GOOG - Alphabet Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD
1,189.53
-1.72 (-0.14%)
At close: 4:00PM EDT
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Previous Close1,191.25
Open1,194.07
Bid0.00 x 900
Ask0.00 x 800
Day's Range1,178.58 - 1,198.01
52 Week Range970.11 - 1,289.27
Volume884,231
Avg. Volume1,508,729
Market Cap824.932B
Beta (3Y Monthly)0.96
PE Ratio (TTM)24.01
EPS (TTM)49.53
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est1,389.00
Trade prices are not sourced from all markets
  • Lenovo’s Smart Clock gets more useful with latest Google update
    TechCrunch

    Lenovo’s Smart Clock gets more useful with latest Google update

    It’s a pretty minimalist take on the smart screen designed for the very specific purpose of living next to your bed. Today, Google’s bringing a handful of new features, attempting to walk that line by adding functions without making the bedside product overly distracting. The addition of Google Photos is a no-brainer, using the app to double as a small-screen digital picture frame while it sits idle.

  • YouTube Closes 210 Accounts Tied to Hong Kong Influence Campaign
    Bloomberg

    YouTube Closes 210 Accounts Tied to Hong Kong Influence Campaign

    (Bloomberg) -- Google said it disabled 210 YouTube channels involved in “coordinate influence operations” around the Hong Kong protests, following similar measures earlier this week by social media companies Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.The Alphabet Inc. unit didn’t specify which channels were shut down in Thursday’s blog post announcing the decision. But the post said the company discovered accounts “consistent with recent observations and actions related to China” from Facebook and Twitter.The social media companies said earlier this week that they had removed hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government that were pushing messages meant to undermine the legitimacy of the protests in Hong Kong. Twitter also blocked advertising from state-controlled media. Facebook and Google have not made similar moves on advertising.YouTube, like Google search and other social media services, does not operate in China.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Motley Fool

    Google Is Ditching Its Sweet Tooth in Android Rebrand

    The search giant casts off desserts.

  • Bloomberg

    Google Counters Apple, Firefox With a Plan for Online Privacy

    (Bloomberg) -- Google outlined a plan to try and make surfing the web more private while still allowing enough targeted advertising to keep publishers -- and itself -- in business.Google’s suggestions include cryptographic tokens users can amass showing they are trustworthy, using artificial intelligence to show people relevant ads based on minimal information and storing personally-identifiable data on someone’s device rather than in their browser.The internet giant said it will propose the changes for debate before the organizations that set common rules for the Internet. That means Google wants the entire web to adopt the new rules, instead of just installing them on its own Chrome browser. The move shows Google is being proactive in making sure its ideas for how the web should work are the ones that win out in the future.The changes would surely improve privacy, but Google is also pushing back against privacy initiatives started by Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox and Apple Inc.’s Safari browsers that it says are too heavy-handed. Those browsers have started blocking cookies -- little bits of code that lodge in people’s browsers and follow them around the web helping advertisers place valuable, targeted ads.Google doesn’t want cookies to go away, because it says they help publishers make money from their content and keeps the web vibrant. Of course, they also help Google, which is the largest and most profitable online advertising company in the world.Changes to internet standards, the common rules that allow different websites to work on different browsers, can take years. But Google often leads the way by simply updating Chrome and forcing the rest of the web to adapt, something it can do because its browser is used by around 70% of internet users worldwide.To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew MartinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Has Amazon Outperformed SPY in the Past Five Days?
    Market Realist

    Has Amazon Outperformed SPY in the Past Five Days?

    Since August 14, Amazon (AMZN) has risen 3.4%. In the same period, the SPDR S&P; 500 ETF (SPY) has risen 3.0%. Let's see why AMZN outperformed.

  • Smart Speaker War: How Nest Mini Could Change the Game for Google
    Market Realist

    Smart Speaker War: How Nest Mini Could Change the Game for Google

    Google (GOOGL) plans to introduce a new small-size smart speaker called Nest Mini. About $23 billion is up for grabs in the smart speaker market.

  • Tesla Autopilot Troubles Go Way beyond Crashes
    Market Realist

    Tesla Autopilot Troubles Go Way beyond Crashes

    Tesla Autopilot is usually in the news due to crashes. In August, a Tesla car crashed in Russia when the autopilot feature was turned on.

  • King of the Hills Reshaping Tokyo With $5.4 Billion Development
    Bloomberg

    King of the Hills Reshaping Tokyo With $5.4 Billion Development

    (Bloomberg) -- Tokyo is about to get another mound of capitalism.Mori Building Co. is spending 580 billion yen ($5.4 billion) on a new, 20-acre hub of commerce in the city’s core. Similar in size to New York’s Rockefeller Center, the complex will have shops, restaurants, 213,900 square meters of office space, 1,400 residences, a world-class hotel, an international school and the city’s biggest food court.If this capital of 14 million has a king of the hills, it’s the Mori real-estate empire. The new project will eclipse the builder’s signature development, Roppongi Hills — home to Google and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. offices, and a magnet for shoppers and international visitors. The closely held company, whose late founder was once the country’s richest man, is betting that more people — especially foreigners — will flock to live and work in Tokyo over the coming years.“Japan’s office market is behind in relative size and depth,” Mari Kumagai, head of research at Colliers International Group Inc. “If you’re serious about making money from buildings, you have to do this.”Set to open in 2023, the new endeavor doesn’t yet have a name. For now, it’s called the Toranomon-Azabudai project, from the neighborhoods Mori will gobble up in Minato-ku, one of Tokyo’s toniest enclaves. Starting with the 1986 debut of nearby Ark Hills, the real-estate developer has been relentless in its push to transform Tokyo’s skyline with hefty buildings clad in steel and glass.Mori’s properties often cater to foreign businesses and visitors, offering sanctuaries for them to stay, work and shop in a megalopolis that can be difficult to navigate. Signage and restaurant menus in the city still often lack English or other languages. Green spaces are still few and far between, and the view from the 52nd floor of Roppongi Hills betrays a sea of drab, gray low-rise homes and buildings that stretch to the horizon.“This is going to become Tokyo’s newest landmark,” said Shingo Tsuji, Mori’s chief executive officer. “We’ve spent 30 years thinking about this project, and how cities should be created.”Mori’s goal is to create a city within a city that people can “escape to, rather than flee from.” Ground broke this month on the big new project, which will connect two subway stations and create a new arterial road to relieve the development’s impact on vehicle traffic. Although the total footprint will be smaller than its predecessor, the new complex will have more floor space, with a 64-story main tower and two residential towers.When Mori embarked on its Roppongi project almost two decades ago, developers were jumping over each other to put up new buildings in Tokyo. Land prices were down 75% after Japan’s economic bubble burst in the early 1990s, interest rates were on their way to zero and new zoning laws made it easier to combine lots for big projects.That bet may have paid off. But now, Mori’s new project is being built under a different scenario, coming after a long run-up in office space demand. Tokyo’s real-estate market is thriving, with vacancy rates near record lows below 3%, according to Colliers, the real-estate investment and services firm.The big question is whether that trend will continue, as well as Mori’s ability to keep riding the wave of mega projects. Although rental growth has been robust, Colliers predicts it will peak at around the current 5% before easing to an average of 0.8% over the next few years. All told, central Tokyo will have 70 major real-estate projects breaking ground from 2018 through 2023, according to the firm.“The office market is doing really well, vacancies are coming down,” said Patrick Wong, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. “The issue is whether rents can keep going up further.”Tokyo isn’t the only frothy real-estate market in the region. Singapore and Sydney are also seeing low office-leasing vacancies as companies hire more people. Last month, the government of Singapore clamped down on speculative buying and selling, with the central bank citing “euphoria” in the property market.At the same time, protests in Hong Kong have put the brakes on demand for central office space in China’s special administrative region. Spooked investors are turning elsewhere to places such as Singapore, which saw private home sales surge a sequential 43.5% in July. Although no multinational corporations have said they’re leaving Hong Kong, it’s probably on their mind, according to Wong. “This could be an opportunity for Tokyo,” he said.That’s music to the ears of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who in 2014 pushed to establish new strategic special zones in Tokyo and other cities as part of his Abenomics revitalization plan. The areas of Tokyo that fall under those zones, which offer deregulation and other incentives, are right where Mori has been developing properties for decades.No surprise, then, that the Toranomon-Azabudai mega project has been 30 years in the making. Work on it started even before Roppongi Hills. For its major projects, Mori’s employees spend years going door to door, persuading local residents and property owners to hand over their land in exchange for prime residential space in the new buildings.It’s hardly a coincidence that Mori’s suffix for its biggest developments — there’s also Toranomon Hills and Atago Green Hills — harks back to that other chichi neighborhood, Beverly Hills. It’s also a nod to the Japanese word, Yamanote. Transliterated as “the hill’s hand,” the term refers to the more desirable, hilly land west of the Imperial Palace in feudal Tokyo that now include Mori’s properties.“We’ve poured everything we’ve learned from our Hills projects into this new development,” Tsuji said.Mori’s ultimate vision is to link up all of its properties into an uber-complex of offices, homes and retail space. Although the developer is going to unveil the project’s name just before it opens for business, odds favor it will end with “Hills.”(Updates with analyst’s comment in fourth paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the timeframe of projects.)\--With assistance from Hiromi Horie.To contact the reporter on this story: Reed Stevenson in Tokyo at rstevenson15@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma O'Brien at eobrien6@bloomberg.net, Reed Stevenson, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Twitter Helps Beijing Push Agenda Abroad Despite Ban in China
    Bloomberg

    Twitter Helps Beijing Push Agenda Abroad Despite Ban in China

    (Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. removed hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government this week meant to undermine the legitimacy of Hong Kong protests. It also said it would no longer allow state media to purchase ads on its platform.What Twitter didn’t mention in its series of blog posts this week was the increasing number of Chinese officials, diplomats, media, and government agencies using the social media service to push Beijing’s political agenda abroad. Twitter employees actually help some of these people get their messages across, a practice that hasn’t been previously reported. The company provides certain officials with support, like verifying their accounts and training them on how to amplify messages, including with the use of hashtags.This is despite a ban on Twitter in China, which means most people on the mainland can’t use the service or see opposing views from abroad. Still, in the last few days, an account belonging to the Chinese ambassador to Panama took to Twitter to share videos painting Hong Kong protesters as vigilantes. He also responded to Panamanian users’ tweets about the demonstrations, which began in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to China.China’s ambassador to the U.S. tweeted that “radical protesters” were eroding the rule of law embraced by the silentmajority of Hong Kongers. The Chinese Mission to the United Nations’ Twitter account asked protesters to “stop the violence, for a better Hong Kong,” while social media accounts of Chinese embassies in Manila, India and the Maldives shared articles from China’s state media blaming Westerners for disrupting the city. “Separatists in Hong Kong kept in close contact with foreign elements,” one story says above a photo of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.“We know China is adept at controlling domestic information, but now they are trying to use Western platforms like Twitter to control the narrative on the international stage,” said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre.It’s unclear if any of these diplomats were set up on the service by Twitter, but the state-backed attempt to discredit Hong Kong protesters continues to reach millions of global Twitter users. In many cases, the Chinese officials are promoting views similar to those in 936 accounts Twitter banned on Monday.The practice of supporting Chinese officials who use Twitter to spread the Communist Party agenda highlights how difficult it is for the social media company to balance its commitment to root out disinformation and allow the expression of varying opinions. It also raises concerns around why Twitter is helping Beijing make its case to a global audience when the service is banned in China, where dissenting voices are prohibited and officials sometimes detain users accessing the platform through virtual private networks.Twitter’s recent effort to curtail China’s government-directed misinformation campaigns, which provoked outrage from state media, seems at odds with continuing to welcome pro-Beijing accounts that attack Hong Kong protesters, said Wallis.“There’s a clear tension for Twitter here having seen that Beijing is willing to use the platform in deceptive and manipulative ways, whilst desiring to use the platform for state diplomacy,” Wallis said.The tweets are part of a broader campaign by China to reshape the narrative over Hong Kong, particularly in Western nations more sympathetic to the democratic aspirations of protesters. China this week also sent a 43-page letter to senior editors at foreign news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg.Twitter says it works with public officials and politicians around the world, not just in China, and that everyone deserves a voice in the public discourse, as long as they follow its rules and policies. The company has used the same argument to defend hosting tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump, which some users have questioned. Twitter has said it aims to “advance global, public conversation” and that public figures “play a critical role in that conversation because of their out-sized impact on our society,“ in a blog post last year.On Monday, Twitter said in a blog post that it would block more than 900 accounts because they appeared to be part of a “coordinated state-backed operation” to “sow political discord in Hong Kong.” Some of the accounts accessed Twitter from unblocked IP addresses within mainland China, it said, suggesting the state condoned their activities. Twitter also said it would stop accepting advertising from state-controlled media: “Any affected accounts will be free to continue to use Twitter to engage in public conversation, just not our advertising products.”Twitter’s embrace of Chinese officials on the platform also highlights how some American tech companies try to make inroads in the enormous market, despite government restrictions on their services. Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has repeatedly expressed a desire to enter China. Twitter oversees the China business from offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.Like Google, Facebook and other sites blocked in China, Twitter sells advertising to Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. that are trying to reach overseas users. Before Twitter’s policy change this week, it had also sold ad space to Chinese state media companies that used them to push the narrative that Hong Kong protests were orchestrated by foreign forces and angry mobs unrepresentative of the city’s majority.Facebook said it has trained Chinese state media entities to use its services, but declined to comment on whether it also works with government officials. “We provide a standard set of guidance and best practice training to groups around the world including governments, political parties, media outlets, and non-profits so they can manage their Facebook Pages,” the company said in a statement, noting that their guidance is publicly available online.YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc., doesn’t have a specific policy that bars state-funded media, but the company’s ad policies require government-funded channels to be labeled as such. This week, state media including the Global Times published videos about the Hong Kong demonstrations, including an interview with a police officer who said he was “critically injured by violent protesters.” The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.Both Twitter and Facebook have established programs to make sure public figures around the world sign up for their sites and understand how to use them effectively. The idea is that people who have a following — athletes, actors or singers — will create interest for their other users in the website. For years, the work has extended to politics, with the social networks signing up and training political figures. For example, Facebook has embedded staff with or trained Trump; Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, known for encouraging extrajudicial killings; and Germany’s anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in how to most effectively use the platform, Bloomberg News has reported.Twitter and Facebook have implemented terms of service that ban certain practices, including bot accounts that appear to be real people and promote misinformation. But government officials and state media still have wide latitude to say what they want.“If Trump is going to use Twitter to deliver his message to the Chinese government, then it makes perfect sense China should be using this medium to send signals back,” said Samm Sacks, cybersecurity policy and China digital economy fellow at think tank New America. “But then we get into this coordinated state misinformation domain and it raises problematic questions around what is propaganda and what is misinformation.”(Updates with Facebook’s comment five paragraphs from the bottom.)\--With assistance from Mark Bergen, Kurt Wagner and Daniel Ten Kate.To contact the reporters on this story: Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at sbanjo@bloomberg.net;Sarah Frier in San Francisco at sfrier1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Ubiquiti's Teleport Could Be a Game-Changer for Home Wi-Fi
    Motley Fool

    Ubiquiti's Teleport Could Be a Game-Changer for Home Wi-Fi

    Teleportation sounds cool. Cybersecurity in public spaces is even cooler.

  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Q3 Earnings Preview
    Zacks

    Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Q3 Earnings Preview

    Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is down 0.4% YTD, lagging the S&P 500's 14.3% gain. For such an established company, the stock has seen a lot of movement in the past year.

  • Amazon Is Facing Multiple Antitrust Investigations in 2019
    Market Realist

    Amazon Is Facing Multiple Antitrust Investigations in 2019

    The DOJ's antitrust chief said he was working with several state attorneys general to investigate alleged anti-competitive behavior of big tech companies.

  • Google DeepMind Co-Founder Placed on Leave From AI Lab
    Bloomberg

    Google DeepMind Co-Founder Placed on Leave From AI Lab

    (Bloomberg) -- The co-founder of DeepMind, the high-profile artificial intelligence lab owned by Google, has been placed on leave after controversy over some of the projects he led.Mustafa Suleyman runs DeepMind’s “applied” division, which seeks practical uses for the lab’s research in health, energy and other fields. Suleyman is also a key public face for DeepMind, speaking to officials and at events about the promise of AI and the ethical guardrails needed to limit malicious use of the technology.“Mustafa is taking time out right now after 10 hectic years,” a DeepMind spokeswoman said. She didn’t say why he was put on leave.Suleyman did not return multiple email requests for comment. He founded DeepMind in 2010 alongside current Chief Executive Officer Demis Hassabis. Four years later, Google bought DeepMind for 400 million pounds (currently $486 million), an ambitious bet on the potential of AI that set off an expensive race in Silicon Valley for specialists in the field.DeepMind soon began working on health-care research, eventually creating a division dedicated to the area. Suleyman, nicknamed “Moose” and whose mother was a nurse, led the development of the DeepMind Health team, building it into a 100-person unit.But DeepMind was heavily criticized for its work in the U.K. health sector. DeepMind Health’s first product was a mobile app called Streams that was originally designed to help doctors identify patients at risk of developing acute kidney injury. In July 2017, the U.K.’s data privacy watchdog said DeepMind’s partner in the project, London’s Royal Free Hospital, illegally gave DeepMind access to 1.6 million patient records. Suleyman apologized in a statement at the time.In late 2018, Alphabet Inc.’s Google said the team that created Streams would join a new Google division called Google Health. The DeepMind Health brand was shelved, and Suleyman was removed from the day-to-day running of the unit.Suleyman sat on an external panel of experts Google created to review thorny ethical issues related to AI. Bloomberg News also reported that he served on a smaller group within the company to vet particular projects, formed after an uproar over a Google AI contract with the Pentagon.To contact the reporters on this story: Giles Turner in London at gturner35@bloomberg.net;Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon’s Cloud-Computing Empire Faces Threat From Edge of the Network
    Bloomberg

    Amazon’s Cloud-Computing Empire Faces Threat From Edge of the Network

    (Bloomberg) -- Three companies — Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc. — quietly dominate the world of cloud computing.With more more than 100 giant data centers worldwide, they rent out computing power to all manner of customers, making billions of dollars along the way. In fact, cloud computing has done more to fuel Amazon’s earnings in recent years than its e-commerce business.But there’s a threat looming on the horizon, quite literally at the edge of the network. With so many mobile devices and sensors now connected to the internet — and relying on artificial intelligence — more people and companies need their computing power close to them. For everything from fast analysis of road conditions to streaming holographic concerts, remote data centers are just too far away.That’s going to hand a huge opportunity to wireless carriers, which are building fast 5G networks to handle the task. And create a threat for the dominant cloud-computing players, according to telecom analyst Chetan Sharma. “Over time, cloud will be primarily used for storage and running longer computational models, while most of the processing of data and AI inference will take place at the edge,” said Sharma, who just wrote a report on the topic sponsored by software provider AlefEdge Inc. He pegs the size of this so-called edge-computing market at more than $4 trillion by 2030.Wireless carriers and the owners of cell towers have a big advantage in the edge-computing race: Not only do they control access to high-speed telecommunications networks, they have valuable real estate, such as tens of thousands of cell sites all over the country.Cloud computing isn’t going away by any means. But there’s more pressure on the industry’s Big Three to team up with wireless carriers, so they’re not left out of the burgeoning edge market.“The big players realize that at a minimum they need to partner up with operators to get access to their real-estate property,” Sharma said.Already, AT&T Inc. — the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier — has joined forces with Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp., two cloud providers.“Our goal is that our partners are wildly successful,” said Sam George, a cloud executive at Microsoft. “If our partners are wildly successful, we’ll be wildly successful. There’s a lot of money to be made for partners.”Amazon and Google declined to comment on their plans.AT&T has hundreds of workers focused on edge computing, and it’s “a core part of our 5G strategy,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer of AT&T’s business division.“This is one that takes a village.”IBM, meanwhile, is also working with carrier Vodafone Group Plc in Europe.“The networks are essentially themselves becoming a cloud,” said Steve Canepa, IBM’s global managing director for the telecom industry. “The telcos today have a point of presence at the edge, and that becomes a great place to have an extension of the platform.”Cloud providers in China — such as Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. — invested in carrier China Unicom two years ago. And more such investments and partnerships could be coming, Sharma said.For other tech companies, including chipmakers like Intel Corp., the hope is the shift leads to a bigger opportunity for everyone.“We see a rapid convergence between the cloud providers and connectivity providers,” said Caroline Chan, a general manager at Intel. “In our view, it’s a bigger pie.”Other telecom players are angling to team up with both carriers and cloud providers. Crown Castle International Corp., which owns fiber lines as well as more than 40,000 cell towers in the U.S., is in talks with the two camps, said Paul Reddick, a vice president at the company.Crown Castle also is an investor in startup Vapor IO, which is deploying edge computing this year in six metro areas, including Chicago.“I would say this is one that takes a village,” Reddick said.Other projects are already well underway. At CenturyLink Inc., about 100 facilities that used to store telecom equipment are now outfitted with servers. And it’s making them available to corporate customers in sectors like retail and industrial robotics.“We’ve already sold these facilities to a number of customers that need to get that compute closer to the network edge,” said Paul Savill, a senior vice president at CenturyLink. “We’ve seen enough activity in this space that we can confidently build out this infrastructure.”To contact the author of this story: Olga Kharif in Portland at okharif@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google Targets ‘Next Billion’ Users as Google Go Goes Global
    Market Realist

    Google Targets ‘Next Billion’ Users as Google Go Goes Global

    Google's (GOOGL) search dominance is about to increase. The Internet giant has made its much-awaited Google Go Search app available worldwide.

  • Gamescom 2019: Upcoming Titles on PS4 and Stadia
    Market Realist

    Gamescom 2019: Upcoming Titles on PS4 and Stadia

    Gamescom 2019 began this week with the announcement of some exciting cross-platform games. Developers certainly didn't disappoint.

  • George Soros Buys Slack, Increases SPY Short Exposure
    Market Realist

    George Soros Buys Slack, Increases SPY Short Exposure

    The 13F filing showed that George Soros bought almost 500,000 Slack (WORK) shares at an average price of $37.5 per share during the second quarter.

  • Facebook Finally Meets a Regulator With Bite
    Bloomberg

    Facebook Finally Meets a Regulator With Bite

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- In France, they call it taking mustard after dinner. In Germany, they talk about a child having already fallen in the well. In England, they speak of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.They all are good ways of describing how regulators have tended to deal with the world’s biggest tech firms. But when it comes to Facebook Inc.'s digital coin, Europe's antitrust watchdog seems to be intent on breaking with this previous inaction.Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that the European Commission is scrutinizing the two-month-old Libra project and the group backing it amid concern the currency will be detrimental to competition. This is a good sign the regulator will do something about it.That’s welcome because antitrust authorities have, over the years, repeatedly failed to prevent the sort of practices which have cemented the dominance of Silicon Valley firms in their target markets. Regulators then struggle to rebalance the market after the fact.Some past decisions look misguided in hindsight. The most obvious are Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of DoubleClick in 2008, which cemented the search giant’s control over digital ads, and Facebook’s purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp – deals that made it the preeminent social network.Facebook’s plan should give regulators plenty of reasons for concern. The organization administering the digital currency, the Libra Association, comprises 28 members so far, but the extent of Facebook’s leading role warrants closer examination.QuicktakeWhy Everybody (Almost) Hates Facebook’s Digital CoinThe motivation for many of the members seems at this stage to be a fear of missing out. After all, Facebook’s 2.4 billion monthly active users give it unparalleled scale. But that could also be construed as the Menlo Park, California-based firm abusing a dominant position: Members of the association might feel they can’t risk being left out, so have little choice but to take part.The group includes most of the world’s biggest payments companies: Mastercard Inc., Visa Inc., Paypal Holdings Inc., Stripe Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc, whose M-Pesa mobile money transfer service is dominant in parts of Africa.That means it could be seen as a horizontal agreement, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Aitor Ortiz. Those kind of arrangements may be acceptable in certain cases if they benefit the end user, but are normally anti-competitive if they consolidate the influence of a discrete group at the expense of consumers or rivals.Facebook has said that it won’t push ahead with Libra until it has secured all the necessary regulatory approvals. The European Commission’s message seems to be: Don’t push your luck. If the group fails to pay heed, it risks fines and punishments further down the line. That will make it harder to sign up new partners who are unwilling to expose themselves to such regulatory hazards.One has to wonder whether the growing regulatory scrutiny the currency is attracting will make the project worth the effort for Facebook. For sure, the social networking giant needs to find a way to diversify its revenue away from advertising. But I’m unconvinced that Libra does that.If anything, it will become another pillar of the advertising business by supplying valuable data on purchasing intent: every time you make a purchase using Facebook’s digital wallet, you give the company a better understanding of what you’re buying and why.All this highlights the contradiction at the heart of Libra: if it is truly independent, what’s in it for Facebook? Regulators are right to press for an answer.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at awebb25@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Two Homegrown Companies Defy Argentina’s Gloom
    Bloomberg

    Two Homegrown Companies Defy Argentina’s Gloom

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Investors in Argentina would seem to have no peers among global losers.After voters resoundingly rejected President Mauricio Macri and his free-market policies in primary elections earlier this month, the stock market, as measured by the S&P Merval Index, lost almost half its value in the biggest crash in at least six decades. The country’s currency, the peso, suffered its biggest decline since December 2015. The government’s benchmark-equivalent bond plummeted a record 26% to trade at 56 cents on the dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Argentina, whose economy is the third largest in Latin America, was already reeling from recession and inflation as high as 57.3% in May. The fear among investors now is the return to power of the Peronist party that traditionally stiffed creditors, defaulted on the nation’s bonds and rigged economic data so much that lenders had no incentive for a rescue.Amid the financial carnage, however, are two companies based in Argentina that highlight the country’s potential and showcase possible building blocks for its recovery. They are MercadoLibre Inc., Latin America’s largest online marketplace and biggest provider of online payment and digital financial services, and Globant SA, a software developer and technology services provider. Both are listed in the U.S., but if they were listed in their home country they would be 1.5 times the value of the local stock market, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. MercadoLibre and Globant increased their worldwide workforces 30% and 31%, respectively, to 7,239 and 8,384 in 2018 when most of the nation’s employers were either letting people go or not hiring during the recession.MercadoLibre is the most valuable publicly traded company based in Argentina, with a market value of $30 billion and revenue last year of $1.4 billion. Chief Executive Officer Marcos Eduardo Galperin, who is 47, started the company in his Buenos Aires garage in 1999 after studying at Stanford University. When he was a student, he successfully pitched the idea for the company to an investor while he was driving him to the airport. The company he has built now has operations in 18 countries and is referred to frequently as the Amazon.com of Latin America, with a healthy dose of PayPal thrown in because of its successful payments system.MercadoLibre, which went public in 2007, has gained 442% during the past five years and is still delivering a 109% total return this year. Its revenue is expected to increase 53% this year and 39% in 2020, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. And while its 48% gross margin is down from previous years, it has been investing heavily in its businesses.Even with that success, Galperin sees a lot more room for growth. “Latin America has 600 million people and we have roughly 50 million people using our platform, up from 4 million” when the company went public, he said during an interview earlier this month at his Buenos Aires headquarters. MercadoLibre “can grow another 10 times from 50 million to 500 million” because “the number of transactions that are done per user in Latin America is still a 10th of what is happening in China.” The company derives only 21% of its revenue inside Argentina, so there’s plenty of room for expansion there.Martin Migoya, the 51-year-old chairman, CEO and co-founder of Globant, shared Galperin’s views about growth opportunities, calling the digital space “the largest single opportunity in the planet today.” His company, which was started in 2003, develops software and services for an array of mobile, social media, cloud-computing, gaming and big-data purposes, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Its clients, 90% of which are in the U.S., have included such prominent companies as Google, Electronic Arts and Walt Disney.During an interview earlier this month at his Buenos Aires headquarters, Migoya said Globant, which generates only 5% of its sales in Argentina, is especially prepared to benefit from “a $5 trillion market in the next five years” made up of “digital transformation and cognitive transformation, which means applying artificial intelligence to pretty much everything.”Globant, which has a market value of $3.3 billion and generated $522 million in revenue last year, has gained 621% over the past five years and is returning 60% this year. Its sales are expected to increase 24% in 2019 and 21% next year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.The performances of MercadoLibre and Globant haven’t gone unnoticed. Toronto-based Dynamic Power Global Growth Fund, managed by Noah Blackstein, produced the largest total returns during the past 10, five and one years among more than 1,000 global mutual funds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. MercadoLibre is the largest holding, accounting for more than 7% of the fund, according to the most recent filing. Globant makes up 5%.Blackstein looks for companies, not countries, when he invests. “My focus is finding the biggest opportunities for growth wherever they lie in the world, be they in technology, health care and retail,” he said in a July interview.By his measure, Argentina has some of the brightest prospects. As the country descends once again into political and economic instability, MercadoLibre and Globant can remind citizens and investors alike that a downward spiral doesn’t have to be the status quo.\--With assistance from Shin Pei.To contact the author of this story: Matthew A. Winkler at mwinkler@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at dniemi1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matthew A. Winkler is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • As YouTube Mulls Changes to Kids’ Content, Rival Services See Opportunity
    Bloomberg

    As YouTube Mulls Changes to Kids’ Content, Rival Services See Opportunity

    (Bloomberg) -- Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission began holding private talks with YouTube officials, part of a burgeoning investigation. The video service stands accused of breaking laws overseeing kids’ web habits, placing a massive library of media and accompanying revenue in jeopardy. Neither YouTube nor the regulators have discussed the talks publicly. Yet despite the secrecy, a small British marketing firm started emailing some marquee YouTube advertisers about the developments. Reports indicated that the FTC would hit YouTube with a record fine and force its operations to change -- something, the emails noted, that would "be of interest" to YouTube's sponsors. "Regardless of what size the fine actually is, it represents a shift in the world for children's digital privacy," read the message. "Look forward to seeing you soon.”The emails were from SuperAwesome Ltd. Toy makers, animators and other brands pay the company to place online ads or access tools like the startup’s “safe, moderated” system for internet comments. In July, SuperAwesome added another offering: a video service, called Rukkaz, that works much like YouTube. Amateur broadcasters upload videos, sponsors back them and kids watch. Only the startup pledged to work with only hand-picked broadcasters, and pitched the service as a way to abide by privacy laws and avoid the demented footage lurking on the open web. "This is something that Google and Facebook, and arguably Apple, should have been doing for the past five years," said Dylan Collins, SuperAwesome's chief executive officer. "And they haven't."    Waves of new media darlings have tried to unseat YouTube, with no success. But Collins is one of several entrepreneurs trying to strike while YouTube is in turmoil. The video behemoth, owned by Alphabet Inc.'s Google, has earned a reputation as a Wild West of media, a place where young viewers have too readily stumbled on footage of crass humor or bloody violence. Lawmakers have asked about this, part of the scrutiny of the privacy practices and dominance of big tech. The FTC is probing whether Google violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits tracking the personal information of minors under thirteen. YouTube's frequent tweaks to its all-powerful algorithms and ads policies have left video creators disgruntled. A handful of upstarts are hoping this momentum will help their cause. They've roped in venture financing, licensing deals and customers with the promise of creating kid-safe internet real estate.The FTC is inadvertently playing a role, too. Uncertainty over the case is producing panic in parts of the YouTube community, prompting some stars to hunt for alternatives. News reports surfaced that the FTC may force YouTube to move all children's videos to its Kids app or cut them off from ads. YouTube has offered no public statement on the issue and rumors have filled the vacuum."No one really has a sense of what is going to happen," said Michael, who runs KidCity and two other YouTube family channels. He is one of more than 150 YouTubers jumping to Rukkaz. He isn't moving off YouTube, but will cross-post select YouTube clips with the startup, which will share ad revenue. He asked that his last name not be revealed to protect the privacy of his two children.Kid's media online is booming as millions of children swap Saturday morning cartoons for streaming and smartphones. Most streaming services, like Netflix, run curated, slickly produced shows for kids, while YouTube relies on a mountain of unscripted, user-generated content. Multiple people who make these videos said that, in recent months, support representatives from YouTube have halted contact without explanation. A chief concern for many creators is that their videos will be restricted to YouTube Kids, a much less popular service, where Google runs fewer ads. “That would put everyone out of business. I mean, almost overnight,” said Michael.YouTube is unlikely to do that, or to cut off all its kids and family footage from ads. Instead, to comply with the FTC, YouTube is planning to end “targeted” ads on videos kids are likely to watch, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday. That solution would make it harder for the creators behind those clips to earn more from ads, although it's a less draconian move than some other rumored options.A problem with this approach, though, is defining kids’ videos. COPPA applies to any web service “directed to children.” While most clips on YouTube Kids, such as nursery rhyme cartoons, clearly are, other huge swaths of YouTube, like footage of video game streaming, arguably aren’t. Yet it’s an open secret that younger viewers love watching people play video games. Roughly a quarter of the YouTube ads one major toy company buys run on Minecraft videos, according to a media buyer with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private data. “The difficulty here is determining what is ‘kid’s directed,’” said Ashkan Soltani, a privacy researcher who previously served as the Chief Technologist for the FTC. “It’s not a bright-line rule.”  Once the line is drawn, YouTube creators do not want to fall on the wrong side. Many, like KidCity’s Michael, now describe their productions as “family-based play” or “co-play” – videos that feature adults and, the hope is, that adults watch. YouTube is not the only major player in an uncomfortable spot; other tech platforms are under similar pressure. The FTC fined Bytedance Inc., the owner of popular app TikTok, for violating federal guidelines on minors. Critics have complained that Facebook Inc. illegally tracks children’s online behavior. Many in children's media don't expect a viable solution to come from the household names. "It doesn't make sense that big internet companies can take something they designed for grown-ups and make that for kids," said Kevin Donahue, an early YouTube executive who now runs Epic, an e-book startup. "You have to create something new." (Donahue said has no interest in rivaling his old company, though. "We're not at all doing that," he said.)For most newcomers, that something looks like Netflix: A subscription service with a limited selection. The idea is that parents would pay for some parts of YouTube popular with kids: the toy unboxers and niche animators, without the pratfalls of an unlimited content library. Three years ago, Epic added video to its $7.99 a month e-books app. It offers a few thousand clips, all reviewed by staff members. Kidoodle.TV, a Canadian company, offers children’s videos on set-top box services like Roku. Another, JuniorTube, had a slate of curated amateur videos available on a subscription-based app. Earlier this week, Roku added a new curated kids and family section.Highbrow, a London-based startup, sells a $6.49 monthly service with a tagline “trusted by schools and parents worldwide.” Priyanka Raswant, a corporate lawyer, formed the company as she was preparing to have her first child. She found most videos available on YouTube Kids “nonsensical” and the app unhelpful for parents. “If you see something outrageous, you have to report it,” Raswant said. “They’ve put the onus on the parents. Most parents don’t even have time to brush their teeth.” Highbrow has partnered with telecoms in Latin America and India for distribution, but doesn’t share sales data. The service carries videos from Pinkfong, the studio behind mega-hit “Baby Shark,” as well as smaller shows like “Travel With Kids” from PBS.SuperAwesome is one of the few borrowing YouTube’s model of free, ad-supported programming. The startup is set to book $60 million in revenue this year. (YouTube doesn’t share sales, but estimates place the yearly sales from its kids’ content north of $700 million.) Collins said his company is profitable. Of course, the uncertainty surrounding kids’ online video could also threaten those profits. His ad business is competing against  those at the twin giants of Google and Facebook. The benefits of SuperAwesome’s ad services might not be as apparent if YouTube passes through the FTC probe unscathed and grows its Kids’ app.That could mean that more is riding on Collins’ video service. For Rukkaz, Collins is targeting YouTube's blind spots. Most of YouTube Kids caters to preschoolers, so Collins is recruiting creators aiming for an older audience. He's also approaching creators with between 500 thousand and a million subscribers on YouTube -- enough to earn livings from the site, but not to be inculcated from its swings. "This entire community is really being orphaned by YouTube," Collins said.Michael, who runs the KidCity channel, is optimistic about Rukkaz. He’s planning to use SuperAwesome’s feature for hosting video comments, which he finds useful for getting audience feedback. YouTube shut off comments on videos with children earlier this year, but allowed a select group of channels to keep them with the condition they “actively moderate” the posts. Filtering those comments, though, requires using a manual system. “You have to go in there and spell the dirty words,” he said. His attempts to find footing beyond YouTube haven’t succeed in the past. On KidCity, the Texan father and his two children perform long skits dressed up as familiar cartoon characters – Marvel Comic’s Wolverine or Disney’s Queen Elsa. They tried to post one of these clips on Amazon’s self-publishing service, Prime Video Direct, but the company rejected the videos citing intellectual property concerns. A KidCity clip of his son donning a Spiderman costume and testing a Spiderman toy has over 85 million views on YouTube. YouTube’s laissez-faire approach to media has brought scathing critics, but it has also enabled countless careers online."That's the creator platform for kids," said Michael. "The only one, unfortunately." At least one would-be YouTube rival has already bit the dust. JuniorTube, a company based in Indiana, made a paid app and recruited a few established YouTubers. Like the others, it managed the costs of hosting video and other back-end services, splitting sales with video producers. In May, these producers received an email that JuniorTube had shut down "due to very poor business performance and audience interest." To contact the author of this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Biuso at ebiuso@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.