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While trying to access the service, users were greeted by an image of "Mickey Mouse" on a blue screen, with a message asking them to exit the app and try again. Disney did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.
(Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.’s much-anticipated debut of its new streaming video service was marred by early technical glitches and crashes for some users, though it was still stirring excitement and buzz on social media and worked successfully for many subscribers.New Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” was trending on social media, and Twitter users were proclaiming their excitement at finally being able to sign up and watch Disney+ after months of well-orchestrated anticipation from the Disney marketing machine.But some users reported trouble getting the app to work as soon as they tried to log on in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada was awakening. Problems reported on the @DisneyPlusHelp Twitter handle ranged from “service not available” to specific issues such as “The early seasons of The Simpsons are in the wrong aspect ratio.”The glitches ramped up from about a hundred reported outages to more than 7,000 within the span of an hour on DownDetector.com. They were still over 6,900 as of 8:45 a.m. New York time.In its quest to turn a nearly century-old entertainment giant into a streaming leader, Disney is entering a market already crowded with heavy hitters, including Netflix Inc., Amazon.com and Apple Inc. And more rivals are diving in soon, such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. next year. The world’s largest entertainment company thinks it can seize the day with a product packed with the company’s best movies and TV shows, including “Star Wars,” Marvel and Pixar films, as well as its library of some 400 children’s movies.“I feel great about what we’ve done,” Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger told a roomful of reporters last week. “I love the app. It’s rich in content. It’s rich in brands. It’s rich in library.”Priced at $7 a month, Disney+ is a bet that the company can attract as many as 90 million subscribers worldwide in five years.It already has some key allies. Some 19 million Verizon Communications Inc. customers will be able to get the service free for the first year, thanks to a deal Disney cut with the carrier. Disney fan club members, meanwhile, got to prepay for a three-year subscription for less than $4 a month.“These are deals you just can’t beat,” said Kevin Mayer, who heads Disney’s direct-to-consumer division and has helped craft the streaming strategy.The company’s shares were up almost 1% to $138 in early U.S. trading.Disney is looking to make the product accessible to as many people as possible. Customers will get to store their password in as many as 10 devices per family and watch four concurrent streams of movies or shows.The site is designed around five main “tiles,” named after the company’s key brands, including Marvel and the recently acquired National Geographic channel. Disney is spending $1 billion on new programming -- such as “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action “Star Wars” series -- in the first year alone. Disney+ also will offer the “Star Wars” movies in 4K-definition video for the first time.Unlike Netflix, which releases new seasons of programs all at once. Disney+ will put out one episode per week for its original shows. The programs will come out at midnight Pacific time on Fridays -- timing geared toward attracting a global audience, according to Ricky Strauss, Disney’s head of content and marketing for the product.A key part of Disney’s streaming strategy is bundling its services together. For $12.99, subscribers can get a package that includes Disney+, ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu. Those three services would cost about $18 a month if purchased individually.It’s all coming at great cost to the company. Mayer’s direct-to-consumer division saw its losses more than double to $740 million in the quarter that ended in September. The company doesn’t expect to make a profit on Disney+ for at least five years.But the marketing blitz for the new service seems to have paid off. UBS Group AG analyst John Hodulik surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in October and found some 86% had heard of Disney+. Nearly half were likely to subscribe.The company created its largest cross-promotional push ever, putting solicitations for the new service in Disney-owned hotels and its radio network. Disney also promoted the new service on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Fans watched a preview of Disney+’s new “High School Musical” spinoff on ABC on Friday.“If you haven’t heard about Disney+ by Tuesday,” Strauss said last week. “I promise you will.”Among the new originals on the show is a live-action version of “Lady and the Tramp.” Normally a remake of a classic like that would get a big premiere, a theatrical run and advertising everywhere.In the streaming era, it gets dropped on a Tuesday morning. The question now is whether the Disney magic still comes through without the Hollywood glamour.Either way, Disney doesn’t have much of a choice, said David Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School.“Netflix has changed the nature of the game,” Yoffie said. “If they didn’t participate, they would be left behind.”\--With assistance from Brandon Kochkodin.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org;Scott Moritz in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Rob GolumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) gains from expansion plans and sales building initiatives amid an industry that is increasingly plagued with high cost of operations and competition.
Alibaba Rakes In 38 Billion Singles It’s the 11th year for the single biggest 11-11 singles day singled out to take place in a single day, though no discrimination against non singles intended. Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) has surpassed the $38 billion mark in sales during its iconic Singles Day, which may not be as impressive as […]The post Market Morning: Alibaba's Billions, Boeing's Reprieve, Colorado Cannabis Records, Hong Kong Bleeds appeared first on Market Exclusive.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. pitches its new card as a model of simplicity and transparency, upending everything consumers think about credit cards.But for the card’s overseers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., it’s creating the same headaches that have bedeviled an industry the companies had hoped to disrupt.Social media postings in recent days by a tech entrepreneur and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak complaining about unequal treatment of their wives ignited a firestorm that’s engulfed the two giants of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, casting a pall over what the companies had claimed was the most successful launch of a credit card ever.Goldman has said it’s done nothing wrong. There’s been no evidence that the bank, which decides who gets an Apple Card and how much they can borrow, intentionally discriminated against women. But that may be the point, according to critics. The complex models that guide its lending decisions may inadvertently produce results that disadvantage certain groups.The problem -- in Washington it’s referred to as “disparate impact” -- is one the financial industry has spent years trying to address. The increasing use of algorithms in lending decisions has sharpened the years-long debate, as consumer advocates, armed with what they claim is supporting research, are pushing regulators and companies to rethink whether models are only entrenching discrimination that algorithm-driven lending is meant to stamp out.“Because machines can treat similarly-situated people and objects differently, research is starting to reveal some troubling examples in which the reality of algorithmic decision-making falls short of our expectations, or is simply wrong,” Nicol Turner Lee, a fellow at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, recently told Congress.Wozniak and David Heinemeier Hansson said on Twitter that their wives were given significantly lower limits on their Apple Cards, despite sharing finances and filing joint tax returns. Wozniak said he and his wife report the same income and have a joint bank account, which should mean that lenders view them as equals.One reason Goldman has become a poster child for the issue is that the Apple Card, unlike much of the industry, doesn’t let households share accounts. That could lead to family members getting significantly different credit limits. Goldman says it’s considering offering the option.The bank said in a tweet it would also re-evaluate credit decisions if the borrowing limit is lower than the customer expected.“We have not and never will make decisions based on factors like gender,” the company said. “In fact, we do not know your gender or marital status during the Apple Card application process.”With this month’s snafu, Goldman has found itself in the middle of one of the thorniest laws in finance: the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The 1974 law prohibits lenders from considering sex or marital status and was later expanded to prohibit discrimination based on other factors including race, color, religion, national origin and whether a borrower receives public assistance.The issue gained national prominence in the 1970s when Jorie Lueloff Friedman, a prominent Chicago television anchor, began reporting on her own experience with losing access to some of her credit card accounts at local retailers after she married her husband, who was unemployed at the time. She ultimately testified before Congress, saying “in the eyes of a credit department, it seems, women cease to exist and become non-persons when they get married.”FTC WarningA 2016 study by credit reporting agency Experian found that women had higher credit scores, less debt, and a lower rate of late mortgage payments than men. Still, the Federal Trade Commission has warned that women may continue to face difficulties in getting credit.Freddy Kelly, chief executive officer of Credit Kudos, a London-based credit scoring startup, pointed to the gender pay gap, where women are typically paid less than men for performing the same job, as one reason lenders may be stingy with how much they let women borrow.Using complex algorithms that take into account hundreds of variables should lead to more just outcomes than relying on error-prone loan officers who may harbor biases against certain groups, proponents say.“It’s hard for humans to manually identify these characteristics that would make someone more creditworthy,” said Paul Gu, co-founder of Upstart Network Inc., a tech firm that uses artificial intelligence to help banks make loans.Upstart uses borrowers’ educational backgrounds to make lending decisions, which could run afoul of federal law. In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau told the company it wouldn’t be penalized as part of an ongoing push to understand how lenders use non-traditional data for credit decisions.AI PushConsumer advocates reckon that outsourcing decision-making to computers could ultimately result in unfair lending practices, according to a June memorandum prepared by Democratic congressional aides working for the House Financial Services Committee. The memo cited studies that suggest algorithmic underwriting can result in discrimination, such as one that found black and Latino borrowers were charged more for home mortgages.Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, which launched an investigation into Goldman’s credit card practices, described algorithms in a Bloomberg Television interview as a “black box.” Wozniak and Hansson said they struggled to get someone on the phone to explain the decision.“Algorithms are not only nonpublic, they are actually treated as proprietary trade secrets by many companies,” Rohit Chopra, an FTC commissioner, said last month. “To make matters worse, machine learning means that algorithms can evolve in real time with no paper trail on the data, inputs, or equations used to develop a prediction.“Victims of discriminatory algorithms seldom if ever know they have been victimized,” Chopra said.(Updates with Goldman comments in ninth and 10th paragraphs.)To contact the reporters on this story: Shahien Nasiripour in New York at email@example.com;Jenny Surane in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sridhar Natarajan in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, Steve Dickson, Daniel TaubFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk might have finally made good on his long-promised “short burn of the century” last month at Tesla Inc., but that doesn’t mean the bears will go wanting.They can just turn to GrubHub Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. in the wake of the struggling food-delivery app’s historic sell-off and the ride-hailing company’s underwhelming year. They’ve become the most profitable U.S. stocks to sell short. Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla had held that title until its surprise third-quarter profit triggered a 36% rally.GrubHub has now become 2019’s most lucrative short with a mark-to-market profit of around $829 million, according to Nov. 11 data provided by S3 Partners research head Ihor Dusaniwsky. The company is followed by Uber, which shows a $626 million mark-to-market gain for shorts this year.The pair unseated Tesla, which topped the list earlier this year. Now Tesla short-sellers are looking at $709.6 million in mark-to-market losses for 2019, according to S3.Bears gained the upper hand at GrubHub as it plunged a record 43% after its fourth-quarter revenue guidance missed analyst estimates. Some of the company’s largest rivals, Uber Eats and DoorDash, are taking share from GrubHub’s core U.S. market, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mandeep Singh. Its sales growth is expected to “decelerate meaningfully in 2020,” he wrote in a recent note.Uber has declined 3.1% since its 180-day lock-up period expired last week and is hovering around the lowest level since it went public in May. A regulatory filing showed that the company’s founder, Travis Kalanick, sold 20% of his stake in the company.Below is a list of top 10 most profitable shorts in the U.S. this year:By contrast, the least profitable shorts this year, per S3 data, are Apple Inc. and Alibaba Inc.The S&P 500 Information Technology Index, which includes some of the names in this list, has advanced 39% this year.To contact the reporters on this story: Anisha Sircar in New York at email@example.com;Tatiana Darie in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at email@example.com, Richard Richtmyer, Jennifer Bissell-LinskFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is likely to signal again this week that monetary policy is on hold, buttressing the belief that he may steer clear of action through 2020.Surprisingly, that would be an historic anomaly for a U.S. presidential election year. Rather than keeping its head down, the Fed has changed policy in one direction or another in each of the last 10 presidential polling years -- though in 2016 it didn’t act to raise interest rates until after the November election.In 2012 the Fed didn’t move its benchmark rate, which was already at zero, but did announce its third round of large-scale asset purchases in September.“If you look back in history and see what the Fed did in election years, the Fed did everything they had to do,’’ said Roberto Perli, a partner at Cornerstone Macro in Washington. The best way for them to preserve their independence and credibility “is to do what they think is right.’’That hasn’t always shielded them from criticism. President George H.W. Bush famously blamed then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan for costing him re-election in 1992 by failing to cut interest rates more aggressively. But it’s particularly vital now for the Fed to make the case that its policies are warranted by the economic outlook because of the relentless public assault on the institution by President Donald Trump.Click here for the World Interest Rate Probability toolBreaking with more than a quarter century of precedent, Trump has repeatedly lambasted the Fed and accused it of keeping credit too tight, most recently on Oct. 31, the day after it reduced rates for the third time this year.Powell will have a chance to make his case twice this week, on Wednesday before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and on Thursday to the House Budget Committee. He’s likely to echo the message he delivered after the latest Fed rate cut: The economy and monetary policy are in good place in the 11th year of America’s longest expansion.Investors seem to agree. Stock and bond prices have risen in recent days on signs that the U.S. economy is weathering a slowdown abroad and on hopes of a phase-one deal in the U.S.-China trade war.“Things feel a lot less threatening than they did two months ago,’’ said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist with Northern Trust Corp. in Chicago. “The data for the U.S. has suggested that we’re not on the edge of falling off a cliff.”Front and center in that regard was the October employment report, which showed payrolls rising by 128,000 despite the loss of 41,600 jobs due to the since-ended General Motors Co. strike.Solid PayrollsThe solid jobs report allayed fears that companies spooked by the worldwide slowdown would chop payrolls just as they have done to capital outlays.It also bolstered the Fed’s hopes that the consumer will continue to have the staying power to keep the expansion on track in the face of cutbacks by businesses.Coupled with the policy message coming from Powell, the improved economic data prompted such Fed watchers as Michael Feroli of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Matthew Luzzetti of Deutsche Bank Securities to rescind their forecasts of further rate cuts.‘Material Reassessment’Powell told reporters on Oct. 30 that it would take a “material reassessment’’ of the economic outlook for the Fed to change its current 1.5% to 1.75% interest rate target range.In their September forecasts, policy makers saw the economy growing by 2% in 2020, inflation rising to near their 2% target and unemployment ending the year at 3.7%, according to their median projection. They’ll update predictions at their Dec. 10-11 meeting.Speaking to Bloomberg Television on Nov. 1, Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida said if the central bank saw “accumulating evidence” that it was missing on its mandate for maximum employment or stable prices, or the growth needed to sustain both goals, “we would have to factor that in.”Never BetterWhile saying that he still saw downside risks to the outlook, Clarida also highlighted the financial strength of U.S. households. “In the aggregate, the U.S. consumer’s never been in better shape,” he said.Deutsche’s Luzzetti said it would take a real crack in the labor market and the consumer for the Fed to resume reducing rates. He expects policy to remain on hold next year even though he sees slowing growth pushing unemployment to 3.9%. It was 3.6% in October.The bar to a rate hike seems even higher. Powell said that any decision to raise rates would be tied to the behavior of inflation, which remains stuck below the Fed’s 2% target.“We would need to see a really significant move up in inflation that’s persistent before we would consider raising rates to address inflation concerns,’’ Powell said.In describing the Fed’s current strategy, Powell has referred to the mid-cycle policy adjustment in 1995 and 1996, when Greenspan lowered rates three times after raising them previously.The final cut back then came in January 1996, the start of a presidential election year. The central bank then kept rates unchanged for the rest of 1996.“The Fed is probably on hold for a very long period of time,’’ Northern Trust’s Tannenbaum said.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Condon in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Rich Miller in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Margaret Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alister Bull, Vince GolleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The male-dominated finance industry is missing out on more than $700 billion a year in revenue by failing to listen to or tailor products for women, according to management consultancy Oliver Wyman.“Women are arguably the single largest under-served group of customers in financial services,” Jessica Clempner, the report’s lead author, said in a statement Tuesday. “Firms are leaving money on the table by not listening to and understanding their women customers.”Many products that appear gender-neutral actually default to men’s needs, with wealth products in particular not consistently designed for women’s financial lives, the report said.For example, if insurers sold life policies to women at the same rate as to men, they could generate $500 billion in new premiums, Oliver Wyman estimated. Women also tend to hold more of their assets in cash rather than stocks and bonds, costing wealth and asset managers a potential $25 billion in fees.Apple Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. were recently caught up in the growing debate about whether lenders unintentionally discriminate when they use algorithms to determine how Americans borrow money, after a viral tweet from a tech entrepreneur alleged gender discrimination in the new Apple Card.Read more: Apple Co-Founder Says Goldman’s Apple Card Algo DiscriminatesThe problems are compounded by lack of women in senior management in the finance industry. Just 20% of finance executives globally are women, up from 16% in 2016, the report said. The industry continues to grapple with many of the same challenges as it has in the past, including the mid-career gap that holds many women back, it said.(Corrects new premium amount in fourth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Cadman in Sydney at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Marcus Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org, Peter Vercoe, Katrina NicholasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
During commercial breaks in a broadcast of World Wrestling Entertainment's WWE SmackDown, fans were shown ads for Walt Disney Co's new streaming service, Disney+. "Try to keep up," said Captain Marvel in one ad after a series of fast-paced clips from "Star Wars," "The Simpsons," "The Avengers" and other Disney-owned hits from outside of its deep catalogue of children's classics. Disney's marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages.
(Bloomberg) -- State officials investigating Alphabet Inc.’s Google met Monday to dive into competition issues surrounding the search giant as they press forward with an investigation into whether the company is violating antitrust laws, according to people familiar with the matter.The officials met privately in Denver with outside experts with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of Google’s businesses and the dynamics of the markets it operates in, including digital advertising, said one of the people.The gathering comes two months after all but two states opened an antitrust investigation into Google with an initial focus on its advertising practices, according to an investigative demand sent to the company. Publishers have long complained that Google’s dominance in the technology that delivers ads across the web harms competition.The meeting was similar to one held last month in New York where state officials met with experts about Facebook Inc. The social media giant is under investigation by 45 states, Guam and the District of Columbia.One of the aims of the Google meeting was to help state officials prepare for an investigation that will likely present challenging competition issues, said one of the people. The states were also planning to map out a strategy for dividing the workload of the investigation, said two of the people.Among those advising the states is Cristina Caffarra, an economist at Charles River Associates. Google has complained about Caffarra’s work for the state because of her past work for Google adversaries News Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Russia’s Yandex NV.The states are investigating Google in parallel to a Justice Department antitrust probe of the company. The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel is also conducting an inquiry into Google and other large tech companies.(Updates from fifth paragraph with challenges of the antitrust investigation. A previous version of this story was corrected to clarify the number of states and attorneys general investigating.)To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at email@example.com;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at firstname.lastname@example.org;Naomi Nix in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.