Wed, May 13, 12:55 PM
- Tesla Motors (TSLA -0.2%) plans to introduce an autonomous car-passing feature on newer Model S vehicles.
- The driver activates the option through the use of a turning signal stalk in a legal twist that could alleviate some concerns over insurance liability.
- Sources tell the WSJ the timing of the software roll-out isn't certain yet.
- Safety remains a major topic amid the push in the automobile industry to roll out self-driving features.
- Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) top self-driving car exec, Chris Urmson, addressed the issue in a blog post in which he disclosed the program has been involved in 11 minor accidents in six years of testing of the company's autonomous cars.
- Urmson on Google's algorithm vs. human error: "With 360 degree visibility and 100% attention out in all directions at all times; our newest sensors can keep track of other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians out to a distance of nearly two football fields."
Wed, May 6, 3:48 AM
- In an apparent shift in attitude, the FAA is planning to announce an initiative today to study drone flights beyond the sight of an operator, WSJ reports.
- Until now, the agency has virtually banned such flights, including for research, and even proposed rules earlier this year that would prohibit them.
- Both Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which are seeking to use drones for package delivery, say U.S. regulators have recently become more receptive to their efforts.
Tue, Apr. 28, 10:29 PM
- On a day that it posted a Q1 sales miss (a little ahead of schedule) and cut its full-year guidance, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) announces it's partnering with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) DoubleClick unit (a giant in the display ad space) to allow Twitter advertisers using DoubleClick to "measure when conversions result from views and other actions on Twitter."
- Notably, Twitter/DoubleClick plan to give advertisers "a new attribution model in DoubleClick to get a fuller understanding of how Twitter Ads served on mobile or desktop drive conversions for them across the web." That could point to the (anonymous) use of Twitter profiles to track ad conversions. Also: The companies plan to make Twitter ad inventory available through DoubleClick Bid Manager, a widely-used ad-buying platform supporting many online ad exchanges.
- The addition of Twitter as a partner is a notable win for DoubleClick as it tries to fend off Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which last fall launched a new version of its Atlas ad server/measurement platform that tracks the performance of ads seen by Facebook users both on its site/apps and others. Facebook is counting on its anonymous linking of user profiles with ad measurement to give it an edge against DoubleClick and other rivals relying on cookies.
- Meanwhile, Twitter's Q1 CC (live blog) failed to cheer up investors. The company mentioned Q2 user growth is off to a "slow start," and that ad click rates (CTRs) declined Q/Q in Q1 due to a mix shift towards formats with lower CTRs. Ad load was flat, and app install ads (a format Facebook has seen huge success with) underperformed.
- On the bright side, CEO Dick Costolo noted more than 1M people signed up for Twitter's Periscope live-streaming app in its first 10 days, that the company has seen "orders of magnitude" more native video on its site following the launch of a 30-second video platform in January, and that it's working with Apple on a Spotlight search integration deal. CFO Anthony Noto stated Twitter will begin counting users of its SMS follow service (there are currently ~6M) as MAUs.
- Twitter fell 1.6% in AH trading after dropping 18.2% in regular trading on account of its results. Shares are now at $41.58.
- Three months ago: Google, Twitter strike deal to add tweets to search results
Fri, Apr. 24, 5:14 PM
- Thanks to a better-than-feared Q1 report that included lower-than-expected spending figures, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) rallied to its highest levels of the month today. Class C shares are now up 16% from a January low of $487.56, and 6% below a 52-week high of $599.65.
- At least 6 firms have hiked their targets. Deutsche's Ross Sandler (Buy) notes net profit margin was flat in Q1 "after imploding for three years," something he attributes to both cost discipline and management changes.
- Looking at the top-line, Morgan Stanley (Equal-Weight) is worried U.S. revenue growth slowed to 11% Y/Y (the slowest pace since Q4 2009). With YouTube having likely grown over 40% Y/Y, MS thinks U.S. search revenue (higher-margin) was only up 9%-10%.
- On the CC (transcript), CFO Patrick Pichette stated a mix shift towards YouTube ads - any un-skipped video ad is counted as a click - was pressuring Google's ad prices (CPCs), and not mobile. "Excluding the impact of YouTube TrueView ads, growth in site clicks would be lower, but still positive, and our CPCs would be healthy and growing year-over-year." Sales chief Omid Kordestani noted YouTube's TruView advertiser count rose 45% in 2014.
- BofA/Merrill (Buy) is pleased with the CPC disclosure, as well as sales growth and margin stability. "We continue to see opportunity for sentiment improvement on new products (I/O in May), anticipation of new CFO, spending trajectory change, and YouTube strength.
- Meanwhile, eyewear maker Luxottica has announced it's working with Google on a commercial version of Google Glass that will launch soon (no ETA is given). Sales of the $1,500 Explorer Edition ended in January.
- Glass chief Ivy Ross previously stated the next version will be cheaper, have a longer battery life, and a better display and sound quality. Himax (NASDAQ:HIMX) is expected to remain Glass' microdisplay supplier, and Intel is expected to be its CPU supplier. Eric Schmidt affirmed Google's commitment to Glass last month.
- Prior Google earnings coverage
Thu, Apr. 23, 4:27 PM
- Much like Facebook, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Q1 sales were hurt by a strong dollar - Y/Y growth was 12% in actual dollars, and 17% in constant currency. Google did manage to partly offset forex pressure by recording $311M in hedging gains.
- Ad prices (CPCs), affected by both forex and an ongoing mix shift towards smartphone ads, fell 5% Q/Q and 7% Y/Y, after dropping 3% Y/Y in Q4. Paid clicks fell 1% Q/Q (seasonality) but rose 13% Y/Y; they were up 14% Y/Y in Q4.
- Google sites revenue (69% of total revenue) +14% Y/Y to $11.9B. Revenue from ad network sites (hurt by policy changes, and perhaps also the mobile shift) +1% to $3.58B. Other revenue (Nexus hardware, Google Play, etc.) +23% to $1.75B. Paid clicks on Google sites rose 25%, while clicks on ad network sites fell 12%.
- Google cooled its spending growth a bit: Operating expenses were 35% of revenue vs. 37% in Q4 and Q1 2014 - R&D spend totaled $2.75B, sales/marketing $2.07B, and G&A $1.64B. Traffic acquisition costs were 22% of revenue, even with Q4 and down from 23% a year ago.
- Op. margin was 33% vs. 32% a year ago. Free cash flow was $3.69B, trailing net income of $4.53B thanks in part to a 25% Y/Y increase in capex to $2.93B. Google ended Q1 with $65.4B in cash/marketable securities (much of it offshore), and $5.2B in debt.
- GOOG +1.8% AH to $557.00.
- Q1 results, PR
Thu, Apr. 23, 4:02 PM
Wed, Apr. 22, 8:29 PM
- Google's Project Fi wireless MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service will piggyback on the networks of Sprint (S +2%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.2%) when it's not using Wi-Fi to route calls and data -- and while traffic is better than "no traffic," analysts at Cowen and Evercore say it won't mean much benefit for the two wireless firms.
- Colby Synesael of Cowen says that financial gains will be limited for the two (and for Google): It's all about Google trying to shape the market in ways that might eventually pay off. The offer is "compelling" on price and technology and could make a monetary difference if device support grows, but it's more likely about carriers making Fi's practices mainstream, he says.
- On price, the data giveback and international aspects of Fi could pressure AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) to follow suit, Synesael writes.
- Evercore's Jonathan Schildkraut found the announcement in line with expectations, though "we also would not rule out a potential relationship between GOOG and the MSOs' Wi-Fi networks as another way to dis-intermediate the traditional carrier," he writes. "Not as Bad as Expected for T and VZ. We view the higher than expected toll to get on the network ($20) as likely better for carriers than anticipated."
- Previously: Google launches Fi mobile service - $20/month for voice/text, $10 per GB (Apr. 22 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 5:35 PM
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Wed, Apr. 22, 2:07 PM
- As rumored, Google's (GOOG +1.1%) anticipated U.S. mobile service has launched today with the help of network partners Sprint (S +1.7%) and T-Mobile (TMUS +2.2%). Also as rumored, Google is pricing aggressively and providing free roaming for the service, which is known as Project Fi.
- Google is charging just $20/month for voice, SMS, Wi-Fi tethering, and international roaming in 120+ countries. Each GB of data (also comes with roaming) costs an extra $10/month; notably, any unused data is refunded. Users automatically connect to more than 1M Wi-Fi hotspots when they're available, and rely on Sprint/T-Mobile's 4G networks when they're not.
- The big catch (also as expected): The service is only available for now via Motorola Mobility's huge Nexus 6 phablet (6" 2K display). iPhone owners and those preferring smaller Android phones are out of luck. That limits the near-term threat posed to U.S. carriers by Fi, which (as the Nexus line does for hardware) aims to showcase Google's vision of what mobile services should be like.
- Also: Much like many Google Web services launching in beta, Fi is launching as an invite-only service. U.S. consumers can request an invite on Google's Fi site.
Tue, Apr. 21, 8:06 PM
- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is ready to push out its wireless phone service as soon as tomorrow, the WSJ reports, and it's expected to allow customers to pay only for data used.
- That could put pressure on existing providers who have pocketed excess fees spent on data "buckets" that typically waste a reported $28/month per subscriber.
- As previously reported, the service will work only on Google's latest Nexus 6 devices and will use Wi-Fi nets to route calls and data. Wireless service will be via Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) networks, switching between them depending on stronger signal.
- The deal represents a threat to the wireless status quo, even as transit agreements are good for Sprint and T-Mobile. The decision in Sprint's case to go along reportedly went all the way to Chairman Masayoshi Son.
- Previously: WSJ: Google's phone service to initially have just one (giant) phone (Mar. 05 2015)
Mon, Apr. 20, 9:51 AM
- What could have been: With Tesla (TSLA -0.5%) in dire straits in March 2013 as the company struggled to fix Model S bugs and convert pre-orders into actual sales, Elon Musk reached out to Larry Page and "proposed that Google (GOOG +1.6%) buy Tesla outright," Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance reports through an excerpt from a Musk book due out on May 19.
- Vance adds Tesla would've cost Google $6B at the time after factoring "a healthy premium" - Tesla's market cap is currently $25.9B. As part of the deal, Musk wanted Google to promise to invest $5B in factory expansions and let Musk run Tesla for 8 years, until it was ready to launch a mass-market car.
- While "Musk, Page, and Google’s lawyers negotiated the specific terms of the deal" in the following weeks, Tesla's Model S sales began to take off, and the company posted its first profit and repaid its DOE loan. No longer needing a white knight, Musk broke off talks.
- A $6B Tesla acquisition would've been one of Google's largest, surpassed in size only by Motorola Mobility. Google, of course, has kept pushing ahead with its self-driving car efforts since 2013; the company has said it's talking with GM, Ford, Toyota, and others about bringing a self-driving car to market by 2020. Tesla has some interest in this space as well.
- Last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Musk met with Apple M&A execs in 2013. Apple's reported car efforts have fueled fresh speculation the company will make a bid for Tesla.
Wed, Apr. 15, 6:51 AM
- EU regulators have formally accused Google (GOOG, GOOGL) of violating the bloc's antitrust laws by abusing its dominance in Internet searches, intensifying a long-running case that had stalled for years despite three attempts at a voluntary settlement.
- Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said this morning that the tech giant had been sent a Statement of Objections to which it can respond.
- EU regulators have also opened a formal investigation into Google's business practices relating to its Android operating system for mobile phones.
- Previously: Europe's regulator filing formal antitrust charges against Google (Apr. 14 2015)
Tue, Apr. 14, 3:26 PM
- Europe's antitrust regulator is filing formal charges against Google (GOOG -1.6%) following its five-year investigation, Dow Jones reports.
- The news comes ahead of the EC's competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, headed on her first trip to Washington tomorrow.
- It's the EU's highest profile antitrust suit since similar action against Microsoft 10 years ago.
Mon, Apr. 13, 3:48 AM
- The European Commission will decide "very soon" whether to issue antitrust charges against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), its digital commissioner said on Sunday, following five years of investigating whether the Internet giant abused its dominance of the European search-engine market.
- Former competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, sought three times to reach a voluntary settlement with Google, although each one of those attempts failed.
- Current commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, departs on her first trip to Washington on Wednesday to participate in two antitrust conferences.
- Previously: EU to file antitrust charges against Google (Apr. 02 2015)
Sat, Apr. 11, 7:04 PM
- Following an NYT column featuring remarks from exec Bill Hilf that that were taken to suggest HP (NYSE:HPQ) is exiting the public cloud infrastructure (IaaS) market, HP has told CRN it remains committed to the space. However, the IT giant adds (echoing Hilf's remarks) it's "not competing head-to-head with the big public cloud players," such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).
- HP's comments follow the February departure of top cloud exec Marten Mickos (joined via the Eucalyptus acquisition), and the splitting of his responsibilities between Hilf and two other execs. The company entered the public cloud market in 2012, and (like many other enterprise IT firms) has been a backer of the OpenStack IaaS platform (pitched as an open-source alternative to Amazon/Google/Microsoft's proprietary offerings). HP asserts it has the largest OpenStack public cloud in existence.
- HP's stance arguably highlights the challenges traditional enterprise IT names face in countering the cost and scale advantages possessed by IaaS market leaders, who have often eschewed the hardware of IT giants in favor of cheap white-label hardware produced by Asian contract manufacturers. HP has partnered with Taiwan's Foxconnn and Accton to offer white-box gear for cloud providers.
- Synergy Research estimates the broader "cloud infrastructure service" market (covers IaaS and PaaS, as well as private and hybrid clouds) grew 48% in 2014 to $16B, as more on-premise workloads get migrated to cloud environments and various cloud service providers relying on IaaS/PaaS infrastructures see rapid growth. Amazon towered over the space with a near-30% share, close to 3x that of #2 Microsoft. IBM, Google, and Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) rounded out the top 5.
Wed, Apr. 8, 6:49 PM
- After stating last fall it's considering an ad-free YouTube subscription service, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has confirmed its plans to offer one through an e-mail sent to content providers. No ETA has been given; Bloomberg reports the service might launch later this year.
- Content providers will collectively get a 55% share of monthly subscription revenue, with a specific provider's cut based on its viewing/watchtime share for "all or a subset" of the service's content. Content providers have historically received a 55% cut on ad revenue produced by their material.
- With over 1B monthly active users, getting just 5% of YouTube's base to pay $8/month (on par with Netflix's grandfathered pricing) to go ad-free could yield over $4.8B/year in gross revenue (over $2.2B/year net). That would top the $4B in gross revenue YouTube reportedly brought in last year.
- The planned ad-free service is separate from YouTube Music Key, which provides both YouTube music videos and audio-only music streams ad-free. Key remains in trial mode and is expected to cost $10/month following a promo period.
- Update: Sources tell The Verge the service is expected to launch "within the next few months," and will support offline viewing/storage.
Alphabet Inc through its subsidiary Google Inc is engaged in improving the ways people connect with information & products including Search, Android, YouTube, Apps, Maps & Ads. It also produces internet-connected home devices & provides internet services.
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