with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, and the makeup artist Huda Kattan — is reshaping the beauty industry. Traditional cosmetics houses need to find ways to keep up. The mass beauty market, in which Coty has brands such as CoverGirl and MaxFactor, has been hit hard by the celebrity competition.Coty’s deal values Kylie Cosmetics at 6.7 times the last 12 months’ revenue. That compares with the 3.6 times multiple paid by Sweden’s EQT Partners for Nestle Skin Health, a brand catering for a slightly older demographic. It seems contouring for millennials is twice as valuable as hiding crow’s feet.Jenner’s company sells only make-up and skincare products currently; Coty will license it fragrances and nail merchandise too. If the new parent can broaden Kylie’s appeal into everything from false eyelashes to gel nail varnish, and pump them through its global distribution network, then it has a chance of bolstering revenue and squeezing value from the deal price. The business is already growing quickly and has an Ebitda margin of more than 25%.The danger of buying a “name” brand is that fashion is fickle. Coty’s purchase assumes that Kylie will keep inspiring young women to highlight their cheek bones and plump their lips. Yet what if she falls from favor with her young followers, who move onto the next Instagram or TikTok sensation. Already we may be past peak Kardashian, with the family’s TV show now into its 17th series.Coty is eager to stress that this is a partnership, and that Jenner will remain heavily involved. But operating inside a behemoth is very different to being an entrepreneurial startup.Let’s not forget the fate of the celebrity fragrance boom that emerged in the 2000s. These products are waning in popularity as millennials demand more personalized and artisanal scents. Coty itself has been moving away from some traditional collaborations, for example stopping producing perfumes for Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and Celine Dion — although it still has Katy Perry in its stable.Yet perfume tie-ups were for the analogue age; capturing a Kardashian is for the digital era. Investors will hope that doesn’t also mean an acceleration of the process of falling out of fashion.\--With assistance from Chris Hughes.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at afelsted@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Did Booking.com Swallow Kayak? No, It’s Just a Marketing Thing
    Skift

    Did Booking.com Swallow Kayak? No, It’s Just a Marketing Thing

    For at least the past three months, U.S.-based Kayak and OpenTable have branded themselves atop their homepages as being "Part of Booking.com," all three of which are sister companies within parent Booking Holdings. There's apparently a marketing motive behind the new cozy branding. The parent company, Booking Holdings, wants to parlay the U.S. brand recognition […]