|Bid||1,148.22 x 800|
|Ask||1,151.99 x 800|
|Day's range||1,132.73 - 1,147.60|
|52-week range||970.11 - 1,289.27|
|Beta (3Y monthly)||0.99|
|PE ratio (TTM)||28.76|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||1,275.00|
Washington’s war on Big Tech is more of a high-stakes poker game than a real threat to the businesses of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, according to a new analyst note.
A few years ago, a computer scientist called Chris Carson had a realisation. “We’re still pulling people over for traffic violations and writing them tickets,” says Carson. Carson’s start-up, Hayden AI, is now trying to create a network of eyes many times any CCTV network, supercharged by 5G mobile networks and artificial intelligence.
Alphabet (GOOG) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
For Silicon Valley, the results are not encouraging. The presidential election season in the US is still in its early days and the partisan gulf is widening, but hating on Big Tech is something everyone can agree on. , Google was raked over the coals for its flawed algorithms and ambitions in China, and executives from both these companies, along with Amazon and Apple, faced the first congressional hearing into their market power.
Silicon Valley is synonymous with housing shortages. A UN report refers to the crisis as a human rights violation. An influx of well-paid tech workers, including 45,000 Google employees, to the San Francisco Bay Area are blamed for growing homelessness.
EBAY has displayed a sharp rally so far in 2019, surging 42.5% since January 1st, far outperforming the e-commerce sector. Analysts have been increasing long term earnings estimates, propelling EBAY into a Zacks Rank 1 (Strong Buy).
Yesterday, Facebook’s (FB) David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Calibra wallet, visited Capitol Hill to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A question for Amazon.com Inc.: Why ever bother?The European Commission opened an investigation on Wednesday into whether the e-commerce titan uses data from sellers on its marketplace to make competing products of its own. If the suspicion is confirmed, it might expose Amazon to billions of dollars of fines. Another tech behemoth, Google parent Alphabet Inc., has run afoul of European antitrust authorities and paid $9 billion in various penalties over the past few years.Given the relative profitability of Amazon’s businesses, what the EU is contending would seem to be a foolish risk. Broadly speaking, Amazon’s website sells products in two ways: Through its own store and through its marketplace. The store buys goods from a supplier and then sells them to a customer, much in the style of any classic retailer. The marketplace, however, simply connects a customer with a seller. That seller might pay Amazon to store or deliver its goods, but it’s essentially a platform. That also means it’s a far higher margin business because Amazon incurs few costs. It doesn’t have to pay to make the product or for its distribution unless the seller contracts it to do so.The EU is accusing Amazon of using that marketplace to identify popular products and then create copycat versions with its own branding, displacing the original. If true, it may have made itself vulnerable to billions of dollars in fines. It says that its own brand products account for about 1% of its retail offerings. That translates to about $1.4 billion of revenue. Given the low-margin nature of so many of the products (batteries, crockery, paper clips), profit is significantly less than that. The regulatory risks surely outweigh the financial benefits.That’s even taking into account the side effect of reducing prices for competing products. After being undercut by an Amazon private label offering, a seller might slash its prices to win customers. Lower prices mean more products sold on the marketplace, which is also good news for Amazon, though if the EU’s assertion is right and the intention was to mimic products that already sell well, it’s hard to see why lower prices might have been necessary.Amazon said it “will cooperate fully with the European Commission and continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.”Given the headaches and potential cost of the EU investigation, the company would do well to take that statement to heart and simply focus on being a marketplace.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Over the last few quarters, big tech companies have been under the scanner. There are issues ranging from monopoly to handling customer data.
(Bloomberg) -- Huawei Technologies Co.’s European smartphone sales slumped last month, according to market research firm Kantar, after a U.S. component supply ban on the Chinese manufacturer threatened its access to crucial handset software. Huawei lost about a third of its market share between May and June across the U.K., France, Spain, Germany and Italy, the Kantar data showed.“Early indications are that Samsung and Xiaomi are the key beneficiaries, with Apple seeing a smaller uptick in sales as a result,” Kantar Consumer Insights Director Dominic Sunnebo wrote in an emailed statement.The White House added Huawei to its Entity List on May 20, jeopardizing the technology giant’s access to crucial U.S. technology such as Alphabet Inc.’s Android operating system and Qualcomm Inc.’s microchips. Huawei’s ultimate status remains unclear as trade talks between Washington and Beijing continue, although its U.S. suppliers are still able to apply for licenses. Although Huawei phones currently operate as normal, company founder Ren Zhengfei has said he expects the U.S. sanctions to curtail the company’s revenue by about $30 billion over the coming two years. Sunnebo said there are signs Huawei owners are putting off upgrades as they wait for more clarity on the situation. If the dispute between Washington and Beijing is resolved, “it might mean that the majority of sales are delayed rather than lost to competitors,” he wrote. To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Seal in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at email@example.com, Thomas Pfeiffer, Giles TurnerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Two years ago, an Arizona State University professor made waves with a study showing all the wealth created by U.S. stocks is the result of gains in a weirdly small group of companies. Now he’s back with an update that shows the situation is no cheerier in the rest of the world.Hendrik Bessembinder, a 62-year-old researcher in financial market design, and his team sifted through about 62,000 stocks traded in more than 40 countries between 1990 and 2018. Their finding: about 60% were such duds they did worse than one-month U.S. Treasury notes. The proportion was even greater than in the initial study, which focused on the U.S.The findings have implications for everything from wealth creation to the math measuring investor skill, but got the most notice in the active-vs-passive debate. Since big gains are so rare and yet so crucial to overall returns, it helps explain why stock pickers struggle to keep up with indexes.“It is historically the norm in the U.S. and around the world that a few top-performing companies have great influence over how the market does overall,” Bessembinder, a professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State, said by phone. “It’s the norm and I expect it to be the case in the future.”It’s the observation that so few do so much for so many when it comes to the generous gains offered by share indexes. While the equity market as a whole created over $44 trillion in shareholder wealth between 1990 and 2018 and beat Treasury notes, the total is reliant on gigantic, compounding returns from a just a handful of companies, the report says.By themselves, Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. accounted for more than 8% of global net wealth creation during the period. Most of the rest generated negative wealth.Investors have heard this refrain before, that just a scant few pull the pack. And it’s easy to see their outsize influence: Microsoft, Apple, Amazon.com and Facebook Inc. account for more than 20% of the S&P 500’s returns this year. That number is even starker for the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, for instance, where those four companies account for about 50% of gains.But Bessembinder and his team, including two co-authors from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Goeun Choi of Arizona State, are among the first to look at the phenomenon long-term. The best-performing 306 firms accounted for about three-quarters of global net wealth creation during the 28-year period of the study, they found. Just 811 companies could be framed as accounting for all of it.Their findings echo Bessembinder’s previous work. In looking at nearly nine decades of U.S. stock and bond performance, he found that out of 26,000 stocks, about 58% underperform Treasury bills in their lifespan.To contact the reporter on this story: Vildana Hajric in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeremy Herron at email@example.com, Chris NagiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Donald Trump has called the European Union a “foe” and has threatened to “tariff the hell” out of the 28-country bloc. So where should we put the chances of the U.S. president agreeing a trade deal with Brussels before he has to face reelection next year? In a surprising burst of cheerful optimism, Germany’s economy minister Peter Altmaier places them as high as 50%. He told reporters last week: “There is a mutual interest to avoid an escalation and to seek a reasonable solution.”In fairness to Altmaier, 50% is only a coin toss. It’s a reasonable enough bet given the capricious nature of Trump (even if you also need to factor in just how tortuous the U.S. and China trade talks have been and the reluctance of EU leaders such as Emmanuel Macron to give any big concessions on cherished markets like agriculture). The EU negotiations began acrimoniously and might still fall apart acrimoniously, but in Trump-world you never can tell.Indeed, judging by the quietly positive mood among trade experts in Brussels, 50% might be a little on the conservative side. There’s a belief there that Trump will want some kind of deal to deliver to voters in 2020, while the EU side will be eager to defuse transatlantic tensions and ease the pain of a slowing world economy. The EU’s recent signing of trade agreements with Japan and the South American trading bloc Mercosur offers encouragement.Still, the scope of any deal (should it happen) would probably be limited to the reduction of tariffs on industrial goods and of technical barriers to trade. It wouldn’t be an all-singing, all-dancing free trade agreement.The idea of cutting tariffs on cars might seem like a big European concession at first glance, considering they’re set currently at 10% in the EU and 2.5% in the U.S. But throw in pickups and trucks, which face a 25% tariff when entering the U.S. versus 10%-22% going into Europe, and you see the mutual interest in an overall cut.So imagine this deal does actually happen: The signature, the handshake, the photo-op. Would that encourage Trump to bury the trade-war hatchet permanently with regards Europe? It’s unlikely. There’s no indication that the dreaded $25 billion auto trade surplus that Germany enjoys with the U.S. would vanish, for one thing. Uri Dadush of the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel reckons a tariff deal’s overall effect on the two blocs’ industrial output would be near-imperceptible. If voters re-endorse Trump’s “America First” call in 2020, he would have a mandate to renew hostilities.To deliver a lasting trade peace, both sides would need look at regulation and taxation as well as tariffs. Two obvious areas of tension are the food safety standards that keep America’s chlorine-washed chickens off European dinner plates and the forthcoming French digital tax on tech giants such as Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc.Altmaier says the French tax – which has infuriated the Trump administration – “shouldn’t” be allowed to impede trade talks. But with the U.S. and EU leaders so divided on core issues such as environmental protection and technology, it will take years to find an agreement beyond an immediate and relatively straightforward tariff deal.As well as the American election, next year will also bring a final ruling from the European Court of Justice on whether U.S. data-privacy standards are too lax to allow the free flow of user data from Europe. If the ECJ rules against the way things are done now, it will prove that the Trump-Europe divide is about far more than the sticker price of a BMW. It will be much harder to bridge as a result.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook, Google and Amazon grappled with multiple attacks across Washington from lawmakers and President Donald Trump over a range of grievances that underscored the kind of reckoning the companies could face.House Democrats on Tuesday grilled Amazon.com Inc. over perceived conflicts of interest on its platform, while senators from both parties slammed Facebook Inc. over its plan to introduce a cryptocurrency, saying the company can’t be trusted. Alphabet Inc.’s Google got broadsides from Senate Republicans who complained of anti-conservative bias and from Trump, who said he wants the Justice Department to look into its work in China.The pressure isn’t going away. Facebook Vice President David Marcus is facing another day of testimony Wednesday answering questions about its Libra cyrptocurrency project from the House Committee on Financial Services. Panel chairwoman Maxine Waters has called on the company to stop the project while Congress investigates.The technology platforms that came under fire Tuesday were darlings of official Washington in the Obama years as they grew to dominate their respective markets, from online retail to social media to digital advertising. That admiration has been swept away amid criticism from Republicans and Democrats over competition, privacy and control over content on their platform. At the root of the concerns is the view the companies have grown too big and powerful.Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio called Facebook “dangerous” while Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, portrayed Amazon as a “trillion-dollar” retailing behemoth that that can crush sellers on its platform. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, suggested a Google was being evasive. “You’re managing to be less candid than Mark Zuckerberg,” he said, referring to the Facebook chairman and co-founder, who testified before Congress last year.The scrutiny by lawmakers threatens to go beyond criticism of the companies to rein in their business models. Across Capitol Hill Tuesday, lawmakers were zeroing on specific aspects of the companies’ businesses, raising the possibility of legislation aimed at toughening regulation of the industry.Cicilline, who is leading a House antitrust investigation into competition in digital markets, told reporters that his inquiry was still in the fact-gathering stage but that it should eventually lead to legislative steps. Tech companies are incapable of regulating themselves, he said.“I think it will absolutely require some action by Congress, either by way of regulation, new statutory enactments, new resources for antitrust agencies, more likely a combination of those three things,” he said.Cicilline’s committee questioned executives of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple Inc. about whether they are harming competition. Amazon faced particular criticism with Cicilline suggesting its business model suffers from conflicts of interest and that it can use its control over data to thwart competition from third-party sellers on its platform.Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton denied the company uses data it collects on sales to favor its own products over third-party sellers. He also argued that it’s common in the retail industry for stores to sell their own brands that compete against others.Cicilline fired back: “The difference is Amazon is a trillion-dollar company that runs an online platform with real-time data on millions of purchases and billions in commerce and can manipulate algorithms on its platform and favor its own product -- that is not the same as a local retailer,” he said.In a separate hearing, a bipartisan group of senators told Google’s global policy chief, Karan Bhatia, that they continued to have concerns about the breadth of a liability shield that protects platforms like YouTube and Facebook from lawsuits over content posted by third parties.Cruz, fellow Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii cast doubt on part of a 1996 law that helped internet companies thrive, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, by providing the legal protection.Lawmakers increasingly want to limit that protection, which was already trimmed in cases of sex trafficking last year. They cite concerns about online abuse, hatred, election misinformation and allegations of anticonservative bias.At the Senate hearing on Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, years of missteps over its handling of data and user privacy and exploitation of its platform by Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign caught up with the social media platform as lawmakers from both parties assailed the company and called it untrustworthy.“I don’t trust Facebook,” said Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, “and I’m not alone.”Brown, the committee’s ranking Democrat, denounced the company, calling it “dangerous” and comparing it to a toddler with a book of matches.“Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience,” he said.American officials, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Trump, have expressed skepticism about the Libra project. Facebook has other problems in Washington, including a privacy investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over a scandal involving political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Last week, the FTC approved a $5 billion settlement to resolve the case, but lawmakers and privacy advocates objected, saying that it didn’t go far enough.Regulators were aghast that the tech giant wasn’t able to address concerns about money laundering, consumer protection and other potential risks after Facebook presented a white paper to more than a dozen officials from the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies about the Libra project, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.“The calls to break up, the calls for data privacy laws, the calls for concern around Libra and Calibra are all around this idea of kind of the abuse of the dominance of the platforms, the lack of accountability,” Ashkan Soltani, the former FTC chief technologist, told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.\--With assistance from Daniel Stoller, Kurt Wagner, Robert Schmidt, Ben Bain and Gerrit De Vynck.To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. 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.
at Google has left the company, underlining a deepening rift between management and workers over issues ranging from sexual harassment to the potential risks of AI. Meredith Whittaker, an artificial intelligence researcher, said she had left to work full-time on AI ethics and to focus on “organising for an accountable tech industry — and it’s clear Google isn’t a place where I can continue this work”.
(Bloomberg) -- Google’s chief executive officer told U.S. Senator Mark Warner that the company has ended some partnerships in China, the lawmaker said Tuesday on Bloomberg Television.The search giant’s ties to China were in the spotlight this week after technology investor Peter Thiel suggested on Sunday that the U.S. government probe Google’s “seemingly treasonous” work. President Donald Trump said he wanted the U.S. attorney general to look into the claims.Google pulled its search engine from mainland China in 2010. But the company began developing a separate prototype Chinese search service as early as 2016. Reports of the project, called Dragonfly, surfaced shortly after Google nixed a U.S. military contract, drawing criticism from the Pentagon and U.S. politicians from both parties. Earlier this year, Google said it had moved staff off of Dragonfly, and on Tuesday Karan Bhatia, Google’s policy chief, said the project was “terminated.”Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, didn’t specify what projects he discussed with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. A spokeswoman for the senator said they spoke about a “range of partnerships.”“I do think there’s some explaining that Google needs to make,” Warner said in an interview with Emily Chang on “Bloomberg Technology.” “I’ve met with the Google CEO. He said they are backing out of some of those partnerships, and they’re willing to work with the U.S. government.”A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on Warner’s interview.In January 2018, Google parent Alphabet Inc. signed a deal with Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. to cross-license technology and intellectual property. Google was also in talks with Tencent and several other Chinese firms about bringing its cloud services to China, Bloomberg News has reported. Google has a research partnership with Beijing’s Tsinghua University.In a speech on Sunday, Thiel, a Facebook Inc. board member, raised the question of whether Google’s management was “infiltrated” by foreign intelligence agencies. On Monday, the company said it has never worked with the Chinese military.“I think that Mr. Thiel and Mr. Trump’s statements are a little over the top,” Warner said.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at email@example.com;Emily Chang in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. was challenged by a top House lawmaker over whether the online retail giant is harming competition as the biggest tech companies faced their harshest antitrust scrutiny in years on Capitol Hill.Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who chairs the House antitrust panel, put Amazon on the hot seat at a hearing Tuesday, suggesting its business model suffers from conflicts of interest and that it can use its control over data to thwart competition from third-party sellers on its platform.“You are selling your own products on a platform you control and they’re competing with products from other sellers,” Cicilline said.Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton denied the company uses data it collects on sales to favor its own products over third-party sellers. He also argued that it’s common in the retail industry for stores to sell their own brands that compete against others.Cicilline fired back: “The difference is Amazon is a trillion-dollar company that runs an online platform with real-time data on millions of purchases and billions in commerce and can manipulate algorithms on its platform and favor its own product -- that is not the same as a local retailer,” he said.The exchange, as Amazon’s Prime Day sales event extended into a second day, came at hearing where four of the biggest U.S. tech firms -- Amazon, Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. -- defended their businesses against criticism that they are too dominant. The session marked the first time the companies have faced grilling from Congress about whether they are hindering competition.Cicilline said his inquiry is still in the fact-gathering stage but the series will eventually lead to legislative steps that go beyond self-regulation.“I think it will absolutely require some action by Congress, either by way of regulation, new statutory enactments, new resources for antitrust agencies, more likely a combination of those three things,” he told reporters after the executives testified.Cicilline is bearing down on the companies as antitrust enforcers prepare their own scrutiny after a mostly hands-off approach to the industry.The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, which share antitrust jurisdiction, have taken the first steps toward investigating conduct by the biggest companies by divvying up oversight with the Justice Department taking responsibility for Google and Apple, and FTC overseeing Facebook and Amazon.A report by the University of Chicago’s Stigler Center this year found that digital markets tend to be winner-take-all in which one firm comes to dominate. That creates an incentive for the companies to edge out new challengers that could threaten that dominance.Republican Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin on Tuesday cautioned against calls for breaking up the big technology companies.“Just because a business is big doesn’t mean that it is bad,” he said. Antitrust laws “do not exist to punish businesses just because they are big.”All four companies repeatedly insisted that they face abundant competition, from one another and from other companies. Although Amazon controls about half of U.S. e-commerce sales, Sutton pointed out the company makes up just 4% of all retail sales, with competition from Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co., among others. Facebook’s Director of Public Policy Matt Perault pointed to competition from Apple, Amazon and Google, among others.That argument met with skepticism from lawmakers. Representative Joe Neguse, a Colorado Democrat, pointed out that Facebook has the most monthly active users worldwide of any social media platform, with its Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook messenger in the top six.“You can understand the skepticism because when a company owns four of the largest six entities measured by active users in the world in that industry, we have a word for that, and that’s monopoly – or at least monopoly power,” he said.\--With assistance from Daniel Stoller.To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. 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.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. technology giants are headed for their biggest antitrust showdown with Congress in 20 years as lawmakers and regulators demand to know whether companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. use their dominance to squelch innovation. The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is holding a hearing Tuesday on the market power of the largest tech companies. Executives from Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Google and Facebook are testifying. Here’s the latest from the committee room:Facebook Denies Its Integration Plan Designed to Thwart Breakup (5:37 p.m.)Facebook’s Matt Perault denied that the company’s planned integration of its Messenger app, its WhatsApp chat service and its Instagram photo app was designed to thwart calls to break up the properties.“There are many services in the market that offer more privacy-protective services,” he told Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland. “Our pivot toward privacy with respect to inter-operating our services was because of the competition that we faced in the market.”Raskin had suggested the announcement was a “ploy” and said it coincided with growing calls to break up Facebook by splitting off WhatsApp and Instagram.Democrat David Cicilline, who chairs the panel, also asked Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton about reports that the fees merchants must pay have been increasing in recent years.“Aren’t these steady fee hikes by Amazon a pure exercise of its outsize buyer power?” Cicilline asked.Sutton said that the estimates weren’t accurate.“The fees that are necessary to be paid in our store to sell items have actually been steady for a number of years and slightly declining,” Sutton told Cicilline.Heated Exchange Over Amazon’s Third-Party Sellers (4:32 p.m.)Democrat David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who is chairing the hearing, pressed Amazon on whether its business model suffers from a conflict of interest because it sells its own products that compete directly against those from third-party sellers. That is a complaint also raised by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.“You are selling your own products on a platform you control and they’re competing with products from other sellers,” Cicilline said.Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton said it’s common in retail for stores to sell their own brands that compete against others.Cicilline fired back: “The difference is Amazon is a trillion-dollar company that runs an online platform with real-time data on millions of purchases and billions of commerce and can manipulate algorithms on its platform and favor its own product -- that is not the same as a local retailer,” he said.Cicilline repeatedly pressed Sutton about whether the company uses data on the third-party sellers to advantage its own products. Sutton said Amazon ranks results by the same criteria and doesn’t use data to compete against sellers.“You do collect enormous data,” Cicilline said. “You’re saying you don’t use that in any way to promote Amazon products, and I remind you sir, you’re under oath.”Cicilline says companies have de facto ‘immunity’ (3:38 p.m.)Cicilline slammed the dominance of the tech companies, saying they are shielded from competitive threats because of barriers to rivals that could potentially take them on. They also use their resources to prevent startups from challenging them and pose a risk to small businesses, he said.Cicilline said the dominance of tech companies stems from policy choices. Antitrust enforcers haven’t challenged a single one of their acquisitions or sued them for anticompetitive conduct like they did with Microsoft Corp. 20 years ago, he said.“Congress and antitrust enforcers allowed these firms to regulate themselves with little oversight,” Cicilline said in his opening remarks. “As a result, the internet has become increasingly concentrated, less open, and growingly hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship.”“Together, these enforcement decisions have created a de facto immunity for online platforms,” Cicilline added.Companies argue they face widespread competition (2:56 p.m.)The four tech giants tried to head off criticism that they dominate their respective markets, as executives in prepared testimony all cited intense competition they say they face from rivals.Nate Sutton, a lawyer for Amazon, which controls about half of U.S. e-commerce sales, told the House antitrust panel that the company makes up just 4% of U.S. retail sales, with competition from Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co.Facebook’s Director of Public Policy Matt Perault pointed to competition from Apple, Amazon and Google, among others, in his remarks.The companies also touted their development of innovative products that have won over consumers and their investment in research and development. Google’s director of economic policy, Adam Cohen, said the company spent $21.4 billion on R&D, three times more than in 2013.The hearing, led by Cicilline, started at about 3 p.m. Dozens of people were waiting in line to get into the hearing room.Here’s What Tech Faces in Washington:The hearing is one of a several that big tech companies face this week in Congress as Washington calls the giants to task for a range of concerns. President Donald Trump is pressuring the companies in Twitter barrages for issues including anti-conservative bias, while the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have taken the first steps toward investigating their conduct. The Justice Department is taking responsibility for scrutiny of Google and Apple, as the FTC oversees Facebook and Amazon.Also on Tuesday, David Marcus, who leads Facebook’s Libra and block chain efforts, heard from disdainful Democrats at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the company’s proposed cryptocurrency.Trump said Tuesday morning that his administration will look into allegations by billionaire Peter Thiel that Google’s work with China is “seemingly treasonous.”Trump has also said he wants gather tech executives at the White House.Google’s global public policy chief is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a Senate hearing focused on allegations the company engages in censorship.More on tech and antitrust: Did Big Tech Get Too Big? U.S. Joins Europe in Asking: QuickTakeTo contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at email@example.com;Ben Brody in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Meredith Whittaker, who helped lead employee protests at Google over the search giant’s military work, artificial intelligence and policies, is leaving the company.In a blog, she warned that the internet giant’s AI software and huge computing resources are helping it expand in unsettling ways."Google, in the conventional pursuit of quarterly earnings, is gaining significant and largely unchecked power to impact our world (including in profoundly dangerous ways, such as accelerating the extraction of fossil fuels and the deployment of surveillance technology)," she wrote in a blog on Tuesday. "How this vast power is used — who benefits and who bears the risk — is one of the most urgent social and political (and yes, technical) questions of our time."Whittaker helped spark a broader uprising among workers at some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. They are concerned these corporations are gaining too much power through AI-powered, machine-based decision making that has flaws and little or no accountability.Over the past year, some staff at Google erupted in protest, prompting the company to drop a Pentagon AI contract and a censored search project in China. Whittaker, who led Google’s Open Research group, was one of the most outspoken voices. She was one of six women who organized massive walkouts after reports that Google paid handsome sums to executives accused of sexual harassment.Other Google protesters were saddened by Whittaker’s resignation, but hopeful that their attempts to hold large tech companies accountable will continue."Our movement has moved into a new phase," said Irene Knapp, a senior software engineer at Google. "Those of us who remain at the company have been focused on disseminating knowledge and teaching our organizing skills to new people. I am sure that Meredith would not be leaving if she didn’t know that she’s accomplished that, and I know that I very much feel she has. We’re set up for the long haul."While at Google, Whittaker also served with AI Now, a research institute at New York University that she co-founded. The group often criticizes businesses and government agencies for using AI systems, like facial recognition, in policing and surveillance. Whittaker also publicly denounced some Google decisions, including the appointment of Kay Coles James, a conservative think tank leader, to an AI ethics board. Google soon nixed the board."People in the AI field who know the limitations of this tech, and the shaky foundation on which these grand claims are perched, need to speak up, loudly. The consequences of this kind of BS marketing are deadly (if profitable for a few)," Whittaker wrote on Twitter on Sunday.In April, about six months after the big employee walkout, Whittaker and another protest leader, Claire Stapleton, said the company was retaliating against them for their role in the activity. In an email to colleagues, Whittaker said her Google manager told her to "abandon [her] work on AI ethics" and blocked a request to transfer internally. At the time, Google denied it retaliated against Whittaker.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Joshua Brustein in New York 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.