|Day's Range||32.65 - 32.65|
Google is shutting down Neighbourly, a Q&A social app that it launched in Mumbai two years ago, the company has informed users. A spokesperson confirmed the move to TechCrunch. The app, developed by company’s Next Billion Initiative, aimed to give local communities an outlet to seek answers to practical questions about life, routine and more.
YouTube has been criticized for continuing to host coronavirus disinformation on its video sharing platform during a global health emergency. Two US advocacy groups which campaign for online safety undertook an 18-day investigation of the video sharing platform in March -- finding what they say were "dozens" of examples of dubious videos, including videos touting bogus vaccines the sellers claimed would protect buyers from COVID-19. Google said last month that it would temporarily take down ads for masks from its ad network but sellers looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis appear to be circumventing the ban by using YouTube's video sharing platform as an alternative digital shop window to lure buyers.
Will Smith backed Social-Investing App Public has seen a 70% increase in interaction among its members
(Bloomberg) -- Fitness-tracking gadgets are selling out, home exercise classes have never been more popular and industrial robot designers are pivoting to making sanitation bots. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a seismic wave of health awareness and anxiety, which is energizing a new category of virus-fighting tech.The fear of infection has accelerated the adoption of apps and wearables as a means to feel better protected. “Having accurate and immediate feedback about our body temperature, blood pressure and other health signals helps to restore people’s sense of control,” said Andy Yap, a social psychologist at the INSEAD business school.Users, insurers and health-care providers are all seeing the benefit of health gadgets, in a shift expected to persist long after the outbreak subsides. That’s galvanizing the development of new devices by startups and gadget outfits in Asia, where the novel coronavirus first struck and consumers are known to be early adopters.The Withings Thermo is a contactless thermometer that uses 16 sensors to take more than 4,000 measurements in 2 seconds -- which it then syncs to a mobile app. It costs $99.95, but nobody can buy one until mid-April because all inventory was depleted two weeks ago, according to the company. Use of the Thermo has been significantly higher than usual for this time of year, the company added.Until the start of this year, CrucialTec Co. used to give away its thumb-sized thermometer dongle as a gift to clients, finding no market for the health gadget. That all changed when “orders came pouring in after the virus outbreak,” said President Jay Yim, and the South Korean company’s now ramping up production with the goal of making “more than 500,000 within the first half of this year.”Local governments in China, retailers in Japan and U.S. wholesalers are all putting in orders for the $65 Temon thermometer, and Yim expects one or two Chinese smartphone makers to come out with prototype devices with the technology built in this fall. Sister company CrucialTrak, which sells the module, has seen orders for its touch-less biometric ID solutions -- facial, vein and iris scanning -- rise fivefold after the initial outbreak, according to Senior Vice President Seung Y. Park. It plans to go public in 2022.Youibot Robotics Technologies Co. took 18 days to design and build a human-height robot that can sanitize rooms using two ultraviolet lights as well as measure the body temperature of passersby. The Shenzhen-based startup, which partnered with Michelin on robot tire inspectors in 2017, is looking to sell more than 200 of these “anti-epidemic” robots in the first half of this year, said Cody Zhang, founder and chief executive officer, virtually doubling the company’s entire sales output from last year.“A robot that fights virus pandemics is something new, but we are prepared because it was our goal to bring robotic equipment to emerging sectors,” said Zhang, who was born in 1992. The company already had the basic building blocks on hand and sourced ultraviolet tubes from Philips along with other off-the-shelf components like cameras and temperature sensors. Zhang expects the sanitizing robots to deliver close to a third of Youibot’s 70 million yuan ($9 million) sales target this year.Another small Chinese startup, the Hangzhou-based MegaHealth Information Technology Co., saw a fivefold increase in its sales the past two months compared to the last quarter of 2019 -- largely thanks to its medical ring that can monitor heart rate and blood oxygen levels. “We initially developed the product for patients who have breathing problems, but the coronavirus outbreak extended its use,” said CEO Hu Jun, whose gadget is in use in around 100 Chinese hospitals now. It will be in the U.S. and Europe in the second half of the year, he added, and once production catches up with demand, MegaHealth will sell it direct to consumers as well.Fitness app and gadget provider Chengdu Music Information Technology Co., trading under the name Codoon, has seen the number of its users exercising at home almost triple. Responding to user and government demand, the company’s also added a thermometer function to its fitness watches. “We have a new app, an AI temperature-measuring system, following the government’s encouragement,” said founder and CEO Shen Bo. Codoon is investing more in software, Shen added, because he sees gadgets with personalized programming as the key to sustaining user interest.Bhrugu Pange, managing director at global consultants AArete, expects that the surge in usage now -- as people grapple with the uncertainty around infection and treatment -- will lead to a domino effect producing lasting change. Users, insurers and health-care providers will all “start taking fitness-tracking devices and apps more seriously as a tool for preventive and proactive maintenance of patient health. This in turn will lead to more serious collaboration between device makers and healthcare institutions.”Read more: Quarantined Doctors Turn to Video So They Can See PatientsBeyond hardware, health experts and startups are looking into mobilizing health data to help consumers. John Torous, a researcher at the Harvard-associated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is integrating Apple Watch and Google Fit device data into a common platform, allowing patients to consult with doctors online and share their measurable health indicators.“After (and during) periods of high stress and anxiety like we are in now, often demand and need for mental health services expands. With telehealth we can meet this demand and ensure everyone has access to care,” said Torous. He’s among the strongest advocates of a widespread move toward remote medicine, hastened by the rapid spread of Covid-19.Read more: Doctor Anywhere Secures Funding to Ride Telemedicine SurgeWorking toward a similar goal, Huami Corp., which makes Xiaomi’s popular fitness-tracking bands, looked back on the sleep data it had from 115,000 users in Wuhan -- epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- and the neighboring Anhui province from July 2017 to Feb. 2020. The company saw a detectable deviation in reported sleeping heart rate, which peaked on Jan. 21, weeks earlier than in previous years. Similar spikes showed up in other Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou as the virus started spreading to them. Huami is now developing an early-warning signal to flag these anomalies as they occur and accelerate the reaction to the next major epidemic.Ultimately, the current wave of new consumer gadgets and the data they churn out have the potential to produce big technological breakthroughs.“Historically, new tech emerged after major incidents such as the Spanish flu outbreak and the two World Wars,” said Suh Yonggu, dean of the business school at Sookmyung Women’s University. He expects the novel coronavirus to have long-lasting impact. “Even after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, I believe offline health-care will be shifted to online training and home health-care, fueled by changes in people’s value for family and house.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
MarketWatch and other technology and investing sites misreported earlier Wednesday that Google parent Alphabet will cut ties with lobbyists and think tanks that deny accelerating man-made climate change.
For weeks, Zoom Video Communications Inc. basked in the glow of surging shares, enthusiastic research reports, and insatiable demand among consumers and enterprises.
(Bloomberg) -- In August 2019, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association built a 16-foot pyramid of jugs in its main entrance in Phoenix. The goal was to show residents of this desert region how much water they each use a day—120 gallons—and to encourage conservation. “We must continue to do our part every day,” executive director Warren Tenney wrote in a blog post. “Some of us are still high-end water users who could look for more ways to use water a bit more wisely.”A few weeks earlier in nearby Mesa, Google proposed a plan for a giant data center among the cacti and tumbleweeds. The town is a founding member of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, but water conservation took a back seat in the deal it struck with the largest U.S. internet company. Google is guaranteed 1 million gallons a day to cool the data center, and up to 4 million gallons a day if it hits project milestones. If that was a pyramid of water jugs, it would tower thousands of feet into Arizona’s cloudless sky.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is building more data centers across the U.S. to power online searches, web advertising and cloud services. The company has boasted for years that these huge computer-filled warehouses are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. But there’s a cost that the company tries to keep secret. These facilities use billions of gallons of water, sometimes in dry areas that are struggling to conserve this limited public resource.“Data centers are expanding, they’re going everywhere. They need to be built in a way that ensures they are not taking critical resources away from water-scarce communities,” said Gary Cook, global climate campaigns director at Stand.earth, an environmental advocacy group.Google considers its water use a proprietary trade secret and bars even public officials from disclosing the company’s consumption. But information has leaked out, sometimes through legal battles with local utilities and conservation groups. In 2019 alone, Google requested, or was granted, more than 2.3 billion gallons of water for data centers in three different states, according to public records posted online and legal filings. Clashes over the company’s water use may increase as it chases Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in the booming cloud-computing market. Google has 21 data center locations currently. After pumping $13 billion into offices and data centers in 2019, it plans to spend another $10 billion across the U.S. this year.“The race for data centers to keep up with it all is pretty frantic,” said Kevin Kent, chief executive officer of consulting firm Critical Facilities Efficiency Solutions. “They can’t always make the most environmentally best choices.”Google often puts data centers close to large population hubs to help its web services respond quickly. Sometimes that means building in hot and dry regions. The processing units inside heat up easily and water is needed to cool them down.“We strive to build sustainability into everything we do,” said Gary Demasi, senior director of energy and location operations at Google. “We’re proud that our data centers are some of the most efficient in the world, and we have worked to reduce their environmental impact even as demand for our products has dramatically risen.” In Red Oak, Texas, a town about 20 miles south of Dallas, Google wants as much as 1.46 billion gallons of water a year for a new data center by 2021, according to a legal filing. Ellis County, which includes Red Oak and roughly 20 other towns, will need almost 15 billion gallons this year for everything from irrigation to residential use, data from the Texas Water Development Board show.Many parts of Texas are already seeing high water demand, according to Venki Uddameri, director of the water resources center at Texas Tech University. “With climate change, we are expected to have more prolonged droughts,” he said. “These kinds of water-intensive operations add to the local stress.” Water-scarce cities have to make trade-offs between conservation and economic development, and cash-rich Google is a big draw. “It’s a constant battle in Texas because of wanting both,” said Uddameri. In August, Google filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to strip a local utility in Red Oak, Rockett Special Utility District, of its federal right to be the sole water supplier to the property. Google said it filed the petition after Rockett confirmed it doesn’t have the capacity to meet the company’s demands. If approved, the petition would let Google get water from another provider. Rockett contested this in a legal response and said Google provided little information on how the water will be used, both in its application to the utility and in “vague” conversations involving company representatives. Despite that, Google made “incessant” requests for the utility to assess if it can meet the company’s water needs, Rockett said in legal filings. Google paid Rockett to do a report on whether the utility could provide enough water for the project. That report has not been submitted and the internet company has been pressing the utility to complete it, according to Google. Rockett brought a case against Texas’ public utility commissioners for refusing to dismiss Google’s petition despite being aware of the utility’s rights. A Google entity, Alamo Mission LLC, is named as a defendant in the case. Lawyers for Rockett declined to comment on the ongoing case. Google says it's not the only one looking for an alternative to Rockett. Another development in Red Oak is also seeking an alternate water supply, according to the company.The planned data center in Red Oak would be Google’s second in Texas. It struck a deal with the city in July 2019. Red Oak officials told residents about Google’s plans ahead of time, according to Todd Fuller, the city manager. There wasn’t much concern about the impact the data center could have on local resources including water, according to Fuller. “Our water system is pretty robust,” he said, adding that the city doesn’t use its full water capacity.Red Oak isn’t so laid back about water use on its website, though. On a page dedicated to water conservation, the city says it gets half its water supply from Dallas and encourages residents to reduce water use because Dallas’ six reservoirs are 18% depleted. Mandatory water restrictions will kick in if those sources become 35% depleted. Fuller did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.Google said it doesn’t use all the water it requests, but the company must make sure enough is available for periods of high demand, or when the weather’s particularly hot. That’s necessary to keep internet services reliable, according to the company.Google’s data center water use became a subject of controversy last year in Berkeley County, South Carolina. An environmental group opposed the company’s request for 1.5 million gallons of groundwater a day from what it said was a “historically threatened” source. The company has also worked with Berkeley County Water & Sanitation to get 5 million gallons a day from the Charleston Water system. Google said its share of this supply is far less than 5 million gallons a day, with the rest available for the broader community.Google has been trying to secure the 1.5 million gallons—triple the daily amount it’s currently allowed in Berkeley County—since 2016. The Coastal Conservation League took issue with Google’s refusal to share information on how it will be using the extra water. Despite the opposition, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control granted Google’s request, triggering a backlash from some residents.The conservation league called out the DHEC for giving Google so much water while asking a local public utility, Mount Pleasant Waterworks, to reduce its withdrawal from the aquifer by 57% over the next four years. The utility exceeded its previous peak use demand by 25% in May 2019, one of the driest months last year in Berkeley County, according to Clay Duffie, general manager of Mount Pleasant Waterworks.“It’s unfair that the DHEC is asking us to reduce our water withdrawal while someone like Google can come in and ask for three times more than their original permit and get it,” Duffie said.Google eventually backed off its groundwater request and reached an agreement with the league to only use it as a last resort. The deal still lets the company withdraw groundwater if there’s a shortfall, when conducting maintenance, or when demand exceeds available potable or storm water supplies during peak user activity.The Arizona town of Mesa, where Google plans a 750,000 square-foot data center, gets half its water from the drought-prone Colorado River. A contingency plan was signed into law last year requiring states dependent on the river to take voluntary conservation measures. Still, Mesa officials say they remain confident about future supply while continuing to remind residents to limit their water consumption. “We do not have any immediate concerns,” said Kathy Macdonald, a water resources planning adviser with the city. In 2019, Mesa used 28 billion gallons of water, according to Macdonald. City officials expect that to reach 60 billion gallons a year by 2040, a demand Mesa is capable of meeting, she said.Big companies like Google wouldn’t locate to the city if it couldn’t meet their water demands, Macdonald said. Mesa passed an ordinance in 2019 to ensure sustainable water use by large operations and fine them if they exceed their allowance.Google has toiled for years to reduce the carbon footprint of data centers. Today, the facilities churn out a lot more computer power for every watt of energy used. In its 2019 environmental report, the company argued that reducing its energy use also makes it more water-efficient. “Generating electricity requires water, so the less energy we use to power our data centers, the less water we use as well,” it said.However, data center experts say there’s usually a trade-off between water and energy use. “If the water consumption goes down, energy consumption goes up and vice versa,” said Otto Van Geet, a principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.Google relies on “evaporative cooling,” which evaporates water to cool the air around the processing units stacked inside data centers, according to its environmental report. The most common systems, known as computer room air conditioners, are energy intensive. Evaporative cooling uses less energy, but the process requires more water. Operators will often embrace the thirstier approach because it’s less expensive, said Cook from Stand.earth.“Water’s cheap. In many places, the energy costs are much higher” he added. In a data center application the company filed in Henderson, Nevada, in 2018, Google’s considerations included utility and real estate costs, tax incentives and availability of qualified workers.Google has paid more attention to water use in recent years. It relies on recycled water or seawater where it can to avoid using drinking water or draining local supplies. Google also says it saves water by recirculating it through cooling systems multiple times. In Mesa, the company is working with authorities on a water credits program, but said it’s too early to share more details.From 2007 to 2012, Google used regular drinking water to cool its data center in Douglas County, just outside Atlanta. After realizing the water “didn’t need to be clean enough to drink,” the company shifted to recycled water to help conserve the nearby Chattahoochee River. It’s difficult to use similar approaches for other data center locations because the required technology isn’t always available, according to the company.“The Chattahoochee provides drinking water, public greenspace and recreational activities for millions of people,” the company said in a blog post at the time. “We’re glad to do our part in creating an environmentally sustainable economy along the shores of the Hooch.” (Updates with Google comments in 15th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. has relaxed a controversial policy that took a 30% cut of payments when video apps on its platform sold TV shows and movies.Amazon.com Inc. started taking advantage of the change on Wednesday, selling and renting movies via its Prime Video service on Apple devices without needing to give Apple a share of the money.“Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits,” the Cupertino, California-based technology giant said in a emailed statement. The program applies to multiple services, including Amazon Prime Video. Canal+, a unit of Vivendi SA, started participating in 2018. Altice One, a cloud-based video service from Altice USA Inc., signed up in February.The program lets these premium services charge viewers via their own payment method instead of Apple’s in-app-purchase system, which takes a 30% cut. “Customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription,” Apple said in the statement.Apple said the program also provides a number of other benefits, including “integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on.”Most other types of apps and services on Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV require the use of Apple’s in-app-purchase system for downloads and upgrades. Some developers, including Spotify Technology SA, have said Apple’s system is an antitrust issue and have had to raise their prices by 30% for iPhone users to offset Apple’s fees.Read more: Apple and Google Face Growing Revolt Over App Store ‘Tax’ (Updates with details of program participants in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Prince George’s County will offer up to $15 million in grants and loans to businesses impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, as localities continue to plot out ways to respond to the public health crisis. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks rolled out a new “COVID-19 Business Relief Fund” Wednesday, allowing companies to apply for loans of up to $100,000 and grants of up to $10,000. Alsobrooks said the county has already seen roughly 10,000 layoffs as a result of the pandemic, and she’s hoping the grant program can help keep more businesses alive and prevent additional cutbacks.
(Bloomberg) -- A star Silicon Valley engineer who defected from Google to Uber Technologies Inc. -- only to be fired, tagged as the villain in a trade-secret theft dispute and driven into bankruptcy -- says the ride-sharing company owes him more than $180 million for travails and lost time.Anthony Levandowski, hailed by both companies as a prodigy of driverless car technology, contends Uber didn’t keep its promise to cover his legal bills when it aggressively recruited him in 2016. Google later accused Levandowski of poaching its engineers in violation of his contract and clawed back a $120 million bonus it had paid him, plus about $60 million in interest and attorneys fees.In his arbitration demand against Uber, Levandowski says he was warned by none other than Larry Page that he’d face “negative consequences” if he left to compete with Google. But he was reassured by Uber’s agreement to indemnify him against Google’s anticipated retribution, and Uber paid for his defense for almost three years.Until, that is, Google won. Levandowski says that in April 2018, days before the final hearing in Google’s arbitration, Uber told him it wanted to be repaid.“After it was clear that Mr. Levandowski could be liable for a substantial judgment, Uber reneged on its deal and refused to pay the expenses, including any potential judgment, as required by the indemnification agreement,” according to the engineer’s filing. Levandowski says Uber’s position is that it was “fraudulently induced” to indemnify him.“Uber insisted on controlling his defense as part of its duty to indemnify him. Then, when Uber didn’t like the outcome, it suddenly changed its mind,” Levandowski’s lawyer, Neel Chatterjee, said in an email. “What Uber did is wrong, and Anthony has to protect his rights as a result.”As bad as the outcome of the Google arbitration was, it only got worse for Levandowski. Last year, he was criminally indicted for stealing trade secrets from Google. He agreed last month to plead guilty to one count and faces as long as 30 months in prison when he’s sentenced in August. Also in March, the engineer filed for bankruptcy.Uber, standing by a regulatory disclosure it previously made about Google’s arbitration, said in a statement that whether Uber is ultimately responsible indemnifying Levandowski “is subject to a dispute” between him and the company.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet, parent of leading search engine Google, is one of the world's largest companies by market value. These 5 shareholders own the biggest stakes.
2020 has been a challenging year so far for the financial markets, which continue to battle the economic impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.Other events, including the war-like situation between the United States and Iran, the U.S. trade war with China, and the recent oil pricing battle between Saudi Arabia and Russia have all added to the trouble.There were four companies in the U.S. with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion ahead of the sharp fall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the second week of March.Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google parent company Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG), and Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) arranged to read "MAGA," were hailed by President Donald Trump as the symbol of his campaign to "Make America Great Again."The S&P 500 Index is down 20%, and the Nasdaq composite index is down 14.18% at the end of the first quarter this year. Here's how the MAGA stocks performed in comparison.Microsoft Microsoft is mostly unchanged at the end of Q1 at $157.71. The stock closed the last year at $157.7 per share.The company's stock is relatively higher because some of its cloud-based products, especially telecommute app Teams, have seen a tremendous surge in usage due to the lockdowns imposed by authorities across the globe.Apple Apple closed at $254.29 on Tuesday, down about 13.4% since closing 2019 at $293.65. The company's shares have dropped significantly as both the company's supply chain and demand have been impacted by the outbreak.Apple downgraded its expectations for the first-quarter earnings as the coronavirus spread in China, and the business was further impacted when the consumer electronics company had to shut down all of its stores globally outside of China due to the pandemic.Alphabet The Google parent company's Class A shares are down 13.24% at the end of Q1 at $1,161.96. The stock had closed 2019 at $1,339.39 per share.While the usage of internet services has increased due to the pandemic, as people across the world stay at home, the revenue from advertising has seen a sharp decline.With a majority of businesses either shut down or facing a financial crunch, Alphabet's main revenue source is significantly impacted.Amazon Amazon closed at $1,949.72 on Tuesday, the only company among the big four to have posted gains so far this year.The stock is up about 5.5% since December 31's closing price of 1,847.84.The e-commerce giant has particularly benefited from the increased demand for home deliveries during the pandemic lockdown.See more from Benzinga * Apple Acquires DarkSky, Weather App To Be Pulled From Android * Macy's Downgraded From S&P 500 To SmallCap 600 Index As Company's Market Cap Shrinks To .5B * Van Gogh Painting Stolen On His Birthday As Museum Closed Due To Coronavirus(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Coronavirus self-isolation is fostering a growing dependency on Amazon.com Inc. But it’s also refocusing attention on the human cost of having the entire stock of the “Everything Store” merely a click and a day away from your front doorstep.Amazon workers at a fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York are on strike, saying the company has not been responsive to safety concerns and demanding that the facility be closed for two weeks and sanitized. In Italy, Amazon reached an agreement with workers last week to provide additional virus containment measures and end an 11-day strike. Elsewhere, France’s labor minister has demanded an improvement to the working environment for the firm’s employees, saying that “protection conditions are insufficient.”The comments came a week after Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos outlined many of the company’s efforts to blunt the effects of coronavirus in an open letter posted on Instagram, including boosting worker pay in the U.S.Demand for Amazon delivery services has, meanwhile, given its stock better protection than its tech peers from the recent market pummeling. The shares are down 9.4% since Feb. 19, compared with the average 22% decline of Apple Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc.The logical conclusion is that Amazon should be doing a lot more to protect its workers. It can afford to: It’s sitting on $55 billion in cash and is expected to generate another $34 billion of free cash flow this year.But the stark reality is that Amazon’s e-commerce business isn’t very profitable. Its cloud computing operations are the money-printing machine. That unit will enjoy a 28% operating margin on sales of some $46 billion this year, helped by the surge in internet usage caused by people logging on from home for longer, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral estimates. The company’s other $288 billion of revenue will generate operating profit of as little as $3 billion.That razor-thin profitability hints at the strict cost control upon which Amazon relies to ensure goods are delivered cheaply and quickly. Unfortunately, cost control is often a euphemism for low wages, ungenerous benefits and a squeeze on suppliers. A 2018 analysis by the Economist found that after Amazon opens a storage depot, local wages for warehouse workers fall by an average of 3%. Nor does that inspire much confidence in Amazon’s latest moves: The recently announced $2 per hour pay bump will hold only until April, while the doubling of overtime pay will expire in May — for now, at least.What’s more, workers’ negotiating power is likely to be eroded by the coronavirus crisis. The peak of U.S. labor exploitation came during the Great Depression, when everyone was scrambling for jobs, which in turn ultimately turbocharged labor organization. The number of jobseekers today is now at the highest in a half-century: A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week of March 21, compared with 211,000 just two weeks earlier.Bezos explicitly targeted those newly unemployed in his Instagram letter, explaining that the company would hire 100,000 additional employees to cope with increased demand. So the fact that only 100 people from a workforce of 4,000 at the Staten Island site are striking is either indicative of minimal discontent or a fear of retributive job losses (the only unionized Amazon employees in the U.S. are in its film and TV productions). As if to underscore the point, Amazon fired the worker leading the strike on Monday, ostensibly for “violating social distancing guidelines.” According to Amazon, only 15 people ultimately demonstrated in the strike, of whom just nine were actual employees.The working conditions at Amazon are partly our fault as consumers. The company has groomed us to rely on next-day deliveries at no extra cost, at least if we have a subscription to its Prime service. We probably don’t ask what it takes to make that work. For all of its Kiva warehousing robots and efforts with drone distribution, Amazon still depends on hundreds of thousands of human workers around the world. You know when you receive a massive box containing just a small parcel? That’s not because of some algorithmic misstep; it’s a person in a warehouse making a quick decision on how best to deliver your package.Amazon can for sure afford to lessen the load on its workers with better pay and working conditions, but only because of the massive success of its cloud business. It's harder for rivals to do so and still turn a profit. The dilemma is accentuated by, but not peculiar to, the current crisis. If that’s to change, we as customers must also be prepared to pay higher prices — and that’s as true in good times as it is in bad.(Updates with Amazon details on size of strike.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of 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/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Some of the largest tech companies in the world are being enlisted to help society get through the COVID-19 pandemic. And Google parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) has found itself right in the middle of it. The company is developing websites to serve as a national clearinghouse for testing and evaluating risks. Moreover, Google, Palantir, and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) have just confirmed that they will create a COVID-19 dashboard for the NHS, UK's healthcare system. Microsoft will be in charge of building the platform on its Azure cloud kingdom, Palantir Technologies will deal with the software specificity, and Google will collect the actual data to work on.Microsoft, whose cloud services have seen a massive surge of 775%, has also partnered with the World Health Organization to host a COVID-19 global hackathon to address all the challenges of this unforeseen crisis. Topics will cover health, vulnerable populations, business issues, education challenges and the many aspects of entertainment. The event is an online space where developers are free to bring ideas to life, experiment and build new software solutions to address the crisis and help us all get through it as painlessly as possible.OutlookWith China slowly awakening from their two-month lockdown, Europe and the U.S. are just at the beginning of that same nightmare--or an even worse one, considering COVID-19 took more lives both in Italy and Spain than China. And the U.S. is not far behind, with the greatest number of confirmed infections in the world.The crisis is serious enough for Google to cancel its April Fool's day plans, as the company works to help other agencies in stopping the virus. As its internal memo stated, "Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let's save the jokes for next April." Hopefully by then, it will be a whole lot brighter than this one.This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure. IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases - If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors - IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you're interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: email@example.comThe post Dear World, April Fools Is Cancelled This Year- By Google appeared first on IAM Newswire.Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on UnsplashSee more from Benzinga * How Amazon And Other Tech Giants Are Helping Us Through Coronavirus * Automakers Plan To Restart North American Factories – But Cars Aren't First On The List * Ad Sales Decrease With Covid-19 But Digital Holds The Key(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
(Bloomberg) -- Federal regulators plan to open a new airwaves swath to Wi-Fi devices in a win for Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. that see the spectrum as a fast, ubiquitous connection to the internet.Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai plans to set the new use of the so-called 6GHz airwaves to a vote by the agency at its April 23 meeting, said two people briefed on his plans who were not authorized to discuss the matter before it becomes public.The FCC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.Utilities use the airwaves to manage sprawling electrical grids, and have said allowing Wi-Fi networks into the swath threatens to create interference that could jeopardize network reliability.The debate comes as the FCC works to open up more airwaves for broadband service, and for forthcoming ultrafast 5G wireless networks. The move “could be a big boost to our nation’s 5G future,” Pai said last year as he proposed the change.(Adds utilities’ concerns in fourth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Online orders for fitness equipment such as kettlebells, dumbbells and treadmills saw a 55% boost in the week spanning March 11–15 compared to the 10 days before, according to Adobe Analytics’ new Digital Economy Index released on Tuesday. March downloads of the Peloton app — which offers yoga and body strength classes if you don’t have the $2,000-plus stationary bike — are five times higher than February’s, according to data from Sensor Tower.
The head of Alphabet Inc.'s Google Cloud division issued a blog post Tuesday in which he said daily usage of its premium video-conferencing product Google Meet is more than 25 times what it was in January. The outbreak of COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a flood of educators using it and the free service, Google Hangouts, according to Thomas Kurian. Over the last few weeks, he said, Meet's day-over-day growth surpassed 60%.
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google’s YouTube have all removed posts shared by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for including coronavirus misinformation that violates the social media companies’ rules against posting harmful content.Facebook said it took down a video on Monday that had been shared to both Facebook and Instagram, in which Bolsonaro said the anti-malaria prescription drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for Covid-19. Twitter earlier had removed two tweets that also showed video of Bolsonaro praising hydroxychloroquine and encouraging the end of social distancing. On Tuesday morning, YouTube also said it had pulled two videos from Bolsonaro’s official account for violating its policies.Small studies testing the effects of hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients have had mixed results, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says the drug is “currently under investigation in clinical trials” for use as a treatment for the virus. U.S. President Donald Trump has also praised the drug, which was given emergency FDA approval to be prescribed to Covid-19 patients, though scientists have criticized the move as premature.Facebook has a policy against sharing posts that could cause users physical harm, a spokesperson said. Twitter, too, has a policy that requires people to remove tweets that recommend cures or advice that goes against the recommendations of public health authorities.“Twitter recently announced the expansion of its rules to cover content that could be against public health information provided by official sources and could put people at greater risk of transmitting Covid-19,” a Twitter spokesman said. Bolsonaro declined to comment on the Twitter removal when speaking to journalists earlier Monday.YouTube, like other social media sites, has tried to curb the flow of disinformation about the virus in recent weeks by promoting what it calls “authoritative” videos. But it has rarely taken action against videos from elected officials.“Since early February, we have manually reviewed and removed thousands of videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information,” Farshad Shadloo, a YouTube spokesman, said in an email. He declined to identify the two videos removed.Twitter and Facebook have also taken a stronger stance on coronavirus misinformation than other types of controversial content, including some political postings. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this month that fighting medical misinformation is easier because companies can follow clear guidance from the World Health Organization on what can be defined as “harmful,” instead of deciding as a company in a way that could be considered biased or restrictive of free speech.“This a very different dynamic than trying to be referee of political speech,” Zuckerberg said at the time.(Updates with details on YouTube’s removal of Bolsonaro videos.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.