1,085.83 -1.75 (-0.16%)
After hours: 7:58PM EDT
|Bid||1,083.01 x 1300|
|Ask||1,090.00 x 1200|
|Day's Range||1,084.60 - 1,115.61|
|52 Week Range||977.66 - 1,296.97|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||1.18|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||27.28|
|Earnings Date||Jul 25, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||1,336.80|
Streaming services are driving growth in the music industry as questions persist about whether artists and songwriters are getting their fair share of the pie.
Despite stiffening competition and a steep slide from its 52-week highs, Citi has upgraded GrubHub to a buy.
(Bloomberg) -- Micron Technology Inc., the largest U.S. maker of computer memory chips, said it resumed some shipments to China’s Huawei Technologies Co., appearing to find a way around an export ban that threatens growth for the semiconductor industry.Micron, which explained the decision Tuesday as it reported earnings, studied the export restrictions and determined “a subset” of products it sells to Huawei are not subject to the rules, Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Mehrotra said on a conference call. That sent stock surging as much as 11% in extended trading.Micron was forced to halt shipments to one of its largest customers after the Trump administration banned Huawei from buying American technology. Micron makes chips used as the main memory in computers and as storage in mobile devices. Sales to the Chinese telecommunications company generate about 13% of Micron’s annual revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“We began those shipments in the last two weeks,” Mehrotra said. The company completed its own review of the various and complex restrictions on supplying the Chinese company and made its own decision, he said, without providing further specifics.Micron’s announcement helped other chip shares gain. The Boise, Idaho-based company’s stock had been among the most hardest hit this year by concern that a trade war between would cut U.S. companies off from their largest market, China. Mehrotra also said there are signs that demand is increasing as his customers work through their stockpiles of unused parts.Micron may be the first company to go public about continuing some level of business with Huawei after looking closely at the rules, according to Cross Research analyst Steven Fox. Even when companies have headquarters in the U.S., they may be able, through ownership of overseas subsidiaries and operations, to classify their technology as foreign, he said.“It’s one of those things that’s very hard to calculate,” Fox said. “There’s a partial amount of shipments that you should think about, not just with Micron, but with other companies in the supply chain too, as continuing.”Micron and others may be taking advantage of a loophole, according to Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. If less than 25% of the technology in a chip originates in the U.S., then it’s not covered by the ban, he said. That could lead to the transfer of patents to overseas entities, something the U.S. government would oppose, he said.Cassidy said he’s concerned that President Donald Trump’s administration might see the resumption of shipments to Huawei as undermining its goal of putting pressure on the Chinese in trade negotiations and take other actions.The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution Tuesday designating Huawei and fellow Chinese equipment maker ZTE Corp. as threats to national security.Mehrotra has been telling investors that a much broader set of customers will help insulate the industry from the brutal downturns that have wiped out profitability in the past. He said that data-center owners, such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc.’s AWS, who had cut orders as they worked through stockpiles of unused components, are now starting to order again.Earlier, Micron Chief Financial Officer David Zinsner said the company’s revenue will be $4.5 billion, plus or minus $200 million, in the period ending in August. Analysts, on average, projected $4.56 billion. Micron reported sales fell 39% to $4.79 billion in the fiscal third quarter, topping analysts’ estimates of $4.68 billion.Profit, excluding certain items, was $1.05 a share in the period ended May 30. Analysts, on average, estimated 78 cents a share. The company projected adjusted profit of 45 cents a share, plus or minus 7 cents, in the current quarter. Analysts estimated 63 cents a share.Last quarter, the company said it would idle 5% of production for DRAM and NAND memory chips because of weaker demand and reduce its planned capital expenses in the fiscal year to about $9 billion. Micron said Tuesday it intends to “meaningfully” reduce its spending on new plants and equipment in its fiscal year 2020, in order to align increases in supply with demand levels.(Updates with comments from analyst in the sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- How can investors use inexpensive index strategies yet still generate returns that outperform the markets? The solution to that particular challenge is the combination of fundamental and factor investing, according to Chris Brightman, chief investment officer and partner at Research Affiliates LL, and this week's guest on Masters in Business.Brightman notes that so-called smart beta allows for simple, transparent and inexpensive index strategies that are not market-cap weighted. He calls this a “simple, elegant way to pursue a contrarian approach” that is more akin to cap-weighted indexes than expensive active stock selection. It also has the benefit of keeping emotions out of the process of selecting and rebalancing individual equites. Bad behavior leads to an average annual underperformance of 200 basis points versus the broad indexes. By using a systematic approach to indexing, investors avoid this performance penalty. In our conversation, we discuss the lagging performance of value stocks, and why they tend to be so cyclical. Every long-term study that looked at the value-versus-growth question historically has confirmed value eventually will outperform growth around the world. The issue is that long time line, which eventually leads investors to becoming bored and shift away from value. Brightman adds that value’s outperformance comes from some assumption of additional risk, as well as investor’s behavior.Brightman was a member of the Investment Fund for Foundations, the Virginia Retirement System, the University of Virginia Investment Management Company, and Strategic Investment Group. Previously, Brightman managed money for the University of Virginia endowment.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, Bloomberg, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite hosts can be found here.To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis 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 founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should force Alphabet Inc.’s Google to delete any personal information it has collected on minors as the agency probes the company’s data collection practices with regards to kids, according to Senator Ed Markey.Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Tuesday in a statement that the FTC should require Google’s YouTube video platform to put in place new privacy policies in any settlement agreement the agency reaches with the company.The FTC is probing whether the world’s largest video site broke the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which makes it illegal to collect information on minors and disclose it to others without parental permission, Bloomberg reported.Markey, who was a key force behind the passage of COPPA, said the FTC should make Google delete all data collected from children under 13, start a campaign to warn parents about minors’ use of YouTube and create ways to identify users under 13. He also said Google should be prohibited from launching any new service targeted at children until it has been approved by an independent panel of experts.“Companies of all types have strong business incentives to gather and monetize information about children,” Markey said. “Personal information about a child can be leveraged to hook consumers for years to come, so it is incumbent upon the FTC to enforce federal law and act as a check against the ever increasing appetite for children’s data.”YouTube is considering more changes to how it handles content for kids, according to the Bloomberg report. The company is mulling moving all videos for children to its separate YouTube Kids app, the Wall Street Journal reported. Such a drastic change is unlikely, a person familiar with the deliberations told Bloomberg.\--With assistance from Ben Brody.To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Nix in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Elizabeth WassermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Genies Inc. is one of those tech startups that looks to athletes and celebrities for some additional endorsement buzz. But what makes this company different is that it also wants their money. Genies offers superstars a chance to get in on the ground floor of something that might make them richer than they already are. At least, that’s the plan.First, let’s explain what Genies is. It’s a mobile app, which rolls out Monday, that allows you to build a three-dimensional cartoon version of yourself—one that looks and acts like you. So when you message friends, a mini-you mimics what you say. Among the Los Angeles-based company’s boosters is 21-year-old YouTube star Jake Paul, who once said he hopes to become social media’s first billionaire. “I see myself being capable of becoming a young Ashton Kutcher,” he said in an interview. “He used his celebrity to get into these deals. I was looking at him and I was, like, ‘Wait, I can do the same thing.’”Paul said he has more than $1 million invested in 15 companies, including $50,000 in Genies. “I don’t use social media a lot; I’m not your typical 21-year-old in that way,” he said, adding that he doesn’t even have a Bitmoji, the original personalized cartoon avatar. Last year, Bitmoji was the most downloaded iOS application worldwide, followed by Snapchat, which bought Bitmoji's parent company, Bitstrips Inc., in 2016 for $100 million.Nevertheless, Paul said he’s excited about Genies’s prospects. “With tech, you never know,” Paul said. “With Genies, I’m invested in Akash more so as the leader.”Akash Nigam is the 26-year-old behind the startup. Genies are much more than just goofy, cute cartoons, he said in an interview. “The next wave of [communication] in this age of internet is through avatars—a digital identity, an extension of you,” he explained. “We want Genies to represent your digital identity.”If you had asked Nigam two months ago how Genies would make money, he said, he wouldn’t have had an answer. Since then, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Companies started calling, asking if they could integrate Genies into their apps and websites. Now, he’s already raised $25 million in its two funding rounds.“We were just looking at it as exposure, but then they offered to pay,” Nigam said. The company has since sold millions of dollars’ worth of its software development kits, which integrate Genies into other platforms. Genies has already established brand partnerships, including one with Gucci. People can dress their Genies in Gucci clothing and, if they like the product, buy it via the Genies app. “It’s a great way to digitize the fashion world,” Nigam said. “We’re the only avatar of this caliber that can integrate into third-party services.” Why did Genies go from not to hot so fast? The involvement of sports stars and celebrities may have had something to do with it. They include professional basketball stars such as Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma Thunder and Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, pop-star Shawn Mendes, rapper 50 Cent, and professional football players Dez Bryant of the New Orleans Saints and Ndamukong Suh of the Los Angeles Rams.Suh is one of the highest-paid defensive players in the National Football League—and an avid investor.“Any free time that I can get, I’m talking to my advisers," Suh said in a telephone interview. “Anytime I have an opportunity, whether it’s in between meetings or during meeting breaks or on my drive home, I take the time to get on calls and make it useful.”The football star, who said he learned investment strategy from Warren Buffett, put $100,000 into Genies last year and said he plans to put in more. Like Paul, Suh was won over by Akash’s enthusiasm—and he really likes his avatar.“I think it’s spot-on to what I look like, especially from the sideburns perspective,” Suh said. But he’s also confident that Genies will make money; otherwise, he said he wouldn’t have invested.“Cash flow is king,” Suh said. “That’s something Mr. Buffett says all the time.”(Corrects spelling of Warren Buffett’s name in story published Nov. 19.)To contact the author of this story: Sophie Alexander in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Infosys (INFY) enters into a long-term partnership with Toyota Material Handling Europe to drive the latter's digital transformation pursuit.
Tech giants like Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Square (SQ) and others are providing financial flexibility to the underbanked customers with the help of their offerings.
Trade-war is taking a toll on technology stocks' financial performance as the companies lose out on significant business opportunities.
Facebook's (FB) strategy to use Libra as an alternative to the U.S. dollar is a major headwind for banks and financial institutions worldwide.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- At a meeting last week of Alphabet Inc. stockholders, a man lobbed a simple query at the company’s chairman: Where is the CEO? Good question.He was told that Larry Page, the head of Google’s parent company and its co-founder, wasn’t able to to come to the annual session with shareholders, who asked tricky questions about the company’s approach to artificial intelligence ethics, treatment of its contract workers and its impact on Bay Area home prices. Page wasn’t at last year’s annual meeting, either. The stockholder sessions aren’t Page’s only glaring absence. It was news when Page and the company’s other founder, Sergey Brin, recently broke an unusually long attendance lapse at the traditional weekly Q&A for employees. U.S. lawmakers last year criticized Page for declining to appear at a hearing about exploitation of internet platforms. The senators’ outrage was a stunt, but they weren’t wrong to ask the same question as the Alphabet shareholder: Where is Larry Page?Page has always been an idiosyncratic executive. Both before and after he became CEO eight years ago, Page tended to focus on product strategy and ceded policy matters, budget-setting, shareholder outreach and many day-to-day functions to others. That role was formalized with the 2015 creation of the Alphabet structure and the installation of operating CEOs under Page — principally Google leader Sundar Pichai.The arrangement might have been a good idea at the time. But a storm is raging in Silicon Valley, and technology superpowers require accountable, visible and empowered leaders to advocate for their companies and assess the wider impact of their products. Instead, Alphabet has both a functional CEO in Pichai and a figurehead CEO who busies himself with far-off technology and is otherwise increasingly a ghost inside and outside of the company.Pichai is a capable leader of Alphabet’s only relevant business segment. But as long as the status quo continues, there will always be that niggling question: What does Larry think? Where is he? Page tended to shun the executive tasks he didn’t like, but he wasn’t always so hands-off. In early 2011, Page retook the CEO post he had given up in Google’s early years to Eric Schmidt, the hired hand and “adult supervision” for the young Page and Brin. For a while, Page was an active CEO, meeting with underlings and openly discussing efforts to slim bureaucracy and make Google operate more like a startup.Over time and particularly after the 2015 debut of Alphabet, Page’s official duties seem to have narrowed to a pinprick. Maybe it was a conscious decision to give Pichai more authority. Maybe Page was limited by his voice — vocal cord damage had reduced the volume of his speaking voice. Maybe Page grew reliant on Schmidt, who until he stepped down as executive chairman in early 2018 handled policy issues and other public duties. Whatever the reason, Page has been less actively involved as the personal and professional demands have increased for the other CEOs of U.S. technology superpowers. Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg has become extremely practiced at apologizing. Jeff Bezos, the chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., had his personal life splashed in tabloid pages. Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook is at the White House so often he should have a West Wing frequent visitor card. Pichai is not the titular boss but has to do all the duties of one.(1) This is probably not what any of them imagined the job would be.I’m sure Page continues to do what needs to be done. John Hennessy, the Alphabet chairman, said at the stockholder gathering that Page attends every board meeting and meets frequently with him and other directors. At an event last fall, Pichai said that Page is very involved and that the Alphabet structure of a big-picture CEO with operating executives has worked as intended.Page’s role is to ponder future technologies, someone who pushes Alphabet to make big bets and scout promising talent. That’s essential to keep a technology company relevant. But does Page need to be the CEO of the world's fourth-largest public company to play this role? And Page seems to want to have it both ways. He wants the power of a CEO to be able to award on his own a $150 million stock payout to an executive under investigation for sexual harassment, according to a lawsuit, but he doesn’t want the responsibility of a CEO to show up in front of sometimes unhappy employees at regular meetings, to face questions from annoyed shareholders or to absorb verbal blows from members of Congress. (Alphabet has disputed the lawsuit’s characterization of Page’s role in the stock award.) As the technology industry faces growing government scrutiny, this may not be the time for a visionary, chimerical CEO. Everyone would like to do only the interesting parts of a job and skip the unpleasant or dull tasks. That’s not how adult life works, and that isn't how a public company should work, either. (1) It's a pop psychology explanation, but I wonder if the structure unwittingly removes some authority from Pichai. At the stockholder meeting last week, Pichai sat oddly silent for more than 20 minutes while others tackled sometimes angry questions about matters such as Google's driverless car project, the company's approach to ethics in artificial intelligence and compensation for the company's army of contract workers. Pichai may not have the temperament to graciously interact with irked shareholders and employees, or pal around with Washington power brokers as Schmidt did. Or maybe Pichai has a little less swagger because he is ultimately not the boss.To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet's (GOOGL) division, Google plans to invest EUR 1 billion ($1.1 billion) to expand its data center in the Netherlands.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.For years, companies like Oracle and International Business Machines invested heavily to build new markets in China for their industry-leading databases. Now, boosted in part by escalating U.S. tensions, one Chinese upstart is stepping in, winning over tech giants, startups and financial institutions to its enterprise software.Beijing-based PingCAP already counts more than 300 Chinese customers. Many, including food delivery giant Meituan, its bike-sharing service Mobike, video streaming site iQIYI Inc. and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. are migrating away from Oracle and IBM’s services toward PingCAP’s, encapsulating a nation’s resurgent desire to Buy China.PingCAP’s ascendancy comes as the U.S. cuts Huawei Technologies Co. off from key technology, sending chills through the country’s largest entities while raising questions about the security of foreign-made products. That’s a key concern as Chinese companies modernize systems in every industry from finance and manufacturing to healthcare by connecting them to the internet.“A lot of firms that used to resort to Oracle or IBM thought replacing them was a distant milestone, they never thought it would happen tomorrow,” said Huang Dongxu, PingCAP’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “But now they are looking at plan B very seriously.” IBM, which gets over a fifth of its revenue from Asia, declined to comment. Oracle, which gets about 16%, didn’t respond to requests for comment.China has long tried to replace foreign with homegrown technology, particularly in sensitive hardware -- it imports more semiconductors than oil. That imperative has birthed global names like Huawei and Oppo and even carried over into software in recent years, as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. expand into cloud services. That effort has gained urgency since Washington and Beijing began to square off over technology.“China has always wanted to use domestic tech and in areas like cloud, it’s been very successful,” said Julia Pan, a Shanghai-based analyst with UOB Kay Hian. “While it wants to use Chinese chips, its technology is just not there, but when it’s mature enough, they very likely will replace overseas chips with domestic ones.”Now, a coterie of up-and-coming startups are encouraging Chinese firms to go local. Customers use PingCAP to manage databases and improve efficiency, allowing them to store and locate data on everything from online banking transactions to the location of food delivery personnel.Backed by Matrix Partners China and Morningside Venture Capital, PingCAP is competing in a sector traditionally dominated by companies such as Oracle and IBM. The market is expected to grow an average 8% annually to $63 billion globally in the seven years through 2022.The startup is one of the newest members of a cohort of open-source database providers such as PostgreSQL and SQLite that are upending the market. Researcher Gartner forecasts that 70% of new, in-house applications worldwide will be developed on open-source database management systems by 2022.PingCAP -- mashing the term for verifying a web connection, ping, and the CAP computing theorem -- was founded by three programmers whose former employer, a mobile-apps company, was acquired by Alibaba. Inspired by Google’s Cloud Spanner, which pioneered the distributed database model, the trio -- Huang, Liu Qi and Cui Qiu -- began creating an open-source database management system that would allow companies to infinitely expand their data storage by simply linking more servers to existing ones.“Think of traditional database mangers like a fixed glass container, every time you run out of storage you have to get a bigger one,” said Huang. “What our system does is that you can link as many cups together as you want.”Their idea caught on with investors and venture fund hot shots including Matrix agreed to invest about 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) in 2015. To date the company has raised more than $71 million and has about 190 employees.PingCAP is working in a space where competition is fierce -- its database TiDB currently only ranks 121 among global peers, according to database rank compiler DB-Engines, which uses mostly mentions on social media and discussion forums as key metrics. Other open-source database managers such as PostgreSQL ranks 4th and its direct competitor CockroachDB, which also focuses on distributed database systems, leads PingCAP by 30 spots. The Chinese startup also operates in a market where it’s difficult to make money -- PingCAP only has a couple dozen paying customers in China and makes about 10 million yuan in revenue a year. Their best shot is to create successes that can be later replicated on a larger scale, said Owen Chen, an analyst with Gartner. “Work with the 10% early adopters free of charge, and make money off the 90% followers later,” he said.That’s why Huang is working with big names like the Bank of Beijing and Mobike -- so it can create templates for each sector. “Only one thing is certain, data will continue exploding,” said Richard Liu, a founding partner at Morningside Venture Capital. “We have the patience to wait before they figure out the best revenue model.”PingCAP has one thing going for it: Chinese customers are increasingly willing to experiment with technology. Data supplied by some 2,000 companies -- more than 300 in-production users and 1,500 who are testing its system -- will provide PingCAP with what Matrix Partner Kevin Xiong says is akin to a supply of ammunition.“You need bullets to train someone to become a stellar marksman, and PingCAP right now has a lot of bullets,” said Xiong, who invested in the company.Huang points to how PingCAP’s database helped tide over Chinese bike-sharing giant Mobike during stressful days when user and transaction numbers exploded on a daily basis -- at its peak in 2017 the company said it handled as many as 30 million rides a day.“It was a really challenging time for us, and [open-source database] MySQL was no longer able to meet our demands given the jump in data volume,” said Li Kai, a senior tech director at Mobike. “PingCAP really helped us big time.”Huang and his team also made it easy for IT departments to jump ship. With one key stroke, companies could export their entire database on MySQL over to PingCAP’s. Some are considering moving their most sensitive data including transactions and customer info over, Huang said without disclosing names.Yu Zhenhua, an IT manager at Bank of Beijing, said China is constantly trying to enhance information security while his industry wants to lower costs as it rapidly expands. “TiDB’s service meets the demands of what we want in a distributed database manager,” Yu said in a statement posted on PingCAP’s website. A representative for the lender didn’t respond to emailed queries about its collaboration.Longer term, PingCAP wants to venture beyond China -- but there, the geopolitical spat is proving an impediment. Earlier this year, PingCAP was ready to embark on an expansion into the U.S. and said it was already in discussions for getting some prominent tech startups to use its software. Now the prospects of winning over American clients are clouded.“We’re not seeing any immediate impact on our business in the U.S. but the trade war does force us to look at the long term uncertainties of getting important U.S. clients in finance or tech to move to our platform,” Huang said.\--With assistance from Olivia Carville, Nico Grant, Lucas Shaw and Gao Yuan.To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Colum Murphy, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- I’m woken up by an alarm on a home speaker designed by Yandex NV. I go to work in Yandex taxi listening to the company’s music-streaming service. My lunch is delivered by Yandex.Eats. I buy sneakers on the company’s Beru marketplace, and catch up on a series on its Kinopoisk smart-TV app in the evening.You get the picture. Not so long ago, most decisions in Russia were decided by the state. Now, Russia’s largest tech company can cater to your every need.A tech company attempting to offer a range of services to keep users attention is not new. Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc. have been launching new business from internet balloons to healthcare. But few offer the breadth of services offered by Yandex.Five years ago, Yandex was just a search engine trying hard to fend off Google in its local market. Since then it has bought Uber Technologies Inc.’s Russia business, built its voice assistant into cars and home appliances, and more than doubled its revenue. Yandex now claims to have 108 million monthly users, which is about 75% of Russia’s population.Yandex’s expansion -- still focused almost entirely in Russia -- has allowed it to gather significant amount of data on its users, who have to log into each service using the same ID. This has allowed Yandex to offer highly personalized services. In Yandex’s car-sharing app, the dashboard welcomes you by name, turns on your favorite music and maps a route to your home.At a time where tech giants are attempting to convince users they take privacy seriously, Yandex’s Chief Financial Officer Greg Abovsky argues that, despite having expanded to multiple services, it doesn’t know much more about its users than Google does (which could be argued is a lot)."To respond to users’ personal needs, we need not only the data that you tell Yandex directly – like your name and age - but also technical data, including cookies, IP-addresses and GPS coordinates," said Abovsky. “It’s important that these data are processed in anonymized form and automatically - no one can get access to it."Perhaps unsurprisingly, Yandex’s user data has attracted the attention of the Russian government. The company’s email and cloud-storage services are deemed "information-dissemination operators," and monitored by communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, while a 2016 law required internet service providers and mobile telephone operators to store records of users’ online activities for up to six months.Russian authorities also have a legal right to request all your data stored by Yandex -- whom you sent e-mails to, what files you downloaded and possibly everything else linked to your user ID. So far, Yandex has pushed back against government demands to turn over encryption keys that would allow the security services to monitor users’ private data."These additional data it has on users may become important pieces of the puzzle for some advertisers or law-enforcement agencies," said Artem Kozlyuk, head of Roskomsvoboda, a civil-rights lobby group.Yandex’s growth has also led it to shed the role of tech underdog. Back in 2015 it complained to Russia’s antitrust watchdog that Google was abusing its dominance on mobile devices, arguing that Google required phone makers to install a bundle of its services as a pre-condition. Yandex eventually won the case.Now, Yandex is bundling its own services. Last year it introduced Yandex.Plus - somewhat similar to Amazon Prime. Users subscribe to Yandex.Music for $2.69 a month, also gaining access to Yandex’s online-cinema Kinopoisk and discounts for Yandex.Taxi, car-sharing, Beru marketplace and cloud storage. Over 2 million people already use Yandex’s paid subscriptions, most of them via the bundle.When asked if this puts competition for smaller music, ride-hailing or other apps at risk, Abovsky responded: "No. It’s a commercial bundling. We don’t force it on others, consumers are willing to buy or not to buy our bundle. It’s incorrect to compare this with Google’s bundling when they forced phone makers to pre-install only Google services and no one else’s."A few years after shifting from a search engine to a tech company, Yandex is still looking to maintain its rapid growth, with user data at the heart of its business model. Revenue has more than doubled from 60 billion rubles in 2015 to 128 billion rubles ($2 billion) last year.Yandex already makes almost 30% of its revenue outside of internet search. Yandex is now seeking to take on traditional TV. From May, it started selling Module, a $32 device similar to Google’s Chromecast that’s plugged into a TV-set, so that users can watch Yandex.Live streaming channel with content personalized for them, instead of regular TV channels.Yandex has been experimenting with creating its own social network and messenger, but without much success, Abovsky admits. But Yandex.Zen -- a personalized content feed, may make over $100 million revenue this year, he said."Painters polish their skills by copying other painters,” said Abovsky. “The same happens in tech, that’s how progress makes its way."To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Torrey ClarkFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- K-pop sensation BTS has racked up a string of firsts over an astonishing six-year run. Now the seven-member group star in their very own smartphone game, marrying two of South Korea’s hottest exports.Netmarble Corp., the country’s biggest mobile-app publisher, has unveiled a game featuring global K-Pop phenom BTS, the latest attempt to wed the country’s tech and entertainment industries to drive economic growth.“BTS World” contains previously undisclosed videos and photos of the boy band. The game takes players to their pre-debut days to recruit and train the singers. Users can pay to quicken the process of guiding the seven young men to stardom. Created by local developer Takeone Company Corp. and published by Netmarble, the game also features video and text chats with BTS members based on pre-written scripts.It’s the first major mobile title to focus exclusively on a K-Pop group, a testament to the rapidly growing clout of two of Korea’s most promising exports -- games and K-Pop -- as Hyundai cars struggle to regain momentum and Samsung semiconductors undergo an industry downturn.BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts, has amassed millions of fans around the world thanks in large part to social media. The band’s Love Yourself campaign, which calls on people to take better care of themselves and encourages them to speak out on social issues, has resonated in particular with young fans.“Managing BTS myself would make me feel closer to the members,” said Paik Ji-min, a 29-year-old South Korean fan who flew to London to attend a BTS concert and said she would be willing to spend about 50,000 won (around $43) playing the game. “Just the thought of it makes me smile ear to ear.”Netmarble already plans a sequel to BTS World, seeking to maximize profit from what has arguably become the biggest K-Pop success after singer Psy. BTS has 20 million followers on Twitter and has made television appearances on Saturday Night Live and Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show. This year, the band sold out London’s 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium in just 90 minutes.The company’s founder, Bang Jun-hyuk, teamed up with relative Bang Si-hyuk of Big Hit Entertainment, the agency behind BTS, to develop the game. The entrepreneur is betting the recipe will re-energize growth at Netmarble, which trades about 20% lower than when it listed in 2017.“Even though it’s based on story-telling, as you progress you can discover a lot of missions and gaming elements,” Seungwon Lee, Netmarble’s chief global officer, told Bloomberg Television. “It’s sufficient incentive to keep motivating users to play.”BTS creator Bang Si-hyuk, who is also known as Hitman, told Bloomberg in 2017 that the company was diversifying into intellectual property-protected content that could possibly multiply its revenue. Big Hit is now worth an estimated $2 billion, according to the Hyundai Research Institute. The company is drawing on the popularity of the band to collaborate with Line Corp. for character merchandise and Mattel Inc. for dolls. The K-pop industry is worth about $5 billion, according to the government-affiliated Korea Creative Content Agency.Read More: High School Dropout Turns Billionaire on Games Firm IPONetmarble, whose titles include Lineage 2 Revolution and Marvel Future Fight, ranked 5th among publishers of Google Play and Apple iOS apps last year in terms of revenue, according to analytics firm App Annie. Founded in 2000, the Seoul-based company has drawn backing from Chinese giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and South Korean conglomerate CJ Group.Vey-Sern Ling, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said it may be relatively easy to generate money from players because they’re already fans who display a strong willingness to pay for BTS content. But the lifespan of the game could be limited. “Once the content is consumed there should be very little reason to play on, just like how you wouldn’t watch the same movie multiple times,” Ling said.Read More: ‘Hitman’ Worth $770 Million With K-Pop Craze Rocking the PlanetTo contact the reporters on this story: Sohee Kim in Seoul at email@example.com;Sam Kim in Seoul 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) -- Google warned employees about protesting against the internet giant at official company events during Pride celebrations, according to people familiar with the situation.Some workers have been planning protests at the Pride parade this weekend in San Francisco to speak out against the company’s policies on harassment of LGBTQ people on YouTube.The Google video service has been under fire for how it responded to homophobic and racist jokes made in clips by conservative comedian and commentator Steven Crowder. Some Google workers spoke out against YouTube on Twitter, and a small group organized protests last week during the annual shareholder meeting of parent company Alphabet Inc.One of the next steps planned by these employees is to speak out about YouTube during Pride activities this weekend because they think the company hasn’t done enough to quash LGBTQ harassment on the video service, the people said. The parade in San Francisco requires people to be invited to a specific contingent to march, so that often means workers attend as part of groups organized by their employers.Google warned workers not to protest against the company if they are marching with Google’s official contingent. Doing so would violate the company’s code of conduct, according to internal memos viewed by the people. The Verge reported the memos earlier. A Google spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.The company’s actions may violate federal labor law protecting workplace activism, as well as a California law protecting employees’ political activities, according to University of California at Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk. "Maintaining the policy would chill speech that is protected by law," she said."Google has undermined their own reason for participating in the Pride parade by trying to prevent its gay workers from criticizing Google’s alleged failure to address homophobic hate speech," she added. "They have sort of shot themselves in the foot on this one."\--With assistance from Gerrit De Vynck.To contact the reporters on this story: Joshua Brustein in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Josh Eidelson in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is significantly increasing its footprint in Seattle as its expands on a previously announced plan to boost hiring, bringing an additional 2,000 jobs to the area in the next five years.The iPhone maker signed a lease for office space at 333 Dexter, a 660,000-square-foot (61,300-square-meter) development in the South Lake Union neighborhood being built by Kilroy Realty Corp., according to the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan.“These new jobs confirm what we already knew: We have the best talent and city anywhere,” Durkan said in an emailed statement. “Apple’s expanded footprint in Seattle is another example of the growing opportunity that exists for residents of Seattle and the economic powerhouse our city has become.”For years, cranes have dotted the Seattle skyline as builders rushed to accommodate a swelling population and rapidly growing tech firms, led by Amazon.com Inc. That company now employs more than 45,000 at its headquarters in town and occupies about a fifth of the city’s prime office real estate. Other firms have been muscling in to recruit from Seattle’s deep well of engineers. Both Google and Facebook Inc. are leasing offices near 333 Dexter.Apple has a relatively modest presence in the city of about 500 employees. In December, the company said that it planned to add 1,000 jobs in the area over three years as part of a national expansion that also includes spending $1 billion on a new campus in Austin, Texas.To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in Seattle at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org, Dan Reichl, David ScheerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.