GOOG - Alphabet Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD
1,245.49
-7.58 (-0.60%)
At close: 4:00PM EDT

1,246.00 +0.51 (0.04%)
After hours: 5:12PM EDT

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Previous Close1,253.07
Open1,253.46
Bid1,245.00 x 800
Ask1,247.40 x 900
Day's Range1,241.08 - 1,258.89
52 Week Range970.11 - 1,289.27
Volume1,310,357
Avg. Volume1,384,006
Market Cap863.399B
Beta (3Y Monthly)0.94
PE Ratio (TTM)25.14
EPS (TTM)49.53
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est1,427.52
Trade prices are not sourced from all markets
  • Lawmakers Slam Apple for ‘Censorship’ of Apps at China’s Behest
    Bloomberg

    Lawmakers Slam Apple for ‘Censorship’ of Apps at China’s Behest

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. lawmakers from both parties slammed Apple Inc. and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook on Friday for “censorship of apps” at the “behest of the Chinese government.”Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski expressed concern about the removal of an app that let Hong Kong protesters track police movement in the city.“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKmaps is deeply concerning,” they wrote in a letter to Cook, urging Apple to “reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.” Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.Apple removed the HKmap.live app from the App Store in China and Hong Hong earlier this month, saying it violated local laws. The company also said it received “credible information” from Hong Kong authorities indicating the software was being used “maliciously” to attack police. The decision, and the reasoning, was questioned widely.Cook, in a recent memo to Apple employees, said that “national and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts.” On Thursday, the CEO met with China’s State Administration for Market Regulation head Xiao Yaqing in Beijing to discuss consumer-rights protection, boosting investment and business development in the country, according to a statement from the Chinese regulator.The Cupertino, California-based company isn’t the only one referenced in Friday’s letter. The lawmakers mentioned recent headlines involving the National Basketball Association and Activision Blizzard Inc., a video game company that suspended a professional game player for supporting the Hong Kong protests.“Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large U.S. corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billion Chinese consumers,” the lawmakers wrote.They also slammed Apple for removing other apps, including VPN apps that helped Chinese people get around the government’s online censorship. The letter said Apple has “censored” at least 2,200 apps in China, citing data from non-profit organization GreatFire. Apple says on its website that it removed 634 apps in the second half of last year globally due to legal violations.The letter implied that Apple made the removal decisions to maintain its huge business in China and appease the government. Greater China was Apple’s third-largest region by revenue last year, generating more than $50 billion in revenue.Apple is one of the rare tech companies that operates in China, with rivals like Google and Facebook Inc. hardly operational in the market. China’s importance to Apple means the company has to balance its own values with following local laws.In the past, the company has pulled the Skype and New York Times apps from its App Store in China. More recently, it removed a Taiwanese flag emoji for users in Hong Kong and Macau and was criticized for sending some browsing data to China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. as part of a privacy feature.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.net;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Pixel 4: Google’s Latest Smartphone Disqualified in India
    Market Realist

    Pixel 4: Google’s Latest Smartphone Disqualified in India

    Google’s latest smartphone, the Pixel 4, won't be available for sale in India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market.

  • Amazon Needs a Leash
    Bloomberg

    Amazon Needs a Leash

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The New Yorker and the Atlantic have never been known for their business coverage, so when both magazines published long articles about Amazon.com Inc. in their current issues it signaled that something is in the air. That something is antitrust.More precisely, what’s in the air is the question of what the government should do to rein in the tremendous power of the big four tech companies: Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Amazon.Once the province of think tanks and law reviews, this topic has become such a public concern that 48 of the 50 state attorneys general are conducting antitrust investigations, presidential hopefuls are calling for tech giants to be broken up, and general interest magazines like, well, the New Yorker and the Atlantic are asking whether the companies abuse their market power. In this particular case, the magazines are asking it about Amazon.The Atlantic article is by Franklin Foer, who has long raised concerns about Big Tech. Five years ago, for instance, he wrote a cover story for the New Republic titled “Amazon Must Be Stopped.” It focused on Amazon’s dominance over the book business.This time around, he is writing about the unbridled ambition of Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos. (The new article is “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan.”) “Bezos’s ventures are by now so large and varied that it is difficult to truly comprehend the nature of his empire, much less the end point of his ambitions,” Foer writes. He then goes through a list. Bezos wants to conquer space with his company Blue Origin. Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post makes him a significant media and political figure. Bezos’s brainchild, Amazon, “is the most awe-inspiring creation in the history of American business.” And so on.He also points out that while critics fear Amazon’s monopoly power, the company is loved by consumers. “A 2018 poll sponsored by Georgetown University and the Knight Foundation found that Amazon engendered greater confidence than virtually any other American institution,” he writes. I have no doubt that this is true; Amazon’s obsession with customer service instills tremendous loyalty among consumers. It’s no accident that over 100 million people now pay the company $119 a year to be Amazon Prime members. That loyalty is also one reason taking antitrust actions against Amazon would be much more difficult than going after Facebook or Google. I’ll get to some other reasons shortly.Charles Duhigg’s New Yorker article “Is Amazon Unstoppable?” is both smarter about Amazon and more pointed about its power. Duhigg captures its relentless culture, comparing it to a flywheel that never stops. He described Bezos’s efforts to ensure that Amazon never loses the feel of a scrappy startup. The phrase that came to mind as I was reading Duhigg’s article was Andy Grove’s famous dictum: “Only the paranoid survive.”Duhigg is also interested in what Amazon’s critics have to say. Amazon paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon's work culture can be difficult for women who have children. Amazon’s warehouse workers are sometimes fired after being injured on the job. Amazon doesn't effectively police the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. (In the article, Amazon’s representatives deny these allegations.)Then there’s the fact that Amazon both serves as a platform for companies wanting to sell things and sells things itself. In other words, it competes with the same companies it enables. According to Duhigg, Amazon has been known to track items that do well, and then make its own version of the same item — which it then sells at a discounted price. (Amazon denies this, too.) Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, told Duhigg that the practice “deserves much more scrutiny.”The story’s killer anecdote, at least as it concerns antitrust, is about Birkenstock USA LP’s experience with Amazon. Although Birkenstock sold millions of dollars of shoes using the Amazon platform, it was constantly hearing customer complaints that the shoes were defective. Why? Because, according to Birkenstock, Amazon allowed counterfeits to be sold on the site. Not only would Amazon not take down the counterfeit goods, but it also wouldn’t even tell Birkenstock who was selling them.Amazon also had stocked a year’s worth of Birkenstock inventory, which terrified the company. “What if Amazon decides to start selling the shoes for 99 cents, or to give them away with Prime membership, or do a buy-one-get-one-free,” wondered Birkenstock’s chief executive officer, David Kahan. “We were powerless.”Kahan’s complaints went nowhere. So he pulled Birkenstocks off Amazon. What did Amazon do? It solicited Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy shoes directly from them. Today, if you search for Birkenstocks on Amazon you’ll be deluged with choices even though the company itself refuses to do business with Amazon. I found a pair of Arizona oiled leather sandals — listed on Birkenstock's website for $135 — marked down to $60 on Amazon. Is it the real thing, or is it a counterfeit?The hard question: What do you do about this kind of behavior? On one extreme is the Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, who believes the most appropriate solution is to break up Amazon. At the other end of the spectrum, there are still plenty of antitrust economists who believe that if a $135 sandal is being sold for $60, that’s good for consumers. They argue that the government should just stay out of the way.I’m a proponent of breaking up Facebook, mainly because I believe if you force it to disgorge two of its prized platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp, you’ll instantly create serious competitors. That could help raise the bar on privacy, data usage and other concerns. But I’m not sure that would work with Amazon.For instance, if Amazon had to separate its highly profitable cloud service, Amazon Web Services, from its retail business the power dynamic between Amazon and the companies that use its platform would remain.What’s more, it’s harder to make a classic antitrust case against Amazon than it is against Facebook and Google. According to the research firm EMarketer Inc., Amazon is expected to account for 37.7% of all online commerce in 2019. By contrast, Google controls 89% of the search market.Still, for too many retailers, Amazon has the power to control their destiny, for good or ill. As the antitrust activist Lina Khan wrote in her now-famous 2017 article in the Yale Law Journal: “History suggests that allowing a single actor to set the terms of the marketplace, largely unchecked, can pose serious hazards.” I take that assessment to mean that government intervention at Amazon is needed.To my mind, the simplest and most sensible solution is from the economist Hal Singer: Don’t allow platform companies to favor their own products over competitors’ products. Singer calls this a “nondiscrimination regime,” and models it after the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, which prevents cable distributors from favoring their own content over content from competitors. In that scenario, a company that felt it was being discriminated against by Amazon could bring a complaint to federal regulators just as cable stations can do now. This regime has worked well for the TV industry. It could work for Amazon, too.Secondly, the government should hold Amazon accountable for counterfeits. Counterfeiting is against the law, and although Amazon told Duhigg that it spends “hundreds of millions of dollars” on anti-counterfeiting efforts it’s no secret that many deceptively labeled goods are still sold on the site. (See, for instance, this recent Wall Street Journal story.) Companies like Birkenstock have a right to expect that a platform selling its products will rigorously police counterfeits — and will identify counterfeiters so manufacturers of authentic goods can take legal action.These are solvable problems. They don’t require extreme measures. What they do require is a government with the will to transform Amazon’s platform from what it is now, a vehicle that squelches competition, to one that lets competition flower.(Corrects paragraph eight to accurately describe the year in which Amazon paid no federal taxes and to more accurately describe the experiences of women with children who work for the company. Also changes language in paragraph eight to more accurately describe how effectively Amazon combats the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. Also corrects paragraphs 12 and 13 to accurately reflect pricing disparities between sandals sold on Birkenstock's website and those sold on Amazon.)To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Alphabet, ArcBest, Workday, ServiceNow and Splunk highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day
    Zacks

    Alphabet, ArcBest, Workday, ServiceNow and Splunk highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

    Alphabet, ArcBest, Workday, ServiceNow and Splunk highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

  • Market Realist

    If This Waymo Plan Works, Alphabet’s Costs Could Start Falling

    Alphabet’s Waymo One plans to start using driverless cars for its autonomous taxis. The service is available to a small group of customers in Phoenix.

  • There Will Be No More Facebook Revolutions
    Bloomberg

    There Will Be No More Facebook Revolutions

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- “Twitter revolution,” “Facebook revolution” — these terms became widespread during the Arab Spring rebellions at the beginning of this decade. They’re outdated now: For today's protesters in Hong Kong and Barcelona, or for Extinction Rebellion activists in capitals around the world, the social networks and even messenger applications run by big U.S. corporations are becoming a secondary tool, and one not used for organizational purposes.After protesters in Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign in February 2011, one of the revolution’s public faces, Google executive Wael Ghonim, went on CNN to be interviewed by anchors Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asked him what was going to happen next, the following exchange ensued:Ghonim: Ask Facebook.Blitzer: Ask what?Ghonim: Facebook.Cooper: Facebook.Blitzer: Facebook. You’re giving Facebook a lot of credit for this?Ghonim: Yes, for sure. I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him, actually. This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook.That was so 2011. If there’s any one app today’s protesters would want to credit, it’s Telegram. But not even this itinerant messenger, whose team was based in St. Petersburg, Berlin, London and Singapore before ending up in Dubai, plays the same kind of outsize role that Facebook and Twitter took on in previous protests, up to and including Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement” of 2014. With its powerful group messaging functionality and “channel” feature which allows users to broadcast information, Telegram is the central media platform for the Hong Kong protesters of today, who are now pushing for greater democracy for the former British colony. It’s also the go-to tool for pro-independence Catalans who have taken to the streets to protest the long prison sentences for leaders of the Spanish region’s doomed 2017 secession bid. There, the secretive Democratic Tsunami group uses Telegram to communicate with its 150,000 followers. It also uses a Telegram bot to collect data for an app it created to map protest activities and street clashes. For its part, Extinction Rebellion has been moving from Facebook-owned WhatsApp to Telegram because it allows bigger group chats, and because it has a voting tool that allows independent-minded rebels to decide what they want to do. (This tool is also used in Hong Kong).Signal, the encrypted messenger, and Mattermost, an open-source alternative to the enterprise messenger Slack, also are popular among activists.Direct file transfers, encrypted messengers and specially created apps have become essential for spreading all kinds of material that might land its distributors in trouble — such as the fake boarding passes Democratic Tsunami sent out so protesters could get into the Barcelona airport on Oct. 14, causing more than 100 flights to be canceled.Of course, today’s activists still use social media platforms run by big U.S. corporations. But when they do it’s mainly for outward communication such as with the media, not with people actively involved in the protests. Since the Arab Spring, governments have mastered use of the big commercial social media networks themselves. Since the Hong Kong protests began, both Facebook and Twitter have complained about China’s attempts to use them for disinformation and counterpropaganda. Besides, many protesters believe their anonymity isn’t well protected on the social networks, Malek Dudakov of the Moscow-based think tank Center for the Study of New Communications wrote in a recent report about the use of the technology by the Hong Kong protest movement. Telegram, run by a nonprofit founded by Russian libertarian Pavel Durov, has a reputation for resisting government attempts at censorship and infiltration. Russia has attempted to block the messenger for refusing to hand over encryption keys to domestic intelligence, but Telegram has fought back and is still accessible in most of Russia. Mainland China has had more success in cutting off access to it. But even on Telegram, the risk of losing one’s anonymity is a potential problem. One protest group moderator in Hong Kong was arrested in June. Durov has accused China of trying to take his service down in Hong Kong with distributed denial of service attacks. Those efforts contrast with concerns that big U.S. companies are more likely to cooperate with the authorities.Earlier this month, Apple Inc. approved a smartphone map app that Hong Kong protesters have been using for distribution in its App Store after an initial ban. But then it swiftly took HKmap.live down again. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook explained that the Hong Kong cybersecurity authority had told the company that the app was being used by criminals to “target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.” This episode prompted the Democratic Tsunami in Catalonia to release its own app for Android only — and not through the Google Play Store, in which most Android users get their apps.Even though its services are blocked in mainland China, Google has also behaved in a way some protesters, and even some of its employees, find suspicious. Citing an internal rule against the monetization of current events, the Play Store banned a game called “The Revolution of Our Times” that allowed players to act out the role of Hong Kong protesters. The game’s developers had promised to give 80% of their proceeds to charity.Big Tech’s role, even if unwitting, in unrest has always looked like an aberration. Where the profit motive is involved, cooperating with governments makes more sense than facilitating those who fight them. Now, the dust is settling on the tech revolution, and real-world revolutions need non-commercial tech tools. So protesters either design their own or fall back on open-source apps or those developed by nonprofits. Facebook and Twitter are where propaganda battles rage and insults fly, not where action is coordinated — and that’s a natural consequence of their evolution as big businesses that attract way too much government attention.So, if you’re wondering what comes next for all the modern-day protest movements, don’t ask Facebook.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bull of the Day: Alphabet (GOOG)
    Zacks

    Bull of the Day: Alphabet (GOOG)

    Bull of the Day: Alphabet (GOOG)

  • What Happens to a Startup With a #MeToo Scandal and No HR Department
    Bloomberg

    What Happens to a Startup With a #MeToo Scandal and No HR Department

    (Bloomberg) -- The MeToo movement has helped uncover the many ways men abuse positions of power, as well as the corporate fixers and financial settlements that enable such behavior. But what happens at a company just getting its start, with a few dozen employees, a board consisting of three men and no HR department?For Priyanka Wali, the experience was disillusioning. Soon after going to work for a two-year-old health care startup in San Francisco, she said her boss touched her knee and later commented in a meeting that he “wouldn’t mind” if she were his girlfriend. Wali, a contract physician, didn’t report the alleged behavior when it occurred in 2016, she said, because the company, Virta Health Corp., didn’t have a human resources department at the time.The situation festered until this year, when she and a colleague filed formal complaints with the company against the same manager. Virta, which now has 165 employees and a three-person HR team, commissioned an investigation in March and found their claims of harassment to be credible, according to a copy of the report reviewed by Bloomberg. The initial determination was that Wali would keep reporting to her boss because there wasn’t another manager available. That sparked an uproar in the office, and she was eventually reassigned to a new boss. But by then, damage had been done, former employees said. Their faith in management had been shaken, and several people said they sought jobs elsewhere as a result.“It is already hard enough to come forward after experiencing harassment,” Wali wrote in an email to Bloomberg. “I came forward to HR, and I ended up experiencing more stress as a result and had to eventually leave my job for my own psychological wellness.”Sami Inkinen, Virta’s chief executive officer, said in an emailed statement that his company “immediately took the complaint very seriously, worked hard to get the process right but should have handled parts of it better.” The company held an all-hands meeting in May, he said, “to openly acknowledge where we fell short, to explain what we did right and establish the highest possible bar for handling situations like this in the future.”A Virta spokesman said the initial decision to have Wali continue reporting to her manager was “a mistake” and that the company has taken steps to improve. The alleged harasser, Michael Scahill, no longer works at Virta. “I was very saddened and sorry to learn, years after the events, that some of my actions offended colleagues whom I respect greatly,” Scahill wrote in a email. “I never wanted to upset anyone and have apologized to those involved.”The allegations, whispered about within the office over the last couple years, caught the attention of the San Francisco Business Times in August, when the newspaper reported on a company investigation into claims by two unnamed women. One of the women, Wali, spoke to Bloomberg, as did three other employees who were there at the time. Their accounts, along with the investigator’s statement, shed new light on a dynamic that routinely goes unreported at very young companies and illustrates how workers can feel helpless when a startup isn’t equipped to field their complaints. California law extends sexual harassment protections to independent contractors, but neither woman has filed a lawsuit.“I came forward to HR, and I ended up experiencing more stress as a result.”For all the horror stories about established corporate policies and HR departments failing to protect employees or worse, the alternative can be similarly destructive. Many entrepreneurs wait years before establishing HR departments, said Elaine Varelas, a managing partner at Keystone Partners, an HR consulting and executive coaching firm. Startups tend to prioritize other specialties, such as finance or legal, as a cost-saving decision that can leave employees without recourse and allow culture problems to linger, Varelas said. “They say it’s for money, or they’ll say they have an employment attorney,” she said, “but it’s not the same.”Good HR policies can be undervalued at startups, Varelas said. Companies rarely advertise their response to sexual misconduct claims, despite how commonplace the issue is today. “Women aren’t going to work at a company that ‘deals with sexual harassment well,’” she said. “It’s not an enticing ad.”Inkinen started Virta in 2014 with two nutrition researchers and a noble mission: reverse diabetes in 100 million people. The Finland-born entrepreneur, a competitive cyclist and triathlete who once rowed across the Pacific Ocean with his wife, had little experience in health care but plenty at big companies. He worked at McKinsey & Co. and Microsoft Corp. He then helped start and run Trulia, a real estate search engine, until Zillow Group Inc. bought the company in 2014. For Virta, Inkinen would go on to raise more than $80 million from investors, including Venrock and Playground Global, an incubator founded by former Google executive Andy Rubin.Wali, a doctor specializing in internal medicine and obesity treatments, was working with patients and teaching medical students in the San Francisco Bay Area when Virta was starting up. She joined the company in late 2016 as a contractor, with the hope of soon getting promoted to full time. That plan quickly got complicated. In her first week on the job, Wali’s boss put his hand on her knee during a one-on-one meeting, according to the legal investigator’s report. Although it’s not covered in the report, Wali said the touching happened more than once. He made the comment about not minding if she were his girlfriend on a video conference call with colleagues present, according to Wali and the report. (Wali declined to name the man, but the report identifies him as Scahill.)In Virta’s early days, the company’s chief of staff handled what typically would be considered HR responsibilities. Virta hired a head of HR in October 2016, but she lasted less than two months—departing just two days before the alleged touching began, Wali said. A new chief of staff took on HR responsibilities. But Wali said it wasn’t clear to her who was in charge of HR at that time and that she saw no options for recourse. “I was worried that if I spoke up to someone in upper management about my boss’s behavior, it would jeopardize my chance of being hired as a full-time physician,” Wali wrote. “I kept quiet.” About a week later, Scahill invited her to join him at a medical society gala that he had initially planned to bring his girlfriend to, she said. His reasoning, she said, was that they could network together. She declined and purchased her own ticket.Around the same time, according to the investigator’s report, Scahill made repeated comments to another female contractor at Virta. He complimented her appearance and told her once that she was “gorgeous,” the woman told the investigator.Workers began making efforts to communicate the alleged behavior to management in 2017. The second woman contributed feedback for Scahill’s performance review that year describing him as “too flirtatious in the workplace,” though his supervisors didn’t read the responses before passing it on to him, the company spokesman said. In a survey the next year, a male employee wrote that Scahill “has made several disrespectful comments about women.” The feedback was reviewed by a supervisor, who discussed it with Scahill, the spokesman said.Like in other offices across the U.S., management at Virta were closely monitoring the fallout from the MeToo movement. The company put out its first employee handbook in April 2018, outlining a policy against harassment in the workplace, and instated a website for employees to share feedback and complaints anonymously. However, Virta still lacked a head of HR and reopened a search for the role in August that year. The general counsel was overseeing personnel matters, alongside legal functions, finance and other areas. At a staff meeting in October 2018, a worker asked about a post on the employer review site Glassdoor that referenced sexual harassment at Virta. Inkinen, the CEO, responded that the fastest way to get fired at Virta was to harass someone, according to a former employee who attended the meeting.Virta hired a new head of HR in January. A couple months later, Wali discovered she wasn’t the only one with concerns about Scahill. Colleagues openly discussed his behavior at a happy hour event in the office that Wali attended. Wali filed a complaint with the new HR boss, as did the second woman.In response, Virta hired an attorney from an employment law firm to investigate. Over the course of a week, the lawyer interviewed the two women, Scahill and six other employees. The resulting report described allegations of inappropriate comments and touching as credible and said he had stopped the behavior after early or mid-2017.Meanwhile, HR was staffing up. An HR representative, by then one of three people in the department, met with Wali in April and recounted the investigator’s findings, Wali said. She also learned in the meeting that she would still need to have the same boss, she said. “I asked the HR manager how on earth I could be asked to continue reporting to someone who had touched me inappropriately and made comments to me that made me feel uncomfortable?” Wali wrote in an email to Bloomberg.Distressed, Wali took time off to process the news. Virta management acknowledges it didn’t share the results of the investigation with staff, but word spread quickly of the report’s conclusions, former employees said. Some cited an inconsistency with what Inkinen had said the year before about taking a hard line on sexual harassment, one of the people said. Several asked their managers why Wali wasn’t offered a different boss.Four days after Wali was told she’d keep the same boss, Virta contacted her to schedule a call about the situation. She heard from another manager four days after that saying she could now report to him. She asked him to elaborate on the decision-making process and didn’t get a clear answer, she said. “At this point, I became very uncomfortable with how the company handled harassment in the workplace—specifically with what I felt was a lack of accountability and transparency with these decisions,” Wali wrote.Wali and the second woman quit on the same day in early May. Soon after, Virta executives asked for Scahill’s resignation. The following Monday, Inkinen held another staff meeting, this time to apologize. He said the company had made a misstep in not taking into account the emotional safety of its workers, according to a former employee who attended. The message didn’t stop several other Virta employees from leaving and citing the handling of the complaint as an impetus, said two ex-employees.One person who quit over the issue said they lost faith that executives took the welfare of their workers seriously. “No one reports stuff for fun,” the former employee said. “I think they underestimated the impact this would have on the team.”To contact the author of this story: Ellen Huet in San Francisco at ehuet4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at mmilian@bloomberg.net, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Sen. Wyden: People like Mark Zuckerberg should be punished for their lies
    Yahoo Finance

    Sen. Wyden: People like Mark Zuckerberg should be punished for their lies

    Oregon Senator Rob Wyden introduces a new data privacy bill,known as the Mind Your Own Business Act.

  • Microsoft Earnings Preview: Buy MSFT Stock on Cloud Computing Growth?
    Zacks

    Microsoft Earnings Preview: Buy MSFT Stock on Cloud Computing Growth?

    Microsoft stock has moved somewhat sideways over the last three months as it cools off after a stellar first half of 2019. This means that the tech giant's upcoming quarterly earnings results will likely be the next catalyst for MSFT shares...

  • Manufacturing & Retail Worries, Brexit, Q3 Earnings & Buy Google Stock - Free Lunch
    Zacks

    Manufacturing & Retail Worries, Brexit, Q3 Earnings & Buy Google Stock - Free Lunch

    Signs of hope for a Brexit deal and U.S.-China trade war updates. Some disappointing U.S. manufacturing and retail data. Q3 earnings results from the likes of Netflix. And why Google parent Alphabet is a Zack Ranks 1 (Strong Buy) stock. - Free Lunch

  • 3 Reasons Google Investors Should Worry about Amazon
    Market Realist

    3 Reasons Google Investors Should Worry about Amazon

    Google’s advertising market is under attack from Amazon, which also stands as an obstacle in the cloud and smart speaker markets.

  • France Retaliates to Google’s Refusal to Pay Publishers
    Market Realist

    France Retaliates to Google’s Refusal to Pay Publishers

    France wants the EU to set up a special supervisory body for big tech companies after Google has refused to pay publishes for article extracts.

  • Warren Restricts Campaign Donations from Big Tech CEOs to $200
    Market Realist

    Warren Restricts Campaign Donations from Big Tech CEOs to $200

    Elizabeth Warren's campaign plans to limit donations from big tech firms. The presidential candidate has discussed breaking up Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

  • Did Airbnb’s Contrarian Narrative Just Get Messed Up?
    Skift

    Did Airbnb’s Contrarian Narrative Just Get Messed Up?

    With Airbnb on the road to going public in 2020, the company has positioned itself as much different that loss-generating Uber, and those big-Google-spending online travel companies, Booking Holdings and Expedia Group. But new reporting on Airbnb's first quarter of 2019 performance at the least means Airbnb will have some explaining to do on that […]

  • TikTok and Facebook: Rivalry Continues to Escalate
    Market Realist

    TikTok and Facebook: Rivalry Continues to Escalate

    TikTok is poaching Facebook's (FB) employees, according to a CNBC report. As a result, the rivalry between the two social media businesses continues to escalate.

  • Bloomberg

    Save Some of That Facebook Fury for Policy Makers

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Fury is the prevailing feeling of 2019. People are angry much of the time about so many things. Sometimes, though, I wonder whether the anger is misdirected.Often, the targets are companies. There’s pressure on retailers like Walmart Inc. to restrict gun sales. There’s anger at Facebook Inc. for running a misleading political ad from President Donald Trump’s campaign. Some people are furious at oil companies for not doing more to slow climate change, and at Uber Technologies Inc. for taking advantage of drivers or worsening traffic-clogged cities.I get it. Actions of powerful companies or their failures to act can have a profound impact. They are legitimate targets for popular pressure, and companies can’t simply sell potentially harmful products or run their businesses in destructive ways and ignore the consequences.But this rage is not only about those individual companies. It’s also redirected fury about inaction by policy makers.People are mad about government inaction on gun violence, but policy makers are paralyzed and anger gets channeled at Walmart. People are mad about nonsensical political speech rules, failures to make laws on personal data privacy or corporate tax avoidance, but few Americans believe Congress or regulators will do anything. Instead, people are left to vent at companies.Have we gotten to the point where U.S. elected officials are so impotent that the only recourse is to hope profit-minded companies do the right thing — and then get angry when we believe they don’t? There are policies that companies can improve on their own, including employee pay and sexual harassment prevention. There is also a need for clarity from elected officials — either on their own or in concert with big companies.  Rules about political ads are one such example. I don’t want politicians to be able to mislead voters on Facebook, but the company is not solely responsible for the half-truth political attack ads that run on its services. Laws and tough regulation are a better approach than always relying on the wisdom of individual internet companies or television networks to make the tough calls.Gun policy, corporate tax avoidance, labor laws and protecting elections from cyberattacks are also matters policy makers are best placed to tackle. My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Matt Levine wrote about the oddity of members of Congress being angry at failures by the Federal Trade Commission to restrict Facebook’s data collection practices when Congress could impose those restrictions by passing a law.I don’t want policy paralysis to absolve companies of responsibility for doing bad things or preventing harm. And companies are not innocent here, either. They fight against laws and regulation, which effectively gives themselves more responsibility — and they sometimes use government inaction to justify their own.Facebook for years fought to exclude itself from rules that mandate disclosures of who is behind political ads on other media such as broadcast television. And Amazon.com Inc.’s history includes advocating for a national sales tax law — which it knew was unlikely to happen — while it employed aggressive tactics to avoid charging sales tax in many U.S. states. (Amazon gave up fighting state sales taxes around 2012.) Facebook, Google and Amazon are now advocating for federal laws that sometimes feel like self-serving attempts to muzzle state or local rules they don’t like or to pass the buck on controversial company policies. When California recently did act to pass a law that could force Uber and other companies to treat contract workers as employees, Uber vowed to fight it and made a technical legal argument that a law tailor-made for Uber doesn’t apply to the company. Those tactics aside, it is hard to thread the needle between saying companies like Facebook and Amazon are way too powerful and also relying solely on them to always make hard policy decisions. That’s why we have elections and a government.A version of this column originally appeared in Bloomberg’s Fully Charged technology newsletter. You can sign up here.To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at sovide@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.Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • IBM Surpasses Earnings, Revenues Fall Shy of Estimates in Q3
    Zacks

    IBM Surpasses Earnings, Revenues Fall Shy of Estimates in Q3

    IBM's blockchain, cloud and ML capabilities, among others poises its offerings well to gain robust adoption.

  • Bloomberg

    Catalan Protesters Are Told to Avoid IPhone, Stick to Android

    (Bloomberg) -- Catalan independence activists looking for information on how to take part in the next protest against Spain can rely on a handy, two-day old app for details on when and where to go. The only catch: the app doesn’t work on iPhones.That’s caused iPhone-wielding campaigners to ask why they’re being left out of the loop. Democratic Tsunami, the group organizing the protests, and which created the app, says it’s simply about security.The reason is that Apple’s “App Store” has restrictive policies on such applications and it has already “censored” similar mechanisms for demonstrations in Hong Kong, Democratic Tsunami said in a statement published Wednesday on social media and instant messaging platforms.The app was released on Tuesday, the day after a Spanish Supreme Court ruling sentenced nine separatist leaders to a combined 100 years in prison, sparking the street protests that have led to three days of rioting on the streets of Barcelona.Spain’s Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska has said his department would investigate who is behind Tsunami Democratic, which has mobilized big demonstrations including a major protest at Barcelona airport. Police have made 96 arrests.Android users are made to download the app through a link, without having to go to the Google app store. But downloading the app is only the first step. Once a user has it, a QR code is required to access it and the only way to get the code is from somebody who already has it -- a strategy the activists say will help limit who has access to the information.The app was made public on Tuesday and by Wednesday afternoon it had 150,000 downloads, according to the statement from Democratic Tsunami.Apple’s press office in Madrid didn’t immediately respond to emails and phone calls seeking a company response.To contact the reporter on this story: Rodrigo Orihuela in Madrid at rorihuela@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Charles Penty at cpenty@bloomberg.net, Giles TurnerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Builders Ditch Nest After Google Ties Devices to Digital Assistant

    (Bloomberg) -- Several residential builders have stopped buying and installing Google’s Nest devices after the internet giant overhauled how Nest technology works with other gadgets.The Alphabet Inc. unit bought Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion to enter the so-called smart-home market. Nest has become one of the largest makers of internet-connected thermostats, smoke alarms and locks.The devices were popular with builders who saw a Nest gadget as a way to increase the value of properties. But earlier this year, that began to change as Google exerted more control over Nest and started changing the underlying technology.As a more independent business, Nest developed software that helped its gadgets communicate with a wide range of products from other manufacturers, through accounts set up directly by users.As of the end of August this year, however, consumers need a Google account -- and access to the company’s voice-based Google Assistant service -- to integrate new Nest products with other devices in their homes.The move may help the internet giant weave its Google Assistant deeper into people’s lives. But for builders it’s just a pain because Nest devices no longer work so well with the other gadgets they install in homes, such as audio and entertainment systems, and alarms and other security gear. It’s also a less enticing user proposition with all the privacy permissions that Google Assistant requires.That’s spurred some builders -- who collectively purchase tens of thousands of Nest devices each year -- to avoid Nest products.“We’ve stopped,” said Mark Zikra, vice president of technology at CA Ventures, which builds and operates apartments, senior homes and other property. “In an apartment complex we’re talking about 200, 300 devices that would be installed in one swoop and then all of a sudden everyone moves in. We don’t have the luxury of being able to say ‘hey are you a Google person or are you a Honeywell person?’”Similar sentiments were shared by others in the construction industry, including two large systems-integration firms that work with hundreds of builders across the U.S.For Sean Weiner, chief technology officer of Bravas Group, the main sticking point is Google’s decision to tie its digital assistant to Nest products going forward. Bravas installs smart-home devices and audio systems in about 3,500 high-end homes a year, and the ability to connect to as many different gadgets as possible is the most important feature. Digital assistants can’t handle these larger, more complex systems, according to Weiner.“If we put that control in the hands of Google, we’ve lost that control,” he said.This could dent Nest sales at a time when Google is trying to generate more revenue from consumer hardware. Commercial installers and builders are an important source of smart-home sales and Nest had developed a program to train professionals how to hook up its gadgets.Google has said it is being more selective with outside partners to increase security and privacy. At an event this week in New York City, the company highlighted how its home devices and smartphones work together to provide functionality that consumers can’t get unless they go all-in with Google technology. Still, the company is working to increase the number of other devices Nest products work with.That’s little comfort for builders in the midst of existing projects, such as David Berman who has been installing electronics in homes since the 1960s. Now, his company sets up networks of smart-home devices in thousands of homes a year. When Google said Nest’s integration technology was changing earlier this year, he stopped using the devices.“We were more or less forced into the switch,” he said. “When people buy a connected device, they expect it to connect. That’s not something that happens with Nest anymore.”Google isn’t alone in trying to tie its devices to a digital assistant. Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. have pursued similar goals, and the smart-home market increasingly revolves around the tech giants, with manufacturers of light bulbs, thermostats, smoke alarms and more struggling to make their wares compatible with all three.Even though Nest has been owned by Google for five years, it hadn’t been fully pulled into the internet giant’s orbit until now.When Google announced the acquisition in 2014, Nest said it would only share user data with its own products and services, not Google’s. In a blog post, Nest co-founder Matt Rogers said “Nest data will stay with Nest” and that the company wasn’t changing its Terms of Service.It didn’t take long for that to change. And Rogers’s blog post is no longer available on Nest’s website. Less than six months after the deal, Nest said Google would connect some of its apps, letting Google know whether Nest users were at home or not. The integration allowed those people to set the temperature of their homes with voice commands and helped Google’s digital assistant set the temperature automatically when it detected the people were returning home.Initially, smart-home products connected to “home hubs” that acted as a gateway linking many devices -- even if they used different communication standards and protocols. “That idea has mostly died” as tech giants take over that central role with their voice assistants and smart speakers, said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research.“This is a symptom of a larger challenge in the smart-home arena,” he added.Interoperability doesn’t need to be compromised for security and privacy, said Aaron Emigh, chief executive officer of Brilliant Home Technology Inc., which makes a centralized hub that hosts Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.Amazon put Brilliant through many tests, ranging from audio quality to the ability to stop hacks. The same hasn’t happened with Google, he said. Google devices, such as its Home smart speakers, can be used to control Brilliant’s hub with your voice, but the integration is incomplete compared with Alexa, Emigh added.“What they’re doing is creating a lot of mistrust around Google and that’s then causing people to de-select Google and Nest as technology platforms,” Emigh said. “That’s happening in droves.”\--With assistance from Mark Bergen.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, Alistair Barr, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Huawei Debt Bulls Scoff at Trump Attacks
    Bloomberg

    Huawei Debt Bulls Scoff at Trump Attacks

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Blacklisting by the U.S. government, accusations of espionage and the arrest of its chief financial officer haven’t been enough to scare investors away from Huawei Technologies Co. Shares of China’s biggest telecoms equipment and smartphone maker aren’t publicly listed, making its equity largely unavailable to outsiders. Its bonds, however, do trade and have continued their upward trajectory over the past year, impervious to Donald Trump’s best efforts to make Huawei the biggest scalp in his trade war with China. Four different series of U.S. dollar bonds, with maturities in 2022 through 2027, have climbed as much as 5.6% since a low in December. That’s a lot for fixed-income markets. Even a massive drop in May — when the Trump administration moved to ban U.S. companies from selling vital components to Huawei — was shrugged off by debt investors within a month. Each of those securities is now within striking distance of record highs.The concern at that time, and which persists even today, is that shutting off access to American products such as semiconductors and software would hobble the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker. U.S. companies including Qualcomm Inc., Broadcom Inc. and Intel Corp. supply parts used in electronics products that are difficult to substitute, especially given that China lags behind in chip technology. Even a ban on Alphabet Inc.’s Google from supplying bits of its Android operating system to Huawei was considered a major blow, since Android is used on more than two-thirds of smartphones. The prohibition follows the December arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Canada at the request of the U.S. over allegations that include lying about the company’s dealings with Iran.Debt investors brushed off these worries, perhaps believing that Huawei’s status as a national hero coupled with its deep technological abilities ensure that the company would be able to pay its debts. Huawei was sitting on $39 billion of cash and short-term investments at the end of last year, with just $10.2 billion in total borrowings, according to its latest annual report.That makes Huawei’s $4.5 billion in outstanding bonds a trifle. And in the context of a slowing Chinese economy and concerns about the pileup of debt throughout the nation’s financial system, Huawei looks like one of the safest bets around.Such bullishness was rewarded this week when Huawei announced nine-month sales figures. Rather than get strangled by all those forces working against it, the Shenzhen-based company posted a 25% increase in third-quarter revenue to 209.5 billion yuan ($30 billion), according to my calculations. That’s 5% less than the prior quarter, but not the apocalyptic scenario many had expected. Importantly, it managed to maintain the 8.7% net profit margin it posted in the first half, which is actually higher than the same figure for full-year 2018. All of this goes to show that no matter what the U.S. and the economy throw at it, Huawei will be fine. Or at least its debt holders will.To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Apple Says 55% of iPhones From Past Four Years Run iOS 13

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. on Wednesday said that 55% of iPhones introduced in the past four years are running iOS 13, the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system.The company shared the data on its website for third-party developers. It also reported that 50% of all iPhones are on iOS 13, while 33% of iPads are on iOS 13. Some older iPhones and iPads are no longer supported by the latest software.The four-year metric is important because that’s typically when people upgrade to new iPhones. Once people stop receiving new software updates, they’re more likely to buy a new handset from Apple.Apple likes to tout upgrade numbers in comparison to Google, which sees much slower adoption when it updates its Android operating system. iOS 13 added features like Dark Mode and a new Find My app to the iPhone, while the iPad gained a better web browser, file management app, and an updated Home screen.Despite users quickly upgrading to the new software, some consumers have been complaining about bugs. Apple has already released four updates to iOS 13 since the initial release on Sept. 19. Another update, iOS 13.2, is already in beta testing with developers. iOS 13.2 adds the ability to opt out of Siri recordings and switch between video recording resolutions on the iPhone 11 within the camera app.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@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.

  • Google Pay Overcomes a Major Obstacle in Brazil
    Market Realist

    Google Pay Overcomes a Major Obstacle in Brazil

    Google has unlocked more potential for Google Pay in Brazil. The company has introduced a debit card payment function on Google Pay in the country.

  • Counterfeits Put Google in Trouble as InvenTel Lawsuit Cleared
    Market Realist

    Counterfeits Put Google in Trouble as InvenTel Lawsuit Cleared

    A federal judge in New Jersey has cleared InvenTel Products to proceed with its lawsuit against Google (GOOGL), Reuters reports.

  • Google thinks ambient computing is the future, but what does that mean?
    Engadget

    Google thinks ambient computing is the future, but what does that mean?

    Its new hardware serves a larger purpose.