Daily Archives: July 27, 2021

Regulators need to rethink big tech regulation, expert says – TechTarget

Posted: July 27, 2021 at 1:36 pm

Regulators around the globe are putting pressure on powerful tech companies and grappling with big tech regulation -- an area one expert argues could use some rethinking.

Marshall Van Alstyne, professor of information systems at the Boston University Questrom School of Business, said regulators can be too focused on traditional regulatory methods for large companies in today's digital economy and have proposed legislation that could do more harm than good. In the U.S., for example, six antitrust reform bills moving through Congress could break up companies that operate their own online marketplaces, such as Amazon and Apple; place heightened scrutiny on mergers and acquisitions; and require data portability, which allows consumers to move their data from one platform to another.

In this Q&A, Van Alstyne explains why breaking up tech companies and moving data from one place to another are not the answers. Rather, he argues, regulators should focus on data access to increase competition.

How effective could the six antitrust reform bills be if signed into law as they are written now?

Marshall Van Alstyne: If they were to go through, I think there are several practices that would change about the sharing of data, about the proscriptions for self-preferencing, and I think there might be some limitations on mergers and acquisitions. Let's pair that with a different question: whether or not those things are a good idea or not. Candidly, I think too many of the bills are grounded in traditional industrial-era economics and not internet-era economics. I think they need more refinement before they actually do what they're intended to do. Are there things that need to be addressed? On that I would concur; I think there are issues that do need to be addressed. But then there's this question of how should they be addressed.

Here is where I part company with some of the proposals that are on the table at present because I think some of the current proposals are not very good and, in some cases, could actually do harm. This is where I think we need more thoughtful discussion on how to solve this problem in the right way.

Why is it important regulators move away from traditional methods for big tech regulation?

Van Alstyne: The industrial era, almost all of these giant firms were driven by supply-side economies of scale. In every single one of those cases, it's a rival resource. Meaning, if you drive a car, I can't drive it, if you burn a barrel of oil, I can't burn it. We can't share that resource. By contrast, all these internet-era firms are driven by network effects, also known as demand economies of scale, and that's a non-rival resource. You and I can share the same network, we can share the same sets of ideas, we can share the same sets of data. The problem is, if you carved them up in order to create competition, what you're doing is denying different parties access to the same data from which they, too, can create value. So, they need a more sophisticated understanding of how value is created. They're asking the question 'how do we create competition,' assuming that competition is going to create value, and that's not true. They're portioning data sets, they are proposing breakups, they're putting in dividing lines and making it harder to create value. In contrast, what they should be doing is enabling third parties to gain access to the same non-rival resources so that third parties can also create much of that same value and compete in ways that give back to consumers. That is the more sophisticated approach to this problem.

Can you give an example of someone who is doing this right?

Van Alstyne: One of my favorites is European legislation, which is PSD2. It's Payment Services Directive 2, which is open banking legislation. What that does is, it requires banks to give you the power to let third parties access and manage your funds, so you could attach other payment systems to your bank account or [have apps] make investments on your behalf and you have control. I think that is the right way to do things, and I think what we want to do is expand this into an in situ data right. Literally, it means in location. What we would do is build on that, and we would grant all consumers in situ data rights. This stands [opposite] data portability what's been proposed in the European Digital Markets Act and also something that's been proposed in the U.S.

What's the difference between data portability and in situ data rights?

Van Alstyne: The theory behind data portability is to increase competition. So if you're pulling your data out of Facebook or out of Amazon, it's your data, so presumably you then create value out of location, and it might create more competition and reduce lock-in. Those are the theories.

Data portability has at least three or four separate problems: First, it loses context. If you pull your data off of Facebook, it doesn't include your friends' posts. That's their data, you don't get it, so it doesn't have the context and you can't analyze it in the same way. Two, it tends to be a depreciating stock of capital. Once you pull it out, it doesn't have the most recent flows, and you want the most recent flows in order for it to be the most valuable. Three, it creates a separate location for data violation. If your data goes out into the wild or into the black market, it gets harder and harder for you to figure out which source exposed your data in the wrong way.

We're proposing this in situ data right in which businesses and consumers gain the right to bring the algorithm to the data, rather than take the [data] from the platform. First, all the context is there. If you bring Google's algorithm to your Facebook data or Amazon's algorithm to your Facebook data, Amazon can now make recommendations based on who your friends are. Facebook could recommend friends based on what you're reading. You have control, it's entirely up to you whether you grant permission or not. Now Facebook can compete with Amazon on Amazon's turf. Amazon can compete with Google on Google's turf. What this does is it causes them to compete and therefore share more of those benefits back with you. Fourth, suppose that Facebook is behaving badly and something like Cambridge Analytica happens? Now you can turn off the APIs and know they no longer have access to your data because they never had it. You don't have to take it back, and you don't have to trust them that they destroyed it.

They could do damage by carving data up in the wrong ways and by putting too many impediments to using data in important ways that could benefit consumers. Marshall Van Alstyne Professor, Boston University

What is your top concern with current proposals for big tech regulation?

Van Alstyne: In too many cases, I believe the proposals are causing data fragmentation. You can't create network effects, you can't create cost-cutting ideas, you can't see broader patterns if you're carving up data resources. And again, it's not steel, it's not oil, it's not railroad tracks or electricity. This is a non-rival resource, and it's a sharable resource. Regulators need to be thinking differently about how to create competing governance models to put on data, as opposed to competing companies. That's the way to create value. They could do damage by carving data up in the wrong ways and by putting too many impediments to using data in important ways that could benefit consumers. They could actually retard the pace of innovation and harm competition inadvertently.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.

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Regulators need to rethink big tech regulation, expert says - TechTarget

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Big Tech earnings: What to expect this week as tech titans report – City A.M.

Posted: at 1:36 pm

Wall Street is gearing up for a slew of Big Tech earnings this week with Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft all set to deliver figures for their latest quarter.

Twitter and Snap kicked off proceedings by smashing expectations last week, raising hopes that a post-pandemic advertising rebound will boost other platforms.

Tesla also shrugged off a semiconductor shortage and supply chain troubles to deliver a surge in profits.

But will the rest of the tech titans bring more good news for US investors?

All eyes will be on Apple this evening, with tech-watchers expecting strong growth from the company thanks to bumper revenue from both iPhones and its services such as Apple Music and the app store.

Analysts expect Apples services sales to rise 24.1 per cent to $16.3bn, more than a fifth of its expected overall sales of $73.3bn, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total iPhone sales for the companys third quarter are also expected to jump 28.7 per cent to $34bn.

We expect another very robust quarter for Apple, with little sign of demand for iPhone slowing as we near the traditional autumn product launch window, said Leo Gebbie, principal analyst at CCS Insight.

Company revenue should see double-digit growth thanks to strong iPhone replacement cycles, work-from-home trends helping Mac and iPad, and services benefiting from good performance across the portfolio.

Last week it emerged Apple is set to double down on 5G for its next line-up of iPhones in a move that should continue to fuel demand in 2022.

But investors will also have a keen eye on how the tech giant plans to respond to mounting regulatory scrutiny, with authorities in the US, UK and Europe probing antitrust issues such as Apples app store commission and its dominance in the smartphone market.

Also reporting tonight is Google owner Alphabet, which will be hoping to cash in on a rise in digital advertising spend as Covid restrictions continue to ease.

Analysts said Googles exposure to travel and small businesses such as physical stores would boost ad revenue both as re-opening continues and the online shopping trends that boomed during Covid is maintained.

Alphabets revenue is forecast to grow 46.6 per cent to $56.2bn.

More concerns could be raised over regulatory issues as Alphabet faces question marks over its decision to block third-party cookies, which has been delayed following pressure from the CMA.

Google could also be hit by changes to Apples iOS privacy settings earlier this year, which mean users of each app are now asked for permission to track their activity.

But Liam Patterson, chief executive of marketing firm Bidnamic said the company was in a strong position overall.

The pandemic has led to an acceleration in digital advertising and therefore a surge in Googles bottom line, he said.

It will be a similar story for Facebook when it reports its second quarter earnings tomorrow evening, with the social media giant hoping for a strong rebound in advertising.

Analyst forecasts put the companys revenue at $27.9bn a 49 per cent rise including a 47.5 per cent jump in ad revenue.

Again, regulatory issues abound for the tech platform, which has been hit with a two-pronged competition probe in the UK and EU over its use of data.

But experts pointed to Facebooks moves into ecommerce as a key potential area of growth though warned it faced stiff competition from the likes of Tiktok, Snapchat and Twitter.

Facebook has been doubling down on building meaningful social commerce experiences across shoppable posts, conversational commerce and live shopping experiences, siad Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief of strategy at social media marketing firm Emplifi.

Facebook is providing the perfect space for brands to experiment with social commerce and learn what works best for their audiences, by offering a range of e-commerce capabilities to try out. After years of focusing on the top of the marketing funnel activities with reach and engagement metrics Facebook is finally investing further into conversion opportunities with e-commerce.

Capping off a big week for Big Tech will be Amazon, which reports its latest figures on Thursday night.

Amazon has been one of the stand-out winners of the pandemic as repeated lockdowns drove record trading for the ecommerce giant.

While the platform could now face a challenge to maintain its momentum, this will likely be offset in its latest quarter by its mammoth Prime Day sale.

Amazon is forecast to pull in revenue of $115bn, up from $88.9bn in the same quarter last year.

Investors will also be focusing on potential shifts in strategy for Amazon after it splurged $8.45bn to buy James Bond studio MGM.

We expect Amazon to post really strong results, boosted by the progressive opening of economies around the world, as well as its international Prime Day promotion, said Martin Garner, chief operating officer at CCS Insight.

This will be supported by its very rapid expansion of capacity, which began during the early part of the pandemic and continues at pace.

In addition to Prime Day, Amazon has made some big moves during 2Q21, which will not show benefits in this set of earnings but highlight its confidence and set the ground for the future.

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Here are Wall Street’s favorite big tech stocks as the Nasdaq closes in on another milestone – MarketWatch

Posted: at 1:36 pm

All three of the major U.S. stock indexes hit records Friday, and the Nasdaq Composite Index might reach its next milestone 15,000 next week.

Below is a list of stocks whose gains have powered the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -2.14% this year, along with another list of analysts favorite stocks in the Nasdaq-100 Index NDX, -2.09%.

Heres a summary of Fridays action:

(Note: All price changes in this article exclude dividends.)

The Nasdaq-100 Index is made up of the 100 largest non-financial companies by market capitalization in the full Nasdaq Composite Index. It is reconstituted each year in December. Both indexes are weighted by market cap, and the Nasdaq-100s market cap of $17.21 trillion is about 73% of the full index. So most of the full Nasdaqs performance is represented by the Nasdaq-100, which is tracked by the Invesco QQQ Trust QQQ, -2.10%.

Here are the 10 stocks among the Nasdaq-100 that have risen the most during 2021 through July 23:

Actually, there are 11 stocks on the list because the index includes Alphabet Inc.s Class C GOOG, -2.97% and Class A GOOGL, -2.69% shares.

Seven of those stocks hit 52-week highs July 23.

Here are the 10 stocks in the Nasdaq-100 with buy or equivalent ratings among at least 75% of analysts polled by FactSet, with the most 12-month upside potential implied by consensus price targets:

Chinese stocks listed in the U.S. took a beating Friday, and you can see from the three on this list (Baidu Inc. BIDU, -5.35%, JD.com Inc. JD, -6.07% and NetEase Inc. NTES, -4.27% ) that this hasnt been a good year for the group. Therese Poletti explained why.

Dont miss: Dont fall into a REIT value trap these 20 stocks score highest on quality

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Biden to Name a Critic of Big Tech as the Top Antitrust Cop – The New York Times

Posted: at 1:36 pm

The White House said on Tuesday that it would nominate Jonathan Kanter to be the top antitrust official at the Justice Department, a move that would add another longtime critic of Big Tech and corporate concentration to a powerful regulatory position.

President Bidens plan to appoint Mr. Kanter, an antitrust lawyer who has made a career out of representing rivals of American tech giants like Google and Facebook, signals how strongly the administration is siding with the growing field of lawmakers, researchers and regulators who say Silicon Valley has obtained outsize power over the way Americans speak with one another, buy products online and consume news.

Mr. Biden has named other critics of Big Tech to prominent roles, such as Lina Khan, a critic of Amazon, to lead the Federal Trade Commission. Tim Wu, another legal scholar who says regulators need to crack down on the tech giants, serves in an economic policy role at the White House. And this month, Mr. Biden signed a sweeping executive order aimed at increasing competition across the economy and limiting corporate dominance.

Mr. Kanter, 47, is the founder of Kanter Law Group, which bills itself online as an antitrust advocacy boutique. He previously worked at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. His services have attracted some of the most prominent critics of Big Tech in corporate America, including Rupert Murdochs News Corp and Microsoft as well as upstarts like Spotify and Yelp.

If he is confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Kanter will lead a division of the Justice Department that last year filed a lawsuit arguing Google had illegally protected a monopoly over online search services. The antitrust division of the agency has also been asking questions about Apples business practices.

The White House took more than six months from Mr. Bidens swearing-in to land on Mr. Kanter. The administration has had to juggle progressive and moderate factions within its own party, as well as the likelihood of Republican support in a divided Senate.

The decision won immediate approval from policymakers and advocacy groups helping to lead the charge for more stringent antitrust enforcement.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who leads the antitrust subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, called Mr. Kanter an excellent choice, citing his deep legal experience and history of advocating for aggressive action.

Sarah Miller, the executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, a progressive advocacy group, said in a statement that President Biden has made an excellent choice to lead the D.O.J.s antitrust division, noting that Mr. Kanter had devoted his career to reinvigorating antitrust enforcement.

Makan Delrahim, a lawyer who led the Justice Departments antitrust efforts under President Donald J. Trump, said in a text message that Mr. Kanter would be a great leader of the division and called him a serious lawyer with private sector and government experience.

July 27, 2021, 11:06 a.m. ET

The announcement may be less warmly embraced by deal-makers on Wall Street who have helped drive mergers and acquisitions volumes to record levels, propelled in part by an exuberant stock market.

Scrutiny in Washington on acquisitions has expanded beyond headline-grabbing Big Tech deals to industries like consumer goods, agriculture, insurance and health care.

The Justice Department has sued to block the proposed merger of Aon and Willis Towers Watson, its first major antitrust action since Mr. Biden took office. The F.T.C. announced in March that it was forming a group to update its approach to evaluating the impact of pharmaceutical deals, an industry that generally falls under its purview. That followed a report led by Representative Katie Porter, a Democrat from California, scrutinizing deals in the industry.

In recent years, Mr. Kanter built an unusual practice out of criticizing the tech giants from inside Washingtons corporate law firms. The tech giants have become lucrative clients for major law firms, often making it difficult for those firms to work for their opponents.

But last year, he left Paul, Weiss an elite corporate litigation firm because his portfolio representing critics of the tech giants conflicted with other work the firm was doing.

Jonathan made this decision due to a complicated legal conflict that would have required him to discontinue important and longstanding client representations and relationships, the firm said at the time.

Mr. Kanters critics are likely to question whether his previous work is a conflict of interest that should keep him out of investigations into the tech giants. Both Facebook and Amazon have asked that Ms. Khan recuse herself from matters involving the companies at the F.T.C., even though her background is as a legal scholar and not a paid representative for their rivals.

Asked whether Mr. Kanter would recuse himself from cases involving Google and Apple, a White House official simply said the administration was confident that it could move forward with his nomination given his expertise and record.

Even if Mr. Kanter has the votes to be confirmed it is likely to be months before he takes over at the Justice Department. Congress takes a long break during August which could push his confirmation past Labor Day.

Cecilia Kang contributed reporting.

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Big Tech Has a Target on Its Back so Look at These Stocks Instead – InvestorPlace

Posted: at 1:36 pm

About a month ago, a federal judge threw anantitrust suit against Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) out of court.

He ruled that the Federal Trade Commission and several states didnt provide enough evidence that Facebook has monopoly control over social media.

If you thought that was the end of Washingtons efforts to rein in Silicon Valley and Big Tech, however, think again.

In fact, the fire under the Big Five tech companies Facebook, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) is heating up.

First off, that federal judge was more receptive to further investigate Facebooks acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Then there is President Joe Biden, who is coming after Big Tech.

On July 9, he signed a far-reaching executive order seeking to crack down on alleged anti-competitive practices in the technology sector.

Capitalism without competition isnt capitalism, Biden said when signing the wide-reaching directive. Its exploitation.

Then earlier this week, we learned that President Bidenplans to appoint lawyer Jonathan Kanter as the head of the antitrust division at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Kanter has represented companies seeking to push antitrust enforcers into suing Google.

Congress and numerous U.S. states also are going after Big Tech. Earlier this month, for example, 36 states and D.C. filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging the Play store for Android violates antitrust laws.

According to an analysis by tech news site The Information, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook globally are now facing 70 competition-related lawsuits or investigations. Thats up from 17 just two years ago.

Theyve got a target on their back.

Im not bringing up the hostile relationship between D.C. and Big Tech for political reasons. Rather, I want you to understand the forces shaping the market.

All of this is key to what Im going to discuss during my next big free event scheduled for Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. Eastern (reserve your spot here).

So lets take a closer look

The dominance of Big Tech and the resulting antitrust efforts against them are side effects of the phenomenon that we call the Technochasm.

As money flows into these companies, not only do their shares soar but they become more dominant in the U.S. economy, society, and culture.

In the chart below, you can see the Technochasm blow apart.

Technology stocks, as represented by the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLK), have produced better than double the return of the S&P 500 and absolutely crushed other sectors, including energy and utilities.

Washingtons regulatory hammer isnt aimed at every tech company, of course, and it would be foolish to abandon the entire sector because a few companies are being scrutinized.

Whether you believe regulators and politicians keep capitalism honest or you think they stifle innovation, theres no denying that they are capable of nuanced thinking.

I dont mean that theyre geniuses or that I necessarily agree with them. Again, Im not here to talk politics.

Rather, I think regulators can discern the real differences between a company like Apple, which has a market cap of nearly $2.5 trillion and dominates several tech subsectors, and one of my top stocks for taking advantage of the Technochasm.

This company has a market cap of less than $500 million but it is growing fast within its tech niche. (You can find out more about this tiny tech innovator joining me for my next big event on July 27, which you can sign up for here.)

Though theyre both technology companies, theyre in different universes.

Its important to remember that the companies being targeted with antitrust action are different from other tech companies.

As the Biden administration brings further antitrust litigation or legislation against Big Tech, they will likely focus solely on the Big 5 and a few others.

All hope isnt lost for tech stocks in general.

And frankly, if you were considering investing in one company, hoping for a big payday, the Big 5 stocks shouldnt be at the top of your list anyway.

With those stocks, youre just trying to pick the one least likely to be targeted by regulators, and thats a guessing game Id rather avoid.

Instead, I recommend looking at the companies that fly below the radar the companies that innovate new technology rather than inconspicuously dominate the competition.

That small-cap favorite of mine, for example, could become a major beneficiary of the multiyear build-out of the one specific advancement that I will be going in-depth on during my big event on Tuesday (sign up to reserve your spot for that here).

And that makes it the perfect way to get on the right side of the Technochasm

In simple terms, this companys testing products can detect and pinpoint flaws in fiber-optic networks to the millimeter.

In other words, this companys products test the performance of crucial internet and communications components. After all, fiber-optic networks made the original internet infrastructure boom possible.

That makes this companys products fundamental to the Technochasm.

Last year, this company introduced its newest fiber-optic testing product and secured a large order almost immediately from a major defense contractor.

The product allows fast and accurate troubleshooting of fiber networks in the field. Late last year, that contractor ordered about 100 units for the purpose of testing the fiber-optic communications networks on some of its products.

Following on the heels of that order, other defense contractors have anted up, as have several new customers in the data center space.

These latter orders are particularly fascinating, as they indicate demand for the one specific advancement that Louis and I are going to talk about on Tuesday. Data centers are buying these units to test network latency.

Thanks to this one specific advancement, this companys performance testers are likely to attract robust, long-lived demand.

That growing demand should accelerate its revenue growth over the coming quarters and years.

The companys rapid growth and potential to accelerate that growth should deliver outsized gains to investors for many years running.

This is just one of the many small but promising stocks that Ive recommended to help investors get on the right side of the Technochasm.

And if you want to learn more about the hidden opportunities that can get you ready to take on this ongoing phenomenon, join me for my next big event with legendary investor Louis Navellier.

That event is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. Eastern.

You can reserve your spot here.


Eric Fry

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NOTE:On the date of publication, Eric Fry did not own either directly or indirectly any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.

Eric Fry is anaward-winning stock pickerwith numerous 10-bagger calls in good markets AND bad. How? By finding potent global megatrends before they take off. In fact, Eric has recommended 41 different 1,000%+ stock market winners in his career. Plus, he beat 650 of the worlds most famous investors (including Bill Ackman and David Einhorn) in a contest. And today hes revealing his next potential 1,000% winnerfor free, right here.

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Capito, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Explore Collecting USF Contributions from Big Tech – Shelley Moore Capito

Posted: at 1:36 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) this week introduced the Funding Affordable Internet with Reliable (FAIR) Contributions Act.

The legislation would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a study into the feasibility of collecting Universal Service Fund (USF) contributions from internet edge providers such as YouTube, Netflix, and Google.

Theres no question the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to close the digital dividewhether youre working from home, finishing school assignments, or in need of a telehealth appointment, Senator Capito said. And, while weve made progress, we still have a long way to go. As we all know, building out our internet infrastructure is expensive, and we have utilized various sources to pay for it. For too long, Big Tech has been able to profit off of the critical infrastructure used for common day-to-day activities while not helping at a sufficient level to improve those capabilities with broadband investment in states like West Virginia. With communications platforms moving away from telephone networks toward internet heavy platforms, its important now more than ever that we start looking at ways that Big Tech can step up and help close the digital divide and secure true universal service for West Virginians. Our legislation is a solid first step in working toward this goal and making this a reality.

I applaud Senators Wicker, Capito, and Young for introducing the FAIR Contributions Act, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said. For too long, Big Tech has been enjoying a free ride on our Internet infrastructure. The current funding mechanism for the Universal Service Funda regressive tax on the monthly bills for traditional telephone service, both wireless and wirelineis unfair and unsustainable. Indeed, its like taxing horseshoes to pay for highways. Requiring Big Tech to contribute is more than fair. It is consistent with the network compact that has prevailed since the earliest days of Americas communications networks. Historically, the businesses that derived the greatest benefit from a communications network paid the lions share of the costs. I am pleased that the FAIR Contributions Act would call on the FCC to open a proceeding to look at ending the charge on consumers monthly telephone bills and shifting a fair amount over to Big Tech.

The FAIR Contributions Act would:

Through the USF, the FCC disburses approximately $10 billion per year to fund broadband deployment to high-cost rural areas, schools and libraries, rural health care facilities, telehealth services, and broadband subsidies for low-income Americans. The USF collects money from telecommunications carriers, set at a percentage of their interstate and international revenues, which carriers usually pass onto consumers in their monthly bills.

Click here for the full text of the bill.

# # #


Capito, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Explore Collecting USF Contributions from Big Tech - Shelley Moore Capito

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Which big tech companies offer remote and hybrid work? – Fast Company

Posted: at 1:36 pm

After big tech companies like Facebook and Google spent billions on cool office spaces and perks designed to keep workers at the office, those workers were suddenly able to do their jobs closer to home life and family during the pandemic. Office work was no longer the default, and many employees liked that.

Now, with the country reopening, tech companies are increasingly announcing their back-to-office plans. To understand the current job landscape facing tech workers, we examined the new office polices for more than 15 tech companiesfrom hybrid approaches that still favor in-person work to extreme flexibility to keep workers happy.

These policies are largely informed by the tech job market right now. Many tech workersespecially those with proven accomplishments and marketable skillsare looking around at other job opportunities, according to recruiters. A decision to change jobs might be swayed by the offer of more flexibility around remote work, which has put some tech companies in a bind. For them, its all about attracting and retaining top talent, and losing it is extremely costly. Tech company work policies should be read as highly strategic bids to keep talent happy in the pandemics wake.

Even though much of the country has reopened, the delta variants spread has confused and delayed those strategies even more. Companies dont want to push fearful workers, nor do they want their employees getting sick. Even fully vaccinated workers risk contracting the delta variant, and those workers can be carriers who might infect unvaccinated coworkers at the office. Since most tech companies are relying on the honor system when it comes to workers vaccination status, a delta outbreak is a possibility. (At some companies its considered intrusive and antisocial to even ask the question, one recruiter told me.)

Most of the back-to-office policies we reviewed are some form of hybrid modela mix of remote and on-site work. The mix often depends on the size and focus of the tech company. Larger companiesespecially ones that make hardwareseem more interested in getting their people back to the office, at least most of the time. Apple, for example, argues that face-to-face collaboration among engineers and designers is crucial to developing winning devices. Still, those companies have faced resistance from their employees. Smaller software companies seem more inclined to embrace liberal work-from-home policies, perhaps with an aim toward luring talent from larger companies.

Heres how tech companies are transitioning back to the office in 2021.


Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a memo in June saying employees should plan to work in an office at least three days a week starting in September. After some push back from employees, Apple stuck to its guns on the policy, but has pushed the implementation date back to October. Apple will also let employees request to work remotely for several weeks during the year.


Amazon said back in March that it expected to move its employees back to a work-centric culture. Some Amazon employees pushed back on the implication that all employees would need to return to the office full-time. As a result, Amazon revised its policy to something more in line with other big tech companies, saying employees could come back to the office three days a week, with the possibility of working certain weeks of the year completely remote.


Google also wants its employees to return to the office at least three days a week. The company also says itll let employees work entirely remotely for up to four weeks out of the year. In a blog post, CEO Sundar Pichai says the company will let more employees request to work remotely full-time. But if they move to another city, theyre subject to having their salary adjusted to match local standards. Post-pandemic, Google believes that about 60% of its employees will be in an office three days a week, with another 20% working in new office locations, and 20% working from home.

Some Google employees were angered at learning that the company may use a different set of rules for higher-ranking people: A high-ranking Googler named Urs Hlzle recently told employees in an email that hed be doing his job from New Zealand, CNETs Richard Nieva reports. Google said Hlzles move was requested and approved before the hybrid work policy was announced.


The ride-hailing and food delivery company says it will shift to a hybrid remote office arrangement this September. The San Francisco-based company will allow employees to work from home two days a week but will expect them to be in the office for face-to-face work the other three. We feel that this combination of in-person and remote work will give people the freedom to do their best work while staying connected to their colleagues, a spokesperson said.


Microsoft says it plans to fully open its offices in the U.S. by September 7, 2021 at the earliest. We continue to review the situation on a local basis in each region/country/state where we work and will adjust dates by country as needed, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email. The company, including its Redmond, Washington, headquarters, is currently in a soft open phase of its back-to-office plan. When health conditions permit offices to officially open, Microsoft expects that most of its workers will spend no more than half their time working from home.


The delivery app company says its corporate offices will remain officially closed until January 2022. But the company has begun to open its 17 U.S. corporate offices so that employees can begin to go into the office in-person as theyd like, a spokesperson said. DoorDash says itll phase in a hybrid work model next year, wherein most of its employees will split their time between in-office work and remote work.


Adobe says its employees will have the option to spend half their time working from home and half their time working in an office. Well gather for the moments that matter: We will have an intentional mix of physical and virtual presences, with in-person gatherings driven by purpose and designed for collaboration, chief people officer Gloria Chen wrote in a June 24 blog post. Adobe says it expects to double the size of its remote workforce over time.


Salesforce employees have the option to continue working from home through at least December 31, 2021. After that, most employees will work in an office between one and three days a week, the company says, with a subset of employees working remotely full-time if their work allows for it. An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers, chief people officer Brent Hyder wrote in a blog post. The nine-to-five workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.


The company says its putting its virtual first work policy in place, with remote work being the default way of working going forward. In July Dropbox employees began to return to offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with other locations to follow through the rest of this year. The company has also been redesigning some of its offices (in Seattle, San Francisco, and Austin for example) to have more open collaboration spaces with plentiful meeting rooms.


The writing tools company says its adopted a remote-first hybrid model, meaning that its employees can work primarily from home, and its office spaces will now turn into hubs where teams can work or hold face-to-face meetings. By remote-first, we mean that our modes of collaboration will assume every team member is remote, writes Grammarly CEO, Brad Hoover in a June blog post.


Twitter just reopened its San Francisco headquarters, but the company is not requiring employees to return to the office if they can do their job remotely. Many employees will split their time between home and office.If our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home indefinitely or split their time between their home and the office, we will support that, the company said in a statement.


Slack is transitioning to a remote-first workforce for most employees. The company says itll still have face-to-face get togethers, but mainly for pre-scheduled events like project kickoffs and team building.Its a fitting strategy for a company whose product is designed to enable remote communication and collaboration.


The social networking company said in May 2020 that it would allow its most senior and experienced employees to request to work from home full-time. But in early June the company said itll let all full-time employees work from home permanently, if their job allows for it. Weve learned over the past year that good work can get done anywhere, and Im even more optimistic that remote work at scale is possible, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a email to employees. Facebook has also said that it may adjust the salaries of employees who relocate, to match local salary standards. The company, which employs about 60,000 people, says it plans to open its offices up at 50% capacity in September, moving to full capacity in October.


GoPro is taking an even more progressive approach to post-pandemic work than Twitter and Slack. GoPro fully supports its employees who want to relocate for whatever reason, be it to pursue their passions, be closer to family or otherwise, GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman wrote in a blog post. We proactively encourage our employees to relocate if that will make them feel happy and appreciated.


Reddit has said it will give all of its employees a chance to work remotely full-time. Its also said it will continue to pay employees who relocate away from coastal centers their current salaries, regardless of local salary norms. This strategy makes sense for a relatively small tech company that offers a digital-only service, and it may help attract talent from larger tech companies.


Coinbase says its adopting a remote first approach to work. Almost all of its employees can continue working fully remote if they choose, CEO Brian Armstrong said in a blog post. Anyone who wants to return to an office can do that.


Airbnb says it doesnt plan to require its employees to return to the office until September 1, 2022. CEO Brian Chesky said during an earnings call in May that his company wants to develop an anywhere lifestyle for employees. Even when employees return next September, they wont be expected to spend all week in an office. The company is still working out the details of its balance between face-to-face work and remote work. We want to get it right, Chesky said. We dont want to rush into this, so thats what were going to be working on over the course of the next year.


IBM says itll reopen all of its U.S. sites the week of September 7. As for remote work, the company is still working out its plans. IBM has long-established practices and policies supporting worklife balance which will continue as we return to the office, the company says in a blog post. More communication from your unit leadership, as well as specifics on safety protocols, will follow later this summer. Looking forward to seeing you in September.

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Which big tech companies offer remote and hybrid work? - Fast Company

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Two of the GOP’s most prominent big tech critics previously sought work with Google: ‘I dodged a bullet.’ – Business Insider

Posted: at 1:36 pm

Two of the GOP's most vocal big tech critics reportedly sought to work with Google in 2019, offering to improve the company's relationship with Republicans.

Mike Davis is the founder of the Internet Accountability Project, which calls for lawmakers to "rein in Big Tech before it's too late." In his role at the IAP, Davis regularly attacks "Big Tech monopolists" online, recently calling for the likes of Google, Amazon, and Facebook to be broken up. He previously oversaw the nominations of federal judges and White House appointees under the Trump administration.

Garrett Ventry currently works as chief of staff for Rep. Ken Buck, who has been dubbed the "new face of Republican antitrust."Ventry regularly shares articles detailing his boss's plans to take on the tech giants, and recently tweeted a quote from a New York Post story suggesting Big Tech firms were "getting away with murder."

While both men have since become much more vocal in their criticism of Big Tech companies, Politico reports the pair privately sought a deal with Google in 2019, offering to improve its image among Republicans.

Citing three anonymous sources, Politico reported Davis and Ventry offered to help Google "mend its relationship with conservatives" in a May 2019 meeting.

At the time, prominent Republican lawmakers such as Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and President Trump were accusing Google of maintaining an anti-conservative bias on its platform, stifling free speech. Trump went as far as to tweet sweeping allegations of bias directly at Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Just a few weeks after Davis and Ventry met with Google insiders, the Department of Justice announced a major antitrust probe in to the company.

Speaking to Politico, Davis acknowledged the meeting had taken place, said Google was just one among the many "law firms, lobby shops, corporations and other entities" he met with after leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Less than six months after the meeting with Google, Davis launched the IAP. A report from Bloomberg last year revealed that Oracle, a rival of Google, was one of its backers.

"It didn't go anywhere. And that was back before we knew how bad Google really was. Thank God I didn't work with Google," he said. "I dodged a bullet." Ventry declined to comment.

Davis also said he had been educated over the course of months about "how bad" Google was for small businesses and the conservatives, according to the report. The pair also reportedly offered to act as communicators on behalf of Google among the Republican party.

Insider approached Google for comment.

Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (mcoulter@businessinsider.com). Reach out using a nonwork device.

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Okendo raises $5.3M to help DTC brands ween themselves off of Big Tech customer data – TechCrunch

Posted: at 1:36 pm

While direct-to-consumer growth has exploded in the past year, some brands are finding theres still plenty of room to forge ahead in building a more direct relationship with their customers.

Sydney-based Okendo has made a splash in this world by building out a popular customer reviews systems for Shopify sellers, but its aiming to expand its ambitions and tackle a much bigger problem with its first outside funding helping brands scale the quality of their first-party data and loosen their reliance on tech advertising kingpins for customer acquisition and engagement.

Most DTC brands are still very dependent on Big Tech, CEO Matthew Goodman tells TechCrunch.

Gathering more customer review data directly from consumers has been the first part of the puzzle, with its product that helps brands manage and showcase customer ratings, reviews, user-generated media and product questions. Moving forward Okendo is looking to help firms manage more of the web of cross-channel customer data they have, standardizing it and allowing them to give customers a more personalized experience when they shop with them.

via Okendo

Merchants have goals and want to better understand their customers, Goodman says. As soon as a brand reaches a certain level of scale theyre dealing with unwieldy data.

Goodman says that Apples App Tracking Transparency feature and Googles pledge to end third-party cookie tracking has pushed some brands to get more serious about scaling their own data sets to insulate themselves from any sudden movements.

The company needs more coin in its coffers to take on the challenge, raising their first bout of funding since launching back in 2018. Theyve raised $5.3 million in seed funding, led by Index Ventures. 2020 was a big growth year for the startup, as e-commerce spending surged and sellers looked more thoughtfully at how they were scaling. The company tripled its ARR during the year and doubled its headcount. The bootstrapped company was profitable at the time of the raise, Goodman says.

Today, the company boasts more than 3,500 DTC brands in the Shopify network as customers, including heavyweights like Netflix, Lego, Skims, Fanjoy and Crunchyroll. The startup is tight-lipped on what their next product launches will look like, but plans to jump into two new areas in the next 12 months, Goodman says.

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Okendo raises $5.3M to help DTC brands ween themselves off of Big Tech customer data - TechCrunch

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Chubb Launches Insurance for Offshore Wind Farms – Insurance Journal

Posted: at 1:36 pm

Chubb has announced the launch of an insurance solution for offshore wind farms.

Chubbs Offshore Wind Farm policy has been developed to support green energy providers through the entire offshore wind farm process from project inception through to energy production, storage and distribution.

The policy offers Construction All Risks, Delay in Start-Up and Operation All Risks cover, in addition to business interruption, third-party liability and terrorism.

It has been developed by the Energy team at Chubb Global Markets (CGM), which comprises Chubbs London market wholesale and specialty business.

The development of renewable offshore wind energy has become a key aspect of the green energy strategy of many countries around the world. This year global offshore wind capacity additions are expected to increase 60% to more than 10 GW, according to the International Energy Agencys Renewable Energy Market Update 2021.

Countries involved in offshore wind production include the UK, U.S., Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Ireland.

This new product line will help us provide underwriting solutions for clients evolving towards more green technology, in addition to those who may have been operating in this space for some time, commented Melanie Markwick-Day, head of Upstream Energy and Offshore Renewables, Chubb Global Markets.

In the context of decarbonization, a supportive regulatory framework, low interest rates and lenders more confident with associated risks, we will be providing valued support to green energy producers by offering certainty of cover from when they start the project planning phase to when their offshore wind farms become fully operational and beyond, said Andrew Brown, head of Energy, Chubb Global Markets.

Source: Chubb

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Chubb Launches Insurance for Offshore Wind Farms - Insurance Journal

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