• Bloomberg

    Google Scrapped Cloud Initiative in China, Other Markets

    (Bloomberg) -- Google abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the pandemic, according to two employees familiar with the matter, revealing the challenges for U.S. tech giants to secure business in those markets.In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as “Isolated Region” and which sought to address nations’ desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a “massive strategy shift,” according to one of the employees, who said Isolated Region had involved hundreds of workers scattered around the world.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pouring money into cloud computing, part of a broader effort to find new sources of growth beyond search advertising. Google Cloud generated $8.9 billion in revenue in 2019 -- a 53% increase over the previous year -- as it has pushed into sectors such as finance and government that require special security clearance and features that shield confidential data. Rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. already offer these capabilities via their cloud units.Google’s recent decision to nix the Isolated Region project was made partly because of global political divisions, which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the two employees, who requested anonymity because the project hasn’t previously been made public. The geopolitical issues placed demands on Isolated Region that it couldn’t deliver, according to one of the employees. Documents provided to workers also detailed global tensions and their influence on Isolated Region’s closure, the employee said.The initiative would have allowed Google to set up cloud services controlled by a third party, such as a locally owned company or a government agency. The result would be a business sequestered from Google’s existing cloud computing services, which include data centers and computer networks.In January 2019, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China, Google decided to pause its plans for Isolated Region in China and instead began to prioritize potential customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the two employees. But the project was scrapped entirely this May, the two employees said. Google has since weighed a pared back cloud offering to enter China, according to the two employees.‘Other Approaches’A Google spokeswoman, speaking after the story was published, said Isolated Region wasn’t shut down over geopolitical concerns or the pandemic. She also said the company isn’t weighing options to offer the Google Cloud Platform in China.Isolated Region was shelved because “other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” she said, declining to detail those approaches. “We have a comprehensive approach to addressing these requirements that covers the governance of data, operational practices and survivability of software,” the spokeswoman said. “Isolated Region was just one of the paths we explored to address these requirements.”“What we learned from customer conversations and input from government stakeholders in Europe and elsewhere is that other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” the spokeswoman said. “Google does not offer and has not offered cloud platform services inside China.” According to one of the employees, the plan involved selling cloud services in what Google calls “sovereignty sensitive markets,” such as China and the E.U., where there are strict laws for companies offering services that involve the collection or processing of people’s data.The project, which began in early 2018, sought to address rules in China that require Western companies to form a joint venture with a Chinese partner company when they provide data or networking services, one of the employees said. In such a relationship, the partner company would have retained both physical and administrative control over user data. The arrangement was intended to satisfy Chinese authorities while also providing a barrier between Google’s Isolated Region cloud services and the rest of its data center network, which stores and processes emails, documents, photographs and other data from its users, the employee said.By handing over control of user data to third party companies in foreign countries, Isolated Region also aimed to appease privacy concerns about the U.S. government’s potential ability to carry out covert surveillance of Google’s Cloud services, the employee said. Those concerns increased in March 2018, following the passing of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, better known as the CLOUD Act, a federal law that granted U.S. law enforcement agencies more power to request personal data stored by American technology companies even if the data is stored on servers located outside of the U.S., the employee said.Data SovereigntySome employees expressed concern about the Cloud project in China and questioned their superiors about it, according to one of the employees. But it’s not known if employee opposition was a factor in Google’s decision to stop the initiative in China or elsewhere.Isolated Region was part of a larger Google project known as “Sharded Google,” which has sought to develop new data storage and processing facilities, known as “shards,” that are walled off from the rest of the company’s systems, according to the employees.Major cloud providers are all racing to develop data centers that are either physically separated or rely on complex software to keep information flows apart.It’s a costly process, driven by rising demand on two fronts. One is from firms in specific industries, such as finance, that want isolated machinery for security reasons. Another comes from laws that require data reaped inside the country to stay there, with China being perhaps the most stringent example.Both trends are accelerating. More than 100 countries have some sort of data sovereignty laws in place, according to David Gilmore, chief executive officer of DataFleets Ltd., an enterprise software firm. In the U.S., state policies, such as California’s new consumer privacy law, provide further restrictions on how cloud companies handle data. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.France and Germany recently started Gaia-X, an effort to build the continent’s own data storage systems over the internet without relying on U.S. technology giants.Cloud RegionsProtectionism is a major force in these calls for data localization, said Trey Herr, director for the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council. “Part of it is security,” he said. “A lot of it is economic.”Google’s competitors in this space, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have dominated the market in recent years. Cloud regions let companies offer the horsepower and security of multiple data centers. Microsoft has more than 60 cloud regions globally, more than double AWS and Google. The Google spokeswoman said the company defines regions differently.In 2018, Google considered building an isolated version of its systems to support a classified U.S. government computer network. The system, known as “air gap,” would have been disconnected from the internet and from Google’s existing servers, and was designed to be used only on high-security government networks that store secret information.But the air gap project was shelved after internal opposition. Some employees said they feared the system would lead to work with the U.S. military, which they opposed for ethical reasons. Other employees opposed it on technical grounds and thought it would be too hard to deliver.In China, Google has long been eyeing ways to access the country’s lucrative marketplace, where there are approximately 900 million internet users. While Amazon and Microsoft sell their cloud services in mainland China, Google hasn’t. But about three years ago, the company began talks with Chinese firms about providing its main data storage service in the nation through a joint venture, as Amazon and Microsoft do. Google also provided some of its free machine learning tools in China, and the company started working on projects to provide more software tools to developers there.Most of those efforts, however, were shut down by Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian, shortly after he took over the division in January 2019, according to one person involved in the plans. At that time, political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China were rising. In addition, Google’s actions in the country had come under increased scrutiny, following leaks about a plan for a censored Chinese version of its search engine.Isolation Region was conceived as another potential product for Google to offer in China, according to one of the Google employees. But key political impediments contributed to the decline of the project in China and elsewhere, including the U.S. national security orders against China telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. and the fallout from the pandemic, according to the employee; Google disputes that the pandemic or geopolitical issues were factors.Kurian didn’t scrap all of Google Cloud’s China-related work. According to one of the Google employees, and another person familiar with Google’s cloud operations, the company has continued to explore the possibility of rolling out a service called Anthos in the country. Launched in 2019, Anthos lets companies using one cloud provider easily add on another. Businesses across the globe have adapted this strategy as a way to hedge financial and infrastructure risk. The Google spokeswoman said the company has no plans to provide Anthos in China.In a September 2019 interview with CNBC, Kurian said that Google’s cloud business was seeing “enormous growth” and hadn’t been affected by the U.S. trade war with China. He pointed to the company’s large presence in Hong Kong and Taiwan and didn’t rule out expanding into China’s cloud market. “We continue to monitor the demand for our technology from Chinese customers,” he said.(Updates with additional comments from Google starting in the sixth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • US STOCKS-Nasdaq ends at record high as Wall St rises with tech shares

    US STOCKS-Nasdaq ends at record high as Wall St rises with tech shares

    U.S stocks rose on Wednesday and the Nasdaq hit a record closing high, supported by technology shares as early signs of an economic rebound offset concern about further lockdowns due to a jump in coronavirus cases across the country. Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp provided the biggest boosts to the Dow and S&P 500, with the S&P 500 technology index up 1.6% and leading sector gains. The Nasdaq outpaced the other two major indexes, ending 1.4% higher, led by Amazon.com, its fourth record closing high this month.

  • Reuters

    CORRECTED-Oracle offers to put its new cloud technology inside customer data centers

    Oracle Corp on Wednesday said it is now offering to put all of its cloud computing technology inside its customers' data centers for an $18 million spending commitment over three years and has signed customers in Japan and Oman. Cloud computing emerged more than a decade ago. Technology companies, such as Amazon.com's Amazon Web Services, used their expertise at owning and operating data centers efficiently to rent out computing capacity and software tools to other businesses over the internet.

  • Google, Amazon Funnel Money to Virus Conspiracy Sites: Study

    Google, Amazon Funnel Money to Virus Conspiracy Sites: Study

    (Bloomberg) -- Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Amazon.com Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday.Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.GDI made the estimates in a study that analyzed ads running between January and June on 480 English language websites identified as publishers of virus misinformation. Some of the ads were for brands including cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA, furniture website Wayfair Inc. and imaging technology company Canon Inc. The data exclude social-media and online-video services, so the true total is likely much higher.“This report is flawed in that it neither defines what should be considered disinformation nor are its revenue calculations transparent or realistic,” a Google spokesperson said.The company doesn’t check whether websites are publishing truthful or accurate information before running ads. However, the internet giant reviewed 10 articles highlighted by the study where Google ads ran. It demonetized five of the web pages, meaning it removed the ability to make money from ads. “Google has strict publisher policies designed to prevent harmful, dangerous and fraudulent content from monetizing. We also continue to take an aggressive approach to COVID-19 content that makes harmful medical claims contradicting the guidance of global health authorities,” the spokesperson added. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment. Governments and health officials are still learning more about the virus, and this has allowed misinformation to flourish online. Silicon Valley giants have pledged to crack down, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed ads from sites that violate its policies. However, GDI thinks these platforms need to do more to limit the spread of misinformation.“The difference between what the companies say publicly about their dedication to not monetizing hate speech and harmful content, especially around the pandemic, is not matching up with what our data is telling us that’s actually happening,” said Danny Rogers, co-founder of the Global Disinformation Index.In an ad delivered on May 19 by Amazon, a L’Oreal product was promoted on Americanthinker.com next to an article titled “Is Big Pharma Suppressing Hydroxychloroquine?” Earlier this month, Google served up a Bloomberg News ad on the website Bigleaguepolitics.com, according to the GDI report.The Global Disinformation Index is a U.K.-based research group that provides disinformation risk ratings on media sites all over the world. GDI said it presented Google, Amazon and OpenX with the latest findings from its report and none of the tech companies provided a formal response. The group updates its research weekly and often tells tech companies when their platforms place ads on misinformation sites.The research group releases this information, in part, as a way to alert advertisers when their marketing spots show up on this kind of website. These brands can help by pulling ads from tech platforms when they see issues like this, Rogers said.(Updates with no comment from Amazon in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Runup in Tech Mega-Caps Sows Doubt Before Key Earnings Reports

    Runup in Tech Mega-Caps Sows Doubt Before Key Earnings Reports

    (Bloomberg) -- Some of Wall Street’s biggest stocks are coming off their best quarterly performance in years, and with the broader economy still grappling with the pandemic, analysts are starting to express some skepticism about high-profile rallies.The S&P 500 surged 20% in the second quarter, its biggest quarterly gain since 1998. While the superlative nature of the rally was partly a function of timing -- many components hit a bottom right before the end of the first quarter -- the move was fueled by tech and internet stocks, which outperformed the benchmark and have heavy weightings due to their massive market capitalizations.Apple and Amazon.com both gained more than 40% during the quarter, making it the iPhone maker’s best quarter since 2012 and Amazon’s best since 2010.On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank confessed it was “surprised at both the speed and magnitude of the rebound” in Apple shares, adding that the move “has us nervous.” Raymond James echoed this tone on Tuesday, seeing uncertainty surrounding Apple’s forecast given an expected delay in the iPhone 12, a product Nomura Instinet expects “will fall short of a supercycle.” Both Deutsche Bank and Raymond James still recommend buying Apple shares.Amazon remains a consensus favorite on Wall Street -- more than 90% of the firms tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying it -- but the degree to which the share price exceeds analysts’ average price target is near a multiyear high, suggesting that even bulls aren’t expecting much additional upside.Among other mega-cap names, Microsoft rose 29% over the second quarter, its best such showing since 2009. Both Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet notched their biggest quarterly gain since 2013, with Facebook up 36% and Alphabet up 22%, based on its Class A shares. Netflix rose 21% last quarter.All are at or near record levels, and the rallies will soon be tested as each member of the group is scheduled to post quarterly results before the end of the month, with Microsoft and Netflix reporting next week.Apple EstimatesFor Apple, the rally has come despite a more tepid view for its upcoming results. Wall Street expects third-quarter earnings, excluding some items, of $2.03 a share, a consensus that is down 6.8% from where it was three months ago. The consensus for revenue has declined 0.9% over the same period.While analysts debate whether the results will justify the recent gains, many of these names are seen as potential pandemic winners. Microsoft is expected to see stronger demand for its cloud-computing and workplace collaboration products as people continue to work remotely, while the e-commerce wave lifting Amazon and others is seen as outlasting the coronavirus’s impact on brick-and-mortar stores.Apple analysts also see a number of reasons to be optimistic for the long term, including the company’s services business, wearable products, and its stock-buyback program. “Overall, we believe the directionality and reasoning behind AAPL’s stock rise,” Deutsche Bank’s Jeriel Ong wrote. Still, the firm has “ambivalence at these levels.”Firms expressed a similar sentiment about Netflix, which has seen higher engagement during the pandemic. Rosenblatt Securities “struggle[s] to see the upside” from current levels given “uncertainty over how [long] this favorable environment will last.” Stifel continues “to grapple with the risk/reward profile given limited 2H visibility.”Imperial Capital downgraded the stock earlier this week, moving away from an outperform rating that it had held since starting coverage on Netflix about two years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Following the recent advance, Netflix “will begin a fairly extensive range-bound trend as other long opportunities emerge in the media space,” the firm said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Has Wayfair's Stock Gotten Ahead of Itself?
    Motley Fool

    Has Wayfair's Stock Gotten Ahead of Itself?

    Wayfair's stock has been on a roll, but is this justified for a company that hasn't produced a profit?

  • Got $3,000 to Invest? These 3 Stocks Could Deliver Explosive Gains
    Motley Fool

    Got $3,000 to Invest? These 3 Stocks Could Deliver Explosive Gains

    The same amount invested in Netflix on this date in 2005 would be worth a whopping $602,000, and the same $3,000 investment in Shopify five years ago would be worth approximately $97,500 at today's prices. Here's why Cloudflare (NYSE: NET), Impinj (NASDAQ: PI), and HUYA (NYSE: HUYA) are top stocks for risk-tolerant investors seeking massive returns. You may not have heard of Cloudflare, but it's a virtual certainty that you've visited websites that depend on the company's technology.

  • Penny Stocks or Fractional Shares? Where to Invest Just a Few Dollars at a Time
    Motley Fool

    Penny Stocks or Fractional Shares? Where to Invest Just a Few Dollars at a Time

    Investing isn't just for wealthy people -- although the share prices of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) might indicate otherwise. Two low-dollar options are penny stocks, which have been around as long as stock markets have, and fractional shares, which are a relatively new development in the financial industry. Fractional shares are a different thing entirely.

  • Is Okta Stock a Buy?
    Motley Fool

    Is Okta Stock a Buy?

    The cloud-based identity specialist Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA) is poised to profit from the secular shift to cloud computing. But with its stock price close to its all-time highs after having more than doubled from its March lows, is it still a good time for investors to get involved? Gaining market share in the growing identity and access management market Enterprises have been moving applications and infrastructures to the cloud over the last several years to profit from increased flexibility.

  • How Fast Is Too Fast Where Fashion Is Concerned?

    How Fast Is Too Fast Where Fashion Is Concerned?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Fast-fashion trailblazer Boohoo Group Plc is being forced to slow down.Retailers including Amazon.com Plc, Next Plc and Asos Plc are dropping Boohoo products after a Sunday Times article alleged unfair working conditions in its U.K. manufacturing chain in Leicester, England. The company came under criticism from social influencers including former reality TV star Vas J Morgan and model Jayde Pierce. Boycottboohoo has been trending on Twitter.After losing 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in market value this week, Boohoo said on Wednesday it’s launching an independent review of its supply chain led by Alison Levitt, a lawyer and former public prosecutor. It also cut ties with two suppliers that infringed on its code of conduct, but said there were inaccuracies in the newspaper report.Even though the investigation will not be completed for some time, the fast-growing company, founded in 2006 to make cheap, catwalk-inspired fashions for young shoppers, is right to take action. Boohoo will bolster its board by appointing two more independent non-executive directors with backgrounds in environmental, social and governance issues. It is essential that it makes quality hires. But it should go further. Co-founder Mahmud Kamani remains executive chairman. If the company is serious about putting itself on a surer footing, it should appoint a strong, independent chairman.One option would be to elevate Brian Small, the former finance director of JD Sports Fashion Plc, who is currently Boohoo’s deputy chairman and senior independent director. Part of Boohoo’s problem is that it has been growing at breakneck speed and hoovering up rival high-street brands. As sales fly, suppliers struggle to keep up, and so they subcontract to other companies, further removed from the retailer. This is what appears to have happened in this case highlighted by the Sunday Times, according to Boohoo’s investigations into the report. Boohoo is now taking steps to crack down on this practice, refusing to place orders with big suppliers unless they disclose subcontractors and allow them to be audited. Boohoo’s new chief executive officer, John Lyttle, has experience tackling this kind of situation. He was formerly chief operating officer at Associated British Foods Plc’s Primark, which has dealt with its own supply chain issues in the past. Even so, there will be costs associated with scrutinizing and overhauling the manufacturing base, and they may ultimately have to be passed onto Boohoo’s customers.The company will invest 10 million pounds to eradicate supply chain malpractice. But it’s not clear what will be found in the independent review. If there are shortcomings, they must be dealt with, at the requisite cost. Boohoo, whose cheap, dressy clothes are often discarded once they’ve appeared in enough selfies, is particularly vulnerable to environmental, and now social, criticism. Sports Direct saw its sales slow after allegations in 2015 about poor conditions in its distribution center in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. Although Boohoo no longer supplies Amazon directly, the U.S. online retailer still holds stock from Boohoo and its associated brands from previous agreements. It will be suspending these products as well as any offered by third-party sellers while Boohoo conducts its investigation.While many young people say they are concerned about the environment and working conditions, it’s not clear how many Boohoo customers will care enough to stop buying its puff-sleeve blouses and very short denim shorts. They may care more about increases in price however, particularly if they have been furloughed because of the coronavirus lockdown or risk losing their jobs altogether in the health crisis’s aftermath.So Boohoo has many challenges ahead. It will have to balance a potentially higher cost base with its low prices, while working to integrate recent acquisitions and manage a growth rate that is still likely to be superior to rivals.That is even more reason why a strong independent chairman must be recruited without delay.(Updates to explain Amazon’s relationship with Boohoo in 11th paragraph.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Amazon Finally Makes a Basic Netflix Feature Available in the U.S.
    Motley Fool

    Amazon Finally Makes a Basic Netflix Feature Available in the U.S.

    Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) is finally bringing the account-profile feature for its Prime Video service to the U.S. The feature is a standard on Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Disney's (NYSE: DIS) new Disney+ service. Amazon began rolling out the account enhancement earlier this year in India and some countries in Africa and Asia, but it was launching the feature in phases to the rest of the world.

  • 3 Stay-at-Home Tech Stocks to Buy in July
    Motley Fool

    3 Stay-at-Home Tech Stocks to Buy in July

    Three technology stocks I think will do well now and on into the future are Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA), American Software (NASDAQ: AMSWA), and Limelight Networks (NASDAQ: LLNW). Mobile gaming creator Zynga is a company I have followed for years but never quite gotten around to purchasing. Back in early April, I called the small company responsible for popular titles like Words With Friends, FarmVille, Zynga Poker, and CSR Racing a buy, but amid the market meltdown other stocks ultimately won out for my investment funds.

  • Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet CEOs to Testify in Congress This Month
    Motley Fool

    Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet CEOs to Testify in Congress This Month

    The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is very interested in what the quartet has to say about market dominance and competition.

  • Dish's Decision to Freeze Sling TV's Price Is Savvy, But Not Enough
    Motley Fool

    Dish's Decision to Freeze Sling TV's Price Is Savvy, But Not Enough

    The robust streaming platform is out of place, neither being a complete cable package nor a low-cost a la carte option.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet

  • Have Money You're Waiting to Invest? Buy These 2 Stocks When the Market Pulls Back
    Motley Fool

    Have Money You're Waiting to Invest? Buy These 2 Stocks When the Market Pulls Back

    Home Depot (NYSE: HD) proved to be resilient during the pandemic. Importantly, in the post-pandemic long run, Home Depot can stave off Amazon from encroaching on its business. The initiative aims to make it easier for customers to order online and pick up in-store, for example, which is a more profitable transaction for Home Depot compared to shipping.

  • Dow Jones Futures: Apple, Amazon Lead Coronavirus Stock Market Rally Amid 9 Breakouts; Tesla, Nio Finally Reverse
    Investor's Business Daily

    Dow Jones Futures: Apple, Amazon Lead Coronavirus Stock Market Rally Amid 9 Breakouts; Tesla, Nio Finally Reverse

    Apple and Amazon led Wednesday's stock market rally as Fortinet, gold stocks and several others broke out. Tesla and rival Nio finally reversed.

  • GuruFocus.com

    US Indexes Close Higher Wednesday

    Nasdaq gains 1.44% Continue reading...