|Bid||221.91 x 1200|
|Ask||221.93 x 1000|
|Day's Range||221.40 - 222.75|
|52 Week Range||142.52 - 222.75|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||1.06|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||35.47|
|Earnings Date||Jan. 28, 2020|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||244.22|
Facebook is set to get some new "likes," after it announced it will create 1,000 new UK jobs this year - the year when Britain leaves the European Union. Over half of the new roles will be in technology, including software engineering, and data science. Facebook's vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Nicola Mendelsohn is excited by the company's growth in the UK, where the extra numbers will take the workforce to over 4,000 in total. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FACEBOOK VICE PRESIDENT FOR EUROPE, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND AFRICA, NICOLA MENDELSOHN, SAYING: "That's part of the bigger plan that we have for investing and continuing to invest here in the UK, where by 2021 we'll actually start to be into our new offices in Kings Cross and we have desk space there for up to 6,000 desks." The technology sector has been amongst the most skeptical about UK investment post-Brexit, but Mendelsohn said Facebook has received reassurances from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that its business will be welcome. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FACEBOOK VICE PRESIDENT FOR EUROPE, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND AFRICA, NICOLA MENDELSOHN, SAYING: "The Johnson government has been very clear about, very certain about, what that looks like, and so we will continue to invest here in London." And on the question of whether Facebook had been damaged after the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, she said the social media giant was working hard to rebuild trust. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FACEBOOK VICE PRESIDENT FOR EUROPE, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND AFRICA, NICOLA MENDELSOHN, SAYING: "So we've trebled the number of people that are working on our content moderation side, on our safety side to 35,000 people now. We've also increased our investments in the work on machine learning and artificial intelligence, billions and billions of dollars that we've invested in that area. And you see that through the work that we take down on things like terrorism, things like hate speech in these different areas." Facebook has, she added, commissioned research to show the economic benefits it brings to businesses in Europe, suggesting that more than 3 million European jobs had been created as a result of people using its platform - while injecting 208 billion euros of economic value across the continent last year.
In order to better create these potentially useful systems, Facebook engineers derived huge efficiency benefits from, essentially, leaving the slowest of the pack behind. It's part of the company's new focus on "embodied AI," meaning machine learning systems that interact intelligently with their surroundings. Exactly why Facebook is so interested in that I'll leave to your own speculation, but the fact is they've recruited and funded serious researchers to look into this and related domains of AI work.
Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook may be hot out of the gate in 2020, but that doesn't mean big tech doesn't come with its own unique risks, says Bank of America Merrill Lynch Head strategist Savita Subramanian.
Libra Stablecoin Gets Door Slammed in Face in Australia, Switzerland Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) stablecoin cryptocurrency Libra is bashing its head against a wall of regulators and the wall won't budge. Monetary authorities in Australia and Switzerland are the latest to give Libra a hard time, which is understandable since if and when it goes into circulation, […]The post Market Morning: Libra Letdown, Bezos Hacked, Trump Complains, Dirty Water appeared first on Market Exclusive.
The challenge posed by Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency likely prodded major central banks to set up a new group to study the potential for issuing their own digital currencies, a former Bank of Japan executive said on Wednesday. The central banks of Britain, the euro zone, Japan, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland on Tuesday announced a plan to share experiences to look at the case for issuing digital currencies, amid a growing debate over the future of money. Hiromi Yamaoka, former head of the BOJ's division overseeing payment and settlement systems, said the decision was a sign of how Libra has triggered a global competition among central banks to make their currencies more appealing.
The association has seen an exodus of its backers including financial companies Paypal Holdings Inc and Mastercard Inc amid regulatory scrutiny. Facebook announced in June last year a plan to launch the digital currency in partnership with other members of the association, but the project quickly ran into trouble with skeptical regulators around the world.
(Bloomberg) -- Telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc left the Libra Association, becoming the latest company to exit the Facebook-led group trying to create a new global cryptocurrency.The Libra Association, which was finalized last October, once expected to have as many as 28 total members when the project was announced in June. It is now down to 20 following earlier departures from Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. and others that had committed to the project but then left before the group signed an official charter.“Vodafone is no longer a member of the Libra Association,” Dante Disparte, head of policy and communication for the association, said in a statement. “Although the makeup of the Association members may change over time, the design of Libra’s governance and technology ensures the Libra payment system will remain resilient. The Association is continuing the work to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system.”The idea for Libra -- a global, digital currency intended to make cross-border money transfers as easy as sending a text message -- has faced opposition at every turn. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, first proposed the idea last June, along with a number of high-profile partners. Many of them are no longer involved, and Facebook has pledged to appease all U.S. regulators before launching the currency. It’s unclear how long that might take.Coindesk earlier reported news of Vodafone’s departure from the group.In a statement, U.K.-based Vodafone said it plans to focus on its own digital payments efforts instead. Vodafone partly owns Safaricom Plc, which operates the M-Pesa mobile-payments app in Kenya, where more people keep their money on their phones rather than in banks. The text message-based app is used by about 35 million people globally to spend, borrow and send money to friends and family.“We will continue to monitor the development of the Libra Association and do not rule out the possibility of future co-operation,” Vodafone spokesman Steve Shepperson-Smith said.\--With assistance from Jenny Surane and Scott Moritz.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Robin AjelloFor 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.
Facebook's role in elections and its UK expansion, Apple's Cook in Ireland, Alibaba's certification and the EU ban on facial recognition technology are the top stories.
The FAANG stocks are back in the spotlight this earnings season but not all of them have stellar charts. Who has the best earnings chart of the group?
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- What’s the medical breakthrough that could save the most lives in the U.S. over the next ten years? In the 2020s, medical research will likely inch forward when it comes to major killers like heart disease and cancer. But the biggest potential to save lives could lie in learning to prevent suicide.The rates of reported suicides have been creeping up over the last two decades. Even more disturbingly, CDC reports that the suicide death rate for teens increased 56% between 2007 and 2017. Rising suicide rates might be a result of many things — rising levels of despair, the opioid epidemic, greater access to guns, even the proliferation of Internet groups that offer people advice on how to kill themselves. It could also be that more people are reporting suicides instead of concealing such deaths as accidents.It’s a surprisingly common form of death — more prevalent than homicide or automobile accidents. Unlike cancer and heart disease, which are leading causes of death among the old, suicide robs people of decades of life. According to CDC statistics, it is the second most prevalent cause of death, after accidents, for people between 10 and 34 and fourth for people between 34 and 54.Because it hasn’t been all that thoroughly studied as a medical problem, there’s room to cut down on that death toll even without any remarkable technological breakthrough. A streamlined three-digit suicide hotline number, approved last month by FCC, could become one of the great public health measures of the century. Further out on the frontier, researchers are having some success using artificial intelligence to identify suicidal people — those whose lives might be saved by talk therapy or drugs.John Pestian, director of the computational medicine center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, explains that there are different kinds of suicides. Some are driven primarily by chronic mental illness, while others are more impulsive. Those with chronic mental illness may make repeated attempts. People have a powerful instinct to live, he says, and for their psychological pain to override this, it must be incredibly intense. He’s hoping to help such people through pharmacogenomics — finding drugs that will ease their chronic emotional pain.The more impulsive cases are simpler to prevent — think of the teenager whose boyfriend or girlfriend just left, or a Wall Street trader who lost all his money, he says. If someone is going through an acute crisis and wants to jump out a window, the right words spoken at the right time might be the only treatment needed to save a life.Renowned suicide researcher Edwin Schneidman writes in “The Suicidal Mind” that therapists can help people in this state by getting them to consider alternatives besides killing themselves — helping them see that that they have choices. He describes how he helped a suicidal college student who felt hopeless after she found out she was pregnant. He got her to consider which of her options was least terrible, and she recovered.In the memorable 2003 New Yorker story “Jumpers”, Tad Friend describes conversations with several people who survived after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. They told him that they recognized their mistake before they hit the water: “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable — except for having just jumped,” one said. Another left a note saying ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’ ”To learn more about the reasons people decide to take their own lives, Pestian and other researchers are amassing troves of data. Right now, he says, he has the biggest collection of suicide notes in the country, as well as samples of speech and body language from suicidal patients. There are clues in these that therapists can look for — and patterns that algorithms can use to identify those most at risk.He says suicide hotlines are crucial, and he approves of the idea of amending the current one, created in 2005, from the usual ten digits to just three: 988. Even so, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds, he says: there will also have to be the right kinds of resources at the other end of the line.According to one news story, an FCC committee estimated that those resources would cost $570 million in the first year and $175 million the next. This is pocket change compared to, say, routine mammography, which costs Americans billions and the value of which has been called into question.As for AI, using algorithms to predict anyone’s behavior can sound scary — especially the use of systems that attempt to label Facebook users as suicidal from their posts, or others that gather data from users’ smartphones. But Pestian convinced me that there’s potential for AI to do much good in the area of suicide, as long as it’s only used to support human decision-making, and humans don’t delegate the decision making to machines.He has developed algorithms that work with what he calls sentiment data – acoustic, visual or language patterns that differ between the suicidal and non-suicidal. In a paper published in 2016 in the journal “Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior,” he applied an algorithm to interviews with a sample of 379 people, some known to be suicidal, some diagnosed with mental illness but not suicidal, and a healthy control group. The algorithm used speech, facial expressions and body language to identify the suicidal group with 85% accuracy.That’s not perfect, but it’s better than doctors can do. Pestian has recently gotten a contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to apply AI to the rampant problem of suicide among veterans. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide every year — a rate 50% higher than that in the general adult population.We may not know the reason for the rising suicide rate, but we do know it is killing too many people — and that those deaths ought to be preventable. While science has a pretty detailed understanding of cancer and heart problems, suicide was studied by relatively few researchers until recently. It’s good news that we’re finally starting to learn more. To contact the author of this story: Faye Flam at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Faye Flam is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. She has written for the Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Psychology Today, Science and other publications. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.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.
FAANG's huge market value determines broader stock market movements, and any let-downs in their quarterly earnings report will surely have far-reaching implications.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Who said Davos doesn’t make a difference? As world leaders, business executives and cheerleaders for the planet descended on the Swiss resort for the annual World Economic Forum, one diplomatic victory was being chalked up on the sidelines: A presidential truce between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron over France’s plan to tax tech companies, which the U.S. says discriminates against its national champions.After threats of retaliatory trade tariffs on both sides, Macron took to Twitter to declare a “great” discussion with Trump that would lead to a “good agreement” on de-escalation. Trump retweeted that assessment, responding in the affirmative with “excellent!” But it’s hard to see much worth celebrating yet.What this truce amounts to isn’t exactly clear, for one thing, and it’s certainly not being trumpeted in the way that Trump’s “beautiful monster” of a phase-one deal with China was last week. Avoiding an escalation of tariffs is obviously a good thing. But Trump has already leveled so many trade threats at France and the European Union — driven by hatred of the trade surpluses they run with the U.S. — that it’s hard to feel excited at the prospect of one less gun barrel. If Trump actually ends up retracting his specific threat to hit $2.4 billion of French products with tariffs, that still doesn’t automatically guarantee protection for Airbus aircraft or German cars.It’s also not clear what Macron has gifted Trump in order to get de-escalation onto the agenda. According to the Wall Street Journal, France may have simply offered to “pause” its tech tax until a worldwide solution is agreed upon by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — where support from the U.S. is obviously crucial. That’s not as huge a climb down as it initially seems: Paris could feasibly suspend the collection of digital tax payments due in April without scrapping the principle or the structure of its tax, as my Bloomberg News colleagues write elsewhere. But it still looks like Trump’s threats have paid off on one level.If the original sin is that today’s tech giants — Google parent Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. — aren’t paying their fair share in tax, we seem to be veering a long way from absolution. Things would be different if Europe could set aside its differences and agree on the fundamental good that a digital tax across its 28 members (soon to be 27) would bring. Brussels estimates global tech firms pay an average tax rate of 9.5%, compared with 23.2% for bricks-and-mortar peers. But the EU is divided on the need to overhaul the data economy, with low-tax jurisdictions like Ireland and the Netherlands resisting a common levy on digital firms.The Trump administration has shown itself adept at exploiting these divisions. France’s move to go it alone with a digital tax was politically popular, but fiscally weak. It is only expected to bring in 500 million euros ($555 million) a year, a digital drop in the ocean of France’s approximately 80 billion-euro deficit. Despite being fundamentally righteous, it allowed Trump to poke the soft underbelly of European unity by training his tariff weapon on Paris — and confronted the Macron administration with the prospect of pain for key exporters. The U.S. trade deficit with France was $16.2 billion in 2018.The pressure is now on to get consensus among more than 135 countries in the OECD-led push for an agreement on how to tax digital profits. It’s a solution favored by the likes of Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, which speaks to how companies prefer the predictability of global solutions over patchy national ones. But until such a solution is actually agreed, it will be hard to celebrate this latest Franco-American “truce.” It has allowed France and Europe to save face by avoiding the reality of a new trade confrontation with Trump as he fights for re-election. It has offered tech firms a way to save money. But it hasn’t really saved the world from the threat of more trade wars. Davos can’t achieve everything.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.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.
Biden Can’t Abide Facebook Joe Biden is going after Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). He wants to get rid of a law that protects Facebook and other social media sites from liability for posts by its users. This would mean that Facebook could potentially be sued by anyone who claims that a post on Facebook caused or was […]The post Market Morning: Biden v Facebook, Idahoans Splurge in Oregon, BoJo Threatens the Axe, appeared first on Market Exclusive.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.IBM called for rules aimed at eliminating bias in artificial intelligence to ease concerns that the technology relies on data that bakes in past discriminatory practices and could harm women, minorities, the disabled, older Americans and others.As it seeks to define a growing debate in the U.S. and Europe over how to regulate the burgeoning industry, IBM urged industry and governments to jointly develop standards to measure and combat potential discrimination.The Armonk, New York-based company issued policy proposals Tuesday ahead of a Wednesday panel on AI to be led by Chief Executive Officer Ginni Rometty on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The initiative is designed to find a consensus on rules that may be stricter than what industry alone might produce, but that are less stringent than what governments might impose on their own.“It seems pretty clear to us that government regulation of artificial intelligence is the next frontier in tech policy regulation,” said Chris Padilla, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at International Business Machines Corp.The 108-year-old company, once a world technology leader, has lagged behind the sector for years. In its fight to remain relevant, IBM has pegged its future on newer technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud services. But it’s yet to show significant revenue growth from those areas.The IBM recommendations call for companies to work with governments to develop standards on how to make sure, for instance, that African-Americans are guaranteed fair access to housing despite algorithms that rely on historical data such as zip codes or mortgage rates that may have been skewed by discrimination. In the U.S., that would likely occur through the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the U.S. Department of Commerce.Read more: A QuickTake explains algorithmic biasRometty is hosting the panel, which includes a top White House aide, Chris Liddell, OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria and Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser.IBM also suggests that companies appoint chief AI ethics officials, carry out assessments to determine how much harm an AI system may pose and maintain documentation about data when “making determinations or recommendations with potentially significant implications for individuals” so that the decisions can be explained.Spearheading the AI regulatory debate gives IBM a chance to come back into the spotlight as a leader in cutting-edge technology, a position it hasn’t held for years.The AI proposals are intended to stave off potential crises that could enrage customers, lawmakers and regulators worldwide -- similar to what happened with Facebook Inc. in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, when the personal data of millions of Americans was transferred to the political consulting firm without their knowledge.“I don’t think we’re yet in the same place on AI,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s too late to try this approach.”Concerns about AI and machine learning -- software tools that use existing data to automate future analysis and decision-making -- range from identifying faces in security-camera footage to making determinations about mortgage rates. AI is central to the future of many technology companies, including IBM’s, but has spurred worries that it could kill jobs and spread existing disparities in areas such as law enforcement, access to credit and hiring.IBM has been working with the Trump administration since last summer on its approach to AI regulation. Earlier this month, the White House issued guidelines for use of the technology by federal agencies, which emphasized a desire not to impose burdensome controls. Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators unveiled a bill designed to boost private and public funding for AI and other industries of the future.The European Union is considering new, legally binding requirements for developers of artificial intelligence to ensure the technology is developed and used in an ethical way. IBM advised a European committee of academics, experts and executives that recommended avoiding unnecessarily prescriptive rules.The EU’s executive arm is set to propose that the new rules apply to “high-risk sectors,” such as health care and transport. It also may suggest that the bloc update safety and liability laws, according to a draft of a so-called white paper on artificial intelligence obtained by Bloomberg. The European Commission is due to unveil the paper in mid-February and the final version is likely to change.For More: Europe Mulls New Tougher Rules for Artificial IntelligenceWhile Rometty has touted the growth potential for new offerings in cloud services, the company’s third-quarter earnings report in October missed Wall Street estimates. It was IBM’s fifth-consecutive quarter of shrinking sales despite its July acquisition of open-source software provider Red Hat, designed to bolster its hybrid cloud-services strategy. The company is set to report fourth-quarter results Tuesday at the market close.Padilla said compliance with standards could become a selling-point for companies and perhaps help lower their legal liability.“If we take a just-say-no approach, or we just wait, the chances are higher that governments will react to something that happens,” he said. “Then you will get more of a prescriptive, top-down regulation.”\--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak.To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.com;Olivia Carville in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, Paula DwyerFor 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) -- A senior Amazon.com Inc. executive used a conference in Munich to challenge Facebook Inc.’s record in protecting users’ privacy.“If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product,” Werner Vogels, Amazon’s chief technology officer told Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, at the Digital Life Design conference on Monday.Standing in the audience, Vogels -- who introduced himself as working for a “small bookshop” -- asked Clegg how Facebook could claim to protect users if many weren’t aware of how their data is being used.“I think there are things Facebook could do,” to make its relationship with users more explicit, Clegg responded. “Unlike you, I believe an advertising business model where the user doesn’t have to pay is a very ingenious and good thing.”Both companies have come under scrutiny for violating users’ privacy. Speakers using Amazon’s Alexa virtual-assistant collected audio snippets from users and played them to employees hired to help train its voice-recognition software, Bloomberg has reported. Amazon has said that it takes privacy seriously and that select employees listen to only a very small fraction of Alexa requests to improve the service.Read more: Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate MomentsFacebook has come under fire for giving third-parties access to user data, particularly in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Last year, it agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission to settle an investigation stemming from that controversy, where an outside researcher collected personal data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their consent, and then sold that data to a consultancy working with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Syed in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Oliver Sachgau in Munich at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy Thomson, Thomas PfeifferFor 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.
Amazon (AMZN) Twitch witnesses decline in viewer base in fourth-quarter 2019 on account of losing popular streamers to Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook.
Facebook has blamed a "technical error" after it translated the name of China's President Xi Jinping as "Mr S***hole". The error occurred during Mr Xi's state visit to Myanmar last week when Facebook users translated Burmese into English. The social media giant appears to have disabled Burmese to English translations following the gaffe.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Emmanuel Macron’s pre-Davos summit for tech executives will hold some goodies for startups.In the third edition of his “Choose France” summit on Monday, timed to catch global CEOs in Paris on their way to the Swiss Alps’ World Economic Forum, the French president will detail measures in his 2020 budget that have improved stock options for startups in France.Macron will also plug a revamped visa regime that will give fast-track papers to tech workers for French or foreign companies and a new benchmark index, the French Tech 120, to promote the nation’s most promising ventures.Snap’s Evan Spiegel, who was given French nationality in 2018, EU digital Commissioner Thierry Breton, Netflix Inc.‘s Reed Hastings, Google’s You Tube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Lime’s Joe Kraus and other leaders from Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, Turkey and the U.K. will attend the forum in Versailles.Entrepreneurs and executives at some of Europe’s most successful technology startups have been urging local governments to change laws to make employee stock options more attractive, in order to better compete with Silicon Valley. Macron, his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Digital Minister Cedric O and 17 ministers will present the government’s latest measures.In November 2018, about 30 chief executives of companies including iZettle AB, Funding Circle Ltd., Supercell Oy, TransferWise Ltd., Blablacar and U.S.-based Stripe Inc., signed an open letter saying a patchwork of different rules in various European countries makes it complicated and costly for employers to dole out stock options.The French 2020 budget law, voted late last year and enacted on Jan. 1, has two major measures already to make stock options of startups more attractive. First the conditions of the so-called BSPCE, an employee shareholding tool equivalent to a stock options, have been sweetened: they will get a discount compared to the price investors paid at the last fund raising.Also, employees of foreign startups with a base in France will be able to get stock options calculated on the parent company’s performance, not just the French branch, minister Cedric O unveiled in a statement late last year, as he said France seeks to attract more tech workers and companies.“What France has done is fantastic, but we really need a pan-European solution,” Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures, which has stakes in BlablaCar, told Bloomberg. “Currently, startups face the same problems every time they expand into a new country. Talk to any entrepreneur and they tell you it’s madness, it is slowing them down and it is putting them at a disadvantage to large companies.”Macron has attempted to lure more investors to France ever since his years as an economy minister in 2014, via taxes, visas, benchmark indexes, bilingual schools and the French way to welcome new comers.In September he created the “Next 40,” a listing of France’s top 40 startups with the strongest growth potential. While only a few of them are currently “unicorns,” with values topping $1 billion, the government said it expect more of them to scale.Read more: Napoleon, Chateaus on Display as France Seeks Venture CapitalOne of the key measures taken by Macron was a 30% flat tax on capital revenues from securities, savings, capital gains, and other sources. That measure got him into trouble with some of his citizens protesting against inequalities in the Yellow Vests movement that started in December 2018.The statistic institute Insee said the increase in inequality in 2018 was linked to a sharp rise in investment incomes, which benefited from the introduction of a flat tax the same year.Still, Macron has also toughened his stance on issues like taxes and privacy. He brought it up with Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook in his first months as president and repeatedly to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Macron is currently in a tug of war with U.S. President Donald Trump over his tax on digital giants.Amazon.com Inc., like other tech companies, will make their first payment of France’s new tax on digital giants in a few weeks. The government enacted a 3% levy on large tech groups that is retroactively effective from Jan. 1, 2019.(Updated with comment from Index ventures)\--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak.To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vidya RootFor 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.Facebook Inc.’s Libra cryptocurrency starts 2020 looking no closer to release, with authorities in its base in Switzerland raising fresh questions about its suitability as a global currency.Swiss finance minister Ueli Maurer said on Dec. 27 in Bern that the country can’t approve Libra in its current form, telegraphing to Facebook that the product it wants to launch in Geneva isn’t going get a green light from regulators anytime soon.Maurer went further in an interview with Swiss broadcaster SRF that same day, saying the project “has failed” in its current form because the basket of currencies Libra proposed to back the digital currency haven’t been accepted by the issuing national banks.The blunt language marks a dramatic change in tone from the warm welcome Swiss regulators gave to Facebook in June when it chose Geneva as the project’s base. Back then, the social-networking giant paid homage to the city’s pedigree as a hub of international cooperation while Swiss officials raved about the “positive” signals it sent about Switzerland’s role in an “ambitious international project.”But after the Securities & Exchange Commission, U.S. and European politicians lined up to express concerns about currency sovereignty, Facebook’s recent record on misuse of data, and Libra’s potential as a magnet for financial criminals, Swiss officials began to change their tune.“As long as the SEC is concerned about Libra, saying it’s based on relatively new and unproven technology and could rival the U.S. dollar, other governments including the Swiss will take a wait and see approach,” said Nils Reimelt of Capco Digital, a financial services consulting company in Zurich.Libra also made a strategic error in not reaching out to Swiss bank regulator Finma about applying for a banking license before announcing its Geneva plans, Reimelt said. The Libra Association then decided to not include the safe-haven Swiss franc in the basket of currencies backing the cryptocurrency, creating further uncertainty, according to Reimelt.Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan voiced those concerns in a speech in September, without mentioning Libra explicitly. “If stable coins pegged to foreign currencies were to establish themselves in Switzerland, the effectiveness of our monetary policy could be impaired.”Money LaunderingFinma joined Jordan in sounding a note of caution, saying in September that Libra would be have to adopt “bank-like” rules on risk and apply the “highest international anti-money laundering standards.”Some governments and regulators have raised questions “that we take very seriously and are working hard to provide thoughtful answers,” the Libra Association said in a statement. “We are committed to a continuous and constructive dialogue” with them and “our objective remains to find the best way to launch a fast, secure and compliant international payment system.”Bertrand Perez, Libra’s chief operating officer is set to speak Monday at the Geneva Blockchain Congress. Facebook planned to launch Libra in 2020 but has since backed off on timing, with Perez saying in September that its introduction depends on discussions with regulators.“This is why indeed we cannot say that we won’t launch in 2020, or that we are certain to launch on a particular date in 2020,” he said.After Maurer’s December salvo, the Swiss government on Jan. 15 issued a more subtly-worded memo, insinuating that it might be more open to a rethink of the project. It will continue to monitor Libra, the council said, “in particular the form which Libra may take in the future.”“Switzerland is generally open to projects that reduce the cost of cross-border payment transactions and seek to promote financial inclusion,” the government said.That’s a clear signal to Libra, says Capco’s Reimelt, that “governments want to stay in control and Libra has to tweak their model and align to regulations to not become a threat.”To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Geneva at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christopher ElserFor 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) -- ByteDance Inc. is preparing a major push into the mobile arena’s most lucrative market, a realm Tencent Holdings Ltd. has dominated for over a decade: games.Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.The world’s most valuable startup has rapidly built a full-fledged gaming division to spearhead its maiden foray into hardcore or non-casual games, according to people familiar with the matter. Over the past few months, ByteDance has quietly bought up gaming studios and exclusive title distribution rights. It’s embarked on a hiring spree and poached top talent from rivals, building a team of more than 1,000. Its first two games from the venture will be released this spring, targeting both local and overseas players, one person said.Commonly compared to Facebook Inc. because of its billion-plus users and sway over American teens via social media phenom TikTok, ByteDance is looking to expand its horizons. It started as a popular news aggregator with the Toutiao app in China before setting the world ablaze with short-form video sharing on TikTok and its Chinese twin app Douyin. Now it’s looking to go beyond cheap ads and develop recurring revenue streams by taking on the Tencent gaming goliath in the chase for coveted distribution rights.“Having fully established itself as a leader in short video with over one billion users across its apps, ByteDance is now building multiple game studios by acquiring experienced game developers and talent,” said Daniel Ahmad, analyst with Asia-focused gaming research firm Niko Partners. “Its massive global user base and investment in gaming could make it a big disruptor in the gaming space this year.”Read more: ByteDance Is Said to Weigh TikTok Stake Sale Over U.S. ConcernsGaming in China has long been a Tencent fortress, with Netease Inc. a distant second. But ByteDance might be the one company capable of upsetting that status quo, having already defied convention by surviving and flourishing outside the orbit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent, who between them have locked up much of the country’s internet sphere. Toutiao is a key channel for Chinese game publishers to acquire new users, with 63 of the top 100 ad spenders among mobile games in 2019 devoting most of their ads to the news app, according to data tracked by Guangzhou-based researcher App Growing.Representatives for ByteDance, Tencent and Netease declined to comment for this story. Shares in Tencent went down as much as 0.6% during morning trading on Monday.Read more: Snap CEO Spiegel Says TikTok Could Grow Bigger Than InstagramOver the past few years, ByteDance has churned out several casual games that have grown popular with the help of its video platforms, but those quick hits made money mostly through ads. Its new foray into gaming involves a much bigger investment and is shaping up to be a major strategic shift, targeting more committed gamers who will splurge on in-game weapons, cosmetics and other perks.It could help the company diversify its sources of revenue at a time when the Chinese economy shows signs of slowing and TikTok draws scrutiny in the U.S. ByteDance is also testing a new paid music app in Asia, adding to its swelling portfolio of ventures. Steady revenue sources would help position ByteDance for an eventual initial public offering.While the move into serious gaming is very much at an embryonic stage, ByteDance is making up for its inexperience by poaching veteran staff from rivals, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. One of the gaming division’s creative teams is led by Wang Kuiwu, who joined from China’s Perfect World, a major game developer and esports tournament organizer. Yan Shou, ByteDance’s chief of strategy and investment, oversees operations, the people said. The unit runs independently from existing efforts to create casual mobile titles, they said.Read more: TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global HitByteDance is making a global push that includes hiring publishing and marketing staffers based overseas, according to job descriptions viewed by Bloomberg News. One post seeks people to work with influencers and internal platforms to promote games, while another asks candidates to be responsible for “managing indie mobile game publishing projects throughout their life cycle.” This hiring spree is also evident in postings this month for more than a dozen game-related positions on Chinese career site Lagou.com, ranging from product managers to 3-D character designers based in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.Acquiring talent also means buying up studios wholesale. Game studios acquired by ByteDance over the past year include Shanghai Mokun Digital Technology and Beijing-based Levelup.ai, as shown in public company registration information. The company also hired the core developer team from a Netease outfit called Pangu Game, after China’s second-largest gaming firm canceled the studio’s existing projects, according to people familiar with the matter.ByteDance’s game pipeline will include massively multiplayer online games with Chinese fantasy elements, said two people. Its newly acquired studios have pedigree in the genre: Pangu Game’s 2017 hit Revelation is a PC online role-playing game where warriors and sorcerers slay Chinese mythological beasts, while Shanghai Mokun has created several similar titles since its founding in 2013.The challenge of invading Tencent’s turf will nevertheless be immense. Tencent has three of the world’s most popular multiplayer mobile titles in PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and Honour of Kings. They are the blueprint for games that are free to play but rich on in-game purchases -- which accounts for a huge swath of mobile revenues -- that rivals like ByteDance try to emulate. More broadly, Tencent’s locked in a billion-plus users across Asia into a WeChat app that mashes elements of payments, social media, on-demand services and entertainment.Read more: China Will Drive Mobile Spending to Record $380 Billion in 2020Tencent and Netease also enjoy the advantage of having long-established relationships with Chinese regulators, who in 2018 began a campaign to root out gaming addiction that drastically constricted the number and variety of games allowed to be published in the country. Tencent saw hundreds of billions of dollars wiped off its market value as a result and is still recovering. Getting into gaming potentially exposes ByteDance to more regulatory scrutiny domestically, even as it battles U.S. lawmakers’ accusations that TikTok can be used to spy on Americans.Still, ByteDance can’t call itself a true internet giant without a substantial presence in gaming. Last year, 72% of all consumer spending on mobile came in games, according to App Annie, and the market is fiercely competitive. ByteDance’s critical advantage is that it already has a vast and engaged audience among the all-important teenage demographic: it can leverage Douyin/TikTok to channel users toward its games. That mirrors the winning approach Tencent took more than a decade ago when it exploited the reach of its social media platforms to enter gaming. ByteDance will have to prove that the strategy still works.“Gaming is a strategic vertical for tech companies in China as it is a key way to generate additional revenue from a large audience,” Ahmad said. “While they may be able to develop a number of hit titles in the China market, we believe it will still be difficult for them to truly challenge Tencent.”(Updates with analyst comment from fourth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin Chan, Vlad SavovFor 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.