Google Adopts Futuristic Hybrid Plan for Work Post-Pandemic

Google is creating a post-pandemic workplace to appeal to employees who got used to working remotely last year and may not want to return to the office full-time. Over the next year, the company plans to try out a variety of different ways to design office spaces, based on research done before COVID-19 hit. A variety of consultants were asked to imagine the future workspace, one of which is “Team Pods,” where desks, chairs, whiteboards and storage units are all on casters and can be rearranged in numerous configurations. Continue reading Google Adopts Futuristic Hybrid Plan for Work Post-Pandemic

Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

The pandemic-driven stay-at-home year supercharged Alphabet’s digital ad sales in Q1 to $55.31 billion, 34 percent up from a year earlier. Advertising sales via signature products such as Search, Google Maps and Gmail rose 30 percent to $31.88 billion as brands transitioned ad spending from print, TV and in-store promotions to Google services. Profit also more than doubled and per-share earnings were higher than expected. YouTube earned $6 billion, a 49 percent increase from last year, and total profit soared 162 percent from the previous year to almost $18 billion. Continue reading Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

Biden Plan Aims to Build U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing

President Joe Biden stated that investing in the manufacturing of semiconductors is part of his administration’s effort to improve the nation’s infrastructure, in order to “build the infrastructure of today and not repair the one of yesterday … [as well as] protect our supply chain and revitalize American manufacturing.” A shortage of semiconductors has impacted industries worldwide and hit the automotive industry particularly hard, forcing a slowdown or cessation of production across the U.S. To assess the problem, White House officials met with 20 chief executives from tech and automotive companies this week. Continue reading Biden Plan Aims to Build U.S. Semiconductor Manufacturing

Cameo Connects Celebs with Fans, Reaches $1B+ Valuation

Chicago-based Baron App Inc. launched Cameo four years ago to enable celebrities to sell messages and personalized videos to fans, for anywhere from $5 to $2,500+. The company recently tripled its 2019 valuation of about $300 million to $1+ billion, with a $100 million funding round led by e.ventures and participation by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund 2, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, United Talent Agency and Alphabet’s venture-capital arm GV. Baron App previously raised $50 million for Cameo in 2019. Continue reading Cameo Connects Celebs with Fans, Reaches $1B+ Valuation

Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Apple will finally roll out its app-tracking transparency initiative to protect user privacy. With new software, users will be asked in a pop-up window whether they want a given app to be able to track their activities. Advertisers, ad-tech companies and app developers are preparing ways to weather the change, which could include tweaked payment models and new advertising strategies. Many experts expect users to reject tracking. Facebook plans to debut its own pop-up window telling users the benefits of tracking. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Prior to a House hearing on social media’s role in extremism and disinformation, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg submitted written testimony on Section 230, suggesting that “platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act holds that platforms are not liable for content posted by their users. In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers are pushing for change. “Our nation is drowning in disinformation driven by social media,” suggested Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania). “We will legislate to stop this.” Continue reading Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Google is following in Apple’s footsteps by lowering the commissions it charges app developers in its Google Play Store. Apple and Google, currently the primary marketplaces for apps, charge developers 30 percent for app sales and in-app purchases. Now, beginning in July, Google stated it will lower the traditional fee to 15 percent for the first $1 million developers earn. That is slightly different than Apple’s plan, which is to lower its rate to 15 percent for developers who generate less than $1 million in annual sales. Continue reading Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Facebook and News Corp Sign a Multi-Year Deal in Australia

Facebook inked a multi-year agreement with News Corp in Australia, resolving a standoff on paying publishers for content. The News Corp content will include the national newspaper The Australian, The Daily Telegraph in New South Wales, the Herald Sun in Victoria and The Courier-Mail in Queensland. News Corp’s cable channel Sky News Australia reached a separate deal with Facebook. Now, 17 million Facebook users in Australia will be able to access News Corp publications’ breaking news and news articles behind a paywall. Continue reading Facebook and News Corp Sign a Multi-Year Deal in Australia

Europe Echoes Australia’s Call for Big Tech to Pay Publishers

As the Australian law requiring Google and Facebook to pay publishers for content nears passage, news publishers in the European Union are urging legislators to copy that law. The European Publishers Council supports the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to be included in legislation, forcing binding arbitration if the two parties can’t agree on payments. In the U.S., Congress members intend to introduce legislation to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Facebook, Google and other Big Tech platforms. Continue reading Europe Echoes Australia’s Call for Big Tech to Pay Publishers

Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Microsoft is urging the United States to adopt Australia’s proposal that Big Tech companies pay newspapers for content, in direct opposition to the positions of Google and Facebook. In Australia, that proposal is before a parliamentary committee. Google, which is responsible for 95 percent of searches in that country, has threatened to pull its search engine should the proposal become law. Microsoft is betting that, especially if the Australians pass the law, other countries will join in demanding payment for publishers. Continue reading Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

As incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) renewed her call to legislate major changes to U.S. trust laws. Specifically, the legislation would prevent companies that dominate in a sector from purchasing other companies unless they can prove the deals don’t “create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition.” Klobuchar suggested such changes in Congress’ previous session and Republicans largely rebuffed them. Democrat control of the Senate could improve the odds of passage. Continue reading Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Due largely to robust online holiday shopping, Google’s parent company Alphabet reached a record-breaking $56.9 billion in revenue for Q4, up from $43.2 billion in the same quarter last year. The numbers represent an ongoing recovery in ad spending, which was hard hit in early 2020. FactSet reports that analysts predicted the company would post $52.7 billion in revenue, including $42.3 billion from advertising. Chief financial officer Ruth Porat said Google Search and YouTube led the positive performance numbers. Continue reading Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Google is shutting down the Stadia division that makes exclusive games in order to “focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships,” said Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison. He added that the plan is to expand “efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.” Alphabet debuted Stadia in November 2019 to compete with major video game console companies. Continue reading Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has identified Apple as one of the company’s biggest rivals, even as it posted record-breaking revenue and profit in Q4. The two companies have clashed over data collection, app-store fees and, most recently, Apple’s plan to enable users to opt-out of data collection by third-party apps. That disadvantages Facebook, which has become an online advertising giant. Zuckerberg noted that Apple’s move will interfere with Facebook’s ability to target ads to its 1.85 billion daily users. Continue reading Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Tech Employees Organize to Launch Alphabet Workers Union

The Alphabet Workers Union was just formed by 400+ Google engineers and other workers. The formation of this union, which is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is the result of years of activism at the Big Tech company focused on new policies on pay, harassment and ethics. The union was organized in secret for about a year and elected its leadership last month. Unlike most unions, this “minority union” represents only a small number of the company’s 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Continue reading Tech Employees Organize to Launch Alphabet Workers Union

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