GOOG - Alphabet Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD
1,345.02
+0.36 (+0.03%)
At close: 4:00PM EST
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Previous Close1,344.66
Open1,350.84
Bid0.00 x 1100
Ask0.00 x 1100
Day's Range1,342.67 - 1,350.00
52 Week Range970.11 - 1,359.45
Volume850,796
Avg. Volume1,281,065
Market Cap927B
Beta (3Y Monthly)1.02
PE Ratio (TTM)28.86
EPS (TTM)46.60
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est1,501.98
  • 'Disney Plus’ was Google’s top US trending search term in 2019
    TechCrunch

    'Disney Plus’ was Google’s top US trending search term in 2019

    Google today released its annual "Year in Search" data that takes a look back at some of the most notable searches of 2019. Specifically, Google looked at the biggest trends -- meaning, search terms that saw the largest spikes in traffic over a sustained period in 2019 compared to 2018. In the U.S., Disney's new streaming service "Disney Plus" was the biggest search trend of 2019, followed by Cameron Boyce, Nipsey Hussle, Hurricane Dorian, Antonio Brown, Luke Perry, Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones, iPhone 11 and Jussie Smollet.

  • PayPal's exiting COO Bill Ready to join Google as its new president of Commerce
    TechCrunch

    PayPal's exiting COO Bill Ready to join Google as its new president of Commerce

    In June, PayPal announced its Chief Operating Officer Bill Ready would be departing the company at the end of this year. Now we know where he's ending up: Google. Ready will join Google in January as the company's new commerce chief, reporting directly to Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP, Ads, Commerce and Payments.

  • Behind the Big Tech antitrust backlash: A turning point for America
    Yahoo Finance

    Behind the Big Tech antitrust backlash: A turning point for America

    There's a dramatic sea-change within the specialized biosphere of antitrust experts.

  • Google, Facebook Market Power Gets More Scrutiny in Australia
    Bloomberg

    Google, Facebook Market Power Gets More Scrutiny in Australia

    (Bloomberg) -- Google and Facebook Inc. will come under greater scrutiny from Australia’s competition regulator as the government seeks to rein in the market dominance of the digital giants.Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a special unit will be set up within the competition watchdog to monitor digital platforms, with an immediate focus on online advertising. The government will also review privacy laws to better protect consumers. Morrison pledged to tackle the “power imbalance” between tech companies and traditional media and will force them to negotiate over revenue sharing and the use of news content.The announcement Thursday was Morrison’s response to a sweeping report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission this year that raised concerns about the use and storage of personal data and the erosion of the mainstream media. The government supported, in varying degrees, most of the watchdog’s 23 recommendations but said more time was needed to consider such complex issues.“I want us to be the model jurisdiction in the world for how we are dealing with digital platforms,” Morrison told reporters. “We have regulation and restrictions that were written for an analog economy. If it’s wrong in the real world, it’s wrong in the digital world.”Tech platforms will have to work with news companies to develop a voluntary code to govern their relationship by November 2020, or else the government will consider a mandatory code.Some RejectionsMorrison rejected the ACCC’s call for new rules to force content to be taken off digital platforms in the event of copyright infringement. He also rejected changing tax rules to encourage philanthropic support for journalism.Australia’s government is “kicking the issues down the road a little bit,” said Rob Nicholls, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales Business School in Sydney. While the need for further consultation is understandable, delays in acting “essentially mean that competition and consumers are left in the status quo that the ACCC has already identified as being unacceptable.”Google, Facebook Face Australia Crackdown on Market PowerRegulators worldwide have been trying to loosen the tech giants’ grip on everything from advertising and search engines, to news, data and elections.Broader HurdlesFacebook, the world’s largest social media company, is grappling with a mushrooming list of challenges, including antitrust investigations, criticism of its handling of personal information, and dissatisfaction with its treatment of political content.In July, Facebook agreed to pay $5 billion to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission -- the largest privacy fine in the agency’s history -- to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Google was also fined by the FTC to settle claims it violated children’s privacy on its YouTube platform.Google said Thursday it would continue to engage with the ACCC and the Australian government on areas “such as privacy, ad tech and our work with publishers.”Facebook said it was an opportune time for the government and industry to work on new regulation “that affords choice and opportunities for millions of Australians that use our services.” The company remains focused on “achieving economy-wide privacy protection.”To contact the reporters on this story: Edward Johnson in Sydney at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net;Sybilla Gross in Sydney at sgross61@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edward Johnson at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net, Angus WhitleyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Australia tells Facebook and Google to commit to competition rules, or else
    Reuters

    Australia tells Facebook and Google to commit to competition rules, or else

    Australia said on Thursday technology giants such as Facebook Inc and Google will have to agree to new rules to ensure they do not abuse their market power and damage competition, or the government will impose new controls on them. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will create a code of conduct to address complaints that the technology companies have a stronghold on advertising, the main income generator of local media operators.

  • Bloomberg

    YouTube FTC Push on Kids’ Privacy Criticized by Consumer Groups

    (Bloomberg) -- A coalition of 19 privacy and children’s advocacy groups called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to maintain privacy protections for all viewers of content aimed at young people, pushing back on an exception sought by YouTube.The latest clash between the advocacy groups and the internet video giant comes as the agency considers changing its rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which bans data collection on those under age 13 without parental consent. Initial comments on the rewrite are due Wednesday.In September, YouTube agreed to pay $170 million to settle claims by the FTC and New York State that it violated COPPA, and it announced it would change how viewers can interact with videos directed at kids.In a Monday blog post on the proposed rewrite, the Google unit argued that adults watch content aimed at kids and those over 13 don’t need the protections when engaging in nostalgia viewing, research or seeking parenting advice. Currently companies must extend the protections to anyone watching content aimed at children.Kids and privacy groups, including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the American Academy of Pediatrics, said on Wednesday that creating an exception for those over 13 would be “troubling” and result in under-protection.“Children undoubtedly will patronize child-directed content on their parents’ devices, logged in to their parents’ profiles,” the groups wrote.They also reiterated the call to subpoena information from companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google to find out how many adults are actually watching content for kids.The company has maintained that the main YouTube service isn’t for children, and doesn’t allow viewers under the age of 13. In Tuesday follow-up comments to the FTC, Google said methods such as requiring users who are already signed to reenter their passwords or device PINs could demonstrate that an adult is watching, as could providing a fingerprint or prompting facial recognition.The FTC will consider the comments as it reviews the regulations.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Facebook, Google Drop Out of Top 10 ‘Best Places to Work’ List
    Bloomberg

    Facebook, Google Drop Out of Top 10 ‘Best Places to Work’ List

    (Bloomberg) -- Big tech companies like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, long seen as some of the world’s most desirable workplaces offering countless perks and employee benefits, are losing some of their shine.The Silicon Valley companies dropped out of the Top 10 “best places to work” in the U.S., according to Glassdoor’s annual rankings released Tuesday. HubSpot Inc., a cloud-computing software company, grabbed the No. 1 ranking while tech firms DocuSign Inc. and Ultimate Software were three and eight, respectively.Facebook, which has been rated as the “best place to work” three times in the past 10 years, was ranked 23rd. It’s the social-media company’s lowest position since it first made the list in 2011 as the top-rated workplace. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, was ranked seventh last year.Google, voted “best place to work” in 2015 and a Top-10 finisher the previous eight years, came in at No. 11 on Glassdoor’s list. Apple Inc., once a consistent Top-25 finisher, was ranked 84th. Amazon Inc., which has never been known for a positive internal culture, failed to make the list for the 12th straight year.Microsoft Corp. was one of the lone big technology companies to jump in the rankings. The Redmond, Washington-based software company moved to No. 21 from 34 a year ago. A few technology companies made the list for the first time, including SurveyMonkey at No. 33, Dell Technologies Inc. at No. 67 and Slack Technologies Inc. at No. 69.Twenty companies on the list have their headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, more than any other metro area, Glassdoor said.The annual list ranks companies using employee reviews on areas such as compensation, benefits, culture and senior management. Many of the big tech companies, including Facebook and Google, have been criticized this year for a myriad of issues, and in some cases employees have publicly opposed executive decisions.At Google, employees have protested against the company on a number of topics, including the company’s “intimidation” tactics against worker organizers. The results of an internal employee poll at the internet search giant, reported by Bloomberg in February, showed that fewer employees were inspired by Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai’s vision than a year earlier. It also found fewer workers believe senior management could successfully lead the company into the future.At Facebook, which just like Google provides employees with perks including free meals, corporate transportation and laundry services, workers have pushed back internally against leadership on some policy issues, such as the decision not to fact-check political advertisements.(Updates with new tech entrants in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Cisco Enters Chip Market, Supplying Microsoft, Facebook
    Bloomberg

    Cisco Enters Chip Market, Supplying Microsoft, Facebook

    (Bloomberg) -- Cisco Systems Inc. has started supplying switch chips to major data-center operators, including Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc., opening up a new avenue to win orders from some of its largest networking-equipment customers.Cisco Silicon 1 is a switch semiconductor that’s already being used by Microsoft and Facebook in crucial networking equipment, the companies said Wednesday at an event in San Francisco. San Jose, California-based Cisco is now offering the chips, which it says are the fastest in the industry, to all of its customers, regardless of whether they buy its networking machinery. Previously Cisco’s chips were only available as components of its machines.The shift toward standalone chip sales is another departure from the business model that made Cisco one of the biggest companies in the technology industry. Cisco’s expensive proprietary combinations of hardware and software make up the backbone of much of the internet and corporate networks, and these products generate the bulk of the company’s revenue. The new initiative has the potential to attract business from customers who want to build their own machines instead of buying whole packages. It also puts Cisco in direct competition with its suppliers, Intel Corp. and Broadcom Inc., which also make switch chips that the networking equipment maker uses in some of its products.“From today -- and this is something that some of you never thought we’d do -- some of our customers will buy our silicon and build their own products if that’s what they choose to do,” Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins said at the event. “We really want our customers to consume this technology in any way they want.”As the internet infrastructure business moves away from suppliers who provide all the needs through locked-down combinations of hardware and software, Robbins has been pushing Cisco to adapt by becoming a bigger supplier of networking services and software. On his watch, software has risen to provide about 11% of revenue. Hardware still generates more than half of sales.Cisco shares rose less than 1% to $44.24 at 2:02 p.m. in New York. The stock gained 1.8% this year through Tuesday’s close.The move into selling components is an attempt to win orders from the hyperscalers, such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.com Inc.’s AWS, a group that has increasingly turned away from Cisco’s offerings and equipped their data centers with computers and networking gear designed in house. Those big cloud-computing vendors contribute as little as 2% of Cisco’s total sales, according to Raymond James analyst Simon Leopold.Switch chips perform the crucial function of deciding where packets of data should go in a network of computers. They are designed to handle that task at great speed, and only a few companies have been successful in the market. Broadcom is the biggest provider of this type of chip as an individual component and has as much as 80% share, Leopold said. Intel took a bigger interest in the market in June when it bought startup Barefoot Networks.Cisco’s new offering will combine the attributes of both switch and routing chips, the company said. It’ll be able to move data very quickly and still be programmable, carrying the ability to have its function changed. Routing, directing traffic among networks, is typically conducted by groups of chips that bring other attributes but are unable to direct data fast enough for modern internet traffic loads. One chip providing all of the functions will simplify the operation of networks by eliminating the need for different layers of software, Cisco executives said.Offering up what was previously guarded as a proprietary advantage shows a flexibility at Cisco that has been increasing as Robbins works to transform the company. Analysts predict the build-it-yourself approach to networking, pioneered by the large cloud-service operators, over time will be copied by companies looking to reduce the cost of their data-center spending. That corporate market is one of Cisco’s biggest sources of revenue.Cisco’s equipment, including its chips, is designed by the company and manufactured by a third party, which it hasn’t identified.The company also announced a new router machine at the event, designed to better serve as the backbone for new fifth generation, or 5G, cellular networks. The Cisco 8000 will be based on the new chip. The company also unveiled plans for products that will support faster data transmission speeds over fiber-optic cables. Like the rest of the networking industry, Cisco is positioning itself to be a main provider of equipment for the predicted surge in internet traffic and data created by the proliferation of mobile systems.(Updates with comment from Cisco CEO in the fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • ‘Silicon Valley’ Exits With Serious Points About Big Tech
    Bloomberg

    ‘Silicon Valley’ Exits With Serious Points About Big Tech

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The sixth and final season of the HBO comedy show “Silicon Valley” — which concluded, sadly, on Sunday — begins with a speech.Richard Hendricks, the chief executive officer of Pied Piper, the internet company he started five seasons earlier, is testifying before a Senate committee alongside executives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and, of course, Hooli, run by Hendricks’s archnemesis Gavin Belson. The hearing is about data privacy.When it’s Hendricks’s turn to speak, he gets up from his seat on the panel and starts pacing (“I just think better on my feet”), grabbing a bulky microphone box so the senators can hear him. Thomas Middleditch, who plays Hendricks, is a master of physical comedy, and the image of him walking back and forth with a big microphone box under his arm is hilarious. But what he’s saying isn’t remotely comical:These people up here — you want to rein them in. But you can’t. Facebook owns 80% of mobile social traffic. Google owns 92% of search. And Amazon Web Services is bigger than their next four competitors combined. … They track our every move. They monitor every moment in our lives. And they exploit our data for profit. You can ask them all the questions you want, but they’re not going to change. They don’t have to. These companies are kings and they rule over kingdoms far larger than any nation in human history. They won. We lost.For the previous five seasons, “Silicon Valley,” which was created by Mike Judge — the same man who gave us “Beavis and Butt-Head” and “Office Space” — had gleefully skewered the inanities and pretensions of the tech industry. Who can forget Judge’s eccentric venture capitalist Peter Gregory (said to be based on Peter Thiel) inspecting the sesame seeds on the burger buns arrayed on his desk (all bought from Burger King) and realizing that a  shortage of said seeds was on the horizon — and that he could make a killing in the sesame seed market?Or the time the pompous stoner Erlich Bachman, whose house is “incubating” Pied Piper, goes to a private dinner claiming to be a “pescapescatarian” — “one who eats solely fish who eat other fish” — and all the other tech execs decide they want to be pescapescatarians, too.Or, in perhaps the single greatest line in the entire series, the ruthless, platitude-happy Belson, warning of a coming “datageddon,” tells his executives that Hooli’s compression algorithm has to beat Pied Piper’s. After all, he explains, “I don’t want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do.”(1)But as Hendricks’s speech suggests, this season felt a little different. Having mocked everything from companies that viewed revenue as a distraction to billionaires comparing their treatment to Holocaust victims, “Silicon Valley” seemed this season to turn its attention to more pressing matters. The short, seven-episode final season had its share of gags and funny lines, but it also seemed to me that Judge and his fellow showrunner, Alec Berg, wanted to point out not just what was inane and pretentious about tech culture but what was wrong with it.In the second episode for instance, Hendricks finds out that a contractor is using an internet game he created to collect data from Pied Piper’s customers — something the CEO has vowed his company would never do. When he tries to get rid of the contractor by collecting some of the conversations he has taped, the man instead plays them for his board — who are impressed with his gaming software’s ability to mine data.In the next episode, a sleazy billionaire offers Hendricks $1 billion for Pied Piper. Why? Because he wants to use it to sell data he will collect from the company’s customers.  Hendricks turns him down, intent on creating a “new, democratic, decentralized internet” where the bad behavior of Big Tech “will be impossible.” That, he believes, is the only viable workaround to such problems as monopoly behavior and privacy violations. (The billionaire then buys the contractor’s gaming company.)But the high point of the season comes in the fifth episode, when Belson, who has been tossed out of Hooli (Pied Piper bought it), realizes that he can create a new persona by promoting ethics in the tech industry. “Tethics,” he calls it. Pretty soon he has every tech titan in the valley signing on to his “tethics pledge” and contributing money that will allow Belson to build the “Belson Institute of Tethics.”It turns out that every banal line in the tethics pledge was plagiarized from the mission statements of Applebee’s, Starbucks and other companies. Thus do Judge and Berg dispense with the hollow promises of Facebook and others to do better whenever they are called out on some new example of, well, untethical behavior. As Odie Henderson, a coder-turned-critic who recapped “Silicon Valley” for Vulture, put it recently, “Tech goodness is a naive fantasy.”Needless to say, the crew at Pied Piper fail spectacularly in its attempt to create a new democratic internet. In the final episode, filmed partly as a documentary a decade in the future, Hendricks, now the Gavin Belson professor of ethics in technology at Stanford, is asked whether he thinks Pied Piper made the world a better place.“I think we did OK,” he says wistfully. Judge and Berg, on the other hand, did better than that. For six too-brief seasons, they did indeed succeed in making the world a better place.(1) Mocking the phrase “making the world a better place” was a “Silicon Valley” preoccupation. See here, for instance.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at jnocera3@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.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.

  • YouTube Outlaws Insults Based on Race and Sex, With Caveats
    Bloomberg

    YouTube Outlaws Insults Based on Race and Sex, With Caveats

    (Bloomberg) -- Google’s YouTube video service expanded its definition of banned speech after months of criticism, saying it will now remove clips and comments that make “veiled or implied threats” against individuals or insult people based on attributes such as race and sexual orientation.The new harassment guidelines are part of YouTube’s efforts to clean up its platform, which has been plagued by videos that advertisers, users and regulators find toxic.Read more: YouTube Managers Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run RampantIn June, journalist and YouTube creator Carlos Maza publicly accused Steven Crowder, a conservative comedian, of repeatedly harassing him with homophobic remarks on YouTube. The company said Crowder’s videos didn’t violate its policies and didn’t remove them. Employees at Google protested the decision. YouTube responded by pulling ads from Crowder’s videos, sparking accusations of bias from some politicians.“We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation,” Matt Halprin, YouTube’s head of trust and safety, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “This applies to everyone, from private individuals, to YouTube creators, to public officials.”Videos that “repeatedly brush up against” YouTube’s policies may be removed from its advertising program, Halprin added. This means that the controversial Crowder videos would now be considered a violation of YouTube’s policies, a company spokesman said.But there are exceptions. YouTube said videos that include harassment language in certain contexts, such as a documentary or a scripted satire, will not be removed. Neither will clips featuring or discussing powerful people “like high-profile government officials or CEOs of major multinational corporations.” YouTube will decide when videos meet these exceptions or not.Maza said he was skeptical of the new policy after it was announced on Wednesday. YouTube’s prior rules around harassment already covered protected groups and people, Maza said, but the company hasn’t be able to police content across its sprawling site. “The issue has never been the scope and language of the policy. The problem was with enforcement,” he said by phone. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”Crowder didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. He posted a video on Tuesday titled, ‘Urgent. The YouTube ‘Purge’ is coming.”(Updates with comments from YouTube creator in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Russian Artist Puts $150,000 Banana to Shame

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Forget Maurizio Cattelan’s $150,000 banana, duct-taped to the wall at Art Basel in Miami last week and eaten by a less well-known trickster artist. (The buyers of the artwork are fine with that — it came with a manual that prescribes replacing the fruit every week or so, anyway.) The best art of this type comes from Russia, because there, it actually means something.The art object that, as any responsible critic should recognize, eclipses Cattelan’s headline-grabbing “Comedian,” was sold online on Dec. 9 for 1.5 million rubles ($23,600). It was created by Artem Loskutov, an artist from Novosibirsk, Russia, who started the now nationwide tradition of “Monstrations,” annual rallies where people carry nonsensical signs. (“We Can’t be Knocked Off Course: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going,” one said this year.) The object is a piece of canvas-covered cardboard with a steel plaque glued to it and Loskutov’s signature, in marker, underneath. On the plaque, a woman named Nailya professes her love for a man named Andrey Kostin, in English, and tells him, “We are of the same blood,” an apparent corruption of the line from Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” “We be of one blood, ye and I.”Loskutov’s description of the materials used in creating the work says, “found object, stainless steel, 5X14 cm; marker, canvas on cardboard.” But the plaque is, strictly speaking, a stolen object, not a “found” one. Until a few days ago, it was affixed to one of the 6,800 benches in New York City’s Central Park “adopted” by donors to the Central Park Conservancy.It came from what’s probably now the most famous of these benches: Earlier this month, it got a prominent mention in a 29-minute video by anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, an arch-foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, that has been viewed more than 5 million times (and counting) on YouTube. The video is dedicated to the relationship between Andrey Kostin, the (married) president and chief executive officer of the state-owned bank VTB and state television anchor Nailya Asker-Zade. The state banker, according to Navalny, has showered Asker-Zade with expensive gifts, including prime real estate and the use of a yacht and a private plane. The cost of it all appears to be too high even for Kostin’s significant legitimate income, Navalny wrote.Kostin hasn’t commented on the video, nor has VTB, Russia’s second biggest bank by assets. Asker-Zade, known for her fawning interviews with members of Putin’s close circle, thanked Navalny on Instagram for the publicity.Navalny’s made-for-YouTube investigations are political tools rather than journalistic endeavors, and much of the film’s substance should probably be classed as opinion rather than fact. But when it comes to the Central Park plaque, Asker-Zade is mentioned in Central Park Conservancy’s 2015 annual report among donors of between $10,000 and $24,999. Navalny specializes in exposing impossibly lavish lifestyles that embarrass Putin allies and scandalize the average Russian. Judging by his video’s viral spread and the indignant comments it’s spawned on social networks, he handily hit his mark here.To put his allegations in context, Navalny wrote in a separate post that by his count the total value of the gifts is comparable to the amount that’s been raised by Rusfond, one of Russia’s biggest charities dedicated to funding medical treatment for seriously ill children, over its 23-year history. That would be difficult to prove, but is important for what happened next.Suddenly, the plaque disappeared from the bench, an event Navalny was quick to report on Twitter. On Dec. 9, it resurfaced in Loskutov’s possession. To turn it into art, Loskutov didn’t just paste it on cardboard and scribble his name underneath. He promised to donate the proceeds from its sale to Rusfond. The same day, he announced the object had fetched 1.5 million rubles in an informal auction he had run online. (The original screws from the bench were offered as a bonus.) To complete the performance, proof of the transfer to Rusfond is still needed. But Loskutov’s work has already garnered numerous comments to his tweets and Facebook posts — both accusing him of theft (even many Putin foes were uneasy about this) and praising him for his audacity.  One commentator summed the whole situation up like this: “They stole our money and we’ll steal their memories.” Although there's no proof Asker-Zade or Kostin engaged in theft.On Tuesday, Loskutov took to Facebook and Twitter again to post a quote attributed to a host of greats, most often to Pablo Picasso: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” It’s unclear, though, if he meant himself or the bureaucrats and managers of state-owned companies whom Navalny often accuses of graft.The New York Times’ art critic Jason Farago recently offered what he called “a reluctant defense” of Cattelan’s banana on the basis of the artist’s “willingness to implicate himself within the economic, social and discursive systems that structure how we see and what we value.” If that defense is valid, Loskutov’s action works on more levels than Cattelan’s work. It’s art as Robin Hood-style theft, art as tabloid journalism, art as political protest, art as social commentary, art as commerce and art as charity all rolled into one. It’s not a case of art imitating life or the other way round, but art’s bold intrusion into life as it plays out under one of the world’s most dispiriting authoritarian regimes.Loskutov’s performance, whatever its consequences for him, deserves a place among other audacious Russian art works such as Voina Art Group’s 2010 depiction of a gigantic penis on a St. Petersburg drawbridge exactly opposite the secret police office or Petr Pavlensky nailing himself to the pavement on Moscow’s Red Square in 2013. It’s easy these days to be cynical about the value of art and to play tricks on audiences based on the amount of money some wealthy people are willing to pay for fatuous objects. It’s much riskier, and much more meaningful, to challenge allegedly corrupt elites and the enforcers and benefactors of authoritarian nations. Where political opposition is feeble, art has a role to play.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.

  • TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global Hit
    Bloomberg

    TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global Hit

    (Bloomberg) -- TikTok owner ByteDance Inc. is testing a new music app in emerging markets as it tries to pull off another global sensation akin to its viral video-sharing service.Called Resso, the new app is now available in India and Indonesia, two of Asia’s most populous countries and places already keenly familiar with TikTok. Since an initial launch six months ago, Resso has been installed by about 27,000 users across the iOS App Store and Google Play, according to data compiled by Sensor Tower, which said the numbers indicate promotion of the app began in earnest at the end of November.ByteDance, the world’s most valuable startup, has been quietly developing the app to challenge the likes of Spotify and Apple Music in countries where paid music services have yet to garner large audiences.“The dilemma for all three companies is how to monetize a price-sensitive user base with low relative incomes,” said Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina. “At the moment, it’s a race for active users in the developing world. Commercial realities will be put aside, at least for now.”Unlike Spotify, Resso displays real-time lyrics and lets users post their comments under individual songs. They can also generate music-accompanied GIFs and videos, emulating a favorite feature of TikTok. The app offers a monthly paid subscription service, which costs 119 rupees ($1.70) in India, the same as Spotify. Premium Resso users will be able to download music and listen ad-free.The Beijing-based company has secured rights from Indian labels T-Series and Times Music, Bloomberg News previously reported.A TikTok Craze Is Minting Celebrities and Ruining Lives in IndiaYet there are still no rights deals with the world’s three largest music companies -- Warner Music Group Corp., Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment -- which control the vast majority of popular music and whose catalogs would be crucial for Resso to catch on globally, according to people familiar with the matter.Record companies credit TikTok with minting a new generation of music stars, including Lil Nas X, the singer of “Old Town Road.” As it has attracted hundreds of millions of users with their music, however, those companies are now demanding ByteDance increase the licensing fees it pays.“Resso is currently in a beta testing phase,” a Resso representative said in a statement. “We are optimistic about its long-term prospects but we are still very early in the process and only in a limited number of developing markets.”ByteDance was valued at $75 billion last year in part because investors are confident about its reputation as a mobile app factory. But the seven-year-old startup is still on the lookout for its next major breakout hit after TikTok and news aggregator Toutiao, its first signature app. With the paid music app, ByteDance is also looking to expand its revenue stream beyond advertising to counter a slowing home economy that has dampened advertisers’ appetites.A rare global feat for a Chinese internet company, TikTok has been installed nearly 1.5 billion times since launching in 2017. New U.S. users grew 38% to 11.6 million in the third quarter, according to Sensor Tower, up from 8.4 million a year earlier.But its Chinese ownership has become a lightning rod for criticism as tensions rise between the U.S. and China over trade and technology. American politicians and teen users alike have expressed concerns about the app’s handling of user data and censorship of politically-sensitive expression.Testing out Resso in its chosen markets gives ByteDance the breathing room to scale up the service slowly and out of the intense spotlight that’s placed on its other services.(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph)\--With assistance from Muneeza Naqvi.To contact the reporters on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at zhuang245@bloomberg.net;Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • U.S. Justice Department to review Google's deal for Fitbit: source
    Reuters

    U.S. Justice Department to review Google's deal for Fitbit: source

    The U.S. Justice Department will review plans by Alphabet Inc-owned Google to buy fitness tracker maker Fitbit Inc for possible antitrust issues, a source told Reuters on Tuesday. The $2.1 billion deal will give search and advertising giant Google the capability to take on Apple and Samsung in the crowded market for fitness trackers and smart watches. Watchdog groups like Public Citizen and the Center for Digital Democracy, among others, have urged antitrust enforcers to block the deal on the grounds that it will give Google even more data about American consumers.

  • India Top Court Reaffirms Immunity to Google for Online Content
    Bloomberg

    India Top Court Reaffirms Immunity to Google for Online Content

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google isn’t liable for defamatory content posted on its platforms after 2009, India’s top court ruled, reaffirming immunity for Internet companies in the world’s second-most populous nation.The verdict, which reiterates a 2015 ruling, comes as a relief for social media companies, online retailers and service providers who are facing increasing pressure from the Indian government to regulate online content. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government plans to bring rules to regulate social media platforms and a law on data privacy that seek to levy heavy fines on companies in the event of violations.However, the top court ruled that Google India Pvt. Ltd. will have to face defamation charges in cases lodged before 2009, when India’s information technology laws were amended to provide online and social media service providers immunity for content posted by a third party. They will have to take down content only after a court order.“Any other view would make it a despot strangling the free flow of ideas, which is what the internet is all about,” Justices Ashok Bhushan and K.M. Joseph of the top court said in the verdict.The case originated in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh when a construction material company Visakha Industries Ltd. sued Google for a blog post against use and manufacture of asbestos cement sheets. Google appealed to the country’s top court after the state high court ruled against it. However, Google will still face the defamation charges because Visakha’s case was lodged before the 2009 amendment.Google maintained that content is neither published nor endorsed by the company and it is just a platform provider.To contact the reporter on this story: Upmanyu Trivedi in New Delhi at utrivedi2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Unni Krishnan at ukrishnan2@bloomberg.net, Abhay Singh, Pradeep KurupFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • EU antitrust regulators mull tougher line against tech giants
    Reuters

    EU antitrust regulators mull tougher line against tech giants

    EU antitrust regulators are considering taking a tougher line against tech giants by forcing them to do more to ensure a level playing field, a senior European Commission official said on Tuesday, a move which could affect Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. The four U.S. tech companies are currently in EU competition enforcers' crosshairs, with rivals complaining about being shut out of key markets. The Commission has traditionally ordered companies to halt anti-competitive practices.

  • Bloomberg

    YouTube to FTC: Don’t Assume Only Kids Are Watching Kids Videos

    (Bloomberg) -- Google asked the government to eliminate rules that categorize anyone watching “child-directed” content online as under 13 while regulators revamp privacy regulations that could have a sweeping impact on the company’s YouTube video service.The Alphabet Inc. unit filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission on Monday as the agency considers changing its rules under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which regulates how internet companies collect data on young people.In September, Google agreed to pay $170 million to the FTC to resolve claims that YouTube violated COPPA by serving targeted advertisements to children under 13. In response, YouTube agreed to end personalized ads on any videos deemed “made for kids” starting in January, a potential hit to sales for the company and its thousands of video creators. The FTC settlement also holds creators on the site responsible for future violations, which has sparked panic among some producers on YouTube’s sprawling network.In its comments, the company argued against FTC rules that automatically identify viewers younger than 13 based on the content of videos.“This does not match what we see on YouTube, where adults watch favorite cartoons from their childhood or teachers look for content to share with their students,” YouTube wrote in its public comments. “This is why we support allowing platforms to treat adults as adults if there are measures in place to help confirm that the user is an adult viewing kids content.”One critic of YouTube said the company’s response was inadequate.“This is a COPPA cop-out by Google,” Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, one of the groups that complained to the FTC about YouTube. “They should be telling creators that they apologize for involving them in their massive multiyear violation of the U.S. law.”The popularity of kids’ programming has put YouTube in an uncomfortable position. The company has maintained that the site isn’t for children, and doesn’t allow viewers under the age of 13. It created a separate app for kids, but its audience is tiny compared to the full site.After the FTC settlement, YouTube told creators that they would have to identify when videos are aimed at children under 13. When that happens, YouTube now turns off ads that rely on web browsing behavior and other targeting data, which earn more for YouTube and creators.On Monday, YouTube also asked the FTC for “balanced and clear guidelines” to help creators comply with COPPA. The company said that content not intended for kids can sometimes involve a traditional kids activity, such as gaming and art. “Are these videos ‘made for kids,’ even if they don’t intend to target kids? This lack of clarity creates uncertainty for creators,” YouTube said.YouTube doesn’t disclose its sales or break out what portion of the videos on its service are “child-directed.” Indeed, the company likely can’t automatically make such nuanced judgments on the millions of videos it runs online, despite having some of the world’s best technology for identifying and categorizing images and clips.Read more: YouTube Will Rely on Spotty AI to Comply With FTC SettlementIn recent weeks, some YouTube creators launched a campaign to tell the FTC that rewriting the COPPA rules and the settlement could hurt them financially and reduce the quality of programs. The agency has received thousands of comments on what has previously been a sleepy area of law.The FTC has issued guidance under COPPA for what constitutes videos “directed to children.” YouTubers in have expressed frustration that the definitions are still too vague.The FTC also allows sites that aren’t aimed at kids to put in place an age screening for viewers. That way, if kids do end up there, the site’s operators can reduce data collection, although children often lie about their age online. Some creators, including one of those who helped launch the petition to the FTC, have urged YouTube to adopt a comparable solution. YouTube didn’t address that on Monday in its blog. To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.net;Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Why this stealth tech company's stock has surged 80%
    Yahoo Finance

    Why this stealth tech company's stock has surged 80%

    Smartsheet has flown completely under Wall Street's radar. Yahoo Finance speaks with the company's CEO Mark Mader.

  • ‘Fangirls’ Defend China From Hong Kong Protesters and the World
    Bloomberg

    ‘Fangirls’ Defend China From Hong Kong Protesters and the World

    (Bloomberg) -- For Li Mo, the footage of black-clad people clashing with police and vandalizing storefronts proved the final straw. The images of Hong Kong protesters fighting for greater autonomy from Beijing incensed the mainland-born postgraduate student and she could no longer remain on the sidelines. So, she joined China’s fangirl army.Ever since anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong turned violent this summer, China’s celebrity-obsessed young generation have patrolled Facebook, Twitter and Weibo, ready to pounce on perceived slights and defend their motherland. Nicknamed “fangirls” because they exhibit the same fervor most often reserved for pop-culture icons, these women and men flood social media with slogans and memes shaming brands -- sometimes with far-reaching consequences.Fangirls called out Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey for supporting Hong Kong protesters, prompting China’s state broadcaster to drop National Basketball Association games. They triggered boycotts of brands from Coach to Apple. Many got swept up by Facebook and Twitter account takedowns. And in a recent incident, the onslaught of vitriol they directed at Hong Kong pop-star Joey Yung forced her to apologize for a single Facebook selfie, but not before she got canned from a high-profile gala.The Hong Kong unrest spurred Li into action. She quickly picked up typical fangirl behavior -- endlessly liking and re-posting trending anti-protest diatribes on Weibo for example -- encouraged that hundreds of thousands shared her values. “I couldn’t remain silent any longer,” the 28-year-old said. “I don’t idolize anyone, I only idolize China.”Read More: Moment of Truth on China Is Coming for Rest of Corporate AmericaWhile many Westerners, particularly Americans, see China’s citizens as forced into supporting Beijing or muzzled from expressing their true feelings, fangirls suggest more earnest and resilient backing for their country’s government. They show how large pockets of China’s youth are rising up to defend their country against what they perceive as mistreatment and misrepresentation by outsiders, and they underscore a growing sentiment that’s shaping how China interacts with the world.China’s government has increasingly taken its propaganda efforts overseas, but fangirls’ deep convictions set them apart -- and perhaps make them more potent -- from often wooden, state-sponsored online commentators. Known as wumao, or the “50-cent army,” those bloggers are named after the amount they are said to make from each patriotic posting.The emergence of fangirls comes at a time Beijing is trying to engage younger Chinese by using rap music, cartoons and chat-app stickers to deliver Communist Party ideology. Homegrown corporations like Tencent Holdings Ltd. often aid such efforts. A system of education that often stresses the humiliation China suffered at the hands of foreigners also prepared the ground for their rise.They’re also the latest online patriots to hop the Great Firewall dividing the internet in mainland China from the rest of the world -- with a decidedly millennial twist. They call their nation “Brother Ah Zhong” (Brother China), describing it as a pop idol who debuted 5,000 years ago and now boasts a fan base of 1.4 billion.Fang Kecheng, assistant professor of communication and journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong sees state influence working hand-in-hand with young nationalist netizens, including fangirls who take note of the narrative on state media, then act upon it. “That’s not to say they are entirely manipulated, or being passively used as a tool,” he says. “There are things they’re searching for, such as a common identity and the ability to express their opinions.”Read More: Here’s What China Is Telling Its People About Hong Kong ProtestsJack Zhou, a 20-year-old hair stylist in central China, is one of a score of volunteer leaders of a 20,000-strong fangirl community. People like him help focus and channel raw emotions that often threaten to spill out of control. In between haircuts, he monitors a chat group of 400 users on messaging app QQ. Participants are charged with spawning content for the group’s main Weibo account. One of their latest productions is a three-minute video showcasing protester violence in Hong Kong, from setting a man on fire to ganging up on a police officer and trying to snatch his pistol. They called on those who can access sites like Facebook and YouTube to share the clip, which has English captions. “Let the world know the truth,” is their slogan.Zhou’s group has participated in several major online crusades to defend Beijing’s line on Hong Kong over the past three months, he said. They spammed Instagram accounts of pro-Beijing celebrities with emojis of the Chinese flag, infiltrated Facebook live streams to clash with pro-democracy sympathizers, and plastered Communist Party slogans on the sites of news outlets from CNN to the Washington Post. Their hard work paid off when the Communist Party’s Youth League and state media came out in praise of the campaigns, he said.Read More: China Celebrities Help Fan New Generation of NationalistsTheir motivations are widely misunderstood, said Zak Dychtwald, author of Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World. English-language media writing off Chinese pride as a product of propaganda and brainwashing only fans the flames of nationalism, he said. “There’s ardent pride in the country and fangirls want to defend it,” he added. “The energy and sentiment driving the movement in China is genuine.”Zhang Dong, 30, emigrated to Laos in 2013 to work as a tour guide after he graduated from college in China. Only then did he understand how the world depicts his country in such a “horrible” manner. Every day, he churns out dozens of posts on the accounts he registered for the purpose of discrediting Hong Kong’s protesters. He’s called them “cockroaches,” “traitors,” and “HKIS,” juxtaposing images of them with Islamic State terrorists. There’s “essentially no difference” between the two groups, he said.Zhang is proud of his independence. “I’ve never received any money from the Communist Party,” said Zhang. “If we were wumao, the Chinese government would have owed us hundreds of millions yuan by now.”Fangirls represent another front in social media giants’ efforts to curb disinformation campaigns. In August, Twitter suspended nearly 1,000 accounts originating from China, which the company identified as part of a state-backed operation to undermine Hong Kong’s protests. Facebook and Google took similar action. That take down didn’t have a lasting effect as new accounts emerged to replace those that were removed, a study from social media research firm Astroscreen shows.Read More: How Fake News and Rumors Are Stoking Division in Hong KongFangirls like Trista Wang say they have been unfairly targeted by these platforms. “Just one Chinese flag can get your account suspended,” said Wang, a traditional Chinese medicine therapist in the port city of Qingdao. She insists Facebook is biased toward Chinese patriots like her, pointing to Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s recent China-bashing remarks. “I used to have good feelings about Zuckerberg,” Wang said.A Facebook representative said the company only removes content that violates its community standards. In response to inquiries on two specific fangirl accounts that were disabled or restricted, the representative pointed to policy violations in relation to the use of fake identities, bullying and harassment. A Twitter representative said it acts against accounts for policy breaches but declined to comment on individual examples citing privacy and security reasons.Fangirls could disappear as fast as they emerged. That’s because nationalist movements are always a double-edged sword for the government, said Chinese University’s Fang. “When something self-organizes to a certain size, it becomes a taboo -- even if it’s only online.”Or they could morph into something more alarming. Zhou, the volunteer leader, has already become a kind of online vigilante, notifying the police about a China-based Weibo user expressing support for Hong Kong. He said he was content that the police quickly identified and arrested the blogger. “We must rally all the forces we can to eradicate the soil that breeds Hong Kong separatists,” he said.To contact the reporter on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at zhuang245@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Edwin Chan, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Apple to Speak at CES Conference for First Time in Decades

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is officially returning to the Las Vegas CES technology conference for the first time in decades to discuss its stance on consumer privacy -- rather than pitch a new hardware product.The company’s senior director of privacy Jane Horvath will be speaking on a “Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable” on Jan. 7, according to the CES agenda.Horvath, along with executives from Facebook Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., and a commissioner from the Federal Trade Commission, will discuss how companies build privacy at scale, regulation and consumer demands.Apple’s last major official appearance at CES was in 1992 when then Chief Executive Officer John Sculley gave a presentation at a Chicago version of the summit to introduce the failed Newton device.More recently, Apple’s technology has influenced CES despite the company not officially presenting. It made news last year for a privacy billboard during the Vegas event that exclaimed, “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. also touted Apple launching video streaming directly on third-party TVs.Each year, accessory makers fill the CES exhibit halls with cases and other peripherals for Apple devices. Behind the scenes, Apple managers roam the halls to identify future technology and scan the competitive landscape, while members of Apple’s supply chain team meet with component makers to potentially source parts for future devices.While Apple has taken a backstage approach to the conference, rivals including Google, Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. have used the event to promote their latest voice-based products, spur interest from potential partners and try to beat Apple to the punch ahead of major product announcements.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at mgurman1@bloomberg.net;Ed Ludlow in San Francisco at eludlow2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Johnson on Defensive Over Boy on NHS Hospital Floor: U.K. Votes
    Bloomberg

    Johnson on Defensive Over Boy on NHS Hospital Floor: U.K. Votes

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced onto the defensive over the U.K.’s National Health Service after a newspaper published a picture of a 4-year-old child being treated for pneumonia on the floor of a hospital emergency room.Johnson initially refused to look at a picture of the boy when confronted with it in an ITV interview, but later apologized for the poor treatment and said only his Conservatives could solve the free-to-use health system’s problems. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson’s party had failed to properly support the NHS during its nine years in power and pledged to increase investment.Must Read: Britain’s Latest Battle of Hastings Is Really About the EconomyFor more on the election visit ELEC.Key Developments:Labour’s John McDonnell lays out Labour’s early priorities in speech in LondonJohnson denies knowledge of online tricks ahead of Thursday’s voteLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn appeals for support for the NHS at rally in BristolThe BBC will hold a Question Time debate for an audience of under-30s to be broadcast at 8.30 p.m.The chance of a Conservative majority has risen to 80% -- the highest level so far -- according to BetfairHealth Secretary ‘Horrified’ by Hospital Photo (5 p.m.)Health Secretary Matt Hancock apologized for the hospital treatment of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, who was taken to the emergency department with suspected pneumonia and photographed lying on a pile of clothes on the floor because no bed was available (see 2:45 p.m.).Hancock said in a broadcast interview that he was “horrified” when he saw the photo.“It’s not good enough and I’ve apologized.”Hancock said Leeds General Hospital had already realized there was problem with space on the unit and had committed to trebling its size next year. He denied the situation was a result of under-funding by Conservative governments, but rather a result of increased demand on the NHS.Corbyn Blames Tories for Child on Floor (3 p.m.)Jeremy Corbyn blamed Boris Johnson’s Tories for causing the crisis in the National Health Service that saw a 4-year-old boy being treated for pneumonia on the floor of an emergency department (see 2:45 p.m.).“The Tories have had nine years to fund the NHS properly, it’s time to bring their regime to an end,” Corbyn said at a rally in Bristol, western England, as he questioned Johnson’s commitment to the U.K.’s free-to-use health service. “Elect a Labour government that’s determined to fund it properly.”Corbyn also repeated his claims the NHS is under threat in a trade deal with the U.S. after Brexit and warned that Johnson would “sell-out” the widely loved service by allowing access for U.S. corporations and pharmaceutical companies.Johnson Takes Reporter’s Phone in NHS Row (2:45 p.m.)Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced questions all day over the case of four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, who was taken to the emergency department with suspected pneumonia.The boy became an instant symbol of the pressures on the National Health Service after he was photographed in a newspaper lying on a pile of clothes on a hospital floor because no bed was available.On Monday, Johnson was asked for his reaction to the photograph during an interview with ITV News journalist Joe Pike. Johnson said he hadn’t seen the picture, so Pike showed it to him on his phone. The premier then took Pike’s phone and put it in his pocket, declining to look at the image.“I’ll study it later,” Johnson said. Later, he gave the journalist back his phone and said he was sorry for the ordeal the boy had suffered.“It’s a terrible, terrible photo and I apologize obviously to the family and all those who have terrible experiences in the NHS,” Johnson said. “But what we are doing is supporting the NHS.”Johnson Denies Knowledge of Web ‘Diversions’ (2:30 p.m.)Boris Johnson was cornered by factory workers at a question-and-answer session in northeast England who asked him about allegations his Conservative Party paid Google to route searches for Labour’s manifesto to a fake website it set up to criticize the opposition party’s program.Repeatedly asked about the claims, Johnson said he knew nothing about it and accused the other parties of trying to divert attention away from Brexit, which he described as the key issue in the election.“We’re accused of interfering with the internet or whatever else, it might be a lot of distractions are being brought into this debate,” Johnson said. The other parties are “throwing up more diversions to conceal what this is all about,” he told staff.The Conservatives ran into criticism in the first televised debate when they changed the name of their official twitter feed to look like a fact-checking service that was critical of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.Johnson Says Nissan Safe After Brexit (2:15 p.m.)Boris Johnson said the U.K.’s motor manufacturers will be protected after Brexit, suggesting their supply chains won’t be disrupted by Britain’s divorce from the European Union.On a visit to Sunderland in northeast England, which is home to a Nissan factory that’s the country’s largest car-making plant, the premier was asked whether he can guarantee its continued existence.“Of course. It’s absolutely vital we protect supply chains, we protect Nissan Motors, we make sure people continue to want to invest in our country,” Johnson said. “As we come out it’s all protected from the point of view of big motor manufacturing investors in our country.”McDonnell: No Blank Check for Shareholders (11:45 a.m.)Labour economy spokesman John McDonnell said the amount he would pay to nationalize key industries would not amount to a “blank check” for shareholders after he was asked if there was a price a Labour government would be unwilling to pay. He said he expects the process of bringing sectors under public control to be a “smooth transition.”“We’ll go through the normal exercises every other element of private ownership have been done in the past,” he said. “Parliament will determine the price and bonds will be issued for shares.”McDonnell: Won’t Be Capital Flight If Labour Win (11:35 a.m.)John McDonnell rejected the idea there would be a run on the pound or capital flight if Labour wins Thursday’s election.“In fact, my fear is the pound will start going up because of our investment plans,” McDonnell, Labour’s economy spokesman, said in response to a question at a campaign event in central London. “When Labour comes into power we’ll be implementing our manifesto, we’ll have a large-scale investment program where private investors will be able to get a decent rate of return, but we will not be ripped off.”McDonnell took a swipe at the Tories’ economic record by referencing sterling’s performance under recent Conservative governments. The pound fell significantly in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum, and remained volatile as negotiations with the EU proceeded.“It’s interesting when people start talking about runs on the pound and all the rest of it,” he said. “I’d just ask them to explore the recent history of the pound under the Tory government and suggest to commentators the instability brought about by a combination of incompetent management of the economy, exaggerated claims about what’s potentially available in terms of a Brexit deal, the threat of a no-deal.”“The market recognizes we have a prime minister whose word cannot be trusted,” he said.McDonnell Lays Out Labour’s First 100 Days (11:15 a.m.)Labour economy spokesman John McDonnell said he would put forward a budget “which ends austerity once and for all” on Feb. 5, if his party wins. He also said Labour would start the process of bringing the water and energy sectors under public ownership within their first 100 days.“This is the budget that will save the NHS, that starts to rebuild the public services the Tories have brought to their knees,” McDonnell said in a speech in a central London. “When they attack me, or Jeremy, we know it’s not really about us. It’s about you, they hate the people of this country.”McDonnell also said he agreed with the DUP on the issue of Boris Johnson’s trustworthiness. “I agree with Arlene Foster -- you won’t hear those words very often,” he said, in reference to the DUP leader saying Johnson broke his word on Brexit and cannot be trusted (see earlier). “You can’t trust him, you can’t trust a word he says,” McDonnell said.Johnson: Tories Making Case in ‘Every Seat’ (9 a.m.)Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his Conservative party is trying to make the case for power in “every seat” as it seeks a majority in the House of Commons in Thursday’s general election.In an interview with LBC radio from Grimsby, where the Conservatives are trying to take a seat from Labour, Johnson was asked if he wanted to break through Labour’s so-called red wall of seats in the Midlands and Northern England. “Of course, because we’re a one-nation Conservative Party and we want to make our case everywhere in the country,” Johnson replied.Johnson’s travels in the final days of the campaign show the party is trying to secure seats that have been Labour preserves for decades, an illustration of how Brexit has changed Britain’s electoral politics.Read more: Britain’s Brexit Election Is Now a Referendum on Jeremy CorbynDUP’s Foster: Johnson Broke His Word (Earlier)Democratic Unionist Party Leader Arlene Foster said Boris Johnson broke his word on Brexit and suggested she’d struggle to trust him in the future.“It says more about the person who broke their word than me and the leadership of the unionist party,” Foster told BBC Radio when asked if voters should conclude she’d lost the fight for a Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland on the same terms as the rest of the U.K. On the subject of taking Johnson at his word in the future, she said: “Once bitten, twice shy.”She said contrary to the premier’s assurances, tax officials told her team the Brexit deal would necessitate checks on goods coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland -- regardless of whether they were destined for Ireland. She said she’d listened to Rishi Sunak on the radio just before her own interview (see earlier). “He very carefully didn’t say that there would be unfettered access” for trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, Foster said.Minister Sees EU Trade Deal Ready by 2021 (Earlier)The U.K. will meet its deadline to broker a new trade agreement with the European Union by the end of 2020, meaning there’s no need to prepare for a no-deal exit, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak said. He said the outline of the deal is already enshrined in the withdrawal agreement.“The trade deal, the outlines of it, the framework of it, is already there, contained in the political declaration in quite a lot of detail,” Sunak told BBC radio. “We can go on and sort the details of that over the course of next year.”He also pushed back against the suggestion that new trade barriers will be put up between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. “The prime minister has been unequivocal,” he said. “There will not be checks, there will be no new barriers to trade.”McDonnell Challenged by Billionaire Caudwell (Earlier)Labour’s finance spokesman John McDonnell was challenged in a radio conversation with billionaire Phones4U Co-founder John Caudwell, who accused the main opposition party of “destroying confidence.” Caudwell said he and other wealthy people were likely to leave the country if Labour won Thursday’s election, because of the party’s “destructive” rhetoric.Labour, Caudwell said, would “create an environment where wealthy people feel like they’re almost pariahs.”McDonnell replied that Labour was not against entrepreneurs and that all the party wanted to do was create a fair society and end “grotesque” inequality. “We’ve had a lot of discussion about how we redistribute wealth; we need to have a proper discussion about how we create it,” he said.Swinson Swings Back to People’s Vote (Earlier)Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson said her party is publishing legislation to pave the way to a second referendum on European Union membership so Parliament can act quickly after the election.“The most likely way we can stop Brexit is through a people’s vote,” Swinson told BBC Radio on Monday. “There’s a much brighter future ahead if we are able to remain in the European Union.”It’s a change of direction for the Liberal Democrats, who have campaigned on a platform to cancel Brexit altogether -- though Swinson said that remains the policy in the event of a Liberal Democrat majority. She also reiterated she would not support Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, but held out the prospect that in a hung parliament, the Labour leader might change.Earlier:Johnson Returns to Key Brexit Message as Polls Put Him AheadRemainers’ Dreams Are Dying in Boris Johnson’s Brexit ElectionBritain’s Latest Battle of Hastings Is Really About the EconomyTo contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Greg Ritchie in London at gritchie10@bloomberg.net;Tim Ross in London at tross54@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Most Popular Google Searches of 2019
    Investor's Business Daily Video

    The Most Popular Google Searches of 2019

    Can you guess the top Google search of the past year? Here's a hint: it's something we've been discussing quite often recently.

  • EU's Vestager Weighs How to Review Mega Deals
    Bloomberg

    EU's Vestager Weighs How to Review Mega Deals

    Dec.09 -- Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition and technology czar, will review how EU antitrust regulators weigh industries, following criticism that they’ve been too rigid in fining Google and blocking mobile-phone, steel and rail deals.