Proactiveinvestors RSS feed en Sat, 23 Jun 2018 11:22:43 +0100 Genera CMS (Proactiveinvestors) (Proactiveinvestors) <![CDATA[News - Google, Facebook trigger jump in global ad-spending forecast, per report ]]> Advertising dollars are still flowing into Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) despite a backlash against the tech giants from some big marketers.  

Magna, a division of Interpublic Group of Companies, released a report Monday that showed ad spend is set for monster growth this year. Magna predicts global ad revenue will leap 6.4% to US$551bn this year, up from an earlier projection of 5.2% growth.

The firm attributed the revision to Facebook and Google, noting that the tech-heavy hitters have collectively grown revenue by 31% which is “pretty amazing.”

The Wall Street Journal parsed the report and said that while “some brands have pulled back” in spending on Google and Facebook due to issues that range from “brand safety to performance challenges,” ad buys from small and local businesses are more than making up for the cuts.

Read: Facebook to police bad businesses by banning their ads if they lie to customers

“The thing really that we revise up for is digital,” Vincent Letang, executive vice president of global market intelligence at Magna, told the Journal. Growth from small and local businesses was “bigger than we thought.”

Digital accounts for nearly half of the projected 2018 growth, Magna said.

Global digital advertising sales, including display, video, search and social, will grow 16% this year to US$250bn, slowing slightly from 18% growth in 2017, Magna predicts.

More than 60% of digital ad sales are currently generated by impressions and clicks on mobile devices, the company added.

The report also broke out regional ad sales indicating total US ad sales will grow by 6.4% in 2018 to US$207bn. This is a leap from Magna’s previously projected 5.5% growth for the US market.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 09:36:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Here's why some people think breaking up Google is just 'sour grapes' ]]> On the heels of a hard-hitting "60 Minutes" segment on Google's unparalleled market share in online search, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Justice Department needs to seriously look at the issue of tech monopolies.

And Gary Reback, the antitrust lawyer who persuaded the Justice Department to sue Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) in the 1990s, called Google a monopoly in “search and search advertising” during the CBS Sunday night broadcast, putting the tech giant squarely in the antitrust crosshairs.

But there’s no factual evidence that Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) acts as a monopoly and manipulates search results to take out its competition, say some analysts and CEOs.

“Absolutely not,” said Jerrick Media Holdings Inc. (OTCMKTS:JMDA) CEO Jeremy Frommer, who repudiates the idea that Google should be regulated or broken up.

Read: Mnuchin on Google and tech monopolies: 'You have to look at the power they have'

Frommer, a veteran Wall Street hedge fund manager turned serial entrepreneur, is the driving force behind digital media and tech company Vocal, a long-form social media platform.

“Gary’s perception of antitrust laws is from the mid-'90s, an era in which I was deeply involved in technology M&A and is incorrect in my opinion,” Frommer told Proactive Investors. “Quite frankly, most blocked M&A transactions by federal regulators inevitably look illogical in hindsight given the extreme pace of evolution in the tech space. Office Depot and Staples, a classic '90s deal broken by regulators for dominance in the office supply space, makes no sense in today’s digital environment, where office supplies are available on Amazon cheaper than anywhere else.”  

Zero empirical evidence

The American Enterprise Institute told CNBC's Closing Bell "there's zero empirical evidence" that Google acts as a monopoly and does real harm.

"We need to be extraordinarily careful before we think about heavily regulating them — breaking them up," James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute recently told CNBC's "Closing Bell."

"There needs to be an actual theory of harm. We're not going to go after the companies just because they're very successful or they're very big."

Google itself is afraid of competition from giants like Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to nimble start-ups, Pethokoukis said. As a result, the search giant spends "tens and hundreds of billions of dollars a year on R&D," he said.

"That is not the behavior of some dominant forever monopoly who is squelching innovation," Pethokoukis said. "All I hear is an anecdote here and anecdote there. I don't actually hear an actual portfolio of evidence that would lead me to believe that there's an actual problem here."

Frommer said it was a myth that Google had a competitive advantage. “It’s not the type of monopoly it was years ago. It is susceptible to serious competition, which is why it is always buying new technology. The digital playing field is perhaps the fairest market environment I have ever seen, far superior to that of the financial markets,” said Frommer.

Google declined to comment on the "60 Minutes" story but offered a statement saying that its algorithms do not give specific placements in its results for certain companies but instead seeks to provide the best search results.

Yelp’s case of sour grapes

In the salad days of the Internet, Google’s “Don’t be evil” was a mantra — a motto closely held, if casually phrased. Alphabet, now Google’s overlord, has ditched "Don’t be evil" for "Do the right thing." Yet, quite a few tech companies had damning things to say about Google, insinuating it wasn’t quite doing the right thing.

Yelp Inc. (NYSE:YELP) co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told “60 Minutes” that if he were starting out today, he “would have no shot of building Yelp.” He said that “opportunity has been closed off by Google and their approach.” He accused Google of collecting and bundling its own information on things like shopping and travel and putting it at the very top of the search results, regardless of whether it belongs there on merit.

“That sounds like sour grapes from someone who has difficulty adapting their platform in a competitive environment,” quipped Frommer.

Read: Yelp posts smaller-than-expected Q1 loss, but shares fall on profit-taking

“This conspiracy theory makes no sense for two reasons," Frommer explained. "First, these so-called algorithms people speak of are not simply a few lines of code or some secret formula. They evolve every day, create problems every day, and demand solutions every day. The perception that Google is running around, other than in the normal course of business, intentionally manipulating search results for the benefit of a few is counterintuitive. Google’s goal is to essentially create a fair environment for search and advertising. For those who take the time to deeply study the tools and data provided by Google would know this. Those who prefer conspiracy theories will deny it.”

Friend to global media industry

Critics have long argued that Google squelches innovation by demoting competitors in Google's algorithmic search results. But publishers like Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) say there are “significant opportunities” for publishers to work together with Google to sustain journalism, but there has been less progress for commercial partnerships with Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB).

Fairfax recently told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Digital Platforms that there are “marked differences” in the business and commercial models of Facebook and Google, and their approach to publishers.

"In recent months, we have noted a series of examples of Google working increasingly proactively with the industry to help address challenges or create conditions for publishers to capitalize on market opportunities," said Fairfax.

In December, Google and Fairfax Media struck a deal to promote the publisher's premium content and engage new audiences.

In March, Google announced it would invest US$400mln in new products aimed at building a more sustainable relationship with the global media sector, including helping with subscriptions and ending its "First Click Free" policy, which forced publishers to provide a minimum three free articles per day via Google searches before readers hit a paywall.

Wall Street nonplussed

Wall Street didn’t think the “60 Minute” broadcast would stir things up for Google beyond a point.

In a note to investors, CFRA Research reiterated its Strong Buy rating on Google, as reported in a story by "Barron's".

"We do not think the segment revealed or made news, highlighting only Google critics, including three interviewees (of the four featured in the piece) who have been well-known and mostly long-time antagonists of the business," wrote CFRA Research analyst Scott Kessler.

"We acknowledge legal and regulatory risks, but see a compelling valuation, and think a federal U.S. inquiry is unlikely," added Kessler.

Wed, 23 May 2018 12:37:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google News expected to update its design and add YouTube videos ]]> Google News is about to get a makeover, according to a report by Ad Age.

The redesign of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) free news aggregator will include elements of the digital magazine app Google Newsstand and videos from YouTube’s news section.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced at the company’s Brandcast event that the video platform now has 1.8 billion logged-in users per month.

As a result of the redesign, Google Newsstand is expected to close but be replaced by a new Google news app.

READ: Stifel upgrades Google parent Alphabet to Buy on ​earnings pullback

The plans are expected to be announced next week during Google I/O, the search giant’s developer conference.

“It’s a consolidation of all the ways you can interact with news on Google. There are a lot of Google services where you find news and what they’re trying to do is bring it all under one brand,” a public executive with knowledge of the plans told Ad Age.

Google will utilize the technology behind Accelerated Mobile Pages, the same tech that publishers use to load articles onto the platform.

Shares of parent company Alphabet were down slightly in Friday pre-market trading to US$1,021.31.

Fri, 04 May 2018 09:39:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Stifel upgrades Google parent Alphabet to Buy on earnings pullback ]]> The recent slump in Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) shares is a great buying opportunity, according to research analysts at Stifel.

In a note to investors seen by CNBC, Stifel raised its rating for Google shares to Buy from Hold, citing its new growth opportunities including cloud computing.   

The NYSE blamed a technical malfunction, specifically a “price scale code issue” for halting trade for the day in Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Alphabet.

Google shares closed 0.04% up to US$1,022.99.

"Alphabet continues to drive growth at scale through strength in mobile search, YouTube, and programmatic advertising, while investing in other key initiatives (cloud, hardware, AI) that should serve as multi-year growth levers," analyst Scott Devitt wrote in a note to clients Tuesday.

"Alphabet's products seem to have more proven durability and utility in the lives of consumers than Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) products, as displayed in recent weakness of users and usage in Facebook's most mature and highly monetized market of North America."

The analyst hiked his price target for the company's shares to US$1,234 from US$1,150 so there is plenty of upside for the share.

Wed, 25 Apr 2018 16:16:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google-owner Alphabet posts surge in first quarter profits as ad revenues grow ]]> Google owner Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) achieved a 73% surge in first quarter profits after advertising revenues jumped. 

Net income rose to US$9.4bn in the three months to March 31 from US$5.4bn a year earlier, beating analysts’ expectations of US$6.56bn.

Revenue increased 26% to US$31.1bn from US$24.8bn, boosted by growth in ad sales at its Google and YouTube businesses.

However, rising costs shrank the operating margin to 22% from 27% a year ago.

Alphabet has been investing in new ventures beyond its core Google search engine business, including new projects in cloud computing and hardware as it tries to keep pace with rising competition from the likes of Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN). 

Regulatory crackdown on internet giants

Concerns about the costly new projects and tighter regulation on privacy and content have weakened investor appetite recently.

The European Union’s new General Protection Regulation (GPR) is due to come in on May 25, giving the public more control over their data and raising fines for data breaches.

The new rule comes in the wake of a data breach at Facebook. Political consultancy Cambridge Analytica is accused of using information from millions of Facebook profiles without permission.

US lawmakers initially sought to question Google alongside Facebook at a hearing this month but was later excused.

Like Facebook and other internet giants, Alphabet has been under pressure by lawmakers to change its business practices to protect consumers and their privacy.

The group has also previously drawn criticism over how it controls extremist content on YouTube as well as the way it displays results on the Google search engine.

READ: Google apologises to clients over extremist content after M&S becomes latest brand to pull ads

Last year, several advertisers pulled ads from YouTube after ads appeared alongside extremist or hate videos on the video sharing site, prompting Alphabet to make changes to its technology and how it controls content. 

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 10:54:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Alphabet beats Wall Street expectations, but analysts have some concerns ]]> Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Google’s parent company, announced its first-quarter revenue and earnings on Monday, beating Wall Street expectations.

The California-based company reported first-quarter net income US$9.93 per share on revenue of US$31.1bln versus consensus estimates of earnings of US$9.28 per share on revenue of US$30.3bln.

READ: Alphabet 1Q earnings and revenue top forecasts, but rising costs mute share reaction

Despite surpassing first-quarter expectations, analysts weighed in on their concerns.

Deutsche Bank analysts lowered the price target for Class A shares of Alphabet to US$1,225 from US$1,375 but reiterate a Buy rating. While the research note highlighted the company’s strong revenue, there’s the potential for volatility as margins decline. The European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation was listed as a downside risk.

“We expect more scrutiny from EU regulators around GDPR (as well as taxes and antitrust issues),” stated analysts in the note.

UBS analysts reiterated a Buy rating as well, maintaining a price target of US$1,360 on the shares. Analyst Eric Sheridan thinks that despite margin volatility, the market is undervaluing Alphabet shares, citing the company’s potential to lead in areas like cloud computing and autonomous driving.

KeyBanc analysts also lowered the price target to US$1,230 from US$1,280 and reiterated an Overweight rating following the quarterly report, according to a note reported on by Despite the lowered price target, analyst Andy Hargreaves still sees value in the shares, citing the growth potential of its ad business and cloud software.

Alphabet’s price target was lowered at Barclays as well to US$1,250 from US$1,330 and analysts held an Overweight rating. The analysts noted that while revenue and earnings were above estimates, operating income missed estimates by 9%. Analyst Ross Sandler focused on the site’s revenue growth being ahead of expectations in the face of competition, but still maintains that the shares are oversold.

Bucking the trend, Morgan Stanley's Brian Nowak lifted his target for the shares to $1,200 from $1,175, citing the positive earnings surprise and the company's long growth runway and earnings potential. He kept his Overweight rating on the shares, per

Alphabet was one of the many casualties on Tuesday's Wall Street sell-off, with shares down 4.6% to US$1,018.57.

--Updates for share price--

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 08:29:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Alphabet share-price target cut by Credit Suisse on potential drop in YouTube sales ]]> Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), the parent company of Google, had its share-price target cut by Credit Suisse, which cited potential softer-than-expected revenue from its business.

Credit Suisse lowered its price target to US$1,350.00 from US$1,400.00, cited analyst Stephen Ju as saying in a note to investors.

Ju has moderated his revenue estimates on the assumption the service will be US only, the note said.

Still, Alphabet remains his favorite company in the sector, he said. Ju has an Outperform rating on the stock.

The shares were little changed at US$1089.00 at 10:23 a.m.


Fri, 20 Apr 2018 10:24:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Demand from China's Android phonemakers for chips is on the rise, says DigiTimes ]]> Chinese Android phonemakers have increased their chip orders since March and the drive to buy them is expected to continue until early May, according to an article in DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication, which cited local suppliers.

An array of circumstances - ranging from a torpid second-quarter revenue outlook for manufacturers in Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) supply chain as well as diminished inventory for current iPhones to the lack of new iPhone devices until the close of the third quarter - have pushed the big Chinese smartphone vendors like Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi Technology and Meizu to purchase more integrated-circuit parts, the DigiTimes article said.

Android is a mobile-phone operating system developed by Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google unit.

China’s big smartphone vendors are also looking to improve the price-performance ratios of their models to gain more market share, according to DigiTimes.

Some vendors are now reportedly reconsidering using 3D sensors in their new models, which will reach store shelves in the second half of the year.

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 10:56:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google execs quietly go after Pentagon's JEDI cloud contract, says Defense One ]]> Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is reportedly going after the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud computing contract, but it is doing so quietly due to its concerns about its employees’ disagreeing with its decision, according to an article in Defense One.

The Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, program has turned into one contract, which is worth as much as $10bln over a decade, according to Defense One, and will be awarded by the end of the year.

The race to win the contract is set to be a four-way contest among Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Oracle.

Oracle is said to be leading a lobbying campaign in Washington to prevent from winning the lucrative contract, according to published reports.

Google is being particularly circumspect about its desire to do a deal with the Pentagon, fearing a protest from its employees. Last April, as many as 3,100 Google employees signed a letter asking the company to stop work on “a pioneering, if still small-scale,” Air Force program called Maven, according to Defense One.

Shares in Google were flat in midday trading at US$1,043.

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:55:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Alphabet Inc comes under fire for not breaking out YouTube's financial figures ]]> Investors are clamoring for Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), the parent company of YouTube, to provide more transparency about the web video channel’s revenues and profits, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

While YouTube is tremendously profitable, with some analysts saying it generates more revenue than half the companies listed on the S&P 500, Alphabet does not disclose the channel's financial figures with its quarterly earnings releases.

READ: Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices as row between the tech giants escalates

Alphabet makes the case that breaking out YouTube’s sales and profits is not imperative, as the channel is one of a clutch of its advertising-related businesses, said the report in the Wall Street Journal.

A reason that investors and analysts are looking for transparency over YouTube’s figures is that questions about its disclosures have been raised by the Securities and Exchange Commission. They argue that YouTube plays a pivotal role in driving Alphabet’s growth, which means its revenues, costs and profits should be disclosed on a quarterly basis.

Class A shares of Alphabet were flat in pre-market trade at US$1,025.06.

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 09:05:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google in talks to acquire Nokia's airplane-broadband business, says Bloomberg ]]> Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), is in talks to acquire Nokia Oyj’s (NYSE:NOK) airplane-broadband business as it seeks to offer a faster in-flight Wi-Fi system, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The negotiations are at an advanced stage, the report said.

Alphabet shares fell 1% to US$1,027.00 in pre-market trading.

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 08:17:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google to expand network of undersea cables to speed up cloud computing business ]]> Alphabet Inc's (NASAQ:GOOG) Google plans to speed up its cloud computing business by expanding its network of undersea cables to new regions across the globe.

In a bid to catch up to rivals Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) in the multibillion-dollar cloud computing market, Google will build three new underwater fibre-optic cables lining ocean areas from the Pacific to the North Sea.  

READ: Google slashes tax bill by moving €16bn into Bermuda shell company

The new cables, designed to speed the transfer of data and reroute users to servers around the world if an area crashes or is overloaded, will extend its private data network to regions rivals are yet to reach.  

Google expects to complete the project in 2019 and estimates it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

READ: Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices as row between the tech giants escalates

It would bring the number of subsea cables Google has built to 11, adding to its network of fibre optic cables and data centres built up over the past decade.

Google is the third biggest player in cloud computing by revenue behind Amazon and Microsoft. 

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 11:27:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google slashes tax bill by moving €16bn into Bermuda shell company ]]> Google saved about €3bn in taxes after moving €15.9bn through low-tax European countries into a Bermuda shell company last year, regulatory filings in the Netherlands revealed.

The internet search giant, owned by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), books most of its international advertising revenue in Ireland where taxes are low.

The cash is then moved to a company in the Netherlands where tax laws are also generous before being funnelled into a Bermuda mailbox owned by another Ireland-registered company. Bermuda’s corporate tax rate is zero.

Shielding revenue..

This strategy Google uses to shield most of its international revenue from taxation is known as the 'Double Irish’ and ‘Dutch Sandwich’.

According to company filings with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce dated 22 December and made available online on Tuesday, the amount of cash moved through this tax structure in 2016 was 7% higher than a year ago.

The Irish government closed the tax loophole that allowed for the ‘Double Irish’ strategy in 2015 but companies already using it were allowed to continue doing so until the end of 2020.

A spokesman for Google said: “We pay all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world. We remain committed to helping grow the online ecosystem.”

Google’s global effective tax rate in 2016 was 19.3% in 2016, according to US financial filings, meaning it would have saved US$3.7bn (€3bn) in taxes using the Double Irish’ and ‘Dutch Sandwich’ structures.

The company held US$60.7bn overseas at the end of 2016 on which it hadn’t paid US income taxes or foreign withholding taxes, Google revealed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Trump's tax reforms..

US President Donald Trump’s tax reforms passed in December will mean companies will have to start paying taxes on overseas income they’ve stockpiled to date.

Previously companies were allowed to defer paying US taxes on foreign income until returning profits to the US.

The European Union is also drawing up plans that will force US tech companies, including Google, to pay more taxes

Wed, 03 Jan 2018 14:42:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Eric Schmidt steps down as executive chairman of Google owner Alphabet ]]> Eric Schmidt is stepping down as executive chairman of Google owner Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Schmidt, who first joined Google as chief executive in 2001 and became its executive chairman 10 years later, will remain on the board as a technical adviser on science and technology issues.

READ: Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices as row between the tech giants escalates

"Larry, Sergey, Sundar and I all believe that the time is right in Alphabet's evolution for this transition," Schmidt said in a statement.

"The Alphabet structure is working well, and Google and the Other Bets are thriving. In recent years, I've been spending a lot of my time on science and technology issues, and philanthropy, and I plan to expand that work."

Schmidt has played a key role in growing Google from a small US start-up into a global giant and helped lead its restructuring to become Alphabet in 2015.

When he first joined Google, it had a several hundred employees. It now has more than 70,000 employees under parent company Alphabet.

READ: YouTube employs more people to identify extremist video content

Google was founded as an internet search company in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin but has since expanded beyond that to include tech gadgets, Android, Chrome and YouTube.

Alphabet expects to appoint a new non-executive chairman at its next meeting in January.

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 10:30:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices as row between the tech giants escalates ]]> Google said it would block its YouTube application from two Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) devices, escalating a row over the e-commerce giant’s refusal to sell its rival’s hardware.

Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) owned Google will stop Amazon’s Fire TV devices being able to use YouTube from the start of 2018.

It has also pulled YouTube from Echo Show, the screen-based version of Amazon’s smart speaker.

Google released a statement saying its reason for blocking YouTube from the devices is because Amazon had stopped selling several of its hardware products.

“Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make (its) Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of (our sister company) Nest’s latest products,” it said.

“Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV.

“We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

Amazon said in a statement that it believes Google is “setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website”.

It added that customers could access YouTube through the internet, rather than an app, on the devices while it works to resolve the dispute.

The two companies compete in a number of areas, including in cloud computing and in selling voice-controlled devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. 

Amazon’s voice-controlled gadgets have outsold Google’s so far, according to a study by research firm eMarketer from earlier this year.

In September, Google removed YouTube from the Amazon Echo Show before later reintroducing the video sharing application. Now Google has pulled YouTube again from the device as the voice control commands added violated the use terms. 

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:35:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - YouTube employs more people to identify extremist video content ]]> YouTube, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), plans to dedicate more people to help weed out extremist content from the video sharing website.

Several brands have pulled advertising from YouTube this year after extremist, violent and disturbing videos and comments appeared alongside their ads.

READ: Google apologises to clients over extremist content after M&S becomes latest brand to pull ads

In November, confectionary maker Mondelez (NASDAQ:MDLZ), Lidl, Mars and other consumer goods producers joined the boycott after The Times newspaper found YouTube was showing clips of scantily clad children in conjunction with the ads major brands.

In an effort to tackle the issue, YouTube has developed software to identify videos linked to extremism. It is now trying to do the same with clips that portray hate speech or are unsuitable for children. Vidoes flagged by the software could lead to the uploader becoming ineligible for generating ad revenue.

However, YouTube has received criticism from video uploaders that the software is flawed.

YouTube employs more content reviewers

YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki revealed in a blog post on Monday that Google plans to bring the total number of people working to review content to more than 10,000 in 2018.

She said adding more people to identify inappropriate content will provide more data to supply and potentially improve its machine learning software.                                                  

“We need an approach that does a better job determining which channels and videos should be eligible for advertising,” she said.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from creators that we have to be more accurate when it comes to reviewing content, so we don’t demonetise videos by mistake.”

Sharing an important update about how we're expanding our work against abuse of @YouTube:

— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) 5 December 2017

I also wrote to creators outlining how we're working to do all we can to protect the community, to counter threats from bad actors and to ensure that YouTube remains a place where all creators can thrive:

— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) 5 December 2017 'Agressive action'

Wojcicki said the company would take “aggressive action” by launching new comment moderation tools. In some cases the group will shut down comments altogether, she said.

“Our teams also work closely with NCMEC(National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation), and other child safety organisations around the world to report predatory behavior and accounts to the correct law enforcement agencies.

Google earlier this year announced that it would give £1mln to fund projects that tackle extremism in the UK.

In June YouTube announced that it would take steps to address the problem by improving its use of machine learning to remove controversial videos and by working with 15 new expert groups, including the No Hate Speech Movement, the Anti-Defamation League and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

At the time YouTube also said it was developing a way to redirect users searching specific keywords on the website to playlists featuring videos that counter extremist content.

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 12:02:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Major advertisers pull ads from YouTube as latest scandal hits video-sharing site ]]> Some of the world’s most recognizable companies have pulled their adverts from YouTube after their campaigns appeared alongside videos featuring children and sexualised comments.

HP, Deutsche Bank, Mars and Sky have all dropped their ads from the video-sharing site, with German discount supermarket Lidl – another to pull its campaign from YouTube – saying it was “shocked and disturbed” that explicit comments on videos of young children had not been removed.

Lidl took aim at parent company Google, claiming the revelations showed that “the strict policies which Google has assured us were in place to tackle offensive content are ineffective”.

A spokesperson for Mars echoed those comments and added: “Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google.”

BBC investigation

According to an investigation by the BBC, YouTube’s system for reporting sexual comments on children’s video has not been working properly for more than a year.

There is currently no way to know when a banned user sets up a new account under a new name and volunteer moderators estimate that there could be as many as 100,000 predatory accounts leaving inappropriate comments on videos.

Investigators identified at least 28 comments that were deemed to obviously violate YouTube’s guidelines, including phone numbers for adults and requests for videos to satisfy sexual fetishes.


“Content that endangers children is abhorrent and unacceptable to us,” a spokesperson for YouTube said on Friday.

“We have clear policies against videos and comments on YouTube which sexualise or exploit children and we enforce them aggressively whenever alerted to such content.

“We have recently toughened our approach to videos and comments featuring children which may not be illegal, but give cause for concern.”

It’s not the first time YouTube has come under fire from advertisers. Earlier this year HSBC, L’Oreal and Audi were among several brands who took down their ads after finding out they were appearing next to extremist content.

The scandal hasn’t affected Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares though, with the stock up 0.4% to US$1,039.82 early on Friday morning.

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 10:07:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Alphabet shares soar past US$1,000 as third quarter numbers top estimates ]]> Google owner. Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares headed past the US$1,000 mark for the first time after the search engine and technology giant topped Wall Street forecasts with its third-quarter earnings.

Some analysts had worried that recent regulatory issues and companies pulling ads from YouTube might hamper performance, but a sharp rise in smartphone advertising volumes helped to ease any concerns.

READ: Google appeals against record €2.4bn antitrust fine

Sales jumped 24% year-on-year to US$27.8bn in the three months to September 30, above the consensus forecast of US$27.2bn.

Diluted earnings per share beat expectations by more than US$1, coming in at US$9.57, significantly higher than the average analyst estimate for US$8.33, and up a third from this time last year.

Revenues were boosted by a higher-than-expected number of paid clicks during the period which rose 47% compared to the year ago period, more than offsetting a 21% fall in cost-per-click – the amount companies pay Google every time their ad is clicked.

The cost of acquiring that new traffic was a little higher than analysts had expected, rising 32% year-on-year, mainly because mobile search carries higher traffic acquisition costs, Alphabet said.

READ: Google parent Alphabet posts quarterly profit decline after record EU antitrust fine

Capital expenditure in the quarter jumped to US$3.5bn from US$2.8bn a year earlier, with most of that being spent on Google data centres and content acquisition for YouTube.

"We had a terrific quarter, with revenues up 24% year-on-year, reflecting strength across Google and Other Bets," said Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet.

"Our momentum is a result of investments over many years in fantastic people, products and partnerships."

Speaking of other bets – other divisions away from Google, such as Nest, Fiber and Verily – contributed revenue of US$302mln (Q3 2016: US$197mln). Their operating loss narrowed from US$861mln to US$812mln

In after-hours trading in New York, Alphabet shares gained 2.9% to US$1,001.

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 07:32:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Taiwanese smartphone group HTC suspends shares amid Google takeover talk ]]> Shares in Taiwanese smartphone firm HTC were halted earlier in the wake of speculation that it may get taken over by Google's giant parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL).

Google's first own-brand smartphone called the Pixel, launched earlier this year, is manufactured at HTC’s factories.

The Taiwan Stock Exchange said in a statement earlier: “TWSE announced trading in the shares of HTC Corporation and the securities underlying the company will be halted starting from 21 September 2017 pending the release of material information.

"The company will apply for resumption of trading after the release of material information.”

HTC has been dogged by falling smartphone sales in recent years as has struggled to compete with the likes of  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung.

Some commentators have suggested Alphabet may want to turn HTC into an in-house manufacturer for Google-branded products, and drop the HTC brand entirely.

Alphabet shares added 1.37% today in New York to stand at US$949.88.

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:58:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google sued by former female employees over gender pay discrimination ]]> Google has been sued by three former female employees on claims the search engine paid women less than men for similair work.

The former employees, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri, filed the gender pay discrimination lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court yesterday. They are seeking class action status to cover women who have worked at Google over the past four years.

READ: Google appeals against record €2.4bn EU antitrust fine

“Google has discriminated and continues to discriminate against its female employees by systemically paying them lower compensation than Google pays male employees performing substantially similar work, under similar working conditions," the complaint read.

The women claim they quit Google after being placed at lower job levels, which resulted in less pay, and denied promotions.

It serves as another blow to Google, which is already being investigated by the Labor Department over claims of unfair pay practices.

Extensive systems in place to ensure staff paid fairly

A spokeswoman for Google said the company works hard to create a “great workplace for everyone” and give “everyone the chance to thrive here."

"In relation to this particular lawsuit, we'll review it in detail, but we disagree with the central allegations. Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions," spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said.

 "And we have extensive systems in place to ensure that we pay fairly."

The lawsuit was brought forward after the Labor Department’s investigation prompted attorney James Finberg to ask female employees to come forward if they had experienced pay discrimination.

Finberg is representing the women in the lawsuit along with attorney Kelly M. Dermody of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein.

Shares in Google parent company Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) were little changed in US pre-market trading with shares down 0.04% to US$939.71 each. 

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:48:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google appeals against record €2.4bn EU antitrust fine ]]> Google has appealed against a record €2.4bn antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission in June.

The EU fined the internet giant for abusing its dominance in Europe to position its own shopping comparison service at the top of Google search results.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner had said that Google's activity was "illegal under EU antitrust rules".

The Commission ordered Google to stop its practice of promoting its own shopping comparison service above rivals by 28 September.

Google faces a further fine amounting to 5% of the average daily global earning of its parent company Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) if it continues its practices after the deadline.

The company was expected to appeal the fine, which was the largest ever penalty issued by the regulator, after saying it had "respectfully disagreed" with the ruling.

It is anticipated to take years before the Luxembourg-based General Court rules on the case.

Google has not asked for an interim order to suspend the EU decision, a court spokesperson told Reuters.

Another spokesperson said the EU competition enforcer will defend its decision in court.

Google said declined to comment further.

Shares in Alphabet rose 1.07% to US$951.46 each in early US trading.

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 15:20:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google to outline plan to meet EU order to stop favouring own shopping service in search results ]]> Google will today outline its plan to meet an order by the European Commission to stop favouring its own comparison-shopping service, parent company Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) said.

In June the search engine was fined a record €2.42bn fine by the EU for abusing its dominance in Europe by giving rival shopping sites an unfair advantage in search results.

The EU said Google gave its own shopping service a prominent position in search ranking and ordered the company to overhaul its search results by 28 September and have a plan in place to do so by 29 August.

Google faces additional penalties if its plans fall short of what the EU has demanded. It could be fined up to 5% of average daily global revenue for each day the regulator deems Google has failed to comply with its order by the deadline.

Google has so far failed in its attempts to resolve the EU’s concerns about the way it tips the scales in favour of its own shopping service. The company has made at least three settlement offers since the EU opened the case in 2010 but the regulator has ruled them insufficient.


Tue, 29 Aug 2017 15:59:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google parent Alphabet posts quarterly profit decline after record EU antitrust fine ]]> Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) posted a drop in quarterly profits, reflecting the impact of a record US$2.7bn EU fine.

Net income in the three months to 30 June came to US$3.5bn, compared to US$4.8bn the same period a year ago. Diluted earnings per share fell to US$5.01 from US$7.0.

The search engine was forced to pay an antitrust fine to the European Commission last month for favouring its own shopping service. It marked the biggest ever competition fine from the Commission and followed a seven-year investigation into claims the technology giant abused its internet search monopoly. Alphabet is considering an appeal. 

READ: Google to lose out on billions in shopping revenues every year following EU ruling

Excluding the fine, Alphabet would have made EPS of US$8.90.

EU antitrust officials are also investigating the company’s practice of bundling its Android operating system with popular smartphone apps such as Google Maps.

Google chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said the group would fight to continue this practice.

"It's a very open market, open ecosystem, and it works well for everyone, and I expect that to continue," Pichai said in an analyst call.

Revenue jumped 21% to US$26.01bn from US$21.5bn with Google accounting for most of the growth. Google revenue rose to US$25.8bn from US$21.3bn, boosted by an 18.4% increase in advertising revenue.

Paid clicks, where advertisers only pay for the adverts users clicked on, rose 52%.

Alphabet’s other businesses, including the Nest smart home devices unit and the Waymo self-driving car company, delivered an increase in revenue to US$248mln from US$185mln a year earlier. 

Tue, 25 Jul 2017 07:33:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google opens first London cloud data centre as competition with Amazon and Microsoft heats up ]]> Google has responded to mounting competition in cloud computing by opening its first data centre to support the internet-based service in London.

The data centre for the cloud computing services it rents to third parties is the second in Europe after Brussels.

The search engine, owned by Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), is the third most capable cloud computing service provider after Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), according to a study by Gartner last month.

In terms of sales of cloud infrastructure services Google’s market share is also a “distant third”, the report added.

Most of Google’s cloud platform data centres have until now been based in the US and Asia, including Singapore, Taiwan and Tokyo.

Google to open more cloud data centres in Europe

Responding to the growing demand for cloud computing services, Google announced that it also plans to open facilities in Finland, Netherlands and Frankfurt.

“GCP [Google Cloud Platform] customers throughout the British Isles and Western Europe will see significant reductions in latency when they run their workloads in the London region," said product manager Dave Stiver, referring to processing delays caused by the distances data has to travel.

"In cities like London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam, our performance testing shows 40% to 82% reductions in round-trip latency when serving customer from London compared with the Belgium region."

Google says decision to build London centre made before Brexit vote

The new London centre has been built amid speculation that the UK’s data privacy laws may diverge from the European Union’s after Brexit.

But a spokeswoman for Google said the decision to build the centre was taken before the UK voted to leave the EU last June.  

The data centre will allow clients to offload processing tasks and information storage to support mobile apps they may offer to the public.  

Google charges its customers, who include The Telegraph newspaper and Coca-Cola, for the amount of compute time rather than a flat rate in order to provide cheaper alternative to other cloud computing services.

"Google uses deep discounts and exceptionally flexible contracts to try to win projects from customers that are currently spending significant sums of money with cloud competitors," Gartner said.

Gartner said at the moment Google’s cloud platform offers fewer features than Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure but it is improving. 

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 15:44:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google to lose out on billions in shopping revenues every year following EU ruling ]]> Google could miss out on billions in ad revenues every year from its Google Shopping service following yesterday’s ruling from EU regulators, according to analysts at US investment bank Raymond James.

The European Commission hit Google with a record US$2.7bn fine on Tuesday after it found the internet search giant had abused its dominant position to unfairly promote its own shopping comparison service at the expense of competitors.

.@Google gave illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service by abusing its search dominance: It must stop & pay fine of €2,4 bn.

— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) June 27, 2017

On top of that, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager  ordered Google to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days, or risk having to pay out billions more in other fines.

That’s the longer-term issue, according to analyst Aaron Kessler. He estimates that Google Shopping generates revenues of between US$3.5bn and US$4bn in Europe every year.

Should Google make significant changes to the way it runs this service, Kessler believes that a large chunk of those revenues would likely disappear.

The analyst said it was “unclear” how Google would go about eliminating its anti-competitive bias in order to satisfy the EU’s demand, but he did come up with a few suggestions.

“We believe potential remedies could include: 1) increasing prominence of comparison shopping sites in organic results; 2) rotating which comparison shopping site is shown first (potentially moving Google Shopping results lower in the results); 3) shifting back to more text-based ads in these markets (vs. current Google Shopping ads),” Kessler wrote in a note to clients.

He also notes that Google is likely to face civil action from European competitors which have been impacted by its actions.

Shares in Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) closed 2.6% lower yesterday, and they’ve dipped another 0.2% in pre-market trading this morning to US$926.20.

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 11:09:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google slapped with record US$2.7bn EU fine for abusing monopoly to promote shopping service ]]> Google has been hit with a record US$2.7bn (£2.1bn) fine from the European Commission after a seven-year investigation found that the tech giant had abused its internet search monopoly.

The regulator said Google had broken EU law by exploiting its dominant position to promote its own shopping comparison service at the top of its search results pages, at the expense of its competitors.

The fine is believed to be the largest competition penalty dished out by the Commission, doubling the previous record handed to Intel back in 2009.

“[Google] abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors,” said European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.

.@Google gave illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service by abusing its search dominance: It must stop & pay fine of €2,4 bn.

— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) June 27, 2017

On top of the money, Vestager also ordered Google to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days, or risk having to pay out billions more in other fines.

The investigation dates back to the start of this decade but Google – which has always denied its practices unfairly stunted competition –  was only served with formal charges a couple of years ago.

You’ve likely seen Google Shopping results at the top of the page when searching for a particular product or item online.

It displays relevant images, prices, the name of shop and review scores if they’re available. These comparison lists are labelled as ‘sponsored’ reflecting the fact that only products paid for by the seller appear.

The EU found that since 2008, Google has “systematically” ranked its own price comparison service higher than its rivals, hence why it can always be found at the top of the first page of searches.

'All the makings of a brand disaster'

There's no doubt that Google and its parent company, Alphabet, can afford the fine given that the whole group is worth the best part of US$700bn with US$172bn of assets.

The true cost might run deeper than that though, with commentators suggesting the company's reputation could take a hit as a result of the ruling.

"Given the depth of Google's pockets, this is by no means a commercial disaster but it has the makings of a brand disaster,” said Rupert Bhatia of Rhizome Media.

"Google has always presented itself as ‘the good guy’ of technology, but if this fine stands then it would be harder for them to argue that.

"The record fine handed out to Google by the European Commission will be seen by many as a victory for e-commerce companies that operate in the shadow of giants.”

Alphabet shares fell 1.51% in afternoonb trade in New York on Tuesday to US$957.

--Updates for share price, tweet and additional info--

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:17:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google reportedly faces record US$1.1bn European Commission fine ]]> The search giant Google is reportedly facing a US$1.1bn fine from the European commission for allegedly abusing its dominant market position.

According to the Financial Times, the Commission is set to dole out the record penalty after finding Google had systematically manipulated its search results to favor its comparison shopping service.

It is part of wider anti-trust probe into Google, which is owned by Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL).

In depth analysis from the New York Times

The scale of fine, if true, would exceed the US$1bn meted out by the EC in 2009 to the chip-maker Intel for monopoly abuse.

The financial punishment is worked out on a capped maximum of 10% of Alphabet’s total revenues.

It would mark the first sanction by a leading competition regulator into the company's search practices, said CNBC.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian the company will have a set time to propose how it intends to operate in future.

If it fails to agree a deal with the Commission in that period, the company could be fined up to 5% of average daily turnover for each day of delay.

The sanctions follow the Commission’s decision to force Apple to pay Ireland US$14.5bn in unpaid taxes after it ruled  after it ruled tax regime in the Republic had been a form “illegal state aid”.


Fri, 16 Jun 2017 09:13:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google owner Alphabet agrees deal to sell off its robotic dog business to SoftBank ]]> After almost a year of trying, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has finally found a loving new home for its Boston Dynamics robotic dog business.

Japanese tech giant Softbank is the new owner and said the deal – reported to be worth more than US$100mln – will help to keep it at the forefront of “the next wave of smart robotics”.

Not commercially viable

Boston Dynamics’ eye-catching robots – which include the dog-like Spot, a life-sized humanoid called Atlas and a sprinting cheetah – have often been in the headlines.

But despite their fame on social media sites such as YouTube, Alphabet has been unable to turn them into a viable business and put the division up for sale back in 2016.

SoftBank – which bought British microchip company ARM Holdings for US$32bn last year – is known for its outlandish bets on long-term ideas, while its eccentric chief executive, Masayoshi Son, has made no secret of his enthusiasm for robots.

 “Today, there are many issues we still cannot solve by ourselves with human capabilities,” said Son.

“Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution, and Marc [Reibert] and his team at Boston Dynamics are the clear technology leaders in advanced dynamic robots.”

Swift exit from robot space

Under the deal, SoftBank will also acquire another of Alphabet’s robotics business Schaft.

Alphabet snapped Schaft up back in 2013 as part of a broader push into the field of robotics, which saw the tech giant invest in another seven robotics firms that same year.

That approach was led by Andy Rubin, the former leader of Google’s Android mobile unit, although he left not long after to set up his own smartphone firm.

Following Rubin’s departure and the recent group restructuring, robots have taken a back seat, with Alphabet now seemingly more intent on developing it driverless cars and artificial intelligence.

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 11:32:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google, Facebook and Twitter respond to criticism over extremist content after London attack ]]> Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) have hit back at criticism by Theresa May over their handling of extremist content following the London terror attack.

The Prime Minister said tech giants have provided a “safe space” for terrorist ideology and called for areas of the internet to be closed after Saturday night’s attack.

The so-called Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack at London Bridge, which killed seven people and injured 48.

Tech giants working to rid networks of terrorist activity...

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, and Twitter said they were trying to rid their social media networks of terrorist activity.

Google, owner of YouTube, said it has invested heavily to combat extremist content after several clients pulled advertising over the issue.

Marks and Spencer Group Plc (LON:MKS), HSBC Holdings (LON:HSBA), Sky plc (LON:SKY) are among those who boycotted advertising after their marketing content appeared alongside YouTube videos that advocated extremism.

A spokesman for Google said the search engine was working on an "international forum to accelerate and strengthen our existing work” to fight abuse on its platforms, adding that it shared the government’s commitment to ensuring terrorists don’t have a voice online.

"We are committed to working in partnership with the government and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to tackle these challenging and complex problems, and share the government's commitment to ensuring terrorists do not have a voice online,” he said.

"We employ thousands of people and invest hundreds of millions of pounds to fight abuse on our platforms and ensure we are part of the solution to addressing these challenges."

Simon Milner, director of policy at Facebook, said:  "Using a combination of technology and human review, we work aggressively to remove terrorist content from our platform as soon as we become aware of it - and if we become aware of an emergency involving imminent harm to someone's safety, we notify law enforcement."

Nick Pickles, UK head of public policy at Twitter, said terrorist content had “no place” on the platform and has shut down 376,890 accounts linked to extremism in the last six months of 2016.

"We continue to expand the use of technology as part of a systematic approach to removing this type of content,” he said.

"We will never stop working to stay one step ahead and will continue to engage with our partners across industry, government, civil society and academia."

Conservatives propose stricter approach to internet regulation...

A Tory manifesto have proposed a stricter approach to regulation of the internet, including tougher sanctions for companies that fail to remove illegal content and legislating for an industry-wide levy on social media companies to counter damaging activity online.

Digital campaigners the Open Rights Group said the Tory’s proposals could be risky as it could lead to extremist content being placed in “darker corners of the web” where they will be harder to observe.

"But we should not be distracted: the internet and companies like Facebook are not a cause of this hatred and violence, but tools that can be abused,” it said.

"While governments and companies should take sensible measures to stop abuse, attempts to control the internet is not the simple solution that Theresa May is claiming."

Professor Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre For The Study Of Radicalisation at King's College London, said: "Few people radicalised exclusively online. Blaming social media platforms is politically convenient but intellectually lazy.

"In other words, May's statement may have sounded strong but contained very little that is actionable, different, or new."

Twelve people were arrested, including seven women and five men aged between 19 and 60, in connection to Saturday's attack. Eleven remain in custody on suspicion of offences against the Terrorism act. 

A white van hit pedestrians on London Bridge on Saturday evening before three men wearing fake bomb vests got out and stabbed people in nearby Borough Market. The attackers were shot dead by police.

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 12:49:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google unveils tighter controls on advertising after clients boycott ads over extremist content ]]> Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has announced tighter controls to prevent adverts from appearing alongside inappropriate content after a string of major brands pulled advertising from the search engine and its YouTube channel.

The company, owned by Alphabet, has made changes to its Adsense technology that will remove adverts from individual web pages, rather than targeting entire websites.

Google said this would ensure adverts do not appear next to violent images, pornography, illegal drug sales or content that advocates terrorism. 

The move comes after a raft of clients decided to boycott marketing from Google over worries that criminals and extremists were profiting from their advertising.

Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS), Havas, McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) the BBC, HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY),  L’Oreal and Audi were among the companies that suspended advertising on Google and YouTube.

  Faster response to violation of Google's policies...

Adsense, launched 15 years ago, allows individual websites to earn revenue by installing a small piece of code on their websites.  Google paid US$11bn to website owners last year, compared to US$2bn in 2012.

Adsense previously blocked entire websites, instead of individual pages, if they violated Google’s policies but the company has sometimes been reluctant to do so unless they repeatedly break the rules.

Google said by blocking individual pages it would be able to act more quickly.

“Page level action lets us be more surgical on how we take policy action. We can do so more quickly because we don’t need a certain number,” said Scott Spencer, Google’s director of sustainable ads.

Google has also recently employed staff to proactively search for inappropriate content and was restricting which YouTube videos could carry adverts.

Despite the scandal, Alphabet last month reported a 22% increase in first quarter revenue to US$24.7bn with Google advertising revenue up 18% to US$21.4bn.

  Google forms partnership with Lyft to develop driverless vehicles...

Meanwhile, the group’s self-driving unit Waymo has formed a partnership with US ride hailing business Lyft to develop driverless vehicles.

The deal is expected to escalate rivalry between Waymo and Uber amid a court battle between the two over self-driving technology.

Waymo claims a former employee stole technology from the company and set up a firm with it before Uber took it over. Uber has insisted it did not seal or use Waymo’s secrets.

Lyft, which is Uber’s biggest rival in the US, has also signed a partnership to develop self-driving cars with General Motors but said it would not affect its new deal with Waymo.

"Waymo holds today's best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world's best transportation,” Lyft said. 

Mon, 15 May 2017 11:37:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - GSK, AT&T and Verizon join advertising boycott on Google over extremist content ]]> GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON:GSK), Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) have become the latest companies to pull advertising from Google over extremist content.

The move comes despite the tech giant’s pledge to put a stop to videos that advocate terrorism from appearing alongside clients' adverts on Google’s YouTube.

Google’s European boss Matt Brittin apologised to clients on Monday after several brands suspended advertising on the search engine and on YouTube, including Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS), the BBC, HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY), L’Oreal and Audi.

Google plans to make changes to its technology in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear.

The group is also reviewing its advertising policies and will adjust how it controls and enforces appropriate content on its platforms.

But Google’s clients don’t seem to be hanging around for these changes to happen.

British pharmaceutical group GSK, one of the latest companies to join the advertising boycott, said in a statement: “The placement of our brands next to extremist content is completely unacceptable to us and we have raised our concerns directly with Google.

"We are encouraged by Google’s steps over the past few days to take action and will continue to work with them to make further progress in developing adequate safeguards to ensure that advertisers are not placed in this position.”

AT&T echoed GSK’s concerns that its ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content “promoting terrorism and hate”.

"Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms,” the company added.

Verizon said it decided to suspend its advertising after its marketing content was appearing on non-sanctioned websites.

"We are working with all of our digital advertising partners to understand the weak links so we can prevent this from happening in the future," a spokeswoman told Reuters.

Google has declined to comment on individual customers.

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:55:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google's advertising scandal highlights industry-wide dilemma ]]> Google’s advertising scandal has brought to light the challenges the industry faces as a whole.

The company’s European boss Matt Brittan apologised to clients yesterday after several brands pulled advertising from the search engine and its YouTube channel over extremist content.

Marks & Spencer Group (LON:MKS), the BBC, HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA), Lloyds Banking Group plc (LON:LLOY), L’Oreal and Audi are among the companies that have suspended marketing on Google and YouTube after their ads were placed next to videos that advocate terrorism.

YouTube pays £6.15 of advertising revenue to those who post videos, which means companies have been inadvertently funding terror groups.

Speaking at the Advertising Week Europe event in London, Brittan said: “I want to start by saying sorry.

“When anything like this happens we take responsibility for it.”

Google plans to make changes to its technology in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear.

The group is also reviewing its advertising policies and will adjust how it controls and enforces appropriate content on its platforms.

“We have a review under way on how we can improve. We are accelerating that review,” Brittan said.

Industry-wide dilemma…

The issue at Google highlights a broader problem for the online advertising sector, which has been expanding rapidly in a digital age.

Advertisers are using algorithms to automatically buy, sell and place ads as it is easier to place marketing across a vast amount of online content and digital videos. Add to that the growth in smartphone ownership, which has 2.7 billion users and is expected to rise to five billion by 2020.

However, the use of such programmatic advertising has led to the kind of complications that Google is facing. The problem with automatic advertising is that it chases audiences without checking what sites they are using.

Matt Scheckner, founder of the Advertising Week Europe, said one of the biggest challenges to advertisers right now is to “make sure your advert doesn’t end up next to a recruitment video for Isis”.

Matt Kelly, chief content officer of regional newspaper group Archant, said at the event that it was no surprise that ads were appearing in unwanted places. He said it has been an “open” secret" in the sector for some time.

"The idea that nobody has twigged that these ads were appearing next to dodgy content is frankly not believable. Of course they realised this, it's at the heart of programmatic advertising," he said.

Solutions but at a cost…

While there are a number of solutions to preventing the issues that automated advertising brings, brands are reluctant to spend money amid the uncertainty of Brexit.

Advertisers could blacklist websites, hire staff to vet websites or create a 'white-list' of so-called approved sites. But this isn’t cheap.

"We all want the cheapest [advertising]," said Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed, "but it comes at a cost."

Political agendas…

Aside from extremist and inappropriate content, advertisers are also becoming more wary of placing marketing on websites that have political agendas.

Nick Flynn, senior vice president at Shutterstock, the stock photography, image and music provider, said brands and advertisers have started taking sides on issues such as immigration, the US elections and Brexit.

Last October, Lego pulled its promotional giveaways with the Daily Mail due to its divisive coverage of migrants. The move was part of a wider-campaign aimed at stopping businesses from advertising with some newpapers that take sides on the immigration debate.

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 09:38:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Tax charge sees Google owner Alphabet miss expectations ]]> Google owner Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) fell short of Wall Street's expectations with its fourth quarter earnings update last night.

Profit after tax rose to US$6.59bn from US$6.04bn the year before. On a generally accepted accounted principles (GAAP) basis, net income rose to US$5.33bn from US$4.92bn the year before.

Underlying earnings per share came in at US$9.36, up from US$8.67 the year before, but well short of the US$9.64 expected by analysts.

Reported (i.e. GAAP) earnings per share were US$7.56 a share, versus expectations of US$7.63.

Surprisingly for a company that has attracted a lot of flak for its tax policies, the difference between the underlying earnings and the reported earnings was largely down to a US$586mln tax charge related to stock-based compensation for employees.

Alphabet said that henceforth it would no longer remove stock-based compensation from its adjusted (or “headline”) earnings figure.

Revenue rose 22.2% (24% on a constant currency basis) to US$26.06bn from US$21.33bn in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

Stripping out commissions of US$4.85bn paid to Google network members, revenue came to US$21.3bn, ahead of some forecasts of around US$20.58bn.

Google advertising revenues climbed 17% to US$22.40bn from US$19.08bn the previous year.

“Our growth in the fourth quarter was exceptional, with revenues up 22% year-on-year and 24% on a constant currency basis,” said Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet.

“This performance was led by mobile search and YouTube. We’re seeing great momentum in Google’s newer investment areas and ongoing strong progress in Other Bets,” she said.

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 07:59:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - ‘Overpriced’ Pixel fails to drive Google share price ]]> Yesterday’s highly-anticipated launch of Google’s latest smartphone venture fell flat with investors, with Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) share price flattering to deceive.

Indeed, the stock could only muster another couple of dollars during regular trading on Tuesday, and it actually gave up some of those gains in the after-hours market.

Most reviews on the internet seem to be positive, with bloggers commenting on the camera, as well as several other software and hardware upgrades.

But the sticking point with potential customers seems to be the price. In the UK, the standard Pixel will go on sale for around £599, with its bigger cousin, the Pixel XL, starting at £719.

These price tags have put the phones firmly into the premium segment of the market, headed by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung, and fans aren’t happy…


Looking at the price for Google's Pixel and it's actually stupid. Way too expensive for a phone that lacks a lot of things.

— Dr. Feel (@Shegstein) October 5, 2016

W/starting price Rs 57,000 in India for #Pixel, Google just wants people to trade their second kidney

PS: iPhone owns first kidney always

— Debarati Majumder (@debarati_m) October 4, 2016


The company will hope that pre-order sales for the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL are as strong as those achieved by Apple last month to help push up the share price

Despite initial bad reviews, the iPhone 7 propelled the tech giant’s stock forward, with the company adding US$50bn to its market value in the week following initial pre-orders.

Shares in Alphabet were down slightly to US$776.43 in after-hours trading.

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 04:35:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Alphabet's Google boosted by mobile ads ]]> Google's parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) said strong mobile advertising sales boosted its quarterly profits, driving its share price to record highs.

Revenue in the three months to June rose more than 21% to US$21.5bn (£16bn) from US$17.7bn in the previous year.

Net income for the period stood at US$4.9bn, up from US$3.9bn last year, as well as a 17% rise in first-quarter revenues.

“Our investment in mobile underlines everything that we do, from Search and YouTube to Android and advertising. Mobile is the engine that drives our present,” said chief executive Sundar Pichai.

“And now to our deep investments in machine learning and AI, we are building the engine that will drive our future,” Pichai told analysts today.

Google used artificial intelligence to optimise video recommendations to users on YouTube, which the group owns.

The group’s foray into the video market put it in direct competition with social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this week, Facebook also hailed the success of its mobile advertising. Mobile sales made up 84% of its US$6.24bn advertising revenue. It now boasts a now boasts a US$17bn a year mobile ad business.

Revenue at Alphabets Other Bets division, rose 150% to US$185mln, but net losses increased to US$859mln from US$660mln for the same period last year.

Other bets includes Google Fiber, Nest, self-driving cars and X, the research facility that works on “moon shot” ventures. 

Shares in Alphabet reached all-time highs of US$802 per share.

-- update for Alphabet --

Shares hit an intraday record high of $803.94 and closed up 3.33% at $791.34.

Fri, 29 Jul 2016 10:50:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google ad policy clamps down on payday lenders ]]> Alphabet Inc -owned search engine Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) announced that it would be banning ads for payday loans and related products from its advertising system.

“Ads for financial services are a particular area of vigilance given how core they are to people’s livelihood and well-being,” Google said in a policy statement released Wednesday.

The ban, in effect from July, will mean companies offering so-called pay-day loans will no longer be able to advertise to internet users through the search engine.

The group will no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of the issue. In the US it is also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36% or higher.

Lenders have long been accused of targeting the poor, trapping them in a cycle of high-interest rate borrowing.

“This change is designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products,” it said.

The ban will not affect companies advertising loans such as mortgages, car loans, student loans or credit cards.

"This new policy addresses many of the longstanding concerns shared by the entire civil rights community about predatory payday lending,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“These companies have long used slick advertising and aggressive marketing to trap consumers into outrageously high interest loans - often those least able to afford it."

Google dominates the online advertising market, meaning the ban could have a much bigger impact on suppressing the pay-day loan industry than government regulation.

Lisa McGreevy, president of the Online Lenders Alliance responded to the statement, commenting:

“It’s disappointing that a site created to help give users full access to information is making arbitrary choices on the advertisements users are allowed to see from legal businesses.”

McGreevy cited research by the Federal Reserve Board which found that 47% of Americans are not prepared to handle a $400 unexpected expense.

“Limiting their access to the financial system will only exacerbate their problem.  This unprecedented abuse of power by a monopoly player should concern lawmakers at both the state and federal levels,” she added.

In 2015 Google disabled more than 780mln ads it deemed harmful. Google’s existing policy bans ads for counterfeit goods, weapons, explosives, tobacco, and hate speech.

Last year, Google's ad revenue amounted to over US$67bn. Advertising accounted for the majority of its total online revenues.

UK-based payday lender Wonga was approached by Proactive but declined to comment.

A spokesman from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that it was not unheard of for media owners to enact their own polcies based on the company's views.

"We understand the broader societal concerns," the ASA told Proactive, "but it is entirely up to those that own the space to decide what they advertise."

The ASA said that they had already clamped down on payday loan advertisers who had broken regulations or misled viewers.

"Advertising is not a bad thing - as long as it sticks to the rules."


Thu, 12 May 2016 09:59:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google owner Alphabet shares drop after disappointing earnings ]]> Google parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares saw the sharpest drop in four years after first quarter earnings failed to meet Wall Street forecasts and Google ad prices dipped.

In after hours trading, shares plummeted from $759.96 to lows of $711.21 when the group issued an earnings report after market close on Thursday.

Alphabet, the second largest company in the world by market capitalisation, lost more than 6% (around $32bn) from its market value.

Although the group saw revenue grow 17% in the period, it spent more money on experimental projects, engineers, data centres and YouTube shows, causing it to miss investor expectations.

Revenues rose to $20.26bn between January and March, from $17.26bn in the same period last year. Net income stood at $4.2bn, up from $3.5bn last year.

Google ad revenues surged 16% in the first quarter to $18bn as the number of ads, or paid clicks, jumped almost 30%, but the cost per click fell 9% in the period.

The report followed formal monopoly charges issued by the European Commission against Google over claims it abused the dominant market position of its Android operating system.

Last year, Google underwent a restructuring and created a new parent company, Alphabet.

Google kept its best known businesses, such as search, YouTube and Android.

Alphabet will run its newer entities such as the drone arm and research divisions.

The drop comes as a major blow for the search engine empire, which could see the group shifting its focus from search to high-speed internet and video broadcasting.

"We're thoughtfully pursuing big bets and building exciting new technologies, in Google and our other bets, that position us well for long-term growth,” said Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat.

Revenues from its “other bets”, in which it classes everything aside from Google, more than doubled to $166mln, but there was an overall loss of $802mln.

Shares were yet to recover this morning, currently at $714.20 in after hours trading.


Fri, 22 Apr 2016 09:27:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - European competition watchdogs accuse Google of breaking law ]]> European competition watchdogs have accused Google of breaking EU law over commercial practices relating to its Android operating system.

The European Commission has written to the internet search engine giant, owned by Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), accusing it of slapping cumbersome conditions on companies using Android.

Brussels claimed the "onerous requirements" breach the EU’s regulations by stifling competition.

Google has 12 weeks to respond, and, if found guilty, faces a fine and may be told to change its practices.

The EU claimed Google had harmed both competitors and consumers by forcing mobile manufacturers and operators to pre-fit some of its own products and sometimes make them default or exclusive options on handsets.

In some cases, this was in return for Google agreeing to grant a licence to use some of its apps.

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “A competitive mobile internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe.

"Based on our investigation thus far, we believe Google's behaviour denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players, in breach of EU antitrust rules.

"These rules apply to all companies active in Europe."

Google said Android was "good for competition and good for consumers".

Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president and general counsel, said: "Android has helped foster a remarkable and, importantly, sustainable ecosystem, based on open-source software and open innovation.

"We look forward to working with the European Commission."

Shares in Alphabet fell 0.4% to US$751 in early New York trading.

Wed, 20 Apr 2016 10:35:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google to launch contactless payment service Android Pay in the UK ]]> Google is looking to take on the UK contactless payment market with the release of Android Pay.

The internet and mobil tech titan announced on Wednesday that it will extend Android Pay to the UK "in the next few months", having previously only been available in the US.

Users will be able to use Android Pay "everywhere contactless payments are accepted", Google said.

It follows Samsung, which earlier said its rival service would also come to the UK this year.

Rival Apple launched its Apple Pay in the UK in July last year but, this is limited to the firm's iOS device,  while Google’s runs on devices running Android 4.4 or higher and fitted with an NFC (near field communication) chip

Put simply, Google’s product allows any device to act as a tap-and-pay substitute for credit and debit cards.

The firm, which is part of holding company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) already has the backing of a number of high-profile lenders including Lloyds Bank, HSBC and Nationwide, which have all said they will support the scheme.

Wed, 23 Mar 2016 11:07:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google faces parliamentary onslaught over UK tax deal ]]> Politicians have slammed a deal between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the UK government over how much the internet giant has to pay in tax arrears.

Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the £130mln that Google agreed to pay for the last decade in a settlement with Chancellor George Osborne seemed small compared to the size of its business in the UK.

It urged tax authority HMRC to reopen the deal if new evidence became available following probes by other European authorities.

The chairman of the committee, Meg Hillier MP, criticised Google for a lack of clarity and details of the settlement and highlighted "palpable" public irritation over the issue.

"Whether you call it secrecy or confidentiality, this lack of transparency does nothing to build confidence that big corporations are paying their fair share of tax," the BBC quoted her as saying.

Google insisted it paid a "fair" amount of tax and Osborne described the deal as a victory.

HMRC said it collected all the tax due from multi-nationals and was maximising the amount paid by rigorously enforcing the rules.

"We are committed to being as open and transparent as we can within the constraints of our statutory duty of taxpayer confidentiality," the BBC quoted an HMRC spokesman as saying.

Wed, 24 Feb 2016 14:39:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google in crosshairs again after CEO share pay-out ]]> Search engine giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is back in the crosshairs again - as it emerged it paid its boss more than the UK taxman.

Not content with swiping the title of world's most valuable firm from Apple, parent firm Alphabet has now issued shares to 43 -year -old Sundar Pichai making him the highest paid boss in the USA.

A regulatory filing showed he has been paid shares in Alphabet worth an eye watering US$199mln (£138mln), bringing his total holding to a cool US$650mln.

But this is unlikely to go down too well with critics of Google's tax settlement last month where Google agreed to pay HMRC £130mln just to cover the last decade.

The figure was declared "derisory" by Labour, while George Osborne, the Chancellor, claimed it as a success for the government's approach.

Pichai's latest share issue is almost three times what Ralph Lauren was paid over the whole of 2015 - at US$66.7mln.

The next highest paid executive last year reportedly was John Hammergren, of pharmaceutical group Mckesson - who brought in US$131.2mln last year.

Pichai has been at the helm of the internet search engine since Alphabet became parent in a restructuring last October.

His shares will vest incrementally each quarter until 2019.

Pichai joined Google in 2004 and led the product management and innovation for a suite of software products, including Google Chrome, Chrome OS. He was largely responsible for Google Drive.

Last week, Alphabet revealed it was now worth about US$568bn against the maker of the iPhone, which is valued at US$535bn after reporting a profit of US$4.9bn in the quarter to end December, up from US$4.7bn a year earlier.

An increase in online advertising on Google helped the company rack up annual profits of US$16.3bn, although its Other Bets business lost US$3.6bn during the period.

Google shares rose 0.69% on Tuesday to US$687.41.

Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:45:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google parent overtakes Apple as world's most valuable ]]> The group behind Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has swiped the crown from tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as the world's most valuable company following fourth quarter earnings.

The search engine's holding company Alphabet is now worth about US$568bn against the maker of the iPhone, which is valued at US$535bn, following a rise in its shares on Monday.

Alphabet achieved the distinction after reporting a profit of US$4.9bn in the quarter, up from US$4.7bn a year earlier.

An increase in online advertising on Google helped the company rack up annual profits of US$16.3bn, although its Other Bets business lost US$3.6bn during the period.

Other Bets includes more experimental ventures such as self-driving cars and internet balloon programmes.

Shares in Alphabet rocketed in the wake of the news, fell back to close 1.2% up at US$752, but rose in after-hours trading to US803.03.

US broker Wedbush said mobile search drove the figures, helped by desktop search, while YouTube doubled the number of small business advertisers in the last two years.

The broker's James Dix and Aria Ertefaie said in a note: "Google's dominant share in mobile search looks to keep paying dividends, with its research showing that a robust 30% of online shopping purchases occur on mobile phones."

Broker Killik & Co said: "We remain positive on the investment case for Alphabet, with Google being the leading search advertising player, with strong traffic drivers through YouTube, Google Maps and Android.

"In addition, we believe it offers unrivalled options through innovative new product areas, with a strong track record of bringing these profitably to the market."

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google as Backrub in 1998 and later renamed it with its current title, which is based on the large number Googol - 1 followed by 100 zeroes.

The company has since beaten off competition from rivals such as Ask to dominate the global search market and grab a growing share of online advertising.

Google shares are now at US$772.62- up 2.74%.

Tue, 02 Feb 2016 14:30:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google to become Alphabet in shock revamp ]]> Global tech giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) surprised the world last night as it said it will become 'Alphabet' after a shake-up at the company.

The move is designed to identify the core operations within Google, including Chrome and Android, from the more left-field products such as its drones arm and investment branches.

The new group will be a collection of companies, with Google the largest.

Co-founder Larry Page said “We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes.

“But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

“Our company is operating well today, but we think we can make it cleaner and more accountable.”

The idea is to slim down Google itself, Page said.

As part of the restructuring, former product boss Sandar Pichai will become chief executive of Google.

In a blog post, Page said: “it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google.”

Meanwhile, Page will take on the role of chief executive at Alphabet, with Sergey Brin the president.

Eric Schmidt will become executive chairman while Ruth Porat, chief financial officer at Google, will take the same role at Alphabet.

Alphabet will replace Google as a publicly-traded company with all Google shares transferred automatically.

Shares in Google jumped 6.3% in after-hours trading to US$663.

Tue, 11 Aug 2015 07:50:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - In the papers: Google to become Alphabet in shake-up ]]> Google is to become the subsidiary of a new company called Alphabet under a surprise restructuring unveiled last night with the aim of enabling one of the world’s most powerful tech companies to focus on its core activities, writes the Times.

Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, is to run Alphabet, with his co-founder Sergey Brin as president, while Sundar Pichai, previously in charge of products, will become chief executive of a slimmed down Google.

Jeremy Corbyn is heading for a “knockout victory” in the Labour leadership race after almost doubling his lead over rival candidates, according to a new poll. The hard-left candidate is 32 points ahead of his nearest rival, up from 17 points three weeks ago, The Times reports.

The Co-operative Bank is expected to escape a hefty fine after a long-running investigation into its near collapse two years ago.The bank was warned in June it could face penalties from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England, which are preparing to announce their findings on Tuesday, writes the Guardian.

A company that offered its customers protection against the deluge of nuisance calls has itself been fined £50,000 for making unsolicited, and in some cases threatening, calls to consumers. The Bournemouth-based company behind Stop the Calls offered people a call-blocking device to stop unwanted sales and marketing calls and also offered to remove people from a cold-calling database for £45 a year, the Times writes.

The Telegraph

Russia crisis deepens as economy suffers worst recession in six years: Russia's economic woes deepened on Monday as a collapse in oil prices and western sanctions sent the economy spiralling into a 4.6pc contraction in the second quarter of the year.

Network Rail faces £2mln fine from regulator over travel chaos: Network Rail faces a £2mln fine after the transport regulator found that recent travel chaos had been caused by a host of failings at the troubled infrastructure group and constituted a breach of its licence.

Alibaba agrees £4.4bn tie-up with Chinese electronics giant Suning: Chinese Internet giant Alibaba is to pay 28.3 billion yuan (£3bn) for a near-20 percent stake in consumer electronics retailer Suning, the two companies have announced.

Daily Mail

Warren Buffett seals biggest deal of his life to snap up aircraft parts group for £24bn just days before his 85th birthday: The latest and biggest in a recent line of global takeovers was announced yesterday as US investor Warren Buffett snapped up aircraft parts and engineering group Precision Castparts for £24billion.

Sacked ex-Quindell boss Rob Terry mired in dispute over £100k that the company 'inadvertently' loaned him: Rob Terry, who could be questioned as part of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the company's accounts at the time he ran the business, was fired last year after being accused of selling shares while sitting on price-sensitive information.

The Guardian

Germany has urged Greece and its creditors to put quality before speed as negotiators in Athens strive to finalise a bailout worth up to €86bn (£61bn).

A finance ministry spokesman in Berlin said the government would scrutinise any agreement, which must also be voted through by the Bundestag, but cautioned against rushing a deal. Greece and its lenders are seeking an accord by 20 August, when the country must make a payment of €3.2bn to the European Central Bank(ECB), reports the Guardian.


Tue, 11 Aug 2015 07:01:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Alibaba goes 'bricks and mortar' with US$4.6bn Suning deal ]]> The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) appears to have performed something of a strategic U-turn with its latest deal.

It is going all ‘bricks and mortar’ with the acquisition of a 19.9% stake in Suning for around US$4.6bn. 

For the uninitiated, Suning is A Chinese consumer electronics retailer with more than 1,600 stores in 289 cities across the People’s Republic.

According to experts, the rationale lies in the shop chain’s logistical network, which will allow Alibaba to gets goods to its own customers more quickly.

Having an offline as well as offline presence is also a growing trend in China, analysts add, and this transaction, which will also see Sunning take a 1% in Alibaba, gives the Internet giant the best of both worlds.

“Over the past two decades, e-commerce has become an inextricable part of the lives of Chinese consumers, and this new alliance brings forth a new commerce model that fully integrates online and offline,” Alibaba chief Jack Ma told investors.

Ma’s comments were echoed by Suning chairman Zhang Jindong. 

“This collaboration signals a new trend in the Internet age: strengthening China’s traditional industries by leveraging the power of Internet.

“It will also help transform China’s manufacturing industry and broaden the global horizons of Chinese brands.”

The deal is being announced ahead of first-quarter results on Wednesday, which are likely to show a one-third rise in revenues to US$3.4bn, but a near 60% fall in net profits, which are predicted to be in the order of US$840mln.

The expected drop in earnings will reflect the firm’s heavy investment in mobile Internet as well as share-based payments to employees.

Investors will focus on the extent to which the sluggish growth of the world’s second largest economy is hitting the top and bottom line.

Regulation and competition are also expected to have an impact on a company that has seen its valuation fall by more than 20% in the year to date.

That said, the company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is still valued at a whopping US$198bn.

Mon, 10 Aug 2015 14:01:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google shares advance after posting higher Q1 profit and revenue ]]> Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) advanced in today’s trading after the world's largest Internet search engine reported higher profit and revenue in the first quarter as rising online ad volume outstripped a hit from the strong dollar.

Shares rose 3.3 percent to $575.61 at 2:36 p.m. in New York.

Net income rose to $3.59 billion, or $5.20 per share, in the first quarter, from $3.45 billion, or $5.04 per share, a year earlier, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a statement late yesterday.

Excluding items, the company earned $6.57 per share, just missing analysts' forecast of $6.60.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $17.26 billion, from $15.42 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $17.5 billion.

During the quarter, Google's aggregate paid clicks increased 13 percent from a year ago, while cost-per-click fell 7 percent.

Google's ad revenue has been pressured as more consumers access its online services on mobiles devices such as smartphones and tablets, where ad rates are typically lower.

Google's advertising sales in the first quarter rose 11 percent to $15.51 billion.

The company tweaked its algorithm for mobile searches on Tuesday to favour sites that look good on smartphone screens.

Earlier this month, the European Union accused Google of abusing its dominance of Internet searches to push its own products. 


Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:51:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google faces anti-trust charges by EU regulators ]]> Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) fluctuated between gains and losses after the U.S. search engine giant said it strongly disagreed with the European Commission, which accused it of distorting Internet searches in its favour and launched an antitrust probe into its mobile operating system Android.

The case could cost the tech firm billions in fines or even force Google to make significant changes to its business in Europe. It also revives memories of Microsoft's decade-long antitrust fight with the EU. That case ended in 2009 with Microsoft paying over $2 billion in fines to the EU's competition commission.

Shares were up 0.4 percent at $541.80 at 2:41 p.m. in New York, after falling to as low as $532.37 earlier in the session.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement today that Google, which dominates Internet search engine markets worldwide, had been sent a Statement of Objections - effectively a charge sheet - to which it has 10 weeks to respond.

Investigations into Google's business practices in other areas would continue. The shopping case, on which the EU has had the most complaints dating back the longest time, could potentially set a precedent for concerns over Google's search products for hotels, flights and other services.

Google accounts for 90 percent of all Internet searches in Europe and the commission alleges the Internet giant broke antitrust regulations by siphoning traffic from its competitors to its own services.

The commission said Google "may be artificially divert(ing) traffic from rival comparison shopping services (to its Google Shopping) and hinder their ability to compete."

This is the first time a regulator has filed formal antitrust charges against Google.

The EU has been investigating Google for five years. Google nearly settled the case without any charges last year but the deal fell apart over objections from ministers in France and Germany and powerful tech groups.

Google rejected the charges. In its first reaction, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a blog post that it strongly disagreed with the EU's statement of objections and would make the case that its products have fostered competition and benefited consumers.

"Android has been a key player in spurring this competition and choice, lowering prices and increasing choice for everyone (there are over 18,000 different devices available today)," it said of its free operating system for mobile devices.

French Socialists Pervenche Beres and Virginie Roziere applauded the Commission for "at long last" taking action against "the threat posed to the European economy" and renewed their call for the breakup of Google.

American domination of the Internet and other new technology sectors has prompted a mixture of admiration and anxiety in Europe.

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed Vestager's action. Germany, backed by major companies in the EU's biggest economy, has been particularly vocal in pressing the Commission to act against Google.


Wed, 15 Apr 2015 14:55:00 +0100
<![CDATA[News - Google Q4 revenue grows slower-than-expected on declining ad prices, strong dollar ]]> Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), the world’s largest Internet search engine, reported slower-than-expected revenue growth in the fourth quarter, hurt by falling online ad prices and a strong U.S. dollar.

Net income rose to $4.76 billion, or $6.91 per share, in the October-to-December quarter, from $3.38 billion, or $4.95 per share, a year earlier, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a statement late yesterday. Adjusted earnings per share of $6.88 missed analysts' expectations of $7.11.

Revenue, excluding payments to other companies that syndicate its ads, rose 17 percent, to $14.5 billion, from $12.4 billion in the same period a year earlier. Analysts polled by Capital IQ had projected revenue on that basis of $14.7 billion.

Google’s chief financial officer, Patrick Pichette, told investors on a conference call that the strong dollar reduced revenue by more than $400 million after taking account of currency hedges. Absent the impact of the dollar, revenue would have risen roughly 20 percent.

Operating-profit margin was 24 percent in the fourth quarter, a slight improvement from the third quarter but down from 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Google’s growth has been slowing as search queries stall on personal computers, where Google makes more money from clicks on ads.

The growing popularity of mobile devices has made the world’s largest social network Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) a greater threat in the battle for advertisers. Facebook reported on January 28 that mobile ads on its network doubled year-over-year during the fourth quarter.

Google said yesterday that the average price of its online ads, or "cost per click," decreased 3 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while the number of consumer clicks on its ads increased 14 percent.

Despite the tough business landscape, Google is making the bulk of its money from its traditional websites, like and The company's traditional websites are bringing in 69 percent of its revenue.

The advertising revenue Google generates from its own websites increased 18 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the prior year.

Expenses for the fourth quarter were $13.7 billion, up 22 percent from the previous year, with a 46 percent jump coming from R&D costs.

Going forward, Google plans to continue its adventures investing in robots, home automation devices and artificial intelligence. The company is confident its results are "a license to continue investing smartly," Pichette said.

Shares rose 3.1 percent to $529.22 at 9:57 a.m. in New York, paring losses in the past 12 months to 7.1 percent.

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google moves into auto insurance in U.S. ]]> Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) may begin selling auto insurance in the United States through a comparison shopping site, according to an analyst.

A business called Google Compare Auto Insurance Services obtained licenses to sell insurance in 26 states, The Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday, citing Forrester Research principal analyst Ellen Carney.

Google Compare is authorized to sell auto policies on behalf of six insurers, Carney said.

“As late as last month the site was expected to launch in California, to be followed in Q1 2015 with likely launches in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Last I heard was that California pilot wouldn’t begin until sometime in Q1,” Carney wrote, speaking about Google Compare’s presumed introduction in the United States.

The company is authorized to sell insurance for a number of companies, including “Dairyland, MetLife, Mercury, Permanent General Assurance, Viking Insurance of Wisconsin and Workmen’s, meaning that many others were likely taking a wait and see approach before jumping on,” Carney wrote.

She also uncovered that a Google executive, Meredith Stechbart, recently secured authorization to sell insurance through Google Compare and through San Francisco auto insurance comparison website CoverHound.

Google also is working with—"which operates like the Kayak travel site only for auto insurance"— a unit of U.K. auto insurer Admiral Group PLC, according to a person familiar with the matter. CompareNow has relationships with 31 insurance carriers and operates in 48 states and Washington, D.C., the person said.

Carney said Google may also face resistance from insurance companies that are reluctant to share information that could help Google compete with them someday.

Google already provides auto- and travel-insurance quotes in the U.K., as well as mortgage quotes, and even credit cards.

Insurance comparison is common in Europe but less so in America. It's a simple enough process that allows you to see rates from competing companies for the same cover—but in the U.S., law states that the site that brings the quotes together must itself be licensed to sell the insurance to the customers.

Fri, 09 Jan 2015 10:29:00 +0000
<![CDATA[News - Google's Q3 results fall short as paid clicks slow ]]> Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) reported third quarter results that came in short of expectations late Thursday as the Internet giant also posted a slowdown in paid clicks on advertiser links and ramped up spending.

The company's total revenue jumped 20 percent year-on-year to $16.52 billion, but missed the $16.57 billion expected by analysts. 

Overall, it posted a net profit of $2.81 billion, or $4.09 per share, compared to $2.97 billion, or $4.38 per share, in the same period a year ago. On an adjusted basis, excluding stock-based compensation and its Motorola Mobility unit which it is selling to China's Lenovo Group, it booked a profit of $6.35 per share, up from $5.63 a year earlier, but analysts were hoping for earnings of $6.54 a share.

The company's site revenues, meaning revenue from Google's own properties, comprised 68 percent of total sales, coming in at $11.25 billion, up 20 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, revenue from its partner sites rose 9 percent to $3.43 billion. 

Paid clicks, which includes clicks related to ads served on Google and its partner sites, increased 17 percent from the same quarter a year ago, a deceleration from closer to 30 percent growth in recent quarters, and worse than the expected 20 percent by analysts. Clicks on the sites Google owns increased 24 percent year-on-year while clicks on Google ads on other sites rose only 2 percent from the prior year.

The average cost-per-click, which is the revenue Google collects from each click, decreased 2 percent over the third quarter of 2013 and remained flat with the second quarter.

Traffic acquisition costs, the portion of revenues shared with Google's partners, increased to $3.35 billion from $2.97 billion. 

While the company's total revenue increased 20 percent in the third quarter, many analysts are concerned the rate of expense growth is eclipsing this. Expenses climbed 28 percent in the third quarter, with research and development costs soaring 46 percent.

Capital expenditures came to $7.4 billion for the first nine months of the year, up 45 percent from the same period of 2013 as hiring continues to surge. Excluding Motorola, the company added 2,980 employees in the third quarter, to total 51,564.

In the latest period, capital expenditures were $2.42 billion, the majority of which was for data-center construction, production equipment, and real estate purchases, the company said. It added that it expects to continue to make significant capital expenditures.

Shares of Google fell in after hours trading last night, but reversed losses to edge up premarket.

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:26:00 +0100