|Bid||1,226.00 x 800|
|Ask||0.00 x 800|
|Day's Range||1,223.70 - 1,235.00|
|52 Week Range||970.11 - 1,289.27|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.94|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||24.81|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||1,427.52|
On Wednesday, U.S. Senators are questioning officials from those three companies at a hearing on extremism online — the latest in a string of inquiries on Capitol Hill that focuses on Big Tech.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa has mastered Hindi in just a few years.The voice assistant introduced to India in 2017 gets a major local makeover for one of the largest retail markets. From Wednesday, Amazon launches a version that now speaks Hindi and Hinglish -- a unique blend with English. It can also switch automatically between all three. The new, improved Alexa and Echo speakers hit the market in time for the Diwali shopping season.The voice assistant lets customers to ask for music, get Bollywood news, cricket updates and more in Hindi and Hinglish on its Echo and other voice-controlled smart speakers. It will respond in an unmistakably Indian accent to Hinglish questions such as “Alexa, Bollywood ke hottest gane sunao” and “Volume badhao” (to ask for the latest Bollywood hits and increase the volume, respectively). “Alexa, latest cricket score batao” yields the latest scores.Technology giants from Apple Inc. to Google are targeting this nation of 1.3 billion people by training virtual assistants in the heterogeneity of its languages and subcultures. Alphabet Inc. too has introduced a Hinglish-speaking Google Assistant, while Apple has hired native speakers to evolve and enrich Siri. In Amazon’s case, Alexa may prove key in a battle against Walmart Inc. in one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce arenas, a battle the Seattle online retailer has staked at least $5.5 billion on.Until now, Amazon’s virtual assistant had a limited vocabulary of names, places and popular songs in Hindi and a few others of the country’s roughly one dozen official languages.Read more: Amazon Teaches Alexa to Speak Hinglish. Apple’s Siri Is NextUnderstanding Hindi and Hinglish is critical for companies targeting first-time internet users in the countryside, who are coming online rapidly thanks to cheap devices and cut-rate wireless data. The Hindi internet user base will outgrow India’s English internet users by 2021, according to consultancy KPMG. But even Hindi has dozens of dialects and regional variations.“Hindi changes every 100 kilometers or so,” Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s head scientist of Alexa AI, said in an interview. Alexa can handle varied regional accents and dialects. “Alexa has an Indian personality.”Prasad, 43, grew up in Ranchi in India’s Hindi-speaking heartland, hailing from a family of engineers. Computers were still new then and as a teenager, he abandoned cricket games to run home and catch Star Trek episodes on the government-run TV channel. “It was in the realm of science-fiction then but I was endlessly fascinated by computers and humans communicating with each other.”He studied engineering in the same city before heading to the Illinois Institute of Technology, later working in speech recognition at Raytheon before joining Amazon in 2013. “Having grown up in diverse India, it was indelibly etched in my brain that Alexa has to work for everyone, and not just English speakers,” said Prasad, clad in a casual shirt and jeans and seated in a hotel conference room in New Delhi. “It’s a daunting task.”For instance, the virtual assistant was trained to differentiate between the oft-used Hindi word “achcha” or “okay,” which can sound close to its wake word. In many households, a single conversation can have Hindi and English words liberally interspersed. Alexa will be able to respond in either language without the user having to change settings. The AI will keep learning and improving with time, he said. Alexa in Hindi will also be available on Bose smart speakers, and soon in brands like Motorola and Sony.“It took me 20 years to get here,” Prasad said. “There’s a big deep learning wave right now and if I think of something new in conversational AI, I know I have a fighting chance of getting it right.”To contact the reporter on this story: Saritha Rai in Bangalore at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co. is offering up its most valuable 5G secrets and $1.5 billion to software developers, courting the global tech community at a time the U.S. is heightening scrutiny of the Chinese giant.China’s largest technology company aims to ramp up investment in its developer program over the next five years, Deputy Chairman Ken Hu told attendees at an annual conference. That effort is gaining urgency with Huawei in danger of losing access to American circuity and code, including the Google software it needs to run the world’s No. 2 mobile device business.Huawei is accelerating its outreach after the Trump administration imposed sanctions on the sale of U.S. technology, encouraging allies to cut ties with a Chinese company it accuses of aiding Beijing in espionage. In response, Huawei offered to sell a license to its vaunted fifth-generation wireless technology -- needed to drive future modern economies -- to create a viable competitor and prove its gear is free of security loopholes.“There are a lot of concerns over Huawei’s 5G solutions. We believe those concerns are groundless,” Hu told reporters in Shanghai. “By allowing others to acquire these technologies via commercial methods, it will help reduce the concerns.”China’s perceived lead in 5G is at the heart of President Donald Trump’s campaign to contain the country’s rise. Already, Huawei has inked more than 60 commercial contracts to build the wireless standard globally, Hu said. China itself is ready to finish the first phase of its 5G rollout by the middle of next year, he added.How Huawei Became a Target for Governments: QuickTakeHuawei executives turned out in force in the country’s financial capital Wednesday, roping in foreign executives -- such as the director-general of interstellar research project Square Kilometre Array -- to showcase the tech giant’s road map for dominating future technologies.It’s developing alternatives to U.S. technology to help safeguard the world’s largest networking business. Part of that involves ensuring a thriving community of partners. Huawei established a developer program to encourage external parties to create apps for Huawei services, including its just-unveiled in-house smartphone platform, HarmonyOS.The company intends to build its base of partner-developers to 5 million eventually, Hu said. That army of firms and individuals could help craft apps optimized to run on Huawei’s Kunpeng and AI chip computing architecture, which will power everything from internet servers to machine learning solutions.“This work has already started and we’ve received very good feedback,” he told an audience of technology executives in Shanghai. “We have implemented this strategy and we’re looking forward to more partners joining us.”Read more: Huawei Tries to Romance a Washington That Spurns Its OverturesHuawei’s rapid advances have, however, raised hackles in Washington, for which the Chinese company symbolizes a geopolitical rival’s growing technological might. Executives sought to tamp down those fears.Hu, one of three main people who run Huawei’s day-to-day operations, reiterated an offer first voiced by billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei to share 5G blueprints. While he was vague on how that would work, Hu said Huawei would be willing to open up its tech vaults for a fee, to help another company catch up on a technology that will drive applications from smart homes to self-driving cars.“Customers and the entire industry will benefit from more competition, which is something that Huawei is willing to see,” Hu said.\--With assistance from Vlad Savov.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Gao Yuan in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Amazon (AMZN) has underperformed the market in 2019 and has gained just over 18% year-to-date. Comparatively, the S&P; 500 Index is up 20% this year.
(Bloomberg) -- Kizuna Ai, the most popular streamer in Japan, is an anatomically exaggerated, perpetually adolescent girl in frilly thigh-high socks and a pink hair ribbon. She’s also an entirely virtual character, given life by the actions and voice of an invisible actress.In the home of anime and “Ghost in the Shell” futurism, millions now follow Kizuna Ai online, and that success has spawned thousands of copycat acts and a cottage industry catering to so-called virtual YouTubers, or VTubers. Defying the Western streamer blueprint of young male gamers like PewDiePie and Ninja, Japan has invented a new class of streaming star that’s equal parts digital avatar and interactive anime.“What separates VTubers from regular anime characters is that you can believe they actually exist,” said Takeshi Osaka, founder of Activ8 Inc., the Tokyo-based company behind Kizuna Ai. “That presence is an important part of what makes them so appealing.”Sidestepping the labor-intensive and time-consuming process of traditional animation -- ill-suited to the fast-paced world of YouTube content -- Activ8 uses Hollywood-grade motion capture equipment to crank out music videos, skits and game streams just about every day for more than 4 million subscribers.The technology allows Kizuna to interact with fans in real time at exhibitions, give interviews on live TV and perform in concerts. It’s a virtual influencer that can patronize real-world events.While Activ8 doesn’t disclose technical details, its product is an almost seamless combination of lifelike movements, gestures and facial expressions, all of which contribute to the suspension of disbelief.“The innovation here is in how they combine real-time 3D computer graphics, motion capture and video streaming sites like YouTube to create two-way interactions with audiences,” said Eiji Araki, a senior vice president at Gree Inc. who heads a division specializing in VTubers.Kizuna Ai debuted on YouTube in December 2016 and was responsible for coining the term “VTuber.” The technology that opened the door for its many imitators arrived that same year, in the form of the first commercial virtual reality goggles. Designed to do precise head and hand tracking, the VR kits from Facebook Inc.’s Oculus and HTC Corp.’s Vive turned out to be perfect animation rigs for VTuber aspirants on a budget. With free-to-use animation engines and 3-D models from the likes of Unity Technologies, anyone could create a virtual puppet studio for cheap in their living room.Virtual Beings Get Real With First Emmy From HollywoodIt’s no accident that VTubers found fertile ground in Japan. The country has a long history of user-generated content centered on anime, and performances by virtual idols like Hatsune Miku have drawn real-world crowds for more than a decade. While international audiences may prefer more photorealistic characters -- which are more difficult to create and animate -- their Japanese counterparts raised on comic book heroes have no problem with cartoonish looks.The VTuber phenomenon has so far been almost exclusively Japanese, however its underlying technology and formula of combining popular culture with increased interactivity -- and thus believability -- are universal. And Activ8 already has ambitions to expand its VTuber portfolio beyond Japan.While Japan’s global tech leadership may have faded since the days of the Walkman, its trendsetting habits remain strong in the gaming realm. Three out of four gaming consoles sold in the world today are made by Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp., while free-to-play mobile games are taking over the globe with monetization techniques pioneered by Japanese companies. And then there are globally beloved game series like Super Mario, Zelda, Monster Hunter and Pokémon. Anime, another major Japanese cultural export, is a $20 billion industry whose products range from Oscar-winning high-brow works by Hayao Miyazaki to action-packed light entertainment like “Battle Angel Alita,” which recently got a Hollywood remake. VTubers are a cross between these two Japanese pastimes.Market researcher User Local Inc. estimates there are now over 9,000 VTuber channels. The most popular ones are produced by a handful of professional studios like Activ8, each managing dozens of characters. In the space of less than three years, virtual streamers have morphed from an obscure subculture to a big business. Kizuna Ai can now be found in ads for instant cup noodles and eye drops, appearing at local carrier SoftBank Corp.’s launch event and helping the Japan National Tourism Organization’s promo campaigns.“There is no doubt that this will change the future of entertainment,” said Hironao Kunimitsu, the founder of Gumi Inc., an early investor in Activ8 and about 70 other VR startups. He cautions, however, that “for this type of content to resonate outside of Japan, it will have to be adapted to local tastes and sensibilities.”For now, Japanese VTubers are taking the path of least resistance and exporting their characters to China’s large and underserved anime market. Activ8 earlier this year introduced a Chinese version of Kizuna Ai, changing its dress and voice, and now it has close to 820,000 followers on the country’s Bilibili video-sharing service.Ultimate success for Activ8’s chief means making it into Hollywood, which is already a well-trodden path for Japanese gaming franchises like Resident Evil, Pokémon and Sonic the Hedgehog. Given the world’s appetite for Japanese culture, VTubers might not even have to dilute their product very much.“I started this virtual entertainer business because I believe it can be done worldwide,” Osaka said. “Our goal is to become the next-generation Disney.”To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org;Yuki Furukawa in Tokyo at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vlad Savov, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc., ahead of a congressional hearing on violent content, revealed the charter for an independent oversight board that will make irreversible decisions about what posts stay up and come down, even if the company disagrees.The board, which Facebook started talking about in January and which will begin to hear cases early next year, represents the first real check on Facebook’s power to decide who gets a voice on its site. Its members -- at least 11 people at any given time and fully staffed at 40 -- will be the final word on controversial cases that affect Facebook’s 2.7 billion users. The board’s charter outlines a vision that is easier said than done.The members will “exhibit a broad range of knowledge, competencies, diversity and expertise” with no “actual or perceived” conflicts of interest that would affect their decisions on user content, according to the charter revealed Tuesday. They will “collaborate in decision-making to foster an environment of collegiality, and issue principled decisions and policy recommendations using clearly articulated reasoning.” The committee deciding on cases will include one member from the region of the post in dispute.Facebook spent months deliberating with outside experts to ensure the board acts independently, even though members are paid indirectly by the tech giant. Funding is channeled through a trust and the trustees can’t fire board members if they make bad content decisions, only if their conduct is poor. At stake is the trust of Facebook’s users, who sometimes don’t understand why posts are removed, or why questionable content they report remains online.The company is also dealing with increasingly damaging types of content -- like posts to recruit terrorists or influence elections. On Wednesday, executives from Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Google will testify before a Senate committee on violent content and extremism, after a string of mass shootings, some of which were broadcast live on social media.Kate Klonick, an assistant professor at St. John’s University Law School, has been embedded at Facebook to observe the oversight board’s creation, including sitting in on meetings with staff. She described a notable update: The board can provide feedback on Facebook policies, and the company will review that and write a public statement explaining why it did or did not change a policy as a result.“That’s actually kind of a huge deal,” Klonick said. “That’s probably the most accountable we’ve ever seen Facebook.”There are still elements that are unclear, according to Klonick. The charter references “bylaws” -- the “operational procedures of the board” -- and a Code of Conduct outlining the “norms, procedures, and proper practices” expected of board members. Neither exists right now, but both will be important to start the board off in the right direction with the right set of principles, she said.To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Frier in San Francisco at email@example.com;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Alistair Barr, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple-backed DiDi Chuxing has received a license to operate a fleet of self-driving cars on a pilot basis in part of the Jiading district in Shanghai.
The top U.S. antitrust regulators admitted at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that they had wasted time arguing over who would investigate which tech company, as they take on major probes of firms like Alphabet's Google for allegedly using their market power unfairly. The hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel was a tough one for Delrahim and Joe Simons, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, who were criticized by lawmakers for overlapping on the probes, and for other matters.
A BBC investigation recently discovered dozens of YouTube videos promoting fake cancer cures. Could Google's YouTube lose advertisers?
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.The new age in the labor market is shaping up as a missed opportunity in the poorer parts of Europe to stem the outflow of skilled labor.Hundreds of thousands of Serbians, Ukrainians and Romanians make a living through global freelance platforms, working for international clients that pay better than local companies. It could be a perfect way to keep the best minds from leaving their homelands for better opportunities abroad. Instead, outdated regulations force them to live on the edge of legality, and may foil efforts to slow the brain drain.Eastern Europe for centuries has been defined by a desire to catch up with the West. In the past three decades, post-communist countries have transformed their economies and became part of global supply chains. Now the rise of the gig economy offers a chance to take another leap. But the generation that’s grown up since the end of the Cold War is being dragged down by some of Europe’s most corrupt political systems.“This is the moment, just like in Star Wars, when ships make the jump” through hyperspace “from one system to another,” said Branka Andjelkovic, a co-author of Digging Into the Gig Economy in Serbia. “If you want your economy to advance and to have those people stay here, then do something.”It’s already too late for some, like Mateja Miladinovic, a 34-year-old graphic designer in Belgrade. After more than two years as a freelancer, he’s moving to Bali with his wife for a change of lifestyle with less stress from Serbian authorities. The constant pressure of an uncertain tax status within the Serbian system and a lack of access to social, health and retirement benefits were enough to convince him to leave his homeland.“I’m in a gray area,” said Miladinovic, who does magazine layout work for clients from Canada to Ethiopia. He expects to continue the same jobs from his new tropical home.Serbia, along with Ukraine and Romania, is in the vanguard of the gig economy in eastern Europe. The jobs are mostly in technology, graphics, Internet design and media and not necessarily in ride sharing or food delivery that are the hallmarks of the industry, partly because of historically low wages compared to the rest of the continent.They are also among the region’s most unstable politically, which has led to inaction on updating rigid communist-era regulations. Another common thread is widespread graft: Romania ranks 61st, Serbia is 87th, and Ukraine is 120th in Transparency International’s annual corruption perception index.Many western economies already had higher levels of protection and more flexible labor codes when the gig platforms started popping up. And they are going further: the U.K., for example, last year proposed legislation to increase protections for freelancers.California this month passed a bill that could force companies to reclassify gig workers as employees, a move that would secure labor protections. The legislation is emblematic of the debates in countries from Germany to the U.S., which are about defining the industry and regulating employer-employee relations, rather than about the legality of gig work.The good news is that Ukraine, Romania and Serbia have an abundance of high-skill workers in technology. Many of them work remotely, which so far has slowed the brain drain, according to Janine Berg, a senior labor market specialist at the International Labour Organization in Geneva.And the prospect of becoming their own masters as part of a global workforce with seemingly endless opportunities remains seductive.“Every young person that doesn’t have a job wants to be a freelancer, they want to travel the world and still be able to work,” said Belgrade-based tax expert Sofija Popara. “It’s a short-term plan, but young people are doing it more and more.”But the warnings are becoming louder. Romania needs a “redefining and reform of work relations,” according to a European Commission-financed study by the Institute for Public Policy. In Ukraine, the ILO last year urged “policy responses that can enhance the benefits of the work transformation.”The International Monetary Fund in a July study warned that countries in eastern Europe need to do more to “retain and better use the existing workforce” to combat what threatens to become a significant drop in population driven in part by outward migration.Brain drain is a common problem for Romania, Ukraine and Serbia. It contributed to 600,000 people from the three countries combined leaving in 2016 for better jobs and life prospects around the world. That’s three times more than the outflow in 2000, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.Serbia hasn’t addressed freelance workers in the labor code and the ministry hasn’t responded to questions from Bloomberg. Ukraine allows them to register and pay taxes at a favorable rate, but no protections. The new government this month promised changes by the end of the year.And while Romania is required to incorporate European Union legislation, the work has been slow amid near-constant political turmoil. The labor ministry in Bucharest said it’s working on implementation, with a deadline of Aug. 1, 2022.Even the highly skilled and technically savvy gig workers are vulnerable in the cutthroat competition for contracts. The lack of other opportunities means they have little leverage against faraway employers.“Freelancing isn’t an easy life and it’s definitely not for everyone,” said Jelena Novakovic, a graphics designer in Belgrade who works for clients typically in the U.S. or Australia.Some gig workers are trying to take control of the process. Tamara Gavric, a Belgrade architect, has also become an activist for promoting safer freelance labor. The lack of state protection is draining the profession even as it becomes more prevalent in the global workforce, she said.“The situation has to be resolved because we do not want to be underground workers,” Gavric said.Online platforms collect as much as 20% on jobs and offer little comfort to workers. A third of Ukrainian freelancers in a recent survey complained about non-payment with no recourse.“If the platform is going to arbitrate, they usually go with the side of the company,” Berg said. “There’s no regulation at all and you have oversupply, so there is a tendency for wage rates to fall.”Serbian gig workers are arguably the worst off. Without legal recognition, they are considered jobless, which can make taking out a mortgage or a credit card impossible. The only option is to register as self-employed entrepreneurs, which often means an immediate 40% tax rate.One option, of course, is trying to find a traditional job with a local company. But for Miladinovic, the magazine designer, that was never going to be the way out.“I still can’t imagine a permanent position with a company,” he said. “For the time being I can see myself only as a freelancer and depending on cash flow, we’ll see.”(Updates with comment in 22nd paragraph)\--With assistance from Irina Vilcu, Daryna Krasnolutska and Peter Laca.To contact the reporters on this story: James M. Gomez in Prague at firstname.lastname@example.org;Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew LangleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Just as the Fed is set to ponder an interest rate cut amid fears of a US slowdown, the People’s Bank of China has kept its one-year interest rate steady.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s administration has sent a letter to Saudi Arabia that sets out requirements the kingdom needs to follow in order to get U.S. nuclear technology and know-how.The baseline for any agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will be tougher inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said at briefing in Vienna on Tuesday. The kingdom must adopt the IAEA’s so-called Additional Protocol, a set of monitoring rules followed by more than 100 countries that give inspectors wide leeway in accessing potential atomic sites.“We have sent them a letter laying out the requirements that the U.S. would have, certainly in line with what the IAEA would expect from the standpoint of additional protocol,” said Perry, who’s attending the IAEA’s annual meeting this week. “An additional protocol is what is going to be required, not only because that’s what the IAEA requires but because that’s what Congress requires. This isn’t just the Trump administration unilaterally deciding.”The remarks put pressure on the Saudi government to embrace broader monitoring of its atomic program or face difficulty fueling its first major reactor. The country is nearing completion of a low-powered research unit being built with Argentina’s state-owned INVAP SE, which needs an inspections agreement in place before it can access the low-enriched uranium it needs to operate.In the rarefied world of nuclear monitoring, the IAEA is responsible for sending hundreds of inspectors around the world to look after and maintain a vast network of cameras, seals and sensors. Their job is to account for gram levels of enriched uranium, ensuring that the key ingredient needed for nuclear power isn’t diverted into building weapons. Without submitting to tighter IAEA monitoring, the kingdom would struggle to fuel its reactor.So far, Saudi Arabian officials have declined to answer questions about when they may conclude a new IAEA safeguards deal.Saudi Arabia “supports and endorses active international cooperation with regard to the transfer of nuclear technology and expertise,” Khaled Bin Saleh Al-Sultan, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, said on Monday in a statement.Saudi Arabia is currently signed up to the IAEA’s so-called Small Quantities Protocol, a set of rules that will become obsolete once it needs atomic fuel for a working reactor. It hasn’t adopted the rules and procedures that would allow nuclear inspectors to access potential sites of interest.The IAEA is currently in talks with Saudi Arabia about signing a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. That set of rules would allow the kingdom to fuel its research reactor but falls short of the Additional Protocol demanded by the U.S. for a full-scale plant, according to two diplomats familiar with the negotiations.“There’s still a period of edification that needs to go on with both citizens of the kingdom and leadership, so that they’re comfortable,” Perry said. Getting a new IAEA agreement done would show “we’re big guys and we know the requirements to play at this level.”Enrichment of uranium into nuclear fuel is at the heart of the U.S. conflict with Iran because of the technology can be easily adapted to military purposes. A tighter inspections system in Saudi Arabia would give the IAEA insight into exactly how that country’s capabilities and intentions are evolving.Perry confirmed reports that Saudi Arabia has indicated it’s interested in producing its own nuclear fuel.“I consider this to be a form of negotiation,” said Perry, who spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman before joining this week’s IAEA talks. “We have a really good professional and personal relationship.”To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew ReiersonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- In 2014, the big U.S. tech companies did something surprising: They told the world how few women they employed. Men comprised 70% of Google’s workforce; Facebook, Apple, and Twitter looked similar. The mix was even more lopsided in more senior leadership and technical roles.Most of the business world has come to believe that workforce diversity is good for the bottom line, and tech companies hoped their new transparency would lead to more equality. It didn’t. But new research suggests that investors were paying attention.In a study published today by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, researchers there and at Northwestern found that share prices jumped when companies reported better-than-expected gender diversity; they fell when firms announced demographics that underwhelmed. The same pattern held when the academics turned their attention to finance companies. A lab experiment demonstrated the same trends, and participants reported a handful of beliefs that explained why they were more likely to invest in companies with more gender diversity.Google was the first to release its figures, and after accounting for other factors, the researchers calculated that the company’s stock fell 0.39 percentage points on the news. They projected that if Google had reported that women made up 31% of its workforce, instead of 30%, it could’ve added $375 million in market value. “This is a huge response,” said Margaret A. Neale, one of the researchers and a distinguished professor at Stanford.They also used Google as a benchmark to see how the market reacted when firms reported more or less diversity compared with an industry leader. The stock price was “affected strongly” by how companies looked compared to Google, they found. A tech firm whose workforce was 1 percentage point more diverse than Google’s saw shares gain, on average, 1.91% in the short term.After the first year companies released diversity reports, the stocks didn’t react much at all, which Neale attributed to the fact that the demographics hadn’t changed much. “Their bad news has already been priced into the stock,” Neale said.Next, the researchers turned their attention to the banks and financial firms. The researchers used data 50 financial institutions shared with the Financial Times in 2017. The big banks looked more equal than the tech companies: Women made up 54.4% of employees at JPMorgan Chase, according to the report; Bank of America was split about equally. Companies without a retail presence, like Morgan Stanley, are more lopsided.The researchers found companies with greater gender diversity saw shares rise relative to companies that reported having fewer women, the same trend they saw in the tech industry.The initial findings didn’t explain why investors reacted positively to companies with more gender balance, so the researchers devised a third lab study to try to parse the reasons. In it, they simulated the diversity report experiment, giving a dollar to participants to invest in companies based on their diversity announcements. As they’d observed in finance and tech, participants were more willing to invest in companies with more gender equality.When they measured participants’ existing ideas about diversity, they found investors’ interest in companies with more gender equality was based in beliefs that those companies are more likely to innovate, less likely to attract negative regulatory attention and less likely to settle lawsuits, among other beliefs.Considering the market benefits, the researchers conclude that organizations are systematically under-investing in gender diversity. Despite public commitments, these figures haven’t budged since companies started publicly reporting. This year, Google said women made up 31.6% of its company, up just 1.6% from five years ago.“People are not confused. They know the population of women is greater than 30%,” Neale said. “If Google moved up to 40%, there would be champagne toasts.”To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Greenfield in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Janet Paskin at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
A new social network has entered the already crowded field in Vietnam as the communist party squeezes U.S. tech giants Facebook and Google with a new cybersecurity law. Lotus, a social network that allows users to create content and share posts to a home page, had received 700 billion dong (£24.28 million) in funding from tech corporation VCCorp and hoped to raise another 500 billion dong, company General Director Nguyen The Tan said at the launch ceremony. "Lotus was born not to compete with Facebook or any other social networks," Tan said late on Monday.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Bill Gates, who knows a thing or two about antitrust investigations, doesn’t think it’s a good idea to break up the biggest U.S. tech companies as some politicians have suggested.The Microsoft Corp. co-founder and former chief executive officer battled the Justice Department for years in the late 1990s in a bruising antitrust case. At issue was the software giant’s bundling of its Internet Explorer browser to Windows as a way to maintain its dominance in PC operating systems. Ultimately Microsoft remained intact.Two decades later, Microsoft is one of the few big U.S. technology companies not under regulatory scrutiny in Washington. The Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general and a congressional committee are all scrutinizing so-called Big Tech -- companies from Alphabet Inc.‘s Google to Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. -- that Washington has concluded have gotten too big and too powerful. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a presidential candidate, has made a forceful and detailed plan about how she would go about breaking them up.Gates disagrees. “You have to really think; is that the best thing?” Gates said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “If there’s a way the company’s behaving that you want to get rid of, then, you should just say, ‘Okay, that’s a banned behavior.’ But splitting the company in two, and having two people doing the bad thing-- that doesn’t seem like a solution.”Microsoft narrowly avoided a breakup when a federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling ordering the software company to be split. The company has bounced back to top Apple Inc. and Amazon as the stock market’s most valuable company, buoyed by optimism about its cloud business, and on some investors’ belief that Microsoft is a safe haven as U.S. and European regulators sharpen their scrutiny of others in the sector.Lawmakers including David Cicilline, who is leading the House antitrust subcommittee’s inquiry into large internet companies, has asked them for detailed information about acquisitions, business practices, executive communications, previous probes and lawsuits. The panel has also asked for information from customers of those big companies, asking about mobile apps, social media, messaging, cloud computing and more. Virtually every aspect of the companies’ business is under the microscope.“It’s a pretty narrow set of things that I think breakup is the right answer to,” Gates said. “These companies are very big, very important companies. So the fact the governments are thinking about these things, that’s not a surprise.”Gates said Microsoft’s own antitrust scrutiny has made the company “more thoughtful about this kind of activity.” In his view, companies like Google and Amazon the rest are “behaving totally legally. They’re doing a lot of innovative things.”To contact the reporters on this story: Molly Schuetz in New York at email@example.com;Erik Schatzker in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Sara FordenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- India’s fragile financial system is swinging between despair and hope. Two separate incidents — both featuring the lender Yes Bank Ltd. — recently underscored the drag of past underwriting follies as well as the lift from a digital reset. It will take time, but good things will come to Indian banking as a result of the present crisis. Start with the sudden default by financier Altico Capital India Ltd. on a 199.7-million-rupee ($2.8-million) interest payment to Dubai-based Mashreqbank PSC. Clearwater Capital Partners-backed Altico, which borrows money from banks and mutual funds to make loans to property developers, called the situation a “liquidity crisis.” And that made Yes Bank investors gloomy. Based on January data, the midsize Indian bank had a 4.5-billion-rupee exposure to Altico, the third-highest after Mashreq and HDFC Bank Ltd. While HDFC Bank, the country’s most valuable lender, has the capital — and current profit — to take the occasional credit hit, Yes’s capital cushion is already frayed by dodgy loans to beleaguered shadow banks and troubled tycoons. Both these borrower groups have found it hard to refinance debt since the collapse last year of IL&FS Group, a large Indian infrastructure financier and operator. Altico’s unraveling shows that an end to credit woes is not yet in sight. At more than $200 billion, India’s world-beating pile of bad loans is bigger than Italy’s. State-run Indian banks are carrying the bulk of the burden, but at least they’re getting dollops of taxpayers’ money and being merged into fewer banking groups. A private-sector lender like Yes doesn’t have a formal public backstop. If it can’t fend for itself, the central bank could step in and force an arranged match with a better-run bank. The terms won’t be favorable to Yes shareholders. To avoid such a fate, Yes needs to raise growth capital by convincing new investors that the worst is over. And that brings us to the week’s other big incident. Yes shares jumped 13.5% after reports that One97 Communications Ltd., which owns the Indian digital payments network Paytm, may buy out a 9.6% stake in Yes from Rana Kapoor, the lender’s co-founder. Kapoor was forced to step down as CEO early this year by the Reserve Bank of India amid a controversy over bad-debt accounting. New CEO Ravneet Gill, brought in to clean up the mess, told Reuters last week that Yes was looking to sell a minority stake to “one of the world’s top three technology companies that had not previously invested in a bank.”Investors pushed the stock higher despite their many misgivings. Only two years ago, Yes had a high price-to-book multiple and an even bigger price-to-truth ratio, a term I’d coined to describe shareholders’ refusal to question the subterfuge at India’s private-sector banks. Although the banking regulator had found bad loans to be four times what Yes had disclosed in audited results, very few analysts believed something could go seriously wrong given Kapoor’s substantial stake — his skin in the game. That was then. Now, Yes is a battered lender gasping for capital. Despite the many regulatory hurdles on the way to a possible alignment with Paytm, which the latter hasn’t confirmed, a deal could help the bank break free of its checkered past — and reemerge as a digital lender. If Paytm can monetize the data of its 350 million mobile wallet users by giving them point-of-sale loans using the balance sheet of a bank — whether Yes or someone else — the payment firm will get a second wind. Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma had an early advantage as India’s mobile payments pioneer, but Walmart Inc.-owned PhonePe as well as Alphabet Inc.’s Google Pay are giving him stiff competition. Paytm’s losses are ballooning and it’s becoming evident that without old-fashioned lending, there may be no other path to profitability for a pure payments business. Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest tycoon, plans to use his rapidly growing Jio telecom network to offer customers discounts and vouchers that would be honored even by neighborhood stores. But for extending point-of-sale credit, Ambani would also need to borrow the balance sheet of a bank. For Yes, point-of-sale financing could be a growth avenue at a time when the turmoil in India’s formal and shadow banking sectors refuses to end. It’s put the brakes on what authorities were until recently claiming to be the world’s fastest-growing major economy. But alongside the despair, hope is building for a new model led by supply-chain credit, asset securitization, digital lending, and joint underwriting by finance companies (which know their borrowers) and banks (which have stable deposits). The tug of war between the past and the future of banking in India is getting interesting. What happens to Yes could be a gauge of which way the balance of power is shifting.(Corrects location of Mashreqbank PSC in 2nd paragraph to say Dubai. )To contact the author of this story: Andy Mukherjee at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
In a research note released yesterday, Apple (AAPL) analyst Ming Chi Kuo noted that more people from the US could choose the iPhone Pro than the iPhone 11.
(Bloomberg) -- Oracle Corp. unveiled an operating system that runs without the need for human oversight, part of a raft of new software tools meant to ease the company’s rocky transition to cloud computing.The operating system expands Oracle’s line of autonomous products beyond databases, the company’s flagship software. Chairman Larry Ellison announced the new Linux-based product Monday during remarks at OpenWorld, Oracle’s annual user conference in San Francisco.“If you eliminate human error in autonomous systems, you eliminate data theft,” Ellison said on stage. The feature makes Oracle’s products more secure than those sold by cloud leader Amazon Web Services, he said.Ellison said the operating system, which the company’s Autonomous Database runs on, will update itself without any downtime.The world’s second-largest software maker has sought to revive sales growth after years of almost stagnant revenue. Oracle hopes that a lineup of “self-driving” programs could help differentiate the company’s offerings against products from Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Those companies are the top two in the market to rent storage and computing power, which is projected to reach almost $39 billion in 2019. The tools may also entice longtime Oracle customers to upgrade their technology to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.Oracle disclosed last week that Mark Hurd, one of the company’s two chief executive officers, would take a leave of absence to treat an unspecified illness. Ellison and Oracle’s other CEO, Safra Catz, said they would fill in for Hurd, who has overseen the company’s sales and marketing efforts.The Redwood City, California-based company also announced a variety of changes and new programs to bolster its partner ecosystem:Oracle unveiled an agreement with VMware Inc. to bring virtualization software to Oracle’s cloud, similar to deals VMware has signed with Microsoft and Google.Customers will be able to buy software made by other companies in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, which may help company partners including Cisco Systems Inc. and Palo Alto Networks Inc.Oracle also said it expanded a relationship with cybersecurity company McAfee Inc. to bring its security incident software to Oracle’s infrastructure cloud.Ellison said Oracle would offer a free version of its Cloud Infrastructure, giving developers, students and others perpetual access to the company’s autonomous database, computing and storage.The company plans to launch 20 additional cloud data-center hubs, called “regions,” by the end of 2020. Ellison said the company would have more regions around the world than AWS.Oracle will let customers run the autonomous database in their own data centers next year, and unveiled new servers with updated memory components from Intel Corp.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Where would we be if not for engineers? The truth is, many of us wouldn't be here at all, according to this week's guest on Masters in Business.“Engineers have saved far more lives than all of the doctors in the world” through their inventions, said John Browne, the chairman of L1 Energy and chief executive officer of BP Plc from 1995 to 2007. Engineering and science are the “golden thread” that runs throughout almost all of humanity’s progress, from health care, economics and defense, to transportation, shelter and more, he said.In our conversation, Browne, a member of the House of Lords, explains how many of humanity’s most pressing problems already have engineering solutions; the impediment is typically a political impasse. This is as true for global warming and energy production as it is for wealth inequality, longevity and public health. Browne, author of numerous books including the recent "Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilisation," discussed why coming out of the closet is good business. He argues that being inclusive and building teams where people feel wanted and valuable should be every company’s goal. Brown points out that there are only a handful of openly gay CEOs at Standard & Poor's 500 companies, when statistically, there should be 25 to 50. The lack of role models is a detriment to gay employees advancing. After he came out, one of his competitors said “John, we all knew you were gay, only none of us were ever brave enough to discuss it with you.”His favorite books are here; a transcript of our conversation is here.You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Bloomberg and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.Next week we speak with Sarah Ketterer, chief executive officer and co-founder of Causeway Capital Management LLC, which has $52 billion under management. Ketterer was Morningstar's International Manager of the Year in 2017.To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
According to an EU court ruling, Google (GOOGL) will not have to pay a $1.1 billion copyright fee that a German publishing group demanded.