FB - Facebook, Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD
198.82
+0.89 (+0.45%)
At close: 4:00PM EST

198.82 0.00 (0.00%)
After hours: 4:42PM EST

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Previous Close197.93
Open198.38
Bid198.75 x 1400
Ask198.72 x 3000
Day's Range197.62 - 199.30
52 Week Range123.02 - 208.66
Volume8,951,405
Avg. Volume13,430,107
Market Cap566.985B
Beta (3Y Monthly)1.06
PE Ratio (TTM)31.79
EPS (TTM)6.26
Earnings DateJan. 28, 2020 - Feb. 3, 2020
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est238.96
  • Google Puts New Limits on Political Advertising
    Bloomberg

    Google Puts New Limits on Political Advertising

    Nov.21 -- Google is severely limiting how political advertisers can target people online. The Alphabet unit says it will no longer allow election ads to be targeted based on political affiliation on Google Search, YouTube and across the web. Bloomberg's Eric Newcomer and Kurt Wagner report on "Bloomberg Technology."

  • Senators Look to Shore Up Data Security
    Bloomberg

    Senators Look to Shore Up Data Security

    Nov.18 -- Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, proposed a bill to limit data that gets transferred to China and Russia. Ben Brody Kurt Wagner report on "Bloomberg Technology."

  • Sir Martin Sorrell on Political Ads
    Bloomberg

    Sir Martin Sorrell on Political Ads

    Nov.18 -- Tech companies are responsible for their content, says S4 Capital's Sir Martin Sorrell on 'Bloomberg Technology.'

  • YAHOO FINANCE PRESENTS: Salesforce's Benioff on business as 'the greatest platform for change'
    Yahoo Finance

    YAHOO FINANCE PRESENTS: Salesforce's Benioff on business as 'the greatest platform for change'

    The founder of enterprise software giant Salesforce believes CEOs no longer have the option of not taking a stand on society’s toughest issues.

  • Salesforce's Benioff on why governments are 'going to take action' vs Facebook
    Yahoo Finance

    Salesforce's Benioff on why governments are 'going to take action' vs Facebook

    "It's a wake-up call for everybody," Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff says.

  • Bloomberg

    Oracle’s Largely White Board Draws Congressional Scrutiny

    (Bloomberg) -- Oracle Corp. should increase the racial diversity of its board, a group of U.S. lawmakers said, putting a spotlight on the company’s hiring and management practices.“The fact that African Americans make up 13% and Asian Americans make up 5.6% of the U.S. population but 0% of Oracle’s board and leadership team is inexcusable,” the lawmakers said in a Nov. 22 letter from the House Tech Accountability Caucus and Tri-Caucus, which includes the Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American caucuses.It’s the latest call for the second-largest software maker and billionaire Chairman Larry Ellison to improve diversity and inclusion. Former employees and the U.S. government have sued the Redwood City, California-based company, alleging it systematically underpaid women and people of color, and many shareholders have supported repeated requests that the board examine if there’s a pay gap between male and female employees.It’s at least the second time this year that Oracle has attracted congressional scrutiny for its diversity practices. In January, the Congressional Black Caucus and House Tech Accountability Caucus wrote to the company expressing dismay about allegations of pay discrimination.This week’s letter was signed by Democrats Robin L. Kelly, Joaquin Castro, Karen Bass and Judy Chu, who chair the various House caucuses, as well as other lawmakers.Amazon, FacebookThe Tech Accountability Caucus previously criticized Amazon.com Inc. for its tepid record of appointing people of color to its board, and Facebook Inc. for allowing marketers to use ethnic affinity to target ads for housing, employment or credit.Amazon has since adopted a policy pledging to consider a diverse slate of candidates for open board seats and added Starbucks Corp. operating chief Rosalind Brewer and former PepsiCo Inc. Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi as directors. In 2016, Facebook updated its policy to disable ethnic targeting for certain ads.“We respectfully request a prompt response from Oracle Corporation regarding our diversity concerns,” the lawmakers wrote. They requested a briefing with the company to discuss the issue, but said it would also accept a written response within 14 days, or a phone call. Oracle didn’t respond to a request for comment.In a February response to the earlier congressional letter, the company said it wouldn’t “intentionally discriminate against women and people of color” and was committed to a diverse, nondiscriminatory work culture, according to the lawmakers.Short-ChangedOracle is also contending with a January lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor, which alleged the company short-changed female and minority workers some $400 million in wages.The allegations stem from a 2014 audit by a department unit that enforces equal pay and other non-discrimination matters for federal contractors. Records show that Oracle paid women and minority employees less than others and steered them into lower-level jobs, the department said in court papers. It also alleged that Oracle used H-1B visas to hire scores of Asians and paid them less than employees who were U.S. citizens.In 2017, three female engineers sued Oracle, alleging underpayment compared with male engineers doing the same tasks. An analysis conducted on behalf of the plaintiffs showed the company paid some women about $13,000 less per year on average versus male counterparts. They’re seeking to represent more than 4,000 similarly situated employees.Oracle has denied the allegations in both cases.For three straight years, shareholder Pax World Funds has filed proposals asking the company’s board to identify whether a gender pay gap exists and how to fix it. The proposals have been supported by several large investors, including funds held by BlackRock Inc. and State Street Corp., but failed to garner majority support. That’s largely because Ellison, who owns about a third of the stock, has opposed the measure.(Updates with shareholder proposal in third paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.net;Anders Melin in New York at amelin3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Peter EichenbaumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Bank of America, Home Depot, Amgen and Intuitive
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Bank of America, Home Depot, Amgen and Intuitive

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Bank of America, Home Depot, Amgen and Intuitive

  • Facebook agrees to provide additional documents in California AG data privacy probe
    Reuters

    Facebook agrees to provide additional documents in California AG data privacy probe

    Facebook Inc has agreed to turn over additional documents after the California state attorney general's office went to court this month to compel the social media firm to comply with requests for information in its privacy investigation. Under a joint stipulation filed in San Francisco Superior Court this week, the company agreed by Nov. 26 to respond to some of the document requests. For California's document requests that remain in dispute, a judge will hold a hearing on Feb. 19.

  • Top Stock Reports for Facebook, Bank of America & Home Depot
    Zacks

    Top Stock Reports for Facebook, Bank of America & Home Depot

    Top Stock Reports for Facebook, Bank of America & Home Depot

  • Obama Warns Technology Has Created a More Splintered World
    Bloomberg

    Obama Warns Technology Has Created a More Splintered World

    (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. President Barack Obama warned that technology is creating a more splintered world, fueling the disparities among wealthy and poorer nations, and people within countries.“The rise of extreme inequality both within nations and between nations that is being turbocharged by globalization and technology” is one of the biggest risks for young people, Obama said Thursday at Salesforce.com Inc.’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. “New technologies have allowed us reach. We have a global market. I can project my voice and you can take your technology to new markets. It has also amplified inequalities.”Though his successor Donald Trump has taken presidential use of Twitter to new heights, Obama has long been associated with the tech industry. His 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns were known for their use of the internet and social media to galvanize supporters. Some of Obama’s staffers came from Silicon Valley companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and there’s a diaspora of former Obama administration officials who have worked in the tech industry since leaving the White House, including David Plouffe, formerly with Uber Technologies Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s top spokesman Jay Carney.Still, the 44th president talked about how the internet has helped divide American politics and society.“People remark on the polarization of our politics and rightfully so,” Obama said. “People rightfully see challenges like climate change and mass refugees and feel like things are spinning out of control. Behind that, what I see is a sense of anxiety, rootlessness and uncertainty in so many people. Some of that is fed by technology and there’s an anger formed by those technologies.”Social-media services including Facebook Inc. and Google‘s YouTube have been accused of fueling polarization with algorithms that show people news and other content that match their preconceived thinking and viewpoints.“If you watch Fox News, you live in a different reality than if you read the New York Times. If you follow one rabbit hole on YouTube or the internet, then suddenly things look completely different,” Obama said during his conversation with Salesforce co-Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff. “We are siloing ourselves off in ways that are dangerous. I believed, and I still believe the internet can be a powerful tool for us to finally see each other and unify us, but right now it’s disappointing.”Since leaving the White House in January 2017, Obama has become a fixture on the paid-speaker circuit. Thursday’s appearance at Dreamforce is at least Obama’s second appearance at a tech event in San Francisco in the last two months. He also spoke at a Splunk Inc. conference in September.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Google’s Micro-Targeting Ban Won’t Improve Political Ads

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Google says it will limit the targeting of political ads to make it harder to sneak misinformation to impressionable voters. That puts the company ahead of the pack when it comes to making the political business of big internet platforms look less threatening. But the efficiency of political micro-targeting is questionable, and Google is responding to a moral panic rather than any real danger to democracy.Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the public has become aware of techniques that allow advertisers to aim their messages at narrow groups of people, sliced not just by place of residence, age and sex, but also by consumer and political preferences, browsing histories, voting records and other kinds of personal data. This culminated in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, when news reports showed that the U.K.-based micro-targeting firm had improperly harvested lots of private user data from Facebook. The platforms were on the spot to do something. Twitter has banned political ads entirely, but then it didn’t sell many, anyway, serving instead as a free platform for political messages. In an op-ed in the Washington Post following Twitter’s announcement, Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Election Commission, called for an end to political micro-targeting instead of an ad ban. “It is easy to single out susceptible groups and direct political misinformation to them with little accountability, because the public at large never sees the ad,” she argued.That was a controversial proposal. Writing in the same newspaper, Chris Wilson, who had been responsible for digital strategy in Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign (which was the first in that election to hire Cambridge Analytica), countered that micro-targeting has helped increase voter turnout and drive down advertising costs for campaigns. His suggestion was to make the targeting more transparent.Google, however, found it more expedient to go along with Weintraub’s proposal than to fight an uphill battle using Wilson’s arguments. In a blog post on Wednesday, the company said it would no longer let advertisers target messages “based on public voter records and general political affiliations (left-leaning, right-leaning, and independent).” Only basic targeting by age, gender and postal code would be allowed.This, is course, is no more than Russian trolls would have required in 2016 — as Wilson pointed out in his Washington Post op-ed. Their propaganda campaign was largely geographically targeted. There’s still no proof that micro-targeting is more effective than other forms of advertising. Academic work on the subject has tended to be rather theoretical, while experimental evidence is scarce. In a paper published this year, German researcher Lennart Krotzek concluded after an experiment matching ads to personality profiles that “candidate messages are more effective in improving a voter’s feeling toward a candidate when the messages are congruent with the voter’s personality profile, but they do not result in a higher propensity to vote for the advertised candidate.”Internet platforms have done little to further the study of political targeting.Google offers a transparency report on political ads placed on its various properties — search pages, YouTube, the sites of media partners. It says that the biggest U.S. advertiser in the last 12 months is the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which has spent $8.5 million. The report discloses that the pro-Trump group has targeted its most recent ads at all people older than 18 throughout the U.S., but offers no clues as to whether any more precise targeting was used. That’s the case with the rest of the advertisers, too.Facebook’s transparency report is just as opaque when it comes to the precise targeting of ads by voters’ interests and political leanings.  It’s easier for Google than for Facebook to abandon precise targeting, because one of its key strengths is being able to link ads to search words. That’s a form of rather precise targeting not affected by Google’s policy change. Slicing and dicing the audience is at the heart of Facebook’s offering to advertisers, so it’s understandably hesitant to disable the feature, thought it, too, has been mulling some targeting curbs.But Facebook doesn’t have to make the sacrifice. It would make more sense to reveal exactly how each political ad is targeted — and to cooperate with researchers interested in evaluating the ads’ efficiency. Facebook has the means to deliver messages from such researchers to the target audiences, which would help them recruit subjects for experiments. Google should have done the same instead of introducing drastic curbs that probably won’t do much to raise the level of political discourse, anyway. Policymakers need data, not hype, to make informed decisions on how to regulate modern advertising.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Facebook banned white nationalists months ago. But prominent groups are still on the platform
    The Guardian

    Facebook banned white nationalists months ago. But prominent groups are still on the platform

    Facebook banned white nationalists months ago. But prominent groups are still on the platform. Guardian analysis finds VDare and Red Ice TV among several outlets openly operating on Facebook, which has declined to take action

  • Google, Facebook at Center of Rising Political-Ad Tensions
    Bloomberg

    Google, Facebook at Center of Rising Political-Ad Tensions

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and Google were drawn into an escalating battle of wills Wednesday over the use of political advertising on social media.Trump campaign officials pressured Facebook to maintain its permissive political advertising rules, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google announced an overhaul of how campaigns may target their messages across the world’s largest search engine.The ability of candidates to show different messages to people based on their physical location, age, or other characteristic, referred to as micro-targeting, has become an increasing focus of the broader debate about political advertising online. Last month, Twitter Inc. said it will ban political ads on its platform altogether, and is restricting targeting for other ads related to some politically charged issues, like climate change.Google on Wednesday said it will ban candidates from targeting election ads based on people’s political affiliation, though the messages can be tailored based on gender, age and geography. The company also is eliminating a feature called Customer Match for political advertisers. The tool lets marketers upload their own lists of email addresses or phone numbers, and target ads specifically at those people.Facebook, the largest platform for online political advertising, has been under pressure to follow suit. Several prominent Democrats have attacked the company for refusing to fact-check political ads. Facebook has rebuffed those calls, saying it doesn’t want to police political speech. In October, hundreds of Facebook employees sent a letter to the company’s executives calling for new limits on ad targeting for political campaigns. The letter became public after it was obtained by the New York Times.Carolyn Everson, a Facebook vice president, said Monday at a Recode conference that the social-media company wasn’t considering changes to its targeted advertising options for political ads. Later that day, however, she told Axios, the news website, that Facebook hadn’t ruled out any specific changes, raising the prospect the company may change course and limit targeting in some way.The Trump campaign reacted directly to Everson’s comments. It sees Facebook as an essential tool for speaking directly to voters, instead of relying on critical media outlets that the president says treat him unfairly.Gary Coby, the Trump campaign’s digital director, argued on Twitter Wednesday that stopping campaigns from pairing in-house data with Facebook’s advertising tools would suppress voter engagement. “This would unevenly hurt the little guy, smaller voices, & issues the public is not aware of OR news is NOT covering,” Coby tweeted, saying it was very “dangerous” and a “huge blow to speech.”Tim Cameron, chief executive officer at FlexPoint Media, a Republican media strategy firm, said the Trump campaign is likely concerned that new restrictions could result in Facebook deciding to begin fact-checking political ads. “I think the Trump campaign is looking down the road beyond this decision and are actually more afraid of subsequent decisions that Facebook may make,” he said.Facebook hasn’t announced any changes to its policies. “For over a year, we’ve provided unprecedented transparency into all U.S. federal and state campaigns -- and we prohibit voter suppression in all ads,” a company spokesman said. “As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”During the 2016 election, the Trump campaign ran 5.9 million different versions of ads, constantly testing them against different groups to increase engagement, according to internal Facebook documents reviewed by Bloomberg in 2018. It spent $44 million on Facebook in the six months before the 2016 election. So far in 2019, the Trump campaign has spent more than $15 million in ads, and is the largest political spender on the platform, according to Facebook’s political ad library.Before Google announced its changes, the company touted its ability to target voters based on political affiliations, like “right-leaning,” as a major selling point. “They were all heartily selling us this for years as the coolest thing since sliced bread,” said Will Ritter, the founder of Poolhouse, a political advertising firm.Google’s new restrictions mean campaigns may have to spend more after losing the ability to hit key voters, Ritter added. For instance, a candidate could identify frequent Republican voters in Democratic-heavy areas of the country, and reach them with ads on search and YouTube. Now they can’t.“It’s just going to increase costs because there’s going to be so much waste,” Ritter said.Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who now works for Tech Inquiry, a political advocacy group focused on ethical issues related to technology, said the ability to target makes online advertising particularly susceptible to abuse. Campaigns can test messages on certain audiences, find which ones resonate, then use tools provided by Facebook or Google to target those people with new ads while also reaching people with similar characteristics. Misleading messaging can be directed at specific audiences without drawing widespread attention.“You can be seeing one message that seems fine, and your next-door neighbor can be seeing some misinformation that is cleverly targeted to produce a very different response or action,” Knapp said.Knapp said Google’s Customer Match tool could be used to target racial groups, or engage in other behavior that violates the policies of the platforms. The equivalent tool on Facebook, “Custom Audiences,” still exists.(Updates with details on Google rules in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Alistair Barr.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at enewcomer@bloomberg.net;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.net;Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • PayPal to Acquire Online Coupon Site Honey for $4 Billion
    Bloomberg

    PayPal to Acquire Online Coupon Site Honey for $4 Billion

    (Bloomberg) -- PayPal Holdings Inc. will acquire Honey Science Corp. for about $4 billion, its largest-ever acquisition, adding a startup that amasses valuable data on consumer buying habits and doles out coupons for online bargains.About 17 million people use Honey apps or web browser extensions to find discounts at online shopping sites. The startup was profitable in 2018, PayPal said in a statement. Shares of the payments giant were little changed in extended trading.Honey is valued at almost twice what PayPal paid for its next-largest deal, iZettle, the Swedish provider of small-business services it purchased in 2018, and marks the first major acquisition this year. Chief Executive Officer Dan Schulman has signaled that PayPal, with more than $10 billion in cash, is on the hunt for more deals after a string of takeovers last year that included Hyperwallet and Simility.“You can expect us to be acquisitive going forward,” Schulman said on a conference call with analysts this summer. PayPal looks at hundreds of potential deals every quarter and sees them as a way to expand globally and accelerate development of new products, he said. Schulman described acquisitions as “a part of who we are on an ongoing basis.”Honey, which was founded in 2012, will keep its base in Los Angeles, and the founders will continue to run the business. The company’s services include a browser extension that automatically applies coupons at e-commerce sites. In a statement, PayPal said that Honey’s capabilities will give its customers a better shopping experience, and help merchants drive sales, partly with more timely and personalized offers.Mark Palmer, an analyst at BTIG, said the acquisition would help PayPal make “significant advances” toward becoming more relevant to users. It could also give customers and merchants a reason to choose PayPal “in the face of increasing competition from tech companies, such as Facebook Pay.”As a shopping-focused browser extension, Honey has access to large amounts of customer data. Lisa Ellis, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said that PayPal typically uses that information for purposes like fraud prevention. She added that if there were to be a privacy issue over data at the combined company that limited its use, some abilities, like targeted offers, could be curtailed.(Updates with Honey details starting in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at jverhage2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, ;Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Sky News

    Facebook posts with the word 'vote' blocked after leaders' TV election debate

    Posts containing the word "vote" have been blocked from appearing on Facebook, raising fears about censorship, Sky News can exclusively reveal. "I couldn't see it on my profile or any of the notifications about it," he said.

  • Google’s Coming for Your Checking Account
    The Motley Fool

    Google’s Coming for Your Checking Account

    Alphabet's moneymaking, data-mining search engine is planning to get into financial services with the help of a couple of banks.

  • Dozens of Facebook lobbyists tied to members of Congress, investigation shows
    The Guardian

    Dozens of Facebook lobbyists tied to members of Congress, investigation shows

    Dozens of Facebook lobbyists tied to members of Congress, investigation shows. Lobbyists worked for 29 current members of Congress, including Democratic party leaders, helping promote company’s interests

  • Bloomberg

    Google CEO Opens New Japan Campus in Tokyo’s Trendy Shibuya District

    (Bloomberg) -- Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was in Tokyo Tuesday to inaugurate the relocation of the company’s Japanese head office to an expansive new complex in the trendy district of Shibuya.Taking up the majority of the gleaming new 35-floor Shibuya Stream skyscraper, Google has put its name on the building and dedicated two floors to a newly launched Google for Startups Campus, which is its seventh in the world and second in Asia after Seoul.Agnieszka Hryniewicz-Bieniek, the director of Google for Startups, said that the company will run an accelerator program early next year that will select 12 startups looking to scale up their work on artificial intelligence and machine learning, both critical aspects of Google’s current and future operations. She also stressed the importance of inclusiveness at an event where the Wi-Fi password was BuildInclusiveTeams.“We would like Campus Tokyo to support women founders,” she said, and that Google is proud that 37% of its Campus participants are female entrepreneurs, a higher proportion than the wider startup ecosystem. “So when they go to the next stage of growth, we’re behind them, we’re supporting them.”The Campus initiative extends Google’s effort to combine education and training for startups with evangelism for the use of its cloud and business services. Co-location with Google’s main office will make it easy for experts from Google’s developer relations and web marketing teams to make themselves available to help budding entrepreneurs, Google said.Joined by Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Sanae Takaichi on stage, Pichai said he had toured some of the venues for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, which Google will be supporting through its various services like Google Maps and Translate. “Ultimately, we want to make sure the legacy of technology innovation extends far beyond 2020. This Google for Startups Campus is one part of that,” he said at the opening.AI has been topical in Japan recently, with SoftBank Group Corp. announcing plans to combine its Yahoo Japan internet business with Naver Corp.’s Line messaging service in an effort to create an AI tech leader capable of rivaling U.S. juggernauts like Google and Facebook Inc. On Monday, Peter Thiel visited Tokyo to introduce Palantir Technologies Japan Co., which will use AI to make sense of large volumes of unwieldy data in the fields of health and cybersecurity.Google has said the move to Shibuya Stream will double its employee headcount in Japan to beyond 2,000. The company’s first office outside the U.S. was in Tokyo, opening in 2001. It said it has “invested heavily” in Japan over the years and earlier in 2019 committed to training 10 million people in digital skills by 2022. Its so-called Grow with Google program is the Campus equivalent for individual job-seekers and students.“At Google, we are deeply committed to fostering Japanese startups,” Pichai said.(Updates with details of accelerator from second paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Vlad Savov in Tokyo at vsavov5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Vlad Savov, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bloomberg

    ‘Hipster Antitrust’ Might End the Megamerger Party

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

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Google, Fitbit, Apple, Facebook and Amazon
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Google, Fitbit, Apple, Facebook and Amazon

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Google, Fitbit, Apple, Facebook and Amazon

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

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

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Yandex NV, Russia’s biggest technology company, has figured out how to avoid nationalization or a foreign ownership ban. Big Tech in the U.S. should pay attention: The governance scheme Yandex appears to have worked out in consultation with the Russian government could be a good solution for companies that are de facto public utilities under private control.Yandex, set up in 2000 to monetize a search engine developed in the 1990s by the team of co-founder Arkady Volozh, is as close as it gets in Russia to a Silicon Valley-style internet giant. For a long time, it mainly aped Google’s services for the Russian market, but it has grown into a conglomerate that developed or bought up other businesses, from marketplaces to delivery projects. It’s not just Russia’s Google but Russia’s Amazon and Russia’s Uber, too (it first outcompeted Uber’s Russian operation, then swallowed it up). In fact, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a “sovereign internet” law earlier this year, officially meant to keep web services functioning inside Russia should the U.S. cut the country off from the worldwide computer network, many said Yandex would be that “sovereign internet.”Yandex’s size and its ability to match the tech giants have made the company strategic for the Russian government. As early as 2009, Volozh had to protect Yandex from nationalization or from being taken over by one of Putin’s billionaire friends by issuing a “golden share,” which could block the sale of more than 25% of the company’s stock, to state-controlled Sberbank.But the government also could be helpful when Yandex needed it. In 2015, the Russian tech giant filed an antitrust complaint against Google, which had been eating into its market share on mobile, and in 2017 Google had to settle with the Russian antitrust authority, allowing Android smartphone vendors to install Yandex apps. Now, the Russian parliament is considering a bill that would ban the sale of phones and computers without pre-installed Russian software. Yandex would be the  main beneficiary.In Putin’s mind, that kind of protection comes at a price: Yandex must guarantee that it will never fall under foreign control. The previous “golden share” arrangement didn’t quite rule that out. Volozh and top employees control the company’s Class B stock, which gives them 57% of the voting power. If those shares are sold or their owners die, Class B shares will automatically convert to Class A ones, which are traded on stock exchanges, and foreign shareholders will end up with the most voting power.In July, legislator Anton Gorelkin introduced a bill that would limit the foreign ownership of strategically important internet companies to 20%. Yandex opposed it, but the government approved it, and it became clear that the bill would be passed. So Volozh began working feverishly on a solution, which was finally announced on Monday “after many months of discussion,” as Volozh wrote in a letter to employees. The company has set up a special body called the Public Interests Foundation, made up of representatives of Russia’s top math, engineering and business schools (most of them owned by the state) and Russia’s big-business lobby, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The foundation will have two seats out of 12 on Yandex’s board of directors, and it will have a veto on all deals involving 10% or more of Yandex stock, big intellectual property sales and any transfer of Russian citizens’ personal data.Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, denied that the Kremlin had taken part in the discussions mentioned in Volozh’s letter, but praised Yandex for appreciating the company’s “special responsibility” and the “special attention” on the part of the state that it enjoys. Immediately after the Yandex announcement, Gorelkin called the solution “elegant” and pulled his bill. All this was immediately reflected in a share price spike.This may read like a distinctively Russian story, in which a group of business founders is trying to avoid a state takeover and the Kremlin prefers not to establish formal control over the national tech champion while keeping a close eye on it. The schools provide a convenient smokescreen both for the government and for investors. But what Yandex has done isn’t only relevant within the context of Putin’s Russia. It could be seen as a template for Big Tech, even though Yandex’s market capitalization, at $13.2 billion, is only a fraction of Alphabet Inc.’s ($910.6 billion) or Facebook Inc.’s ($562.9 billion).These two companies that make up the internet’s advertising duopoly, are often discussed along with Amazon.com Inc. as public services rather than mere businesses by politicians on both the right and the left of the U.S. political spectrum. Last year, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa proposed treating Google and Facebook as public utilities. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, would break up some of the Big Tech companies and designate some as “platform utilities” that would be banned from sharing user data with third parties and required to treat all users equally.Obviously, the tech firms are opposed to such heavy-handed regulation, but what they do on their own only brings them closer to a confrontation with governments, both in the U.S. and in Europe. Facebook’s refusal to police misleading political advertising and Google’s data-sharing practices scream for some kind of state interference. Like Yandex, the companies could act preemptively to set up governance structures that would veto business ideas viewed as damaging to society’s interests. Vesting veto powers in councils made up of the representatives of top universities and nongovernmental organizations could accomplish that purpose. If such a structure can win approval even from an authoritarian regime such as the Russian one (with the caveat that academic institutions in Russia aren’t as independent as those in the West), it could probably satisfy most Big Tech critics in democracies, too.  The alternative, as in Yandex’s case, could be far more restrictive.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Winklevoss Brothers Buy a Startup Founded by Identical Twins

    (Bloomberg) -- Crypto entrepreneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss just made their first-ever acquisition, and the duo behind the company they bought couldn’t be more similar.Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, 25, are also identical twins. While the 38-year-old Winklevoss brothers rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the other twins rowed in high school. That said, the Cock Fosters weren’t involved in the birthing of social network Facebook Inc.“You can’t make this stuff up,” Tyler Winklevoss said in a phone interview. “There are so many great parallels, it was just the right fit.”The two sets of twins came together over their belief in the future of so-called nifties. A niftie may be a cat from the CryptoKitties game, in which players breed the digital felines, or a token representing ownership in art, stamps and comic books -- an asset that is being kept track of via a blockchain digital ledger and is tradeable. To buy such a collectible, people typically have to open digital currency wallets, buy cryptocurrency on an exchange -- a process that can take hours and can be confusing.The Cock Fosters’ Nifty Gateway, which the Winklevoss’s Gemini Trust Co. bought for an undisclosed sum, lets anyone pay for nifties with a credit card, via a streamlined experience similar to checking out through Amazon. The company currently lets people buy nifties from Open Sea marketplace and CryptoKitties and Gods Unchained games. It doesn’t disclose its customer numbers or payment volume. But Duncan Cock Foster forecasts that nifties could one day attract 1 billion collectors. The Winklevoss expect that the market for nifties will be as big as the collectibles, art and gaming markets combined.“We believe in this future where all your assets will be on a blockchain and you may want to buy, sell and store them, and Nifty fits that vision,” Tyler Winklevoss said.While initially Gemini, with more than 220 employees, and Nifty, with three workers, will continue to operate as stand-alone companies, that could change, and some of Nifty’s features could make way into Gemini services.The Cock Foster brothers earned their bachelors of computer science and of mathematics, respectively, from different colleges in 2017 and entered the corporate world. Duncan Cock Foster worked as a developer for a consultancy for a year in San Francisco, while Griffin worked at Jet.com in the New York area, before they started Nifty in 2018.Duncan now owns about 300 nifties, and his brother -- 100. While most people currently don’t even know what the word means, the two sets of twins hope that will change.“All great companies, all great ideas there’s a period where you see a truth and many other people don’t, and you have to have that conviction,” Tyler Winklevoss said.To contact the reporter on this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeremy Herron at jherron8@bloomberg.net, Dave Liedtka, Rita NazarethFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    India Says Law Allows State to Snoop in WhatsApp

    (Bloomberg) -- India’s government said on Tuesday it’s “empowered” to intercept, monitor and decrypt digital information in the public interest as long as its agencies follow the law.Laws allowed federal and state governments to intercept “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource,” G. Kishan Reddy, junior minister for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs told Parliament in a written reply when asked by an opposition lawmaker whether the government had snooped on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and Google calls and messages.Information can only be intercepted by “authorized agencies as per due process of law, and subject to safeguards as provided in the rules,” the statement said.Reddy didn’t answer a question on whether the federal government had used the services of NSO Group’s Pegasus software to snoop on calls and messages on WhatsApp Inc’s mobile platform. Indian news reports had earlier this month listed activists and human rights lawyers who had spoken out against government policies as among those whose phones were hacked.Facebook Inc., parent of WhatsApp, informed about 1,400 users that a malware was sent on their devices using the video calling system, the company had said in a statement. Facebook has sued spyware manufacturer NSO, alleging that the Israeli company hacked into the mobile phones of users.The government can monitor digital information “in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence,” Reddy said in his written statement to the parliament. ​No state agency has blanket permission for interception, he added. Each case is reviewed by a committee headed by the cabinet secretary in case of federal government and chief secretary of the state in case of a state government.​Facebook is currently fighting a case in India’s Supreme Court that may decide whether WhatsApp, other messaging services providers, and social media companies can be forced to trace and reveal the identity of the originator of a message. Facebook has invoked users’ right to privacy as part of its defense in the top court.India plans to introduce rules to regulate social media because it can cause “unimaginable disruption” to democracy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said in a legal document filed in the nation’s Supreme Court last month.To contact the reporter on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Muneeza NaqviFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.