Google will require employees on its campuses to get vaccinated as it delays its office return. It’s now the first mega-cap tech giant to do so.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the Google I/O 2016 developers conference in Mountain View, California
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a developers conference.

  • Google is pushing its return to office plan to October 18, it told employees on Wednesday.
  • The company had previously told employees they would be expected back in September.
  • Employees who do return will need to be vaccinated, the company said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google is delaying its return to office in response to a surge of coronavirus cases, the company announced on Wednesday.

Employees were told they can continue to work from home through October 18, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo, which was obtained by Insider. He also announced that employees who return to offices will need to be vaccinated against the virus.

Google recently reopened some of its offices for employees to return on a voluntary basis, but said employees would not be required back until September. However, a rise of coronavirus cases led by the more contagious Delta variant has now pushed back that deadline by more than a month.

The company has more than 140,000 full time employees, according to a recent regulatory filing.

“We are excited that we’ve started to re-open our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so,” Pichai wrote in the memo, which was later published on the company’s blog.

“At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it.”

Google is the only tech giant so far to explicitly mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. CNBC tech reporter Josh Lipton said in a tweet that Apple CEO Tim Cook was still unsure whether imposing the same rule at Apple was “the right answer.”

Apple also pushed its return-to-office date back to October in response to the surge of cases, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

Pichai, the Google CEO, said the requirement for vaccinations would apply to US offices “in the coming weeks” and other regions “in the coming months.”

When employees do go back, Google has said it will increase flexibility around remote work, after employees pushed back on the company’s demand to have all employees back in offices.

Do you have more to share? Contact this reporter at hlangley@insider.com or on encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram at +1 628-228-1836.

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Alphabet blows past Wall Street’s quarterly earnings expectations as search and YouTube ad revenue surge

Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

  • Google’s parent Alphabet announced its Q2 earnings Tuesday, beating Wall Street expectations.
  • Alphabet reported $61.9 billion in total revenue versus $56.1 billion expected by analysts.
  • Google’s ad services brought in $57.1 billion, while Cloud revenue grew to $4.6 billion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Alphabet blew past Wall Street’s second-quarter earnings expectations as the company continued benefit from the massive uptick in digital commerce during the pandemic.

Google’s parent company brought in $61.9 billion in total revenue during the quarter, up 62% year-over-year, versus $56.1 billion expected by analysts.

A year after its first-ever revenue decline, Google’s ad business skyrocketed in Q2 2021 with $57.1 billion in revenue, up 69% year-over-year, driven largely by Google search ads, which brought in $35.8 billion in revenue.

The company said advertising revenue at its YouTube division rose 84% year-over-year to $7 billion.

Google Cloud earned $4.6 billion in revenue and cut its operating loss to $591 million in Q2, its third-straight quarter of revenue growth since Google started separately reporting the financial performance of its cloud division in Q4 2020.

Here’s what Alphabet reported, compared to what analysts expected, according to Bloomberg.

  • Total revenue: $61.88 billion (Expected $56.03 billion, according to Yahoo Finance)
    • Revenue minus TAC: $50.95 billion (Expected $46.08 billion)
    • Google services revenue: $57.07 billion
    • Google Cloud revenue: $4.63 billion (Expected $4.34 billion)
  • Net income: $18.53 billion (Expected $13.05 billion)
  • Earnings per share (GAAP): $27.26 per share (Expected $19.35)

Tuesday marked Google’s first earnings report since announcing in March that it would make a major shift away from precisely tracking individual users based on their internet activity, viewed by some experts as a move to entrench its dominance of the digital ads market.

Google’s earnings also come as the company faces multiple antitrust lawsuits and likely a tougher regulatory environment under Biden appointees like Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan, as well as criticism from employees over its sexual-misconduct policies and dismantling of its AI ethics team following the departure of Timnit Gebru.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sundar Pichai took over Google aged 47. Here’s his advice to anyone with similar ambitions.

Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai urges aspiring leaders to follow their heart.

  • Google’s CEO said aspiring CEOs should ‘figure out what their heart is excited by.’
  • He was speaking in an in-depth interview with BBC journalist Amol Rajan.
  • Pichai also revealed he speaks 3 languages and currently drives a Tesla.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google parent Alphabet, has offered some advice for people who want to run a successful company: Find something that excites you.

In an hour-long interview with the BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan, Pichai talks about the potential of quantum computing, the dangers of AI, and whether Alphabet, with a market capitalization of $1.6 trillion, is too big.

He also recalls the “simplicity” of his middle-class childhood growing up in Madurai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and his rise up the career ladder to become CEO of Alphabet in 2019, aged 47.

Pichai earned $281 million in compensation last year. When asked what his advice would be to someone from humble beginnings who wants to run a great company, Pichai said:

“I’ve always felt that – more than what your mind says – you need to figure out what your heart is excited by. It’s a journey and you will know it when you find it,” said Pichai.

“If you find that, things tend to work out,” he added.

Pichai said that he had wanted to work in Silicon Valley since he was a teenager and that his father took out a loan, worth a year’s salary, in order for Pichai to afford his flight and study at Stanford.

When asked how to land a job at Google, he gave some insight into the interview process when he applied for his first role in 2004. Pichai said: “You keep interviewing. I was interviewing on April Fool’s day and Google had just announced Gmail – which I thought was a joke.

“People kept asking me what I think of Gmail, which was invite-only at the time. It was only the fourth or fifth interviewer who asked ‘Have you seen Gmail?’ and I said no. He showed me on his computer.

“Then the next interview somebody asked me, I was able to answer it for the first time.”

He speaks to Mark Zuckerberg ‘as and when needed’

Pichai also offered some insight into his own personal work habits as CEO of one of the world’s biggest companies.

He wakes up between 6.30-7 am and tries to exercise three or four times a week. He doesn’t eat meat, and drinks tea in the mornings and coffee in the afternoons. He speaks three languages – English, Hindi and Tamil – and currently drives a Tesla.

The Wall Street Journal has been a long-term reading habit, although “90% of his consumption” is now online, from publications around the world.

When asked how often he speaks to Facebook chief and rival Mark Zuckerberg, he replied “as and when needed.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nancy Pelosi’s husband just invested millions in 4 mega-cap tech stocks, including Apple and Amazon

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • The husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi purchased up to $11 million in mega-cap tech stocks in May and June.
  • A disclosure form shows Paul Pelosi exercised options to purchase $4.8 million worth of Alphabet.
  • Pelosi also bought option contracts in Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet, according to the disclosure.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Paul Pelosi, investment manager and the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, purchased up to $11 million worth of mega-cap tech stocks in May and June, according to a financial disclosure form filed last week.

Pelosi’s biggest purchase was $4.8 million worth of Alphabet shares on June 18, according to the disclosure. Pelosi exercised 40 call options to buy 4,000 shares at a strike price of $1,200. With shares of Alphabet currently trading at $2,524, that stock position is now worth more than $10 million, representing an unrealized gain of more than $5 million.

On May 21, Pelosi purchased up to $1 million worth of call options in Amazon, along with up to $250,000 in call options on Apple. According to the disclosure form, Pelosi purchased 20 Amazon call options with a strike price of $3,000 and an expiration date of June 17, 2022, along with 50 Apple call options with a strike price of $100 and an expiration date of June 17, 2022.

The stock purchases come as Pelosi’s wife and the House of Representatives work on anti-trust legislation designed to better regulate the massive multi-trillion dollar tech companies. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called House Speaker Pelosi to voice his opposition to the pending legislation.

Finally, Pelosi purchased up to $5 million worth of Nvidia call options on June 3. According to the disclosure form, Pelosi purchased 50 Nvidia call options with a strike price of $400 and an expiration date of June 17, 2022.

The long-dated in-the-money call options give Pelosi leverage to the potential upside moves in mega-cap tech stocks. The trades could be a bet on a continued regime of low interest rates, muted inflation, and slowing economic growth in a post-pandemic recovery, or on the business outlook of the companies themselves.

This isn’t the first time the investment decisions of Pelosi’s husband came into focus. Earlier this year, Paul Pelosi purchased up to $1 million of long-dated Tesla call options.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Jeff Bezos is about to step down as Amazon CEO. Here’s how he built Amazon into a $1.7 trillion company and became the world’s richest person.

Jeff Bezos inside Amazon's Spheres at its Seattle headquarters
Jeff Bezos inside Amazon’s Spheres in 2018.

  • Jeff Bezos will step down as Amazon CEO on July 5, 27 years to the day after he founded the company.
  • Bezos got his start as a New York hedge-funder and grew Amazon into a $1.7 trillion business.
  • Along the way, he faced antitrust scrutiny, weathered scandal, and became the world’s richest man.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After 27 years in charge, Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO.

Over the last 16 months, Amazon experienced a surge in demand as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to shop online more than ever. And as Amazon’s stock has hit new highs, Bezos’ net worth has jumped as well: These days, he’s worth $199 billion, according to Bloomberg.

He’s also jetted across the globe with his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, he’s attended the exclusive Met Gala, and in a few weeks, he’s about to launch into space aboard a Blue Origin rocket.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, however. Bezos began his career in the hedge fund world in the 1990s, then left a cushy job to launch his own startup that didn’t turn a profit for years. In 2018, he weathered a high-profile divorce scandal, and Amazon has faced scrutiny over how it treats its workers and the impact it has on the environment.

Here’s how Bezos got his start and built a trillion-dollar empire.

Allana Akhtar contributed to an earlier version of this story.

Jeff Bezos’ mom, Jackie, was a teenager when she had him in January 1964. She had recently married Cuban immigrant Miguel Bezos, who adopted Jeff. Jeff didn’t learn that Miguel wasn’t his real father until he was 10, but says he was more fazed about learning he needed to get glasses than he was about the news.

jeff bezos miguel bezos
Jeff Bezos with his father, Miguel Bezos.

Source: Wired

When Bezos was 4, his mother told his biological father, who previously had worked as a circus performer, to stay out of their lives. When Brad Stone interviewed Bezos’ biological father for Stone’s book “The Everything Store,” Bezos’ dad had no idea who his son had become.

Ringmaster Monte Carlo circus
Not Jeff Bezos’ father.

Source: The Everything Store

Bezos showed signs of brilliance from an early age. When he was a toddler, he took apart his crib with a screwdriver because he wanted to sleep in a real bed.

Baby crib

Source: The Everything Store

From ages 4 to 16, Bezos spent summers on his grandparents’ ranch in Texas, doing things like repairing windmills and castrating bulls.

jeff bezos young 1999

Source: The Everything Store

His grandfather, Preston Gise, was a huge inspiration for Bezos and helped kindle his passion for intellectual pursuits. At a commencement address in 2010, Bezos said Gise taught him “it’s harder to be kind than clever.”

jeff bezos
Jeff Bezos.

Source: Business Insider

Bezos fell in love with reruns of the original “Star Trek” and became a fan of later versions too. Early on, he considered naming Amazon MakeItSo.com, a reference to a line from Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

star trek

Source: The Everything Store

In school, Bezos told teachers “the future of mankind is not on this planet.” As a kid, he wanted to be a space entrepreneur – now, he owns a space-exploration company called Blue Origin.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin

Source: Wired

After spending a miserable summer working at McDonald’s as a teen, Bezos, together with his girlfriend, started the Dream Institute, a 10-day summer camp for kids. They charged $600 a kid and managed to sign up six students. The “Lord of the Rings” series made the required reading list.

Jeff Bezos Thumb

Source: Wired

Bezos eventually went to college at Princeton University and majored in computer science. Upon graduation, he turned down job offers from Intel and Bell Labs to join a startup called Fitel.

Princeton University
Princeton University.

Source: The Everything Store

After he quit Fitel, Bezos considered partnering with Halsey Minor – who would later found CNET – to launch a startup that would deliver news by fax.

fax

Source: Wired

Instead, he got a job at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw. He became a senior vice president after only four years.

india stock market
The rising graph of the Bombay Stock Index is reflected in the glasses of Senior broker and Assistant Vice President of Motilal Oswal Securities Limited, Jitendra Prasad, as he looks into a computer in his firm in Bombay November 15, 2001. India’s key share index finished up more than two percent on Thursday to its highest level since September 11, as investors bet on a recovery in global equity sentiment. The 30-share Bombay Sensitive Index closed up a provisional 2.65 percent at 3,195.52 points. YEAREND PICTURES 2001

Source: The Everything Store

Meanwhile, Bezos was taking ballroom dancing classes as part of a scheme to increase his “women flow.” Just as Wall Streeters have a process for increasing their “deal flow,” Bezos thought analytically about meeting women.

Ballroom dancing

Source: The Everything Store

He married MacKenzie Tuttle, a D.E. Shaw research associate, in 1993. She’s now a novelist. The couple had four kids together.

Jeff Bezos + Mackenzie

Source: The Everything Store

In 1994, Bezos read that the web had grown 2,300% in one year. This number astounded him, and he decided he needed to find some way to take advantage of its rapid growth. He made a list of 20 possible products to sell online and decided books were the best option.

girl in bookstore

Source: The Everything Store

Bezos decided to leave D.E. Shaw even though he had a great job. His boss at the firm, David E. Shaw, tried to persuade Bezos to stay. But Bezos was already determined to start his own company – he felt he’d rather try and fail at a startup than never try at all.

amazon bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is silhouetted during a presentation of his company’s new Fire smartphone at a news conference in Seattle, Washington June 18, 2014.

“When you are in the thick of things, you can get confused by small stuff,” he said later. “I knew when I was 80 that I would never, for example, think about why I walked away from my 1994 Wall Street bonus right in the middle of the year at the worst possible time. That kind of thing just isn’t something you worry about when you’re 80 years old.”

“At the same time, I knew that I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event,” he added. “When I thought about it that way … it was incredibly easy to make the decision.”

Source: Wired

And so Amazon was born. MacKenzie and Jeff flew to Texas to borrow a car from his father, and then they drove to Seattle. Bezos was making revenue projections in the passenger seat the whole way, though the couple did stop to watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon.

jeff and mackenzie bezos

Source: The Everything Store

Bezos started Amazon.com in a garage with a potbelly stove. He held most of his meetings at the neighborhood Barnes & Noble.

Barnes and Noble store

Source: Wired

In the early days, a bell would ring in the office every time someone made a purchase, and everyone would gather around to see whether anyone knew the customer. It took only a few weeks before it was ringing so often they had to make it stop.

jeff bezos young 2001

Learn more about some of Amazon’s early employees here

In the first month of its launch, Amazon sold books to people in all 50 states and in 45 different countries. And it continued to grow: Amazon went public on May 15, 1997.

amazon ipo jeff bezos

Source: Business Insider

When the dot-com crash came, analysts called the company “Amazon.bomb.” But it weathered the storm and ended up being one of the few startups that wasn’t wiped out by the dot-com bust.

jeff bezos

Source: Barron’s

Amazon has now gone beyond selling books to offering almost everything you can imagine, including appliances, clothing, and even cloud computing services.

amazon warehouse
An Amazon warehouse.

In the early days, Bezos was a demanding boss and could explode at employees. Rumor has it he hired a leadership coach to help him tone it down.

Jeff Bezos
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Here are some of the strategies Bezos used in building his Amazon empire. 

Bezos is known for banning PowerPoint presentations at Amazon. Instead, he requires his staff to turn in papers of a specific length on their proposals to encourage critical thinking over simplistic bullet points.

Pens and paper with the Amazon logo are seen at the logistics center in Brieselang, Germany November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Pens and paper with an Amazon logo are seen at the logistics center in Brieselang

Source: The Everything Store

Bezos is also known for creating a frugal company culture that doesn’t offer perks like free food or massages.

Amazon office 61
An Amazon office.

In 1998, Bezos became an early investor in Google. He invested $250,000, which was worth about 3.3 million shares when the company went public in 2004. Those would be worth billions today (Bezos hasn’t said whether he kept any of his stock after the initial public offering).

Larry Page Sergey Brin

Source: All Things D

What does Bezos do with all his money? In 2012, he donated $2.5 million to defend gay marriage in Washington.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos.

Source: The Washington Post

Bezos has also donated $42 million and part of his land in Texas to the construction of The Clock Of The Long Now, an underground timepiece designed to work for 10,000 years.

Clock of the Long Now

Source: Business Insider

In August 2013, Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

Jeff Bezos

Source: The Washington Post

His space company Blue Origin made history in 2015 when it became one of the first commercial companies to successfully launch a reusable rocket.

Blue Origin

Source: Business Insider

Bezos’ interest in flying has gotten him into trouble in the past. In 2003, Bezos almost died in a helicopter crash in Texas while scouting a site for a test-launch facility for Blue Origin.

august 2011 helicopter crash wreckage missouri
This isn’t Bezos’ helicopter.

Source: CNN

But in early 2016, he flew his personal jet to Germany to pick up and bring home Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who had been detained by Iran.

Jeff Bezos

Source: Business Insider

Bezos is said to own a 5.35-acre estate on Seattle’s Lake Washington that includes 200 yards of shoreline.

Amazon plane Lake Washington
An Amazon-branded Boeing 767 freighter, nicknamed Amazon One, flies over Lake Washington.

Source: Curbed Seattle

He bought a seven-bedroom, $24.5 million mansion in Beverly Hills in 2007. There’s a greenhouse, tennis court, pool, and guest house on the property, and it neighbors Tom Cruise’s estate.

Jeff Bezos Beverly Hills Home
Bezos’ house in Beverly Hills.

Source: Forbes

In January 2017, Bezos purchased the Textile Museum, a pair of mansions in Washington, D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood. The property sold for $23 million and is the largest in Washington. He’s currently spending $12 million to renovate the place.

Jeff Bezos DC house

Source: The Washington Post, Business Insider

Here’s another look at the mansions.

Bezos

Bezos also owns four apartments at 212 Fifth Avenue in New York City. His most recent purchase in the building was last April, when he paid a reported $16 million for a three-bedroom unit, bringing his total real estate holdings in the building to nearly $100 million.

Madison Square Park
Madison Square Park in New York City.

Source: Forbes, Business Insider

In February 2020, Bezos became the new owner of the Warner estate, a sprawling compound in Beverly Hills, California, that he reportedly purchased for $165 million. A few months later, Bezos added to the compound with an adjacent house worth $10 million.

Jeff Bezos Warner estate Beverly Hills

Source: Business Insider

Now, more than 20 years after going public, Amazon has a market cap of over $1.56 trillion.

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Source: Markets Insider

In August 2017, Amazon officially acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The Amazon influence became immediately clear: Customers who are Amazon Prime subscribers can get 10% of sale prices, and you’ll see some Amazon branded items offered, including tech products like the popular Amazon Echo line.

whole foods amazon echo

Source: Business Insider

In July 2017, Bezos became the world’s richest person for the first time, surpassing Microsoft founder Bill Gates. At the time, his net worth was more than $90 billion.

Jeff Bezos Bill Gates Tennis

Source: Markets Insider, Forbes

Despite his high net worth, Bezos doesn’t actually take home a high salary, comparatively speaking: His annual salary comes out to $81,840, according to Bloomberg.

Jeff Bezos Sun Valley
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, and John Elkann, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, walk together during the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Source: Bloomberg

In January 2019, Bezos and his wife of 25 years, novelist MacKenzie Bezos, announced they were divorcing. “As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the couple wrote in the statement. “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.”

Jeff Bezos MacKenzie Bezos

 

Shortly after the Bezoses announced their divorce last January, news broke that Bezos was dating TV host and helicopter pilot Lauren Sanchez.

Lauren Sanchez Jeff Bezos

At the time, the National Enquirer said it had conducted a four-month investigation into Bezos and Sanchez’s relationship and had obtained texts and explicit photos the couple had sent to each other.

Almost immediately, questions arose about the Enquirer’s motives for investigating Bezos and Sanchez and the tabloid’s connection to President Trump — Bezos immediately launched an investigation into who had leaked his personal messages.

Then, in February, Bezos dropped a bombshell of his own: an explosive blog post titled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” in which he accused Pecker and AMI of trying to blackmail him. As a result, Bezos published the emails he’d received from AMI.

“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote.

The Bezoses announced on Twitter they had finalized the term of their divorce in April 2019. MacKenzie retained more than $35 billion in Amazon stock, making her one of the world’s richest women.

FILE PHOTO: 89th Academy Awards - Oscars Vanity Fair Party - Beverly Hills, California, U.S. - 26/02/17 - Amazon's Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos.

Source: Business Insider

Since then, Bezos and Sanchez have had a whirlwind two years, attending Wimbledon together, yachting with other moguls and celebrities, and vacationing in Saint-Tropez and St. Barths.

jeff bezos lauren sanchez

Source: Business Insider

During the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon saw a surge in demand as more people were forced to shop online. Amazon created more jobs and raised pay for workers, but Bezos and the company faced scrutiny over worker safety during the outbreak.

Amazon worker protest
Former Amazon employee, Christian Smalls, stands with fellow demonstrators during a protest outside of an Amazon warehouses in the Staten Island borough of New York on May 1, 2020.

Source: Business Insider

The company is also facing antitrust concerns, particularly the company’s practices when it comes to third-party sellers on its platform. Bezos and other major tech CEOs will testified in front of Congress at the end of July 2020.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos threw his weight behind the US military.

Source: Business Insider

After the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed, Bezos was outspoken about his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, publicly shaming customers who sent racist emails about his and Amazon’s support. In an Instagram post, he posted a screenshot of a customer email and described the man as “the kind of customer I’m happy to lose.”

black lives matter sign
A person holds a “Black Lives Matter” sign at a protest in Seattle, Washington on June 1, 2020.

Source: Business Insider

In recent months, Bezos and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk have seen their respective net worths spike. The two moguls have flip-flopped for the spot of world’s richest person, though it appears Bezos is staying on top with a fortune worth nearly $200 billion.

Jeff Bezos Elon Musk space

Source: Business Insider, Bloomberg

On Tuesday, February 2, Bezos announced he would step down as Amazon’s CEO after 27 years.

jeff bezos star trek
Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of “Star Trek Beyond” in 2016.

In a letter to Amazon employees published on the company’s blog, Bezos announced that he would transition to executive chairman, where he’ll focus on “new products and early initiatives.”

“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Bezos wrote. “When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”

Bezos said that while he will still be involved in important initiatives at Amazon, he plans to spend more time on philanthropy — including the Bezos Earth Fund and his Day 1 Fund — as well as his two other major endeavors: the Washington Post, which he purchased 2013, and his rocket company, Blue Origin.  

Bezos’ next adventure won’t take place on planet Earth. On July 20, he’ll take an 11-minute voyage to the edge of space aboard a Blue Origin spacecraft. He’ll be accompanied by his brother, Mark; a mysterious bidder who bought the seat for $28 million; and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator who trained to go to space in the ’60s but was ultimately denied the opportunity because she was a woman.

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin

Source: Business Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon and Google are being investigated by a UK regulator over fake reviews on their sites

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

  • A UK regulator is investigating whether Amazon and Google have done enough to stop fake reviews.
  • The CMA said it’s looking into whether Amazon and Google have failed to protect shoppers.
  • Amazon recently urged social-media firms to help it prevent fake reviews on its site.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Britain’s competition regulator has opened a formal investigation into Amazon and Google over concerns the tech giants have not done enough to combat fake reviews on their sites.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Friday that it would now gather further information to determine whether the firms may have broken consumer law by taking insufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

The move comes after an initial CMA investigation, which opened in May 2020, and assessed several platforms’ internal systems and processes for identifying and dealing with fake reviews.

Read more: Amazon hunger games: retail giant forces employees to decide whether or not their colleagues on a last-chance performance plan get fired

The regulator said it was also concerned that Amazon’s systems had failed adequately to prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings, through for example co-opting positive reviews from other products.

Some merchants are also buying fake reviews “in bulk” online, according to a February report by Which. One fake-review site offered 1,000 reviews for $11,000, while another said it could help Amazon sellers achieve the coveted Amazon’s Choice status within just two weeks. Some sites asked for free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

Groups selling Amazon reviews have also popped up on social-media sites such as Facebook and Telegram. In a blog post last week, Amazon said that social-media firms needed to spend more money helping it root out “bad actors” who use their platforms to gather fake reviews.

Insider spoke to some of the fake reviewers in February, including one who had a product refunded after deleting a negative review she had left. Another compared the fake-review phenomenon to mystery shopping.

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, said.

“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

Amazon said in February that it prohibited the abuse of its review features by both sellers and reviewers. It suspends, bans, and takes legal action against accounts that violate these policies, it said, and it analyzes more than 10 million reviews each week.

It reportedly removed 20,000 product reviews in September after a Financial Times investigation suggested that some of the site’s top UK reviewers may have profited from leaving positive ratings.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Google reportedly uses a strategy called ‘pantry mode’ that leads to it sitting on new ideas until a competitor forces its hand

Alphabet & Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016

  • Google often sits on new products until a competitor prompts action, according to a new report.
  • Current and former Google executives told the NYT that Google’s CEO often struggles with big decisions.
  • One exiting Google exec wrote in a blog post that Google’s risk aversion is a barrier to innovation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google uses a research-and-development strategy known within the company as ‘pantry mode,’ according to a report Monday in The New York Times. When teams create new products, they often sit on them until a competitor announces something new or similar that Google decides it should respond to, according to the report.

Despite Google’s soaring profit and revenue, some former and current Google executives told the Times they worry that ‘pantry mode’ is just one indicator of an increasingly risk-averse culture that’s tied to CEO Sundar Pichai’s struggle to make important decisions in a timely manner.

Pichai’s leadership style allows the Google management team to make many decisions without his sign-off, according to the Times. Some Google employees view this as a lack of ego, while others see it as an inability to take action due to an obsession with what the public might think, according to the report.

A spokesperson for Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company provided other executives to the Times to speak to Pichai’s leadership style, which you can read here, and said employees had good things to say about him in internal surveys.

Google is spending more than ever on R&D under Pichai

While it’s not clear exactly which products or services have been developed as part of a “pantry mode” strategy, Google has steadily spent more money on researching and developing new products during Pichai’s tenure as CEO.

Pichai took over as chief executive in 2015, and the company’s R&D costs have grown every year since. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which Pichai became CEO of at the end of 2019, spent $27.57 billion on R&D in 2020.

The same year, Google discontinued dozens of products such as the Google Play Music and Google Station, which joined a long list of other retired Google products known as “the Google graveyard.”

Comparatively, Facebook’s R&D expenses amounted to $18.45 billion, with Apple spending slightly more at $18.75 billion. Out of the big four tech giants, Amazon has the highest R&D spending at $42.7 billion.

Building off rival products is not a strategy isolated to Google. Last summer, newly released emails from April 2012 show Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives agreeing that “copying is faster than innovating.”

In August 2020, Facebook launched Instagram Reels in an attempt to compete with Tik Tok. Most social-media companies have adopted a version of Snapchat’s ephemeral Stories, such as Twitter Fleets and Instagram Stories.

As Google continues growing in size and value, the Times’ report makes it clear it’s facing a common concern that comes with being an entrenched and dominant company: is it moving too slowly and playing things too safe?

David Baker, a former director of engineering at Google’s trust and safety group, told the Times, “The more secure Google has become financially, the more risk-averse it has become.”

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Investors shouldn’t rush back to big tech stocks as reflation and reopening trades are better near-term bets, says UBS

Mark
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Investors shouldn’t rush back into buying stocks in big tech companies, the wealth management team at UBS said in Monday note.
  • Tech stocks will face another rise in bond yields and the industry will be dealing with near-term regulatory headwinds.
  • House lawmakers last week introduced five bills at aimed addressing antitrust concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Investors should hold off on diving back into shares of large technology companies as the industry faces regulatory challenges and will be hurt again by rising borrowing costs, according to the wealth management team at UBS.

Major technology shares overall have recovered from their lows of the year. High-flying tech stocks were ditched by investors earlier in the year as buyers sought companies they believed have more direct exposure to the reopening of the economy. The Nasdaq Composite is up about 10% so far this year and the NYSE FAANG+ index that tracks mega-cap tech stocks has picked up about 9%.

But a move back into tech stock may be a misstep for investors in the short-run, UBS said.

“We don’t think investors should rush back into big tech, with the tactical outlook favoring reflation and reopening beneficiaries like financials and energy,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer of global wealth management at UBS, in a note published Monday.

One reason for the view is that UBS expects yields on government bonds to begin rising again. That could spell another round of trouble for tech stocks after the closely watched 10-year yield earlier this year quickly zoomed up to a 14-month high of 1.76%. The jump to the peak in March stemmed from investors selling bonds and pursuing riskier assets as coronavirus vaccinations and government spending plans fostered strong growth prospects for the world’s largest economy. But the higher yields stoked worries that higher borrowing costs would hurt technology companies.

Yields have pulled back from their highs as investors appeared to have embraced the Federal Reserve’s view that hot inflation levels will be temporary and that it will stick with measures to support economic growth. UBS, however, said it believes yields will begin gradually rising again to the detriment of tech shares.

Also, “we think that US antitrust developments could pose near-term headline risk for tech stocks,” said Haefele.

Last week, House lawmakers introduced five bills aimed at giving regulators more power to control tech companies from holding too much market dominance and the bills have some bipartisan support. The legislation is aimed at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, which in recent years have faced heavy scrutiny related to antitrust concerns.

“So within a portfolio context, we think investors should consider allocating to growth and technology via private equity holdings,” as the investment case for the tech industry is still sound on a longer-term basis, said UBS.

It said global tech acquisitions within private equity rose to $82 billion in the first quarter, marking an all-time high for a quarter, and were up by 144% compared with the first quarter in 2020.

“With approximately 497,000 global private tech companies, the breadth of investable companies is vast compared to the roughly 8,100 publicly held tech firms,” UBS said.

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Democrats plan to take on big tech with 5 major antitrust bills aimed at making it easier to weaken monopolies

big tech ceos

House Democrats plan to introduce five separate bills as early as this week that could dramatically reign in big tech companies’ economic dominance, Politico reported Wednesday.

The bills address a number of lawmakers’ concerns about the growing power of tech titans like Amazon, Apple, Alphabet-owned Google, and Facebook.

One bill, headed up by Rep. Pramilia Jayapal, of Washington, would let the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission sue to break up tech companies by forcing them to sell parts of their business that present a conflict of interest, Politico reported. That could spell trouble for companies like Amazon and Google, which critics say use their dominance of web hosting and digital ad markets to promote their own products and services.

A second bill, authored by Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, would ban large tech companies from favoring their own products in digital marketplaces they operate and set the rules for, according to Politico. That takes aim at how Apple’s App Store policies impact app developers and how Amazon treats third-party sellers in its marketplace.

A third bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, would prohibit platform companies from acquiring or merging with potential competitors, Politico reported. That follows criticism of Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and the FTC’s probe into potentially anticompetitive acquisitions by Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

A fourth bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, of Pennsylvania, would require platforms with more than 500,000 US users, or those designated by regulators as a “critical trading partner,” to make it easier for users to move their data to rival platforms, Politico reported. Lawmakers have criticized Facebook and Google for hoarding users’ personal data in an endless “feedback loop” that helps them maintain their market power.

The final bill, identical to one sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a spending bill that passed this week, Politico reported, would require companies to pay antitrust regulators more when seeking their approval for mergers. Regulators are vastly underresourced compared to the tech giants they’re tasked with regulating, placing them at a huge disadvantage if they seek to block a merger and it goes to court – increased legal fees could help balance the scales.

The set of bills reflects recommendations from a landmark 449-page House Judiciary Committee report last fall that called the companies monopolies that needed to be broken up.

The report was the result of an extensive investigation in which the committee probed whether major tech companies had used their size and market position to engage in anticompetitive behaviors that unfairly harmed rivals, consumers, and society more broadly.

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Most executives say they want more contract and temp workers. A majority of those workers say that’s not good enough.

Prop 22 protest
Jorge Vargas joins other rideshare drivers in a demonstration in November 2020 urging voters to vote reject Proposition 22, a ballot measure that exempted companies like Uber and DoorDash from California’s AB-5 law.

  • Contract workers “overwhelmingly” want to be permanent employees, according to a new McKinsey-Ipsos survey.
  • But executives say they plan to rely more heavily on contract labor, McKinsey previously found.
  • The findings reveal a huge divide between workers’ wants and those of their bosses.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Around a quarter of Americans say they work mostly in the gig economy, and 62% of those workers say that they’d rather not, according to a survey published Wednesday by McKinsey and Ipsos.

“Gig workers would overwhelmingly prefer permanent employment,” the survey found.

That preference is even stronger among immigrants and workers of color, who disproportionately make up the gig workforce.

Among those groups, 72% of Hispanic and Latino gig workers, 71% of Asian American gig workers, and 68% of Black gig workers said they’d rather be permanent or non-contract employees, as did 76% and 73% of first- and second-generation immigrants, respectively.

McKinsey and Ipsos surveyed 25,000 Americans over the spring of 2021, and 27% percent of those surveyed said their primary job at the time was as a contract, freelance, or temporary work.

But their resounding preference for the security, benefits, and legal protections that come with employee status could encounter some tough resistance: their bosses.

Globally, 70% of executives – mostly from large US firms – said they plan to ramp up their reliance on contract and temporary workers, according to a McKinsey study from September.

Corporate America has aggressively opposed efforts to reclassify contractors as employees, in many cases arguing that workers prefer the flexibility that gig work claim to offer. But McKinsey’s latest findings suggest that executives – often citing surveys that their own companies funded – may not be as in touch with workers’ needs and wants.

While companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Grubhub, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have played leading roles in familiarizing American consumers with the gig-based business model, they’re far from the only ones who have leveraged contractors to skirt labor laws and minimize their costs. (Insider has contacted the above companies for comment, and will update this story if they respond.)

Executives in the lodging, food service, healthcare, and social assistance sectors, are especially keen on relying more heavily on contractors, according to McKinsey.

As Insider previously reported, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed how the tech industry’s push to build their empires on the backs of contractors has failed American workers, who abruptly found themselves without healthcare, sick pay, workers’ compensation, and other benefits guaranteed to employees.

Read more: Biden could be the most pro-labor president in decades. These 81 government power players will take a major role in shaping policy during his administration.

That model also hit taxpayers hard, as they subsidized unemployment benefits for contractors laid off by multibillion-dollar corporations that, despite record profits, hadn’t contributed a dime to those funds on behalf of their workers. Taxpayers coughed up $80 million in pandemic assistance for around 27,000 Uber and Lyft drivers who lost their incomes.

State and federal lawmakers are increasingly considering ways to secure better pay, working conditions, and legal protections for contractors, from California’s AB-5 to recent talks between unions and app companies in New York, though experts say more wide-reaching labor law reforms are needed.

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