|Day's Range||142.60 - 142.60|
Google, in collaboration with a number of academic leaders and its consulting partner SADA Systems, today announced the launch of the Open Usage Commons, a new organization that aims to help open-source projects manage their trademarks. To be fair, at first glance, open-source trademarks may not sound like it would be a major problem (or even a really interesting topic), but there's more here than meets the eye. As Google's director of open source Chris DiBona told me, trademarks have increasingly become an issue for open-source projects, not necessarily because there have been legal issues around them, but because commercial entities that want to use the logo or name of an open-source project on their websites, for example, don't have the reassurance that they are free to use those trademarks.
The CEO of a company specializing in cleaning products for tech gear issues a warning.
The Trump administration will take steps to ensure the Chinese government does not gain any access to the private information of American citizens through telecommunications and social media, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday. Speaking two days after he said Washington was "certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, Pompeo said the U.S. evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security. "The comments that I made about a particular company earlier this week fall in the context of us evaluating the threat from the Chinese Communist Party," Pompeo said, adding that Washington was working to ensure that Beijing does not gain access to any private data or health records of Americans.
(Bloomberg) -- Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Amazon.com Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday.Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.GDI made the estimates in a study that analyzed ads running between January and June on 480 English language websites identified as publishers of virus misinformation. Some of the ads were for brands including cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA, furniture website Wayfair Inc. and imaging technology company Canon Inc. The data exclude social-media and online-video services, so the true total is likely much higher.“This report is flawed in that it neither defines what should be considered disinformation nor are its revenue calculations transparent or realistic,” a Google spokesperson said. “Google has strict publisher policies designed to prevent harmful, dangerous and fraudulent content from monetizing. We also continue to take an aggressive approach to COVID-19 content that makes harmful medical claims contradicting the guidance of global health authorities. We enforce our policies vigorously and blocked ads from serving on five of the articles shared for violating our policies.”Governments and health officials are still learning more about the virus, and this has allowed misinformation to flourish online. Silicon Valley giants have pledged to crack down, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed ads from sites that violate its policies. However, GDI thinks these platforms need to do more to limit the spread of misinformation.“The difference between what the companies say publicly about their dedication to not monetizing hate speech and harmful content, especially around the pandemic, is not matching up with what our data is telling us that’s actually happening,” said Danny Rogers, co-founder of the Global Disinformation Index.In an ad delivered on May 19 by Amazon, a L’Oreal product was promoted on Americanthinker.com next to an article titled “Is Big Pharma Suppressing Hydroxychloroquine?” Earlier this month, Google served up a Bloomberg News ad on the website Bigleaguepolitics.com, according to the GDI report.The Global Disinformation Index is a U.K.-based research group that provides disinformation risk ratings on media sites all over the world. GDI said it presented Google, Amazon and OpenX with the latest findings from its report and none of the tech companies provided a formal response. The group updates its research weekly and often tells tech companies when their platforms place ads on misinformation sites.The research group releases this information, in part, as a way to alert advertisers when their marketing spots show up on this kind of website. These brands can help by pulling ads from tech platforms when they see issues like this, Rogers said.(Updates with comment from Google 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.
Alphabet Inc began offering the world's first commercial high-speed internet using balloons to villagers in remote regions of Kenya's Rift Valley on Wednesday. The service is run by Loon, a unit of Google's parent Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya, the East African nation's third largest telecoms operator.
The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is very interested in what the quartet has to say about market dominance and competition.
The robust streaming platform is out of place, neither being a complete cable package nor a low-cost a la carte option.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet
Deutsche Bank (DB) seeks to better cater to the needs of customers by introducing innovative technology solutions in partnership with Google Cloud.
Alphabet's Google Cloud becomes the first cloud-service provider to offer NVDIA's (NVDA) flagship server GPU -- Ampere A100.
Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) shares have soared following a string of podcasting deals. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger downgraded Spotify's stock recently, believing the run-up in price isn't fully justified by its podcast investments. "We continue to believe it's unlikely Spotify will generate much earnings from podcasts," he wrote in a note.
Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google has agreed to partner with Deutsche Bank in a bid to expand its cloud customer base.
U.S. tech giants face a reckoning over how Hong Kong's security law will reshape their businesses, with their suspension of processing government requests for user data a stop-gap measure as they weigh options, people close to the industry say. While Hong Kong is not a significant market for firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, they have used it as a perch to reach deep-pocketed advertisers in mainland China, where many of their services are blocked. "These companies have to totally reassess the liability of having a presence in Hong Kong," Charles Mok, a legislator who represents the technology industry in Hong Kong, told Reuters.
(Bloomberg) -- Signal has become the most-downloaded app in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the city that stirred fears of curbs on civil liberties.The messaging app, endorsed by whistle-blower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden, provides end-to-end encryption to secure messages from being read by a third party as they travel between users. It has topped both Apple Inc.’s and Google’s mobile app stores, according to App Annie data.Hong Kong detailed on Monday unprecedented online policing powers under the new law, including warrants for “any action” necessary to remove content deemed in violation. But the nonprofit responsible for Signal said that it won’t cooperate with any requests for user data from Hong Kong courts -- joining tech giants like Microsoft Corp. in the wake of the law’s passage -- in part because it doesn’t collect any data to begin with.“We never started turning over user data to HK police. Also, we don’t have user data to turn over,” it wrote on Twitter.Signal’s privacy-first ethos includes the app’s deliberate ignorance of what its users are doing, which goes above and beyond the likes of Telegram, another secure messenger that’s been popular in Hong Kong amid protests against the Beijing government. Virtual private networks, designed to disguise a user’s digital footprints, also saw a big spike in downloads in May as plans for the national security law started to emerge from the Chinese capital.Read more: VPN Downloads Surge in Response to Hong Kong Security LawThe controversial law went into effect June 30 and has already had a chilling effect on free expression in Hong Kong. It forbids speech and actions that might be seen as encouraging secession from China, terrorism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces. Private messaging platforms have become a refuge as a result, with Hong Kongers retreating to unmonitored forms of communication.(Updates with data from App Annie in second paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) has launched its first internet commercial service in Kenya yesterday using a fleet of floating balloons provided by its Loon division.Starting as a project in Alphabet’s X unit, Loon became one of the tech giant’s corporate spin-offs in 2018. The company will deploy 4G LTE service through Telcom Kenya using 35 balloons or “flight vehicles” that will cover an area of 50,000 kilometers of Kenyan territory including Nairobi.“A company that began building a commercial business just two years ago now has contracts to serve on multiple continents, partnerships with some of the largest mobile network operators in the world,” said Loon’s CEO Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post announcement on Tuesday.In preparation for launch, Loon initially deployed test balloons that were able to reach 35,000 users with download speeds of 18.9Mbps and upload speeds of 4.74Mbps. The internet balloons hover for over 100 days at heights of near 20km before descending to earth.Alphabet’s X division refers to its projects as “moonshots” which are designed to test if they can become commercially viable. The company currently has another project called “Wing” which offers deliveries to small locations in Virginia, Finland, and Australia. It also launched Waymo, a driverless taxi service that was deployed in Arizona to a small number of customers.Not all of Alphabet X’s moonshots have been successful. In February of this year, it shut down its energy kite unit called Makani. According to the Financial Times, in 2019, the division cost the company $4.8 billion which was up $3.4 billion from the year before.Monness analyst Brian White on July 6 reiterated a Buy rating on GOOGL and a price target of $1420 (implying 5% downside) but cut Q2 earnings estimates, noting the growing global privacy initiatives along with the spread of COVID-19.On July 7, Needham analyst Laura Martin lowered the company’s Q2 revenue saying, “We lower our Alphabet Q2 revenue estimate down to 7% year-over-year.” She added, “Our GOOGL revenue estimate for FY20 is for flat revenue.” The analyst assigned a Buy rating on Alphabet’s stock and a price target of $1800 suggesting 21% upside.GOOGL is currently trading up 11% year-to-date with 28 analysts assigning Buy ratings, 2 with Hold ratings, and no Sell ratings which altogether results in a Strong Buy consensus. The average analyst price target stands at $1531.50 with an implication of 3% upside potential. (See Google’s stock analysis on TipRanks).Related News: Google, Deutsche Bank Forge 10-Year Cloud Partnership Google, Temasek Are Said To Be In Talks To Invest Up To $1B In Tokopedia Google Snaps Up Canadian Smart Glasses Startup North More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * AstraZeneca-Merck Pancreatic Cancer Drug Wins European Approval * United Airlines Sees Weak Bookings Amid Covid-19 Resurgence; Shares Drop * GenMark Soaring In Pre-Market On 118% Revenue Explosion * Philip Morris Scores FDA Approval For ‘Modified Risk’ Labeling
In the space of one week it has become clear that China wants to extend its “Great Firewall” regime to Hong Kong. Beijing may not be immediately successful in imposing its model on the territory — as the pushback from US tech giants shows — but this is certainly the intent. Please see our new “Best of Comment” section, inaugurated with an insight this week from Yuan Yang, the FT’s deputy Beijing bureau chief.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter Inc. -- all of which are blocked in the mainland -- are now headed toward a showdown with China that could end up making Hong Kong feel more like Beijing.Hours after Hong Kong announced sweeping new powers to police the internet on Monday night, those companies plus the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. all suspended requests for data from the Hong Kong government. ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, which has Chinese owners, announced it would pull its viral video app from the territory’s mobile stores in the coming days even as President Donald Trump threatened to ban it in the U.S.Their dilemma is stark: Bend to the law and infuriate Western nations increasingly at odds with China over political freedoms, or simply refuse and depart like Google did in China a decade ago over some of the very same issues. Much like that seismic event shook the mainland in 2010, Big Tech’s reaction now could have a much wider impact on Hong Kong’s future as a financial hub -- potentially sparking an exodus of professionals and businesses.“Google is pretty important to people here, and if that’s cut off then it’s really extremely serious,” said Richard Harris, a former director at Citi Private Bank who now runs Port Shelter Investment Management in Hong Kong. “In Hong Kong we don’t know where the boundaries are, and that’s threatening to a lot of business people.”Over the past week, Hong Kong authorities have begun explaining how they’ll enforce a law that officials in Beijing called a “sword of Damocles” hanging over China’s most strident critics. The legislation, which sparked the threat of sanctions from the Trump administration and outrage elsewhere, has had a chilling effect on pro-democracy protesters who demonstrated for months last year while also raising fresh questions for businesses.On Monday night, the Hong Kong government announced sweeping new police powers, including warrant-less searches, property seizures and online surveillance. If a publisher fails to immediately comply with a request to remove content deemed in breach of the law, police can seek a warrant to “take any action” to remove it while also demanding “the identification record or decryption assistance.”“We are absolutely headed for a showdown, and there are no indications that the Hong Kong government is particularly prepared if Facebook or another company refuses a removal request,” said James Griffiths, a journalist and author of “The Great Firewall: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet.” “These companies appear to have realized that there is no compromise they could make that would truly satisfy Beijing or make them seem trustworthy. This could make them more willing to stand up against Chinese censorship in Hong Kong.”American internet giants have made overtures toward Beijing in recent years as the market exploded, but few have so far actually acceded to China’s censorship framework.Of the rare examples, Microsoft’s LinkedIn censors content to allow it to operate a Chinese version, while Apple Inc. complies with local regulations in policing its app store and other services. Reports that Google entertained the notion of returning -- via potentially a censored version of search called Project Dragonfly -- enraged lawmakers and its own employees torpedoed the idea.Worldwide CensorshipTwitter and Facebook have never been consistently available in China, but Mark Zuckerberg also flirted with Beijing before abandoning the notion as regulatory scrutiny and a user backlash grew at home. In both instances, external factors helped scupper the feasibility of operating in the world’s No. 2 economy.“I worked hard to make this happen. But we could never come to agreement on what it would take for us to operate there, and they never let us in,” he said last year in a speech at Georgetown University. “And now we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values we believe in and fight for free expression around the world.”Still, the internet heavyweights are already censoring content across the world for both authoritarian regimes and western democracies, according to Ben Bland, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia. After a mass shooting last March in Christchurch, New Zealand, top social media companies joined with more than 40 countries in a concerted call to end the spread of extremist messaging online.Germany has banned online Nazi and right-wing extremist content, and most countries have blocks in place against online pornography and criminal activity. In Thailand, strict lese majeste laws lead to censorship of content deemed offensive to the royal family, while Communist-run Vietnam expunges anything deemed “anti-state.”Reputational DamageBig tech companies must gauge the importance of the markets in China and Hong Kong with possible reputational damage in other places they operate, according to Stuart Hargreaves, a law professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong who researches surveillance and privacy issues.“I do not expect to see the Great Firewall extended from mainland China to Hong Kong, at least in the medium term,” he said. “It is not necessary for Beijing’s goal of tamping down certain sentiments and would be the obvious end of Hong Kong as a global city and its particular role as an Asian finance hub.”The exit of TikTok, the viral video app that has insisted it operates independently of Beijing, could actually benefit the Communist Party by removing a forum pro-democracy protesters have used to post videos calling for an independent Hong Kong. Last year, demonstrators used the Reddit-like forum LIHKG as well as Telegram to organize leaderless protests.TikTok on Tuesday played up its U.S. ties while pushing back against comments by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who said the government is considering a ban of the short video app. Trump later said the move may be one possible way to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus.“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a TikTok spokesperson said, adding that it’s led by an American CEO.Platforms like Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption could become increasingly popular, said Joyce Nip, senior lecturer in Chinese Media Studies at the University of Sydney. Telegram said it has never shared data with Hong Kong authorities, adding that it doesn’t have servers in the territory and doesn’t store data there. Signal has become the most-downloaded messaging app in the city, topping the communications category in Apple’s and Google’s mobile app stores.‘Knife Edge’Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, didn’t answer a question Tuesday on her response to tech companies that stopped processing data requests from her government. Still, she played down any long-term impact on the city’s position as a financial hub around the same time that Pompeo released a statement blasting the Communist Party’s “Orwellian censorship” in Hong Kong.There “has been an increasing appreciation of the positive effect of this national security legislation, particularly in restoring stability in Hong Kong as reflected by some of the market sentiments in recent days,” Lam said a day after local stocks entered a bull market. “Surely this is not doom and gloom for Hong Kong.”The regulations stemmed from a new national security committee created by the law that includes Lam and Luo Huining, Beijing’s top official in the city. While China’s leaders know Hong Kong needs a free flow of information to function as a world-class financial center, “much seems to rest in the hands of the few newly empowered bureaucrats who will police the new laws,” according to Steve Vickers, chief executive officer of Steve Vickers and Associates, a political and corporate risk consultancy.“Foreign firms are on something of a knife edge here, caught between their natural affinity with freedom of information and their commercial desire to operate in the huge Chinese market,” said Vickers, a former head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “It is now more a matter of what is actually done, as opposed to what is being said -- by either China or the foreign IT companies -- that will be the key.”(Updates with Signal’s rise in the 19th 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 Opinion) -- For most people, a vaccine against the coronavirus can’t come soon enough, as it will be the only tolerable way to achieve herd immunity. So it’s encouraging that more than 100 drug candidates in 12 countries are in development, and eight are already entering clinical trials. To accelerate the process, some people are heroically volunteering to expose themselves to infection. With luck, some of us can get our shots next year.And yet, there’s still a danger that humanity will fail in its quest to control Covid-19. The culprit wouldn’t necessarily be the medical complexity, fiendish as it is, of engineering a vaccine. It could also be the ensuing politics surrounding inoculation. The fights will be intense, irrational and sometimes nasty.The first problem is that even after we become confident that a particular vaccine is effective and safe, there won’t be enough for everyone. So we’ll have to decide: Who should get the shots first? Who won’t get any? These questions will come up between countries, and within them.Given the right leadership, the world would overcome these difficulties with dignity and wisdom. Forty years ago, for example, as the world shivered in a Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, humanity nonetheless managed to unite and eradicate smallpox.Today, however, the odds for health-care multilateralism are bad. A new Cold War is underway between the U.S. and China. And a “My Country First” nationalism is infecting ever more countries, including several of those working on vaccines. Rich nations will try to outbid poor ones in securing supplies of the vaccine. And someone like U.S. President Donald Trump may not necessarily “share” a scarce vaccine invented and made in America with other countries. German officials were outraged earlier this year after reports — never confirmed — that Trump tried to buy CureVac, a German company working on a vaccine, in order to get exclusive access.Ethical problems of triage will also haunt domestic politics. Most people will agree that health-care workers on the front lines should get first dibs on jabs. But, after that, nothing is clear. Should pregnant women get priority? What about the elderly? They’re in greatest danger of dying if infected, but they respond much less to vaccination than younger people do. So if herd immunity is the goal, inoculating the old may not make sense.On it goes, with increasingly charged decisions. What about “essential workers,” and who are they anyway? Migrant workers and prisoners live in cramped conditions. Should they jump the queue? Not least, in this time of Black Lives Matter, there’s the question of whether ethnicity should in some cases confer priority. In the U.S., Black and Latino people are suffering disproportionately from Covid-19. Should they get shots before Whites?If these dilemmas are political dynamite, they may end up looking trivial next to what’s sure to be the biggest showdown: the standoff between scientific rationality and conspiracy theories. Early in the pandemic, there were hopes that the balderdash of anti-vaxxers would become untenable and their movement would atrophy. Instead, it’s booming.Humans have always spun conspiracy theories, especially at times of calamity. The anxiety that comes with loss of control primes people to seek simple explanations with compelling story lines and an obvious culprit. Unsurprisingly, the Covid-19 epidemic has been accompanied all along by an “infodemic.”For example, a fake-news video called “Plandemic,” claiming that the new coronavirus was hype and that a vaccine would kill millions, was viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube before it was taken down. Demonstrators from Germany to the U.S. have been spreading bizarre fantasies that Bill Gates, one of the world’s great philanthropists, conspired with “Big Pharma” to engineer SARS-CoV-2 so he could establish a global health dictatorship. He’ll police this with microchips implanted under your skin. There’s no end to this bilge available on the internet.None of this is funny. Conspiracy theories have already led to anti-vaxxers refusing to get shots against measles, thus compromising the already-achieved herd immunity and causing new outbreaks of this deadly disease. The same could happen when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available. The threshold for herd immunity against Covid-19 is estimated at between 55% and 82% of a given population. But only about 50% of Americans say they’d get vaccinated.So the time for corona statecraft and education is now, before the vaccine arrives. Internationally, countries are likely to be most open to multilateral solutions before it’s clear which nation will first develop a vaccine. Domestically, the debate about who has priority has the best chance of staying scientific before people are clamoring for jabs. Above all, educating people to distinguish facts from fake news is effective only before they become exposed to, and infected by, conspiracy theories. We have to win the struggle against disinformation this year, or lose the fight against Covid-19 in 2021.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andreas Kluth is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. He was previously editor in chief of Handelsblatt Global and a writer for the Economist. He's the author of "Hannibal and Me." 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.
(Bloomberg) -- Traveloka, Southeast Asia’s biggest online travel startup, is close to raising fresh funds at a private-market valuation of about $2.75 billion -- roughly 17% less than its most recent fundraising, according to people familiar with the matter.The Jakarta-based firm is in advanced negotiations with new strategic investors such as Siam Commercial Bank Pcl and Richard Li’s FWD Group Ltd., as well as existing backers GIC Pte. and East Ventures to secure about $250 million, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. The primary fundraising will be at a $2.75 billion valuation, while a secondary sale will be at $2.4 billion, one of the people said. Traveloka counts online travel site Expedia Group Inc. and JD.com Inc. among its existing backers.Terms of the fundraising could still change, they said. A Traveloka representative declined to comment.Traveloka, which has had its business hammered by the coronavirus fallout, is one of the first unicorns in Southeast Asia to experience a down-round -- raising funds at a lower valuation than the previous funding round. It reflects the sharp drop in business after lockdown orders halted flights and travel. Since the outbreak, the company has cut an unspecified number of positions, including about 80 jobs in Singapore in April.The travel industry is witnessing a sharp decline in business since the spread of the coronavirus. Expedia saw its total gross booking fall 39% in the first quarter, while its share price has dropped 21% this year. Vacation-rental startup Airbnb Inc. cut 25% of its workforce and raised an additional $2 billion in debt to help weather the downturn.Despite the slump, some Traveloka investors are betting on the travel industry’s eventual recovery, led by a rebound in tourism within countries, and a series of cost-cutting measures at the company, one of the people said. In Vietnam -- a model case in containing the pandemic with fewer than 400 cases and no deaths -- domestic travel has restarted.With a population of 570 million and growing middle class, Southeast Asia’s six largest economies are expected to see their online travel market more than double from $34 billion in 2019 to $78 billion in 2025, according to the most recent report by Google, Temasek and Bain released in October.Read more: Southeast Asia’s No. 1 Travel App Jumps on Fintech BandwagonSince its inception in 2012, Traveloka’s valuation climbed to $3.3 billion, according to the people. It has expanded across Southeast Asia, making it easier for consumers to book flights and hotels across countries. Like other startups in the region, Traveloka followed a popular playbook of providing multiple products and extending into financial services to complement its travel, accommodation and lifestyle offerings.Traveloka Chief Executive Officer Ferry Unardi said in an interview at the New Economy Forum in Beijing in November that the company is considering an initial public offering in Indonesia and in the U.S. in two to three years.Traveloka Looking to Grow Into Lifestyle, Financial Services: CEO (Video)(Adds forecast of Southeast Asia’s digital market in the seventh 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.
NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) announced on Tuesday that just weeks after its release, the A100 Tensor Core graphics processing unit (GPU) has been adopted by Google Cloud, a division of Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG). The Accelerator-Optimized VM (A2) family, available on Google Compute Engine, is designed specifically to handle some of the most demanding applications out there, including artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and high performance computing (HPC). This makes Google the first cloud service provider to offer the new NVIDIA GPUs.
The popular video-sharing app TikTok may be in the White House’s crosshairs. Secretary of State said on Fox News Monday night that the U.S. is considering banning Chinese-owned social media apps like TikTok. Pompeo pointed to similar actions the U.S. took against Huawei and ZTE (ticker: 763.Hong Kong) over national security concerns.
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating wealth and racial inequalities around the world. Nowhere is that more apparent than in San Francisco.While many low-income employees in the service sector have been laid off or risk getting sick if they do go to work, the city’s high-paid tech workers have been mostly shielded. The engineers and product managers who helped push up the cost of living in the area over the last 15 years aren’t nearly as affected by the pandemic, with companies like Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. giving them cash bonuses to upgrade their home offices and organizing virtual yoga sessions to help them stay fit.Most tech employees aren’t worried about getting fired and the mostly-digital nature of software work means they can safely do their jobs from home. Many have even left the Bay Area completely.To help staff cope while working remotely, companies are rolling out perks. Salesforce.com Inc. recently sponsored a virtual talent show and is running a week-long “adventurers club” to entertain workers’ kids while they’re stuck at home, in addition to providing benefits such as six additional weeks of parental leave. Microsoft Corp. is also offering parents extra leave time amid school and camp closings.At the same time, service industry workers like Joe Grandov, who has a part-time security job at San Francisco International Airport, are struggling.Grandov, 65, says his hours have been cut by up to 20 a week since the pandemic began because he hasn’t been able to pick up overtime shifts. He also used to earn extra money driving for Lyft Inc. but said he had to stop because he was making as little as $35 a week, hardly enough to justify the health risks the gig posed. Business travel has come to a halt, which is hurting jobs like his that depend on a lively tech sector.“It’s not been easy,” said Grandov, who is a member of the airport’s local union. “We’ve been selling things we don’t need because we need the money more.”This divide between the tech and service industry is compounding the income disparities that have plagued the Bay Area for years. Since January, earnings among low-income workers in San Francisco County have fallen 52.1%, among the highest in the state, according to data from Opportunity Insights, a Harvard University research lab.“The service sector already had stagnating wages, then you introduce a pandemic, and it becomes not just an income gap but a stark divide between those who will survive versus those who can’t,” said Russell Hancock, chief executive officer of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a nonprofit that analyzes the region’s economy.The changes cut across racial lines too, deepening inequalities between White and non-White workers in the area. More than 30% of the Bay Area is Black or Latino, according to the Bay Area Equity Atlas. Fewer than 10% of Facebook and Google staff are Black or Latino, according to the companies’ latest diversity reports.The inequalities extend to the virus impact: In San Francisco, Hispanic and Latino people make up 50% of cases and about 15% of the population. In Santa Clara County, Latinos are 47% of cases and 26% of the population.Some of the companies boosting perks for their own employees are also acting to address economic and racial inequities. Salesforce is adding diversity recruiters and spending $200 million on organizations that are working to advance racial equality, and pledged to “advocate at federal, state, and local levels for policies to address the equity gap, exacerbated by Covid-19.”The effects of low-income job losses are already weighing on workers, according to Richard Garbarino, mayor of South San Francisco. While the city of about 68,000 hasn’t had major food insecurity issues in the past, it recently partnered with a food bank to distribute 750 meal boxes a week. The pandemic has hit low income families the hardest because they often rely on multiple part-time jobs, Garbarino said.Over 55% of leisure and hospitality jobs were cut between May 2019 and May 2020 in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, the most of any industry in the area, according to data from California’s Employment Development Department. Over the same period, professional and business services, which includes computer engineering and management, saw a 2% drop.San Francisco’s economy may face even more challenges the longer tech employees stay home. Google and Facebook have told their staff to prepare to work remotely until 2021. Twitter Inc. says anyone who wants to can work from home forever.“Restaurant and service workers are currently paid really well because they’re supported by big companies. When they take their work away, or those jobs away, that ripples through the rest of the economy,” said Jay Cheng, public policy director at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. If that happens, “San Francisco is no longer going to be able to be the golden child of the United States economy.”(Adds details on Salesforce policies in fourth and 12th paragraphs.)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) -- Augmented reality startup Magic Leap Inc. has hired Peggy Johnson, a Microsoft Corp. executive, to take over as chief executive officer starting next month, as the company continues to reshape itself as a provider of business services.Magic Leap had been one of the buzziest startups in recent years. It raised more than $2 billion from high-profile investors including Alphabet Inc., largely on the promise that it would turn augmented reality into a viable consumer technology. Rony Abovitz, the company founder and CEO, became the de facto evangelist for augmented reality, with bold and colorful pronouncements of its potential.But the Florida-based company struggled to execute, and sales of its flagship product, the Magic Leap One headset, never took off after extensive delays. The company said late last year it would focus more on business applications, and cut more than half of its workforce in April. Selling to companies is a far different prospect than building a consumer product, and one Abovitz rarely showed as much enthusiasm for. He announced in May he would step down once the company found a replacement.Johnson, who spent more than two decades at Qualcomm Inc., brings extensive experience negotiating partnerships with other large businesses. She joined Microsoft in 2014 as one of CEO Satya Nadella’s first major hires, at a time when the software maker’s dealings with other companies were often contentious. As head of business development, Johnson worked to repair Microsoft’s relationships with partners like Salesforce.com Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., becoming the face of a new, friendlier company. In 2016 she started Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12.“I look forward to strategically building enduring relationships that connect Magic Leap’s game-changing technology and pipeline to the wide-ranging digital needs of enterprises of all sizes and industries,” Johnson said Tuesday in a statement.Microsoft also makes one of the main rivals to Magic Leap, the Hololens, which it has always positioned primarily as a business tool. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is satisfied that any confidentiality issues arising from Johnson moving to a direct competitor have been addressed.Microsoft will conduct an internal and external search to find Johnson’s replacement and her duties will be assumed in the short term by Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, who already oversees mergers and acquisitions, according to a spokesperson.(Updates with background on Johnson in the 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.
Tencent's (TCEHY) aggressive steps, including the launch of its new studio, are expected to boost its competitive position against Google, NVIDIA, Amazon, NetEase and Microsoft in gaming space.