|Bid||32.37 x 800|
|Ask||32.38 x 2200|
|Day's Range||32.16 - 32.82|
|52 Week Range||28.63 - 45.86|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||0.57|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||15.75|
|Earnings Date||Feb 05, 2020|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||34.05|
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Bloomberg’s daily technology newsletter here.The last two weeks have been remarkably eventful for Jeff Bezos. First, the Amazon.com Inc. co-founder’s visit to India was met with street-side protests, a new antitrust investigation into “predatory pricing and unfair trade practices” and hostile comments from the government led by India Prime Minster Narendra Modi.Then last week, Bezos’s yearlong tangle with Saudi Arabia burst into the headlines, with cybersecurity investigators concluding with “medium to high confidence” that Bezos’s iPhone was hacked via a WhatsApp message sent directly from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s account.Those are two very different situations in two separate parts of the world. But they had something in common—an overly optimistic bet (that Amazon placed, along with its Big Tech brethren) on global leaders whose dispositions turned out to be less open and, to varying degrees, more autocratic than Silicon Valley originally thought.Amazon first bet big on India in 2014, when Bezos stood on the top of a flatbed truck in ceremonial Indian wedding garb and presented the chief of his local operation with an oversized $2 billion check. Bezos met with Modi on that trip and amid mutual goodwill, seemed to believe the prime minister would loosen India’s rigorous restrictions on how foreign-owned e-commerce companies could operate.Since then, regulations in India have actually become stricter, with Modi catering to his party’s base of small business owners by limiting Amazon’s ability to sell items directly and to control its own prices. While gaining market share from Walmart Inc.-owned rival Flipkart, Amazon’s marketplace division reported steep losses in the last full fiscal year. On Bezos’s latest trip, Modi reportedly declined to meet with him.Bezos’s relationship with Saudi Arabia started with similar hopes. According to last week’s reports, Bezos and Prince Mohammed met at a 2018 dinner party in Los Angeles and exchanged phone numbers. Buoyed by the crown prince’s promise of modernizing the desert kingdom and diversifying its oil-based economy, Amazon was angling to close a $2.2 billion deal to put three data centers in the country. But that arrangement was put on ice after Saudi agents killed Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist at the Bezos-owned Washington Post. Saudi officials have said the crown prince had no involvement in the murder of Khashoggi or the cyberattack on Bezos. Now a Twitter account linked to the Saudi government is advocating for an Amazon boycott.In each country, Amazon’s agenda was complicated by the regime’s bellicosity toward coverage in the Post. But the sharp decline of its fortunes in India and Saudi Arabia is also about leaders whose true colors were much darker than they originally seemed. India under Modi recently passed a restrictive citizenship law that prevents many undocumented Muslim migrants from becoming citizens, while allowing for applicants with different religious affiliations. The Saudi government under Prince Mohammed has fueled conflict in Yemen, persecuted religious and political dissidents and unleashed coordinated Twitter attacks and other cyber tactics on its perceived enemies.Amazon wasn’t alone in pinning unrealistic hopes on these leaders. India has proved similarly challenging for Facebook Inc. The country accounts for Facebook’s largest user base, but the government has tried to force the company to identify users of the encrypted WhatsApp messaging service and threatened to introduce restrictive new rules to regulate social media. And in 2018 the Saudi crown prince cultivated many tech leaders who would likely be wary of such photo ops today.It wasn’t too long ago that tech leaders were overly optimistic about China, too. Mark Zuckerberg did a fun run for the cameras in Beijing and a meet-and-greet with President Xi Jinping. Google thought it could sneak back into China, after famously withdrawing from the country in 2010, with its secretive Dragonfly search project.Back in what now seems a simpler time, tech companies thought the world was becoming more receptive to the economic bounties and democratizing halo of the internet. But the world, and these leaders, have veered starkly away from this brand of idealism. It turned out they didn't want to be friends with Silicon Valley after all.If you read one thingWhen tech leaders tried to understand why large companies have trouble embracing new technologies, they turned to Clayton Christensen, author of the seminal book, the Innovator’s Dilemma, and several sequels. Christensen died last week at age 67 of complications from cancer treatment, according to Utah’s Deseret News.And here’s what you need to know in global technology newsYouTube got the streaming rights to some of the biggest esports leagues. Google signed a deal with Activision Blizzard to carry Call of Duty and Overwatch competitions. The Call of Duty league debuted Friday with a three-day event in Minneapolis.Salesforce encouraged employees to buy and expense a copy of the co-founder’s new book. The software company sent a memo to its 48,000 workers last fall promoting the book, Trailblazer, and offering reimbursement. On its website, Salesforce describes the book as an “instant” bestseller.Airbnb sued a real estate developer it partnered with to build apartments. The suit accuses NDG and its chief of stealing at least $1 million. The venture has long been a source of controversy for Airbnb, which is expected to go public this year.To contact the author of this story: Brad Stone in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Anne VanderMeyFor 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) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Thailand’s stock market tumbled on the prospect of economic turbulence after China banned outbound group tours to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus that’s sickened thousands of people.The SET index slid 2.9% on Monday, the most since 2016, with tourism shares among those bearing the brunt of the drop. The baht weakened in line with emerging-market currencies on concern about the fallout from the virus.Chinese holidaymakers -- many on group tours -- spent almost $18 billion in Thailand last year, more than a quarter of all foreign tourism receipts, government data show. The industry as a whole contributes 21% to gross domestic product, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.“There’s going to be a significant drop in the number of Chinese coming to Thailand in what should be a peak period,” said Win Udomrachtavanich, chairman of Ktb Securities (Thailand) Pcl in Bangkok.Airports of Thailand Pcl, a bellwether for the tourism sector, declined 3.9%, the most since May last year. The Tourism & Leisure equity index fell to the lowest level in six years.Both tourism and exports were already under pressure from a surge in the Thai currency. Disarray over the annual budget is another obstacle for growth.The government has rolled out more than $10 billion of stimulus steps in the past few months to cushion the economy, which the Bank of Thailand estimates expanded at the weakest pace in five years in 2019.The new coronavirus originated in China, where dozens have died from the illness. Many nations have diagnosed the infection in travelers from China.‘Fake News’Thailand has so far confirmed eight cases, with five already discharged and the remainder hospitalized. Officials said about 48 people are being monitored for possible infection.Criticism of the ruling coalition’s handling of the virus outbreak dominated Twitter in Thailand in the past few days.Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Sunday advised Thais to avoid traveling to China but added there’s no crisis that requires restricting Chinese arrivals.“We’re ready to take more steps if things escalate,” Anutin said.Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said Monday Thailand “can 100% control” the outbreak and warned people to be wary of fake news about the alleged spread of the disease.“We’re not hiding any information,” Prayuth said. “The most important things for us are the lives and health of our citizens.”(Updates with close of stock market in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Siraphob Thanthong-Knight and Yumi Teso.To contact the reporters on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at firstname.lastname@example.org;Anuchit Nguyen in Bangkok at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sunil Jagtiani at firstname.lastname@example.org, Muneeza NaqviFor 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) -- Byte, a new video-sharing app released Friday to compete with ByteDance Inc.’s TikTok, has rocketed to the top of Apple Inc.’s U.S. App Store.Created by Dom Hofmann, Byte reboots the deprecated Vine video-sharing service, which he co-founded in the summer of 2012 and sold to Twitter Inc. later that year. The parent company failed to find a way to make the service profitable and eventually discontinued it in 2016. Despite its brief existence, Vine became a cultural touchpoint in the U.S., with many users embracing its six-second time limit as a creative challenge. It was where controversial YouTube star Logan Paul, whose channel now has more than 20 million subscribers, got his start.Byte “ended Friday as the No. 1 free iPhone app on the U.S. App Store and is still in the top spot,” said Randy Nelson of research firm Sensor Tower. Beside the U.S., Byte is also the top free iOS app in Canada and ranks in the top 10 in Australia, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K. On Android’s Play Store, Byte is sixth among free apps in the U.S.The timing of Byte’s release coincides with a moment of reckoning for TikTok and its Beijing-based parent company. ByteDance is looking to hire a chief executive officer for TikTok, which is under increasing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers wary about the influence of Chinese companies on American consumers. TikTok’s runaway popularity has been deemed to create “national security risks,” according to a letter by Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton in the fall.Unlike ByteDance, which is the world’s highest-valued startup, and most other social media contenders, Byte is starting off small and its community guidelines make several references to the company’s modest budget. Still, the strong early response to Byte’s arrival -- coming with little to no advance fanfare -- suggests the community that Vine built up remains loyal to the particular six-second format. Some of the early popular videos on the platform are humorous proclamations of “Don’t post TikToks here.”To contact the reporter on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor 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.
After more than two decades as a top corporate lawyer and lobbyist, she took a golden parachute retirement package from her position as vice president of external affairs and policy at Consolidated Natural Gas. Build your network.
The Trump administration is getting medieval in the impeachment trial, according to a CBS News report. As House Democrats continued to present their opening arguments in the impeachment trial accusing President Trump of abusing his power on Thursday, a Trump confidant told CBS News that Republican senators were warned about voting against the commander-in-chief.
(Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province on Friday evening killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds. By Sunday, 45 people had been rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings.A total of 76 buildings were destroyed and 645 heavily damaged, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said in a statement. As many as 20 of the 640 aftershocks since the first temblor had a magnitude greater than 4 on the Richter scale, according to the agency.Speaking on Sunday in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan targeted “provocative” social media posts about the earthquake. “Some messages are terrible, depraved,” he said, according to the Anadolu Agency. “For example, some question what the government has done about earthquakes in the past two decades.”The earthquake occurred at 8:55 p.m. local time on Friday at a depth of 6.75 kilometers (4.2 miles) on the East Anatolia Fault Line. Tremors were felt in many cities across the region.Prosecutors have launched an investigation into social media posts found to be “provocative,” Anadolu reported. Two people in Gaziantep province have been detained.Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment & Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were in Elazig as of early Sunday to coordinate rescue efforts.Turkey is situated in a seismically active area and is among countries, including China and Iran, that can experience catastrophic earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1999, a 7.5-magnitude quake shook the western Marmara region killing thousands of people and damaging more than 300,000 buildings. The nation’s economy contracted 3.4% that year.To contact the reporters on this story: Cagan Koc in Istanbul at email@example.com;Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at email@example.com, Lars Paulsson, Michael GunnFor 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.
Beijing authorities shut the Forbidden City and other attractions and Walt Disney Co. is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland. Some airlines, and higher-end restaurants, which families visit during the Lunar New Year holiday, may feel the impact as well.
Snap (NYSE: SNAP) stock has been all over the map since its 2017 IPO. After a horrendous start to its life as a public company, Snapchat stock has skyrocketed nearly 200% in the past year.Source: Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com Snap's recent earnings reports suggest the company is finally on the right track when it comes to consistently growing and monetizing its users. But with fourth-quarter earnings right around the corner, investors should consider taking some of their big gains off the table in the near-term just to be safe. Snap Is Not a LeaderSnap's nearly 200% one-year gain heading into its Q4 earnings, due to be reported on Feb. 4, is the type of rally more likely to be delivered by a company that is dominating its industry and swimming in cash. There's no question Snap has made tremendous strides in the past year, but it's far from the leader of social media.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading TipsAs of October, Snap had about 314 million active users. Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) flagship website is the clear social media leader with 2.4 billion users. YouTube has 2 billion users, Instagram has 1 billion users, Reddit has 330 million, and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) has 330 million. Even relative newcomer TikTok has 500 million users.But Facebook isn't just beating Snap in the user department. It's also beating Snap in monetizing its users. In its most recent reported quarter, Facebook's average revenue per user (ARPU) was $7.26. That number is ahead of Twitter's $5.68 and Snap 's $2.12. Not only is Snap well behind the competition in ARPU, but its ARPU is only up about 5 cents from the fourth quarter of 2018. * Invest in America's Most Trusted Brands With These 7 Stocks to Buy At one time, Snap was considered the best way for advertisers to reach the coveted demographic of consumers under the age of 30. However, Instagram now dominates that demographic, and TikTok is growing the fastest in the category. Opportunities AheadDespite Snap's weaknesses, Bank of America analyst Justin Post says there are plenty of things to love about the company. The biggest change in Snap from a year ago is that its user growth has accelerated.In Q3, its daily active user growth jumped to 12.9% from around 4.5% in the same period of 2018.Post says that, given the combination of its user growth and its opportunities to close the monetization gap with Facebook and others, Snap stock can climb further."Snap still has a big opportunity ahead with a growing Millennial/Gen Z user base that spends 30+ minutes per day on the app, much more time than social peers," Post says.Post estimates that Snap's revenue can rise by 40% in 2020, with its ARPU increasing 26%."Snap likely has a small fraction (of the) social advertisers on Facebook, and we think closing this difference can close the sizable advertising [cost per thousand impressions] gap to peers," Post says.By adding advertisers and implementing new content strategies such as Discover content and Dynamic Products ads, Snap should be able to make its business much more efficient in 2020.Bank of America has a "buy" rating and a $22 price target on Snap stock. Are the Positive Catalysts Already Priced In?The million-dollar question for investors is what is already priced into Snapchat stock after its huge rally.The average analyst estimate is calling for Snap to roughly break even on EPS in 2020 after reporting an 18 cent per share loss in 2019. Even looking ahead to 2021, analysts, on average, are estimating EPS of only 26 cents. That means Snap stock is currently trading at 73.4 times the average 2021 earnings estimate, a steep valuation to say the least.Unfortunately, price-sales numbers don't offer much comfort either. Snap currently trades at about 17.2 times its sales, well above the levels of Facebook (9.4), Twitter (7.6) and even Pinterest (NYSE: PINS) (11.6). Based on Bank of America's 2020 revenue estimate of $2.42 billion, Snap's forward P/S ratio is around 11, still on the high end of its peer group. How to Play Snapchat StockIt's difficult to recommend buying a stock that is up nearly 200% in the last year. Unfortunately, Snap stock is more likely to fall than rise in the near-term. At the very least, I would take some profits off the table ahead of the company's Q4 earnings.However, Snap's shares are now trading at just a 12% premium to their IPO price nearly three years after the company went public. It's perfectly reasonable at this point to think the Snap bull case may have simply been early, rather than wrong.Investors who are bullish on Snap's long-term outlook should feel much better about owning the stock today than they did following the IPO in 2017. I just believe that, after Snap's big rally, investors will get a better entry point in the stock some time in the coming months.As of this writing, Wayne Duggan held no positions in the aforementioned securities. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 7 Stocks on the Move Thanks to the Davos World Economic Forum * Invest in America's Most Trusted Brands With These 7 Stocks to Buy * 7 Earnings Reports to Watch Next Week The post The Rally of Snap Stock Still Has Legs appeared first on InvestorPlace.
Facebook's (FB) fourth-quarter 2019 results are likely to reflect continued subscriber growth, driven by rapid adoption of Stories and Gaming endeavors.
(Bloomberg) -- Google engineers said a tool Apple Inc. developed to help users avoid web tracking is fundamentally flawed and creates more problems than it solves.The Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature on Apple’s Safari web browser, which is meant to block tracking software used by digital advertisers, can be abused to do the exact opposite, according to a paper released Wednesday by Google researchers. Google told Apple about the problem in August, and in December the iPhone maker published a blog post saying it had fixed the issues and thanking Google for its help.But Wednesday’s paper concluded that the problems go beyond the issues that Apple addressed. Instead of making a big list of cookies to block, Apple’s ITP continuously learns what websites users visit and which kinds of cookies try to hitch a ride. Over time, this creates unique cookie-blocking algorithms for each web surfer that can be used to identify and track them, according to the paper.“I can assure you that they still haven’t fixed these issues,” Justin Schuh, engineering director for Google’s Chrome browser, said on Twitter. Apple’s December blog post “didn’t disclose the vulnerabilities or appropriately credit the researchers,” he added. Apple said the bugs mentioned in the report were patched in December, but declined to comment further. “Our core security research team has worked closely and collaboratively with Apple on this issue,” a spokesman for Google said. This isn’t the first time the two tech giants have clashed over privacy. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has criticized internet companies for collecting too much personal information, and last year Google researchers reported a two-year long vulnerability in the iPhone maker’s software.Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari are two of the most popular web browsers, with Chrome used by more people overall but Safari dominating on iPhones. Apple has been touting Safari privacy features to persuade more consumers to use it. Apple first introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention in 2017. The tool targets cookies, bits of code that let marketers follow people around the web and send them targeted ads.Google refused to block cookies for years, arguing that targeted ads help publishers and keep the internet free. But last week, the internet giant said it would eventually phase them out, setting off a race among advertisers to adapt. Privacy advocates have lauded Apple’s approach to tracking, and criticized Google for taking so long to do the same. But the paper suggests Apple may have to go back to the drawing board to find a new way to block tracking.“This bug is quite counter-intuitive, but rather very serious,” said Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity researcher.(Updates with Google statement in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at email@example.com, Jillian WardFor 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.
One of the hottest initial public offerings of 2019, Pinterest (NYSE:PINS), started out making good on the hype. After going vertical for several sessions after its debut, Pinterest stock subsequently became choppy, and a revenue miss combined with disappointing guidance during its third-quarter 2019 conference call quickly sank shares. But does that depression present an opportunity for investors?Source: Nopparat Khokthong / Shutterstock.com Personally, I've been skeptical about this stock. Although the underlying company is very relevant with the youth market, social media is a very crowded sector. With Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Snap (NYSE:SNAP) and others competing for attention, it's hard to get too excited about yet another social media company.On the flip side, this industry is notorious for producing slow starts. Most recently, we only need to look at Snap's IPO drama, which saw the company stumble out of the gate. But since late 2018, SNAP has been one of the top-performing stocks. It seems like Wall Street just needed some time to get comfortable with the underlying business proposition.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading TipsSo, should you gamble on Pinterest stock, especially given it still trades at a discount relative to 2019 highs? Here are two pros and two cons to consider. Pro: Pinterest Stock Benefits from Youthful PopularityWhen it comes to social media firms, eyeballs are everything. However, not all traffic sources have the same level of desirability. Just like traditional media companies target the 18 to 49 demographic, social media companies have similar attitudes. The difference here is that Pinterest has gained serious traction with the young demo. * The 10 Best Value Stocks to Own in 2020 According to data from the Pew Research Center, a respectable 34% of U.S. adults ages 18 to 29 use Pinterest. Additionally, 35% of those ages 30 to 49 use the platform. That beats out rivals Twitter (26%) and Snapchat (25%).Critically, the usage of Pinterest stays nearly consistent between young adults and "young-ish" adults. This factor separates the platform from something like Snapchat, which is clearly geared toward youthful frivolities. As Snapchat users grow up, they quickly abandon the app.This also tells me that people use the platform for reasons unrelated to age-defined behaviors. In other words, you can grow with Pinterest stock, which you can't always say for other social-media related investments. Pro: It's Attractive to AdvertisersAnother interesting factor with positive implications for the stock is the underlying platform's attractiveness to educated users. In fact, between Pinterest, Twitter and Snap, the former features the most educated user base.Again, data from Pew indicates that 32% of Pinterest users have some college education, while 38% have college degrees. In both categories, the company beats its primary rivals by a conspicuous margin.Combined with the consistent use across age groups, Pinterest also has a relatively wealthy user base. According to Pew, 34% of U.S. adult Pinterest users make between $50,000 to $74,999 a year, and 39% make $75,000 or more. Again, in both of these income brackets, PINS beats out Twitter and Snapchat.As a result, the company is very appealing to advertisers. Not only is the app popular among key demographics, those demographics have the money to plunk down on desirable goods. Con: Pinterest Skews Heavily FemaleSpeaking as a man, there are many instances where a heavily female-skewed audience is desirable. But with Pinterest stock, such gender imbalances represent a liability. Approximately 70% of the app's users are women, which is a huge problem.As I stated above, social media is all about the eyeballs. And while some eyeballs are more desirable than others, few companies can afford to be deliberately selective about their traffic. Now, the company has never set out to be a female-oriented platform. But without greater male participation, the underlying company's ultimate attractiveness to advertisers is necessarily limited.To be fair, 50% of 2018's new sign-ups on the platform were men. But even with more men joining the platform, social media forecasts indicate that the gender split won't change appreciably from where it's at today. Thus, while advertisers appreciate the income level of Pinterest users, the skewed user base is a headwind. Con: Where's the Beef?Not only does Pinterest stock suffer from imbalanced gender ratios, I don't care for how the app is commonly used.In the U.S. market, the platform's most popular category is art, art supplies and hobbies. As someone who dabbles in and supports the arts, I have no problem with this per se. However, this category just doesn't bring in the big bucks. If you don't believe me, consider the troubles some arts and crafts specialists have suffered in the past year.Given that the company's user base leans heavily female, I'm not surprised that this category ranks tops on the platform. But what about the men who use Pinterest?Not surprisingly, the technology category is popular among the guys, but so are food and drinks. This leads me to believe that Pinterest lacks traction with high-dollar industries. And that's another concern as it relates to attracting advertisers. The Bottom Line on PINSAt its higher valuation last year, Pinterest stock was an easy sell. But at the present relative discount, I can see why many people are interested in buying. At these prices, I'm not against taking a speculative bet. However, the company's longer-term headwinds leave room for pause.As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 10 Monthly Dividend Stocks to Buy to Pay the Bills * 7 Earnings Reports to Watch Next Week * 7 5G Stocks to Connect Your Portfolio To The post The Pros and Cons of Buying Pinterest Stock appeared first on InvestorPlace.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Late one evening last week, my phone lit up. “Gather all our jars and bottles and fill them up,” my wife messaged me. “If we wait until the contaminated water comes, it’ll be too late.” Ok, so I confess was skeptical. I live in Rio de Janeiro, an excitable town where emergency lurks in every WhatsApp group and Twitter feed.This was different, as I soon found. Tales of tainted water spreading through the city’s pipes were multiplying. Hundreds of people had reportedly fallen sick from drinking the dark, fetid stuff. In two weeks, more than 60 Rio neighborhoods were blighted, triggering a run on emergency rooms, bottled water and conspiracy theories. “I suspect sabotage,” Rio state governor Wilson Witzel said.Political hubris was the more likely culprit. For years, state and local authorities grooming the city ahead of international events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games had heralded transformative public works that either fell short or never happened. Half a decade on, raw sewage and untreated solid waste flow unchecked into the streams feeding the municipal reservoir, giving rise to toxic algae blooms in the potable water source for nine million people. Brazil’s second largest metropolis ranks 51st in water quality nationwide, down 12 places from 2018. Fewer than 37% of households are connected to sewage mains, prompting the state attorney’s office to file suit against state authorities.Forget, for a moment, the conflagration in the Amazon rain forest. Rio’s blighted tap water is a reminder that, for much of Latin America, the environmental monster in the room is mismanaged urban waste. Organic or solid, domestic or industrial, human refuse chokes city streets and fouls urban waterways.The emergency this time was in Rio, but it might have been in Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires or Bogotá. Latin America is the world’s most urbanized region, with 83% of South Americans living in cities. As cities go, so goes trash. By 2025, Latin America’s projected 567 million city dwellers are expected to throw out 671,000 tons of trash a day, a 25% increase. “The Latin American middle classes have grown and are consuming more and more,” said Marcos Alegre, Peru’s former vice minister for environmental management. “Waste per capita is growing as never before.”Fortunately, where there’s waste, there’s also opportunity. Latin Americans, belatedly, seem to be catching on. In January 2018, China, once the world’s dumpster, banned imports of most plastics and cardboard. Environmental degradation was one reason, but mostly the move was calculated to wean Chinese industry from imported scrap and jump-start domestic recycling. It also helped to wean Latin America from the world’s biggest scrap buyer. Nothing like losing the world’s janitor to goose greener sensibilities and start a global drive to repurpose trash.A 2018 UN study showed that Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru shipped 60,000 tons of used plastic a year to China, compared with just 11,000 tons to the U.S. Not coincidentally, all these countries have extremely low recycling rates. Now China’s new import restrictions may send refuse the other way.Argentina took the lead in the Americas: Late last year, outgoing President Mauricio Macri issued a ruling to facilitate imports of plastic scrap that will feed a nascent recycling hub. It was a bold plan: Argentina, like most of its neighbors, has a dismal record in managing its refuse. Green groups howled that Argentina would become the next China, the country flooded with low-grade plastic that would only end up in the incinerator. With Macri voted out of office for failing to revive the economy, incoming President Alberto Fernandez is expected to revoke the decree.Argentina’s false start is a caveat for willful technocrats banking on innovation without a political pact or safeguards. “The decree was a promising example of what could be a policy of sustainable management,” said former Argentine secretary for innovation and sustainability Prem Zalzman. “But first we need to establish a social consensus while also ensuring that good monitoring and enforcement are in place to avoid importing dangerous materials.”Latin Americans neglect recycling at their own peril. The region has a laudable 94% average collection rate for household and industrial garbage. Yet a third of the haul ends up in open dumpsites, exposing 170 million to contamination, pests and disease. Only about 10% of collected waste gets recycled region wide, and much of the rest goes up in smoke. “For every four tons of toxic waste you burn, you get a ton of toxic ash,” said Melissa MacEwen, who heads the energy, environment and resources department at Chatham House.The way forward is a mix of smarter government, environmental education and partnerships with the private sector. A number of initiatives are under way. In Guayaquil, Ecuador, mass transit users can deposit their used plastic bottles in a vending machine for about two cents each, redeemable for bus fare. Since the 1980’s, Curitiba, one of Brazil’s greenest cities, has swapped food for garbage to keep the streets clean. One Argentine town has even experimented with behavioral incentives – pep talks and inspirational messages – to encourage residents to sort household trash for recycling.Cleaner cities also call for some conceptual recycling. Urban waste collection and disposal are costly, and although most people agree that burden should be shared, they are often loath to shell out for the service they believe general taxes ought to cover. In Argentina, the fees and tariffs residents pay for collection cover only 18% of total expenditures. Such shortfalls, naturally, jeopardize collection, proper disposal and recycling. Hence it’s no mystery that aside from major metropolises like Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo, “there is no infrastructure for waste treatment and recovery,” the United Nations Environment Program concluded in a recent study.Greening up waste management is a job for many partners. Governments must invest in collection, transport and treatment. Residents must help foot the bill. The legion of freelance trash pickers who serve the public good on the cheap by scouring the streets for scrap should be invited into the formal economy and allowed to do their job in safety. None of this will work, however, unless the private sector pitches in and gets creative. To that end, policymakers are calling on companies to join in a pact to keep discarded materials from dirtying the streets and atmosphere. The result is what international waste wonks call the Extended Producer Agreement, whereby businesses shoulder the responsibility for handling and recycling the used goods they sell. That’s key to building “the circular economy,” greenspeak for the notion that nothing goes to waste that can be re-purposed. After all, one person’s trash is another’s merchandise. With the right scavenging technology, there’s a treasure trove in precious metals to be recovered in discarded mobile phones and other electronics— a potential boon to Latin America, where electrical and electronic equipment waste grew 70% from 2009 to 2018, compared with 55% globally.Uruguay and Chile pioneered such pacts for recovering lead batteries and non-returnable containers. Costa Rica requires companies and distributors to take responsibility for their products from factory to reprocessing centers. In Colombia, consumer goods must be made with traceable components, a key to curbing potentially hazardous waste like pesticide containers, tires, light bulbs and medication. Ecuadoran companies must submit waste management plans to regulators.Such arrangements turn on the circular economy’s bet that responsible waste management will not just spare companies punitive costs but also stimulate sustainability and competition for customers through greener products. “We have to drastically reduce the volume and variety of waste packaging,” said MacEwen. “It’s harder to recycle a colored plastic bottle than a clear one. More than recycling, that means product design is the way to go.” Manufacturers may be reluctant to retool, she allows.Another market frontier is tapping organic waste for energy. No other region squanders as much food as Latin America. Organic waste, including sewage, may not be the biggest contributor to climate-baking greenhouse gases, but it is a huge source of methane, 28 times more potent for trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Better than a third of Peru’s methane emissions can be traced to landfill burning.Now this waste is fouling the skies and waters. It could light up homes and power industries. Argentina’s Environmental Complex Norte III converts 16,000 tons of daily solid waste from greater Buenos Aires into enough energy for 25,000 homes. By transforming instead of burning waste, the plant also avoids releasing more than 1 billion tons of carbon emissions a year. Generating biogas from organic waste is still incipient in the region, with around 20 plants in eight Latin American countries. Yet with landfills aplenty and regional energy demand growing by more than 3% a year, analysts reckon far more waste will have to be turned into energy.Latin America’s aspiring middle class needs the juice, preferably without the collateral environmental damage or political double-talk. More than 90% of consumers in seven South American countries demanded corporate sustainability, compared with 81% globally, and 85% said they would change their buying habits (compared with 73% of their global peers) to ease their environmental footprint, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Water pollution and shortages, polluted air and excessive waste packaging lead the list of worries for regional consumers.They’ll get no argument from water-challenged Brazilians. This week pediatricians in Rio de Janeiro counseled parents to avoid bathing young children in the swill dripping out of their taps. My friend David says he won’t even let the dog drink it. Latin Americans know they need to clean up their act, lest the potential blessings of the circular economy go down with the crud in the drain.To contact the author of this story: Mac Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mac Margolis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Latin and South America. He was a reporter for Newsweek and is the author of “The Last New World: The Conquest of the Amazon Frontier.”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) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.The global economic expansion is on a firm footing for now, but it remains at risk of trade tensions and the long-term future is jeopardized by environmental challenges.That was the upshot of a week spent talking to policy makers, investors and corporate executives at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.The stars? President Donald Trump and 17 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose views clashed throughout the week.Here are the takeaways as the global elite leave the Alps:Boiling PointIt might as well have been called the World Climate Forum given how much the conversation revolved around rising temperatures, lowering emissions and the use of plastic.“The themes in Davos have overwhelmingly been sustainability to the point that it probably crowded out some other important discussions,” Bill Winters, chief executive of Standard Chartered, told Bloomberg Television.Can the talk turn to action? Thunberg was skeptical, calling a “climate strike” for Friday and lamenting that her “demands have been completely ignored.”German Chancellor Angela Merkel said fighting global warming was a “matter of survival,” while Trump dismissed the “prophets of doom.”The biggest oil companies did discuss more ambitious carbon targets at a closed-door meeting.Under pressure to avoid funding dirty energy, bankers are sketching out sustainability policies. But Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said banks didn’t “want to be the sharp end of the spear” and that clients should do more.The lack of international standards on what makes businesses environmentally responsible also remains a concern and governments are split over the appeal of a carbon tax.A new risk: the spreading coronavirus. Axa CEO Thomas Buberl said there will be more such viruses popping up, in part because “it’s getting warmer everywhere.”For more, check out the newly-launched Bloomberg GreenThe Trump ShowFour years since many delegates openly doubted he could win the presidency, the Davos crowd has fallen for Trump.The consensus was that he’ll secure re-election in November and thus preserve the low tax, light regulatory policy mix they like.“It was clear the business community was pretty supportive of his policies,” said billionaire David Rubenstein.With an impeachment trial hanging over him at home, Trump essentially delivered a campaign speech by highlighting his handling of the world’s largest economy. “We’ve regained our stride, we’ve rediscovered our spirit,” he said.“Trump doesn’t drive people crazy at Davos,” said Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. “They think he’s going to win a second term and there was zero panic about the prospect that might happen.”Trade Tensions SimmerTrump’s protectionist instincts still unnerve economy watchers even after last week’s interim trade deal with China though.He signaled he’s changing focus from Beijing to deal with the “frankly more difficult” European Union, and is willing to use the tariff playbook again.“The threat of tariffs has led to people being willing to renegotiate trade deals,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.The U.S. is considering duties on European auto imports and threatening retaliation for any levies on digital services revenues. Trump also still wants a “very dramatic” overhaul of the World Trade Organization.Still, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the U.S. and Europe are making progress toward a global pact on the taxation of digital services.U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid risked a clash with Trump after suggesting the U.S. will need to wait in line for a post-Brexit trade deal until Britain finishes negotiating one with the European Union. “I thought we’d go first,” said Mnuchin.Delegates also bet the U.S. and China would soon be at odds again.Stable World EconomyThe sabre-rattling over trade aside, most seemed confident that the global economy is on a good track after last year’s recession scare. The International Monetary Fund predicted it would grow 3.3% this year after 2.9% in 2019.The “overwhelming likely scenario is the economy chugs along this year,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in an interview.While that was the majority view, there were some extreme positions on the outlook for markets.Bob Prince of hedge fund Bridgewater said central banks had ended the “boom-bust” cycle. But Scott Minerd of Guggenheim argued easy monetary policy had created a “Ponzi scheme.”The central bankers present argued that they still had room to ease monetary policy further if needed, but not much, so governments should do more to support demand.“We have to see more action going beyond monetary policy to boost growth,” said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.Banking GrumblesU.S. banks are stealing a march on their European counterparts.Summing up the scene, Credit Suisse Group CEO Tidjane Thiam said that he is only “moderately optimistic” about the region’s economic outlook.Executives from UBS, Deutsche Bank and ABM Amro lined up to bemoan negative interest rates. Sub-zero rates are “not a good place to be,” lamented Kees van Dijkhuizen of ABN.By contrast, Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan wants to increase market share among American consumers. Citigroup’s Michael Corbat was bullish on the outlook for credit cards and indicated he doesn’t feel pressed to cut staff in his U.S. branch network.Tech TremorsApple CEO Tim Cook returned to Davos for a second year with technology also playing a bigger role than usual.The industry’s most influential leaders, including Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, said they were less of a threat to society than the rise of artificial intelligence.A rift over the future of digital payments was also on display, while the news that the phone of Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos had been hacked unnerved many.And Facebook came under fire from Davos regular George Soros, who accused it of conspiring to hekp re-elect Trump.Read MoreDavos’s Global Elite Are Laggards in Stock-Market PerformanceWall Street’s Piano Man Plays His Part in Disrupting Davos SceneFree Markets Made Davos. Now Governments Are Crashing the PartyThree Perspectives On the Biggest Issues at DavosGoldman to Refuse IPOs If Board Is All White, Straight Men\--With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss, Jonathan Ferro, Francine Lacqua, Tom Keene, Haslinda Amin, Harry Wilson, Sridhar Natarajan, Torrey Clark, Chad Thomas, Sonali Basak, Eyk Henning, Andrea Dudik, Aaron Rutkoff, John Fraher, Dandan Li, Javier Blas, Marc Daniel Davies, Sophia Chalmer, Salma El Wardany, Giles Turner, Amy Thomson, Natalia Drozdiak and Josh Wingrove.To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Kennedy in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephanie Flanders at email@example.com, Zoe Schneeweiss, Paul GordonFor 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) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.It took five decades for global elites to put climate change at the center of the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that’s meant to shape the future and solve planet-sized problems. This year, with rising temperatures and cutting emissions finally dominating the agenda, it seemed almost no one could stop talking about it.“Something which was largely on the periphery of finance has come into the mainstream,” Mark Carney, a Davos regular and the governor of the Bank of England, said at the Bloomberg Climate Forum. “These issues have moved very swiftly from being corporate social responsibility issues or more niche issues within finance to fundamental value drivers.”The usual contradictions between green talk and the world’s rich and influential descending onto the Swiss ski resort in private jets and limousines were made more stark by this climate focus. Yet the calls for action didn’t come primarily from young activists like Greta Thunberg, who returned for her second consecutive year of speeches and planned a climate strike on Friday to mark the end of the event. “The climate and the environment are a hot topic,” Thunberg said of this new focus. “But if you see it from another perspective, pretty much nothing has been done, since global CO2 emissions have not been reduced.”For the first time, environmental issues made up the entire top-five risks ranked by WEF’s members. Even the names given to meeting sessions in the program had changed. Two years ago, attendees could listen to a discussion titled “The New Energy Era.” This year, there was “The Future of Fossil Fuels.”How to address climate questions took the center of debates, with alarms sounded by powerful people. “Climate change is becoming an investment risk,” agreed Blackrock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink in remarks this week. “This is becoming a dominant theme with more of our investors.”Fink fired the starting gun last week, shortly before heading to Davos and wearing a global warming-themed scarf, by sending a letter to investors in the roughly $7 trillion asset-management firm declaring that arrival of a “fundamental reshaping of finance.” Now BlackRock plans to adopt climate considerations in its strategy and press for more companies to embrace environmental benchmarks.But the lack of global standards on what makes businesses environmentally responsible remains a palpable concern. Even BlackRock is likely to remain invested in coal, and a common complaint among executives at Davos was that they can’t be the ones setting the standards. “I say to our clients, ‘I don’t want to be the sharp end of the spear,’” enforcing industry standards, said Michael Corbat, chief executive officer at Citigroup Inc. “You should set those, you get proper buy-in, and we will be here to support you.”Standards are hard to find. The international community failed to agree on rules to set up a global carbon market at COP25, the annual United Nations climate conference held in December. That left governments, financial institutions and companies scrambling to figure out how much emissions are worth and how much to voluntarily pay for offsetting their toll on the climate.With no rules for a global carbon market, the European Union is determined to protect its own, which has been working for over a decade. The region is targeting carbon neutrality by 2050 and is considering imposing taxes on imports linked to high carbon dioxide emissions as part of a strategy to force trade partners to become greener.“There is no point in only reducing greenhouse-gas emissions at home if we increase imports of CO2 from abroad,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a Davos audience. “It is a climate issue, but it is also an issue of fairness towards our businesses and workers — we will protect them from unfair competition.”U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a closing panel that a carbon tax would be a “tax on hard working people” as he bet on technological advances to help tackle environmental challenges.Davos attendees, including the U.K.’s Prince Charles, voiced support for a carbon tax. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said reducing emissions could be a “ matter of survival” for Europe. But a carbon tax could also test Europe’s ties with China just as the leadership in Beijing faces pressure to set ambitious climate targets in its next five-year plan. At the same time, there was talk at Davos about how China’s fractious relationship with the U.S. would challenge any effort to rein in emissions.“The trade war and the U.S. withdrawal of the Paris Agreement took away the pressure on China almost entirely,” said Ma Jun, the director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, one of the country’s top climate groups. “This is a moment of confusion and of different opinions.” Davos found space for conflicting views. Outside the forum, a costumed protester dressed as a plutocrat with a cigar and a money-filled briefcase posed for photos a few feet away from man saying earnestly, “What we need is to promote a circular economy.” Someone etched the slogan “Act on Climate” into the snow near the helicopter landing zone used by U.S. President Donald Trump. His speech here included swipes at unnamed environmental alarmists. “We are clean and beautiful and everything’s good,” he told an audience that included Thunberg and other young climate activists. “We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.”Ian Bremmer, president of consulting firm Eurasia Group, noticed how reaction to Trump’s policies isn’t uniformly negative at Davos. “You can have Greta here, you can have a bunch of people talking about climate and sustainability,” he told Bloomberg TV, “but the reality is that Trump doesn’t drive people crazy at Davos the way he does in the United States.”Towards the end of the week, Mnuchin questioned the 17-year-old activist’s authority to talk about economic issues. “After she goes and studies economics in college,“ he said, “she can go back and explain that to us.” Thunberg made her reply in a tweet, citing scientific research.From Thunberg’s perspective, as she explained at Davos, the demonstrations that took millions to the streets last year were unexpectedly successful in making elites talk more like climate activists. But she saw little sign of progress beyond that talk. At a press conference on Friday, she declared the forum a failure on addressing the case for climate action.“Before we came here, we had a few demands for the WEF, and the demands have been completely ignored,” she said. “Of course we expected nothing less.”The Swedish teen sounded alarm bells at Davos in 2019 with a speech that famously declared: “Our house is on fire.” This year she made her disdain for those she blames for rising greenhouse-gas emissions even more clear. “We are not telling you to keep talking about reaching ‘net-zero emissions’ or ‘carbon neutrality’ by cheating and fiddling around with numbers,” Thunberg said. “The facts are clear, but they’re still too uncomfortable for you to address.”(Updates adding paragraph 13 with Mnuchin on carbon tax, adds Thunberg quote in paragraph before last.)\--With assistance from Yuliya Fedorinova, Jake Rudnitsky, Akshat Rathi, Viren Vaghela, Josh Wingrove, Javier Blas and Saleha Mohsin.To contact the authors of this story: Laura Millan Lombrana in Madrid at firstname.lastname@example.orgAaron Rutkoff in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, Reed LandbergFor 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.
This is what happens when U.S. senators are left to their own devices, so-to-speak. President Trump’s impeachment trial is officially underway, with senators serving as jurors. Each side gets 24 hours over three days to present its case, and the decades-old rules state that the senators must listen to each speaker in silence — and that includes a ban on cellphones in the chamber.
(Bloomberg) -- Sonos Inc. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Spence apologized to customers after a backlash over the company’s plan to halt software updates for older products.The Santa Barbara, California-based speaker maker earlier this week said it would stop providing updates and new features for speakers launched in the 2000s, including the Connect, ZonePlayer, the original Play:5 and Bridge.The company warned that even if customers only had one older speaker, their entire Sonos sound systems might lose access to services and functionality would “eventually be disrupted.” It also suggested users buy new speakers with a 30% credit for each legacy device traded in. Sonos devotees quickly went berserk on social media, accusing the company of purposely degrading existing hardware to spur new sales.“I have over 1000USD of *speakers* that must be retired now? Terrible product life cycle support,” Scott Jenson, a longtime Google executive, wrote on Twitter. “I clearly have no choice to upgrade but I’m certainly NOT going to trust my money with Sonos ever again.”In a statement Thursday, Sonos didn’t reverse the decision to nix software updates in May, but pledged to keep older speakers “updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible.” The company also said it would “work to offer an alternative solution” to major issues that can’t be addressed.“We heard you. We did not get this right from the start. My apologies for that and I wanted to personally assure you of the path forward,” Spence wrote in a letter posted on Sonos’s blog. “First, rest assured that come May, when we end new software updates for our legacy products, they will continue to work as they do today. We are not bricking them, we are not forcing them into obsolescence, and we are not taking anything away.”Sonos’s original announcement suggested that legacy products would eventually stop working with newer speakers. On Thursday, the company said that would no longer be the case. “We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state,” Spence wrote. Jenson applauded the response on Twitter Despite the backlash, it’s common for technology companies to cut off software updates for older devices. Apple Inc.’s latest iOS operating system doesn’t support iPhones sold before 2015 and iPads made before 2014. That spurs millions of people to spend hundreds of dollars buying new handsets.Apple’s Lower Prices, Users’ Aging Handsets Drive IPhone DemandSonos is under pressure from larger rivals including Apple, Amazon.com Inc. and Google, which sell internet-connected speakers with digital assistants built in. Sonos sued Google recently, accusing the tech giant of ripping off its designs.Spence testified at a Congressional antitrust hearing this month and argued that Sonos was different from larger rivals because it supports products for many years. “Our business model is simple — we sell products which people pay for once, and we make them better over time with software updates,” Spence said.Some users on Twitter quickly contrasted that statement with this week’s decision to end software updates on many speakers.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jillian WardFor 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.
What happened to the Amazon founder and Washington Post owner’s phone, and who was behind it? Are other high-profile Americans at risk? And why is the U.N. involved in investigating the matter?
(Bloomberg) -- Andy Byford, a Briton lionized as New York City’s “Train Daddy,” resigned as chief of the subway agency just two years after taking over the busiest mass-transit system in the U.S.Byford, 55, who started his career in the U.K. and ran Toronto’s transit agency, had been credited with improving subway service and persuading state and city lawmakers to pour billions into a system plagued by service interruptions and equipment breakdowns.New York City Transit, part of the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has 8 million daily riders. Under Byford, average on-time performance exceeded 80% last year for the first time since 2013. That’s up from 67.1% in 2018.Byford’s departure came after friction with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over finding billions to revamp signal technology developed almost a century ago, purchase new subway cars and buses and upgrade equipment and station maintenance. The subway chief moved to resign in October, but stayed after being assured that he would retain influence over policy and operations. Byford’s decision Thursday seems final.In a letter to MTA Chief Operating Office Mario Peloquin, Byford said he was quitting because a cost-cutting plan advanced by Cuomo would centralize major decisions on projects, “leaving agency presidents to focus solely on the day-to-day running of service.”‘Train Daddy’Byford was a popular figure, riding the transport he supervised, greeting commuters and inquiring about their experience. Stickers showing his hairless head as the first car of a train, Thomas the Tank Engine style, blossomed around the city with the slogan “Train Daddy loves you very much.”On Thursday, Stephen Mortley, 40, a marketing executive on the 5 train headed toward Brooklyn, said Byford’s departure was disappointing.“Byford had so much in the pipeline that we wanted and he was on the cusp of doing,” Mortley said. “We could see the trains getting better. It’s an unfortunate clash of egos for him to quit and I blame both the governor and Byford because it shows no concern for the common man.”Despite his popularity among straphangers, there was one important figure he failed to win over: Cuomo. The governor has had a fraught relationship with the agency he oversees, taking credit for improvements like the opening of the long-awaited Second Avenue line, but ducking criticism as the overall system decayed.DisagreementsOn Thursday, Cuomo said Byford “was a good man,” but the two disagreed over centralizing operations. Cuomo wants to consolidate construction projects throughout the MTA, which would diminish Byford’s power over timetables for subway construction and maintenance. The governor objected to Byford’s seven-year time frame to overhaul the signaling system, saying the job could be done faster.“The MTA has to find economies of scale, it has to find efficiency and that’s what it’s trying to do,” Cuomo said at a Manhattan news conference. “They have to do a better job on construction.”Byford’s arrival in January 2018 came after a “summer of hell” marked by daily breakdowns, delays, track fires and equipment failures that cost the city economy millions of dollars in lost employee work time. In 2020, the system’s ricketiness persists, but full-out commuting meltdowns are rarer.“Andy was instrumental in moving the system forward,” MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said in a statement.Subway SignalsReinvent Albany, a government watchdog group, blamed the resignation on the governor.“We view Byford’s resignation as a very bad sign for the MTA and NYC Transit, which we believe have been politicized by Governor Cuomo,” said Rachael Fauss, a spokeswoman. “Byford is widely known to have chafed at the politicization of the MTA under Governor Cuomo, whose penchant for secretiveness, message control and top-down directives conflicted with Byford’s philosophy of building trust through consultation, personal accountability and transparency.”Fauss said the two disagreed over Cuomo’s demand that the MTA depend on a new radar-like wireless technology for subway signaling, which she characterized as an untested technology.Byford and Cuomo also clashed over the governor’s insistence upon a quick and inexpensive fix for a damaged East River tunnel linking Manhattan and Brooklyn. Byford had favored an 18-month closing, requiring transformational adaptation of local streets for bicycles and buses. Cuomo prevailed.“There are very few people in government who could communicate a plan of action,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “He was beloved and respected by the workers and the riding public. It’s a loss to New York City.”Byford’s leadership was praised by Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance, an advocacy group. He said it’s up to Cuomo to maintain Byford’s momentum.“Management will come and go, but the governor is responsible to keep a team in place that will build on Byford’s success,” Pearlstein said. “Riders will keep holding the governor accountable.”(Updates with quote from Byford resignation letter in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flynn McRoberts at firstname.lastname@example.org, Stephen MerelmanFor 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.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday, Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar confirmed her attendance at a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump critics absolutely love it when world leaders diss the president, and they were relishing what they thought was another opportunity on Thursday to cackle at the White House’s expense. But were they mistaken?
The Arabic hashtag for “Boycott Amazon Products” was the top trending topic in Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning
Donald Trump really has become the commander-in-tweet. The president’s @realDonaldTrump account sent a record 142 tweets and retweets during the second day of his impeachment trial on Wednesday, according to the data tracking service Factba.se, marking his all-time highest number of tweets in a single day since becoming president.
AMD's fourth-quarter results are likely to reflect deal wins on strength in EPYC server processors and uptick in holiday sales amid increasing expenditure on product development.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Cord-cutting isn’t stopping. As it turns out, that’s not such bad news for cable giants like Comcast Corp. It is, however, for AT&T Inc. The streaming wars intensified in the fourth quarter amid Walt Disney Co.’s advertising blitz for its new Disney+ service that overtook billboards, shopping malls, public transit and Twitter feeds. At the same time, Apple Inc. began giving away Apple TV+ free to anyone buying a new iDevice of some sort. Comcast is the first of the traditional media giants to report results for this period, giving a glimpse on Thursday morning at how the pay-TV industry fared as consumers were given more reasons than ever before to ditch cable, skip the box office and start streaming from their couches.Comcast itself reported a generally strong quarter: It signed up 442,000 net new internet customers, one of its biggest boosts ever, while the NBCUniversal media networks took in higher ad revenue and guests also spent more money at its theme parks. Film was a weak spot, with adjusted Ebitda in that business dropping nearly 50%, as its musical “Cats” bombed in theaters. Even more telling, though, was that Comcast’s cable unit lost more video subscribers than expected — 149,000, mostly residential — a sour indicator for AT&T, which is scheduled to report its own results on Jan. 29. “We expect higher video subscriber losses this year,” Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, said on Thursday’s earnings call. (Even Netflix Inc. is forecasting higher churn in the U.S., after subscriber gains slowed.)Although Comcast may be best known (or hated) by consumers for its cable-TV service, that’s actually its least relevant business. Internet users at Comcast have outnumbered video subscribers since at least 2015, and Comcast management has done a good job of shifting attention to the growth coming from broadband. In unveiling its Peacock app last week, Comcast also gave investors confidence that it’s taking a different tack in streaming than its rivals, choosing to go the free, ad-supported route, which will help Peacock garner eyeballs and not have to compete on price like the others are. AT&T is another story. The wireless carrier is carrying a boatload of debt from its 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, a deal that tied AT&T’s fortunes to the more volatile and uncertain future of pay TV. Its DirecTV/Entertainment Group — about 25% of total company revenue — has lost customers more rapidly than the rest of the industry on account of price hikes aimed at lifting profit and reducing debt. So if video customers were abandoning Comcast last quarter, they were most certainly dumping DirecTV, a technologically inferior product.Even AT&T TV Now, a virtual skinny-bundle service (formerly known as DirecTV Now), has been shrinking as customers look to cheaper options. AT&T’s WarnerMedia division will introduce HBO Max in May for a monthly subscription price of $15, the same rate as regular HBO but with the added bonus of a library of Warner Bros. films, content from its Turner networks, old episodes of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory” and a slate of original content. But HBO is still the main reason to get HBO Max, and so the question becomes, does everyone who wants HBO already have it? AT&T is investing $2 billion in the product this year, an expense that will ramp up to $4 billion by 2024. It’s not expected to start making money until the following year.Between the debt and streaming foray, the new AT&T still has a lot to prove — and a lot to spend. It won’t help matters if its media networks take a big hit from cord-cutting and if a chunk of those cord-cutters are fleeing DirecTV specifically.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.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.