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Netflix reported second-quarter earnings results after market close Wednesday.
Top news and what to watch in the markets on Thursday, July 18, 2019.
Your social media feed might have been flooded recently with photos of your friends digitally aged to look retirement center-ready. After debuting two years ago and (getting slammed for enabling “digital blackface,”) FaceApp has been having another moment this summer. But is this harmless fun...or a threat to national security? Depends on who you ask. From Russia With Love? News broke yesterday that FaceApp, which lets users digital morph their photos, was developed in Wireless Lab of St. Petersburg, Russia. Though there is no evidence that the mobile app has any ties to the Russian government, Democratic lawmakers (still weary of Russia because of the hacked DNC e-mails and Facebook bot trollings of the 2016 election) are not taking any chances. Risk Assessment The Democratic National Committee urged staff members on presidential campaigns to delete the app immediately, and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, wrote a letter to the F.B.I. director Christopher Wray, saying that the app posed a national security risk. Private LIves As it always is when it comes to new technology, it comes down to privacy concerns. FaceApp uploads user’s photos to the cloud, but does not make it clear that the photo manipulation does not take place on their phone. Despite concerns that the App might upload a users’ entire photo history (which could include sensitive information), TechCrunch found no evidence of that yet. FaceApp’s founder Yaroslav Goncharo is adamant that no data is transferred to Russia, and that the company uses servers owned by Google and Amazon, and that most photos are deleted within 48 hours of upload. Perhaps the fear is overblown, but you can never be too cautious when it comes to Amazon and facial recognition technology. -Michael Tedder Photo: FaceAPP
The US-China trade deal is reportedly 90% complete. However, it’s the remaining 10% that’s turning out to be difficult.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he’s looking “very seriously” at a cloud-computing contract valued at as much as $10 billion that the Pentagon is likely to award to Amazon.com Inc. next month.“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon,” he told reporters Thursday during a meeting with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the White House.The contract wasn’t competitively bid, Trump said. The Pentagon is holding a competition for the contract, but Trump said that companies are complaining that the terms favor Amazon, the dominant player in cloud computing services. Microsoft Corp. is the only other company that hasn’t been eliminated from consideration.Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that Trump recently raised concerns about the contract with aides after learning of correspondence Republican lawmakers have exchanged with the Pentagon and the White House criticizing the bidding process.Some Republicans have alleged that the contract’s terms were crafted from the start to favor Amazon, and that there were conflicts of interest involving the company as the Pentagon considered bids.“I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what’s going on,” Trump said in apparent reference to the Defense Department, “because I have had very few things where there’s been such complaining. Not only complaining from the media -- or at least asking questions about it from the media -- but complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM. Great companies are complaining about it.”Trump and BezosWhile Trump didn’t mention Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by name on Thursday, he has long denounced the billionaire in tweets criticizing him on many fronts -- from the shipping rates his company pays the U.S. Postal Service to his personal ownership of what Trump calls “the Amazon Washington Post.”Oracle Corp. has fought the contract process and has led a fierce lobbying campaign against the Pentagon’s plans to award the project, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure or JEDI, to a single bidder. But the company lost a legal challenge last week contesting the terms of the bid and alleging the Pentagon had crafted unfair requirements and that there were conflicts of interest involving Amazon.In April 2018, Oracle’s Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz dined with Trump at the White House and complained that the contract terms seemed designed for Amazon to win, Bloomberg has reported. The final requirements for the contract were released in July of that year.Intervention’s RarePresidents and their advisers often set out their visions for defense spending and technology priorities, and Trump has spoken out on matters from the cost of F-35 fighter jets to paint colors for new Air Force One planes.But it’s rare for a commander-in-chief to intervene in specific Defense Department contract competitions because they are governed by extensive laws and regulations intended to wall off billion-dollar awards from political influence, according to experts on the contracting process. "The system is explicitly set up to prevent political officials from being able to influence the outcome of a contract," said Stan Soloway, chief executive officer of Celero Strategies, LLC. The president “can’t pick winners and losers.”Federal agencies have to clearly outline the requirements and criteria they will use to choose a winning bid. Losing bidders can challenge a decision to the Government Accountability Office or in the Court of Federal Claims, contending that the ground rules set in a solicitation weren’t followed. Oracle already has lost a court case challenging the handling of the JEDI contract.But a president has more freedom to exert influence over a project’s structure and acquisition strategy, which could effectively help some companies and hurt others, said Trey Hodgkins, the chief executive officer and founder of Hodgkins Consulting."He can shine a spotlight on the process and ask the question: Is this the best option for the warfighter? Is this the best deal for the taxpayer?” Hodgkins said. “I don’t know that it would be politically prudent to ignore executive-level scrutiny of the decision making process."(Updates with Trump’s past criticism of Bezos in seventh paragraph, contracting process in final section.)To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Naomi Nix in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Sara Forden at email@example.com, Justin Blum, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Bernard Arnault’s good fortune is rubbing off on some of China’s biggest skin-care companies and their founders.The French fashion tycoon, who supplanted Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates as the world’s second-richest person this week, achieved that milestone with a little help from Chinese consumers.Guangdong Marubi Biotechnology Co., one of several Chinese cosmetic firms that count on an Arnault-backed private equity fund as an investor, is poised to go public in Shanghai as early as this month, a listing that will make 49-year-old founder Sun Huaiqing a billionaire in his own right. A company spokesman declined to comment.“Many people think listing is a symbol for success, but I don’t think so,” Sun said in an 2015 interview posted on the company’s website. “An IPO is just a start.Marubi reported 2018 revenue of 1.6 billion yuan ($233 million), more than half of it from skin-care products, according to a prospectus. Almost 80% of stores that sell its products are outside the biggest cities, making the firm a regional powerhouse with room for expansion.“The Chinese beauty industry remains fragmented and any good brands with some best-selling products should still see a lot of room to grow,” said Mavis Hui, an analyst at DBS Bank in Hong Kong. Beauty sales, which reached about $6 billion in China last year, may increase in the high single digits annually over the next three to five years, she said.Arnault, one of only three people worth more than $100 billion, along with Gates and Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, has helped other emerging fashion moguls in Asia. L Catterton, the private equity vehicle backed by his luxury-goods powerhouse LVMH as well as Groupe Arnault, has investments in 25 brands across the continent, according to its website.In 2011, L Catterton took a stake in Trendy China Group, which owns the Ochirly and Miss Sixty fashion brands. Trendy founder Jacky Xu is worth $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.The family behind another L Catterton-backed fashion firm, Xin Hee Co., is worth $323 million. Xin Hee, which makes mid- to high-end women’s clothing, reported 1.8 billion yuan of revenue last year.To contact the reporter on this story: Venus Feng in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Pierre Paulden at email@example.com, Peter Eichenbaum, Steven CrabillFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
On Wednesday, IBM's Q2 earnings came out after the market closed. The announcement followed IBM's Red Hat acquisition earlier in July.