Category Archives: Companies

(NYT) Facebook Fallout Ruptures Democrats’ Longtime Alliance With Silicon Valley

(NYT)

  • Senators showing a post about a fictitious “Miners for Trump” rally as representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter testified on Russian misinformation last year.CreditJonathan Ernst/Reuters

The alliance between Democrats and Silicon Valley has buckled and bent this year amid revelations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter allowed hateful speech, Russian propaganda and conservative-leaning “fake news” to flourish.

But those tensions burst into open warfare this past week after revelations that Facebook executives had withheld evidence of Russian activity on the platform for far longer than previously disclosed, while employing a Republican-linked opposition research firm to discredit critics and the billionaire George Soros, a major Democratic Party patron.

Democrats now face a painful reckoning with longtime friends in the tech industry, relationships girded by mutual interest in issues like immigration and cemented with millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

The news, reported in a New York Times investigation, elicited fury from Democrats, who demanded a Justice Department investigation into Facebook’s lobbying campaign, as well as new regulations that would cut to the core of Facebook and Google’s data-hungry business models.

It reinforced criticism from the left — by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, among others — that Amazon, Facebook and Google are unaccountable monopolies, digital analogues to the railroad trusts of the Gilded Age.

And it complicated life for tech’s remaining allies in the party, such as Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, a voracious fund-raiser and a tech booster whose relationship with Facebook goes back almost a decade.

“I think 2016 exposed the dark side of technology,” said Representative Ro Khanna, a Bay Area Democrat. Widely considered friendly with the tech industry, Mr. Khanna criticized Facebook on Friday for its aggressive tactics, and said the company should “certainly fire the people who were in any way involved in the decision to peddle opposition research.”

The clash intensified on Friday when four Democratic senators wrote to the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to provide more details about Facebook’s lobbying activities. The lawmakers also raised a potentially more explosive issue: whether Facebook had ever used its own data and platform against critics.

“We need to know if Facebook, or any entity affiliated with or hired by Facebook, ever used any of the vast financial and data resources available to them to retaliate against their critics, including elected officials who were scrutinizing them,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, one of the Democrats who wrote the letter.

Many Democrats now believe that Facebook, Google and Twitter have been too slow to challenge the abusive speech and disinformation on their platforms. Some argue that the companies have bowed to misplaced Republican criticism about bias — President Trump falsely accused Google in August of playing down his State of the Union — in order to protect their businesses from political pressure.

“As more and more information comes out about how these guys operate, it’s becoming conventional wisdom among Democrats that there is a serious policy problem here,” said Matt Stoller, policy director at the Open Markets Institute, who has called for big tech platforms to be broken up and regulated.

“These companies are not credible,” Mr. Stoller added. “And it’s becoming clear to Democrats that they aren’t friends — they are the problem.”

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons, both Democrats. Relations have soured between social media companies and many lawmakers on the left amid revelations of widespread abuses over the past year.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

Facebook cut ties with the opposition research firm this past week even as executives there denied acting improperly.

”Our strategy was to shore up the security on Facebook and make major investments there,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, in an interview with CBS on Friday. “It was not what I was doing, nor was it the company’s strategy, to deflect, to deny or to hire P.R. firms to do things.”

But Facebook and other tech companies now face increasing criticism from within their own ranks. In an interview, Marc Benioff, the billionaire co-founder of the software company Salesforce and a major donor to Democratic causes, said his industry faced “a tension between trust and growth.”

“These companies are going to have to recognize that they have to change,” Mr. Benioff added. “And the C.E.O.s have to change. And if they don’t change, those C.E.O.s will be removed by boards and by shareholders.”

No Democrat embodies the tensions between tech and Washington like Mr. Schumer himself. In 2011, he joined Ms. Sandberg to announce the opening of the company’s first East Coast engineering office, in New York City, where he had worked to promote start-ups and other tech businesses.

In 2015, Ms. Sandberg co-hosted a fund-raiser for Mr. Schumer in her Bay Area home, according to a Facebook employee briefed on the event. (The same trip featured a Schumer fund-raiser held by Bruce Sewell, then Apple’s general counsel, and attended by Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, according to an executive who declined to be named.).

By the end of the 2016 cycle, Mr. Schumer had raised more money from Facebook employees than any other Washington lawmaker. All told, Senate Democrats have benefited from over $3 million in political contributions from Facebook’s employees and founders over the years.

The technology industry — and Facebook in particular — was also a partner to Democrats in policy battles. Mr. Zuckerberg founded a Washington advocacy group to press for immigration reform, a top priority for Mr. Schumer and other Democratic leaders. More recently, tech companies like Netflix allied with Democrats in the fight over net neutrality rules.

Relations began to cool after the 2016 elections, when evidence mounted that Facebook and YouTube had become fertile ground for foreign interference and domestic misinformation, threatening not only the party’s values but also its electoral prospects.

Early last year, Senator Jon Tester, the Montana Democrat, walked over to the Capitol to deliver a warning to Mr. Schumer, newly elected as Democratic minority leader.

Mr. Tester, the departing chief of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, looked at social media companies like Facebook and saw propaganda platforms that could cost his party the 2018 elections, according to two congressional aides. If Russian agents mounted a disinformation campaign like the one that had just helped elect Mr. Trump, he told Mr. Schumer, “we will lose every seat.”

Mr. Tester’s warning grabbed the attention of Mr. Schumer and other Democrats, who began to press Facebook and other social media companies to fix the problem.

Disinformation was a particular focus for Mr. Schumer, according to an aide with knowledge of the senator’s thinking. In March last year, Mr. Schumer summoned Adam Mosseri, then a vice president overseeing Facebook’s News Feed feature, for a briefing on how the company would limit the spread of bogus news and propaganda. He later sent two aides to Silicon Valley to keep pressure on executives at Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Senator Chuck Schumer at Facebook’s offices in Manhattan in 2011.CreditEduardo Munoz/Reuters

But as it became clear that the companies had understated their problems — and were moving slowly to fix them — the senator steered a middle course. When he and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader, unveiled the party’s “Better Deal” platform for the midterm elections, a proposal to attack “corporate monopolies” focused on airlines, beer companies and eyeglass makers.

The proposal, drafted in part by Mr. Schumer’s chief counsel, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, did not mention companies like Google and Facebook, which together dominate the search and digital advertising markets. (Ms. Slaughter, whom Mr. Schumer helped place on the Federal Trade Commission this spring, is now one of five commissioners investigating whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent agreement over privacy practices.)

As recently as March, in an interview with Recode, Mr. Schumer called Facebook “a very positive force” overall and expressed concern that overly strict rules for tech companies would affect economic growth.

“I am more sympathetic because I think they’re in very difficult position and I worry about government regulation,” he said.

But in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that month, which showed how Facebook’s weak privacy controls had allowed a Trump-connected firm to collect information about tens of millions of people, some Democrats called for broader scrutiny.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia — a former telecommunications executive generally regarded as pro-business, and a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — excoriated Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook this summer for failing to disclose major data-sharing arrangements with handset makers, including a Chinese company flagged by American intelligence agencies. At the time, Facebook and Twitter were also coming under attack by prominent Republicans, who said the companies’ new anti-abuse policies were discriminating against conservatives.

Mr. Warner’s growing focus on privacy concerns led to a clash with Mr. Schumer, who confronted Mr. Warner in July, The Times reported this week, warning him to back off Facebook.

Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer, said that the senator “worried that Facebook would bow to pressure from Republicans, who oppose the purging of the fake accounts and bots, and has urged Senator Warner and the Senate Intelligence Committee to make this the priority in their ongoing investigation of the company.”

Mr. Warner has continued to press Silicon Valley about privacy. In August, he issued a white paper outlining ways to rein in Big Tech, including passing privacy laws like those enacted in Europe this year, and making social media platforms liable for defamatory content.

“It’s important for Facebook to recognize that this isn’t a public relations problem — it’s a fundamental challenge for the platform and their business model,” Mr. Warner said.

Facebook previously signaled that it was ready to work with Mr. Warner and others in Congress on new regulation. Yet at the same time, Facebook turned to a conservative opposition research firm that sought to undermine detractors by publicizing financial links to Mr. Soros, a harsh critic of both Facebook and Google.

The revelations angered Democrats, who accused Facebook of tapping into anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros — the very kind of propaganda the company has claimed to be battling. Facebook has denied that the effort was anti-Semitic.

“Their mantra has been, ‘We’re different, we’re special, we’re tech, all we do is good,’” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat and ranking member of the Senate subcommittee that oversees consumer protection and data security. “We’ve come to find out, very graphically, that they do a lot of harm, and in fact they cover up the harm they do.”

He added, “Tech is now like every other industry, in my view.”

(CNBC) Nissan accuses Chairman Carlos Ghosn of serious misconduct and plans to oust him

(CNBC)

  • The auto giant said in a statement Monday that “over many years” Ghosn and board director, Greg Kelly, had been under-reporting compensation amounts to the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report.
  • Nissan added that, in regards to Ghosn, “numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets.”
Nissan chairman Ghosn has been arrested: Report

Nissan accuses Chairman Carlos Ghosn of serious misconduct and plan to oust  

Nissan said its Chairman Carlos Ghosn is under investigation after he allegedly violated Japanese financial law.

The auto giant said in a statement Monday that “over many years” Ghosn and board director, Greg Kelly, had been under-reporting compensation amounts to the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report.

Nissan added that, in regards to Ghosn, “numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets.”

Nissan said its Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa will now propose to the Nissan Board of Directors to remove both Ghosn and Kelly from their roles.

The Japanese auto firm added it been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutor’s Office. One Japanese media outlet, Yomiuri, reported Monday that Ghosn had been been arrested, but CNBC wasn’t able to independently verify that report.

Investors need more information as stocks plunge over Carlos Ghosn scandal

Investors seek more information as stocks plunge over Carlos Ghosn allegations  

Nissan shares had already ceased trading on Monday when the news broke but Renault shares — with Ghosn also being the CEO and chair of the French automaker — hit their lowest level in three years. Renault stock was more than 13 percent lower, shortly before 12:00 p.m. Paris time.

Ghosn is considered a hugely influential executive within the global automotive industry. The cross-ownership alliance of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi have all enjoyed an upswing in fortunes under his leadership. After successfully restructuring Renault in the late 1990s, Ghosn earned the nickname “Le Cost Killer.”

Born in Brazil, Ghosn became the world’s first person to run two companies on the Fortune Global 500 simultaneously when he assumed the CEO roles at both Renault and Nissan in 2005. He stepped down as Nissan CEO in 2017.

In June this year, Renault shareholders voted by a slim majority to approve a 7.4 million euro ($8.4 mn) pay package for Ghosn’s work in fiscal 2017. According to other securities filings, Ghosn earned 735 million yen ($6.52 million) from Nissan and 227 million yen from Mitsubishi for the same period.

(ZH) Larry King: “CNN Stopped Doing News A Long Time Ago”

(ZH) Ex-longtime CNN talk show host Larry King dropped a bomb on his former network of 25 years, telling Russian state-owned RT America that “CNN stopped doing news a long time ago.”

King’s comments came just one day before CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta engaged in a verbal altercationwith President Trump over a northbound Central American migrant caravan – batting a young White House aide’s arm away as he refused to relinquish the microphone.

“You know, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person,” said President Trump. “You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” adding “The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible.

Acosta’s White House credentials were pulled later that evening. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern…

This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question. President Trump has given the press more access than any President in history. “

Jim Acosta

@Acosta

I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit

99.6K people are talking about this

Maybe he shouldn’t have “Acosta’d” that woman?

Embedded video

Paul Joseph Watson

@PrisonPlanet

Sarah Sanders claims Jim Acosta ‘placed his hands on a woman’.

Jim Acosta says this is a “lie”.

Here’s the video.

You be the judge.

15K people are talking about this

Twitter researcher Kyle (@HNIJohnMiller) provides some background on Abilio James “Jim” Acosta:

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

1) This isn’t one incident of rudeness. This is a history of Acosta acting like a complete jackass. Shoving an intern away so he could continue on his rant against the President during a long press conference is just the straw that broke the camels back. Do I need to recap? Lets.

Marco Rubio

@marcorubio

I don’t think they should revoke his WH pass. Revoking press access for being rude is a very slippery slope.

But the WH pass is to cover the news,not make yourself the news. This tweet & his behavior is what you expect from an activist,not a journalist. https://twitter.com/acosta/status/1060503703713669121 

267 people are talking about this

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

2) Acosta making a royal ass of himself during the signing of an agreement between Kim Jong Un and President Trump to help bring about denuclearization. REPEATED shouting of questions at inappropriate times. https://www.dailywire.com/news/31732/watch-cnns-jim-acosta-interrupts-historic-signing-ryan-saavedra?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=051717-news&utm_campaign=dwtwitter 

WATCH: CNN’s Jim Acosta Interrupts Historic Signing Ceremony, Shouts At Trump

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, best known for his role as a provocateur in the press pool, interrupted the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim…

dailywire.com

76 people are talking about this

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

3) Then he was caught on a hot mic boasting that this was all intentional. https://www.westernjournal.com/hot-mic-reveals-acosta-outburst-was-intentional-malicious/ 

Hot Mic Reveals Acosta Outburst Was Intentional, Malicious

‘Hey, if they’re not going to let me in the f—ing meeting, that’s what happens. That’s the way it goes, baby,’ the CNN reporter said.

westernjournal.com

137 people are talking about this

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

4) There was the time he was asking @nikkihaley and @SecPompeo if there had been any discussions about removing President Trump via the 25th amendment, because who the fuck cares about appropriate questions? https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/sep/24/mike-pompeo-scolds-jim-acosta-ludicrous-deep-state/ 

Mike Pompeo scolds Jim Acosta for ‘ludicrous’ 25th Amendme

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday scolded CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta for asking a

washingtontimes.com

62 people are talking about this

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

5) Then there was the time that Acosta thought that only people from the UK and Australia spoke English. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z-tOhfpEow 

65 people are talking about this

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

7) And another video of Acosta talking on reliable sources about why he acts like an entitled little shit at the White House https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iZSiRLv4H8 

55 people are talking about this

Kyle@HNIJohnMiller

8) The BEST thing that could happen right now is Acosta being thrown out permanently and someone professional taking his place.

/end

67 people are talking about this

Partial transcript of King’s comments (via Josh Caplan @ Breitbart) 

HOST RICK SANCHEZ: You know it’s interesting. As I listen to you I’m thinking that both you and I are old enough to remember that there was a lot of antagonism during the 1960s. There was a lot of antagonism during Watergate. There was certainly antagonism during the Clinton years. But there is something, maybe it’s an undercurrent, that is different now. Can you put your finger on it? What is it?

KING: Two things, Rick — the internet and cable news. Could you imagine cable news in Watergate? And they don’t do news anymore. In fact, RT is one of the few channels doing news. RT does news. CNN stopped doing news a long time ago. They do Trump. Fox is Trump TV and MSNBC is anti-Trump all the time. You don’t see a story — there was vicious winds and storms in the Northeast the other day – not covered on any of the three cable networks, not covered. Not covered! So when CNN started covering Trump — they were the first — they covered every speech he made and then they made Trump the story. So, Trump is the story in America. I would bet that ninety-eight percent of all Americans mention his name at least once a day. And when it’s come to that, when you focus on one man, I know Donald 40 years — I know the good side of Donald and I know the bad side of Donald — I think he would like to be a dictator. I think he would love to be able to just run things. So, he causes a lot of this. Then his fight with the media and fake news. I’ve been in the media a long time, like you — longer than you, Rick. And at all my years at CNN, in my years at Mutual Radio, I have never seen a conversation where a producer said to a host “pitch the story this way. Angle it that way. Don’t tell the truth.” Never saw it. Never saw it.

SANCHEZ: You know it’s funny, just quick because you know these producers are telling me you guys have to start wrapping this up … you said something interesting about how CNN played along with Trump. I think they only played along or at least gave him that much airtime in many ways because they didn’t think he was going to win, correct?

KING: I guess it’s to their regret. But, they covered him as a character. They carried every speech he made. They carried him more than Fox News, at the beginning. And so they built the whole thing up and the Republicans had a lot of candidates and they all had weaknesses. When I saw Senator Cruz hug Donald Trump the other day I said, “this is what America has become.” He said that Cruz’s father helped kill Kennedy!

(BBG) Facebook Faces Uproar on Crisis Response That Attacked Soros

(BBG) Facebook Inc. is coming under renewed fire for how it handled the spread of fake news and misinformation on its social network, including using aggressive tactics to discredit critics.

In the wake of a scathing newspaper report on the company’s approach to managing a deepening crisis, Facebook said Thursday that it ended its work with a Republican public affairs firm that had drawn links between enemies of the company and billionaire financier George Soros.

The move to cut ties with Definers Public Affairs came after the New York Times detailed the firm’s work amid widespread turmoil at the social media giant as it dealt with the discovery of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections and data privacy breaches.

The newspaper said Definers tried to deflect criticism of Facebook by encouraging reporters to look into rivals like Google and to pursue stories about Soros stoking anti-Facebook backlash in Washington. Soros, 88, has been a frequent detractor of Facebook, calling it a “menace” earlier this year.

Facebook issued a lengthy rebuttal to the story Thursday, denying that it asked Definers to pay for or write articles on its behalf or pushed journalists to spread misinformation. Without naming Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust-survivor, the company said its actions weren’t aimed at fueling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Rather, it said it encouraged reporters to look into the funding of anti-Facebook groups, most notably Freedom From Facebook, “to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company.”

Facebook’s board also defended Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg for the way the company responded to the Russian disinformation campaign on the social network.

“As Mark and Sheryl made clear to Congress, the company was too slow to spot Russian interference, and too slow to take action,” Facebook’s directors said in a statement. “As a board we did indeed push them to move faster. But to suggest that they knew about Russian interference and either tried to ignore it or prevent investigations into what had happened is grossly unfair.”

The Times story suggested Sandberg and Zuckerberg weren’t as involved with the serious issues facing the company as they should have been and instead were more concerned about continuing to defend Facebook’s reputation and embarked on an aggressive lobbying campaign to fend off critics.

“To suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or that we were trying to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations is simply untrue,” Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters.

Facebook shares dipped as much as 2.4 percent before recouping some losses. They were little changed at $143.58 at 2:10 p.m. in New York.

A longtime financial backer of Democratic causes and politicians, Soros is a favorite bogeyman of the right wing, which accuses him of anti-American plots. Last month, a suspected bomb was discovered in the mail of his New York home, the first of a dozen sent to Democratic and liberal figures including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Patrick Gaspard, president of Soros’s Open Society Foundations, called the use of Soros “reprehensible” in a letter to Sandberg

“These efforts appear to have been part of a deliberate strategy to distract from the very real accountability problems your company continues to grapple with,” Gaspard wrote in the letter, which he also sent to Zuckerberg, the company’s board members and congressional leaders.

Soros and his Open Society Foundations did give money to at least one of the component groups that make up Freedom From Facebook, an anti-Facebook group. Open Society Foundations has also funded other groups that criticized Facebook, although the support wasn’t directed at the anti-Facebook activities, a foundation official said. Freedom From Facebook wrote to the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to reiterate its belief that the agency should seek fines against Facebook for alleged violations of a prior consent order. Facebook has said it has not violated the order, although the FTC is investigating.

Definers, founded by Republican campaign veterans, was hired at a time that Facebook was scrambling to adjust to unexpected GOP power in Washington after it had benefited from years of chummy relationships with Democrats. In addition to its research activities into Facebook critics, Definers also worked to coordinate press coverage of events and announcements.

A Definers spokesman said the firm was “proud to have partnered with Facebook over the past year on a range of public affairs services” and said that its memo on “the anti-Facebook organization’s potential funding sources was entirely factual and based on public records, including public statements by one of its organizers about receiving funding from Mr. Soros’ foundation.”

Soros’s family office, Soros Fund Management, sold out of its position in Facebook in the third quarter, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday. The firm had held 159,200 shares in Facebook as of Sept. 30 valued at about $31 million.

The New York Times report has once again prompted the ire of lawmakers, who summoned Zuckerberg earlier this year for two days of Congressional hearings regarding the Russian affair and data privacy.

Facebook’s Leaders Didn’t Get It and Still Don’t: Shira Ovide

Amy Klobuchar

Photographer: Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who has sought to increase transparency of online political ads, said Thursday that she would write to Facebook and the Justice Department to ask whether any elected officials were targeted in the opposition research. She said it could be a campaign finance issue.

In 2017, Klobuchar proposed legislation to compel Facebook and others to disclose who bought political ads on their sites. The Times said that after a call from Sandberg at the time, Klobuchar dialed back criticism of Facebook, although her office stressed she didn’t change the bill in response to the outreach.

Other points Facebook refuted from the article:

  • Russia activity: The story said Facebook was aware of Russian activity on the platform as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it. Facebook says it’s not true, citing Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress in which he said: “Leading up to Election Day in November 2016, we detected and dealt with several threats with ties to Russia.”
  • The Muslim ban: Facebook took issue with how the Times described discussions about Trump’s comments, on Facebook, calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the U.S. Zuckerberg was reportedly appalled and wanted to take the comments down while Sandberg, in consulting with a well-connected Republican, Joel Kaplan, a former college classmate of Sandberg’s who had been hired as a company lobbyist, and others argued that shutting down the account could be seen as obstructing free speech. Facebook stood by that decision Thursday, saying that any suggestion that the “internal debate around this particular case was different from other important free speech issues on Facebook is wrong.”
  • Commitment to fighting fake news: The article portrayed Zuckerberg and Sandberg as distracted by personal projects and said they passed off security and policy discussions to subordinates during critical moments over the past three years. Facebook said the two executives have been “deeply involved in the fight against fake news” and were “consistently involved in all our efforts to prevent misuse of our services.”
  • Sex trafficking legislation: The Times reported that Facebook broke ranks with other tech companies in support of a bill called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. Google and others were worried the bill would set a difficult precedent about regulating content on the site, but the Times linked Facebook’s support to the fact that the bill was sponsored by Republican John Thune who had pummeled Facebook over accusations that it censored conservative content. Facebook said Sandberg championed the bill because “she believed it was the right thing to do and that tech companies need to be more open to content regulation where it can prevent real world harm.”
  • Android: The article recounted an incident after Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook disparaged Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Times said Cook’s criticisms infuriated Zuckerberg, who later ordered his management team to use only Android phones. Facebook said Cook has “consistently criticized our business model and Mark has been equally clear he disagrees.” It said the company has “long encouraged our employees and executives to use Android because it is the most popular operating system in the world.”

(Reuters) Portugal’s EDPR expects to beat wind power capacity goal by 2020

(Reuters) – Portuguese wind energy group EDP Renovaveis said on Wednesday it expected to exceed its 2020 goal for increasing capacity by more than 10 percent.

EDPR, a subsidiary of EDP Energias de Portugal, also said in a presentation it had secured projects to add capacity of more than 1 gigawatt after 2020, adding that its growth strategy was not affected by adverse cyclical factors that have weighed on its earnings this year.

EDP and EDPR are both targets of a takeover offer by China Three Gorges, which is still subject to regulatory approvals in various countries.

Shares in EDPR, which earlier posted a 30 percent drop in nine-month profit due to weak wind conditions and foreign exchange impacts, were 0.3 percent higher at 1500 GMT.

EDPR said the additional capacity target, which had been set at 3.5 GW under its 2016-2020 business plan, is now projected to reach 3.9 GW, with 1.2 GW already added in 2016-17 and North America leading the main growth.

After 2020, EDPR expects to add solar power capacity in the United States and Brazil, and more onshore wind energy production in Brazil, with the total reaching 1 GW.

EDPR, which manages operating assets of 11.2 GW in 11 countries, also expects to bring two large European offshore wind projects, in which it owns stakes of between 43 and 57 percent and which have a total capacity of almost 2 GW, online.

The Portuguese company said regulatory implications of the China Three Gorges takeover were “not clear and may impact EDPR strategy and growth prospects”, particularly the U.S. business.

China Three Gorges has held talks with European utilities to gauge their interest in buying EDP’s and EDPR’s U.S. renewables business as it looks to smooth the path for its planned takeover, sources said.

(CNBC) Apple now has $237.1 billion in cash on hand

(CNBC)

  • Apple now has $237.1 billion in cash on hand.
  • The company has upped its spending on original content in recent months.
  • The release comes with Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings report released Thursday.
Apple beat on earnings and revenues, but weak guidance hit the stock—here's what three experts had to say

Apple beat on earnings and revenues, but weaker guidance hit the stock—here’s what three experts had to say  

Apple now has $237.1 billion in cash on hand the company reported in its fourth-quarter earnings report on Thursday.

It now has about $6 billion less cash on hand than last quarter, when it reported $243.7 billion. Apple’s cash hoarding has led to M&A speculation although the company has more recently shelled out on content creation, emerging markets and creating U.S. jobs.

Apple said in January it would contribute $350 billion to the U.S. over the next five years, in part through taxes for cash it plans to bring back from overseas. It also announced plans to create 20,000 new jobs in the U.S., including on a new campus.

(NYT) U.S. to Block Sales to Chinese Tech Company Over Security Concerns

(NYT

The United States will restrict exports to Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a state-owned Chinese company. Micron Technology, an American semiconductor company, has accused Jinhua of stealing intellectual property.CreditCreditKai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States said on Monday that it would block a Chinese state-owned technology company from buying American components because it posed a national security threat, the latest volley in an escalating dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

The company, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a manufacturer of semiconductors, “poses a significant risk” of becoming involved in activities that might infringe on national security, the Commerce Department said.

[Behind accusations that Fujian Jinhua was stealing American technology to power China’s future.]

The move could cripple Jinhua, which relies on American components for its semiconductors, and followed similar action taken by the Commerce Department this year to block sales of components to ZTE, a Chinese telecom company. The ZTE ban was rescinded after President Trump — responding to a request from President Xi Jinping of China in May — asked the department to lighten the penalty. ZTE agreed to pay a large fine, reshuffle its leadership and undergo compliance monitoring by the United States.

But relations between the United States and China have worsened since then, and the Trump administration is taking an increasingly hard line on transactions involving Chinese entities. It is eager to prevent China’s ascendance as an economic and technological powerhouse and has begun aggressively scrutinizing foreign deals to prevent Beijing from gaining access to valuable American intellectual property.

This month, the Treasury Department outlined how it would use new powers that allow the United States to review a wider range of foreign transactions, including those in sensitive industries like technology and telecommunications.

“When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security,” said Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. “Placing Jinhua on the entity list will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems.”

Jinhua has been on the Trump administration’s radar for several months. Micron Technology, a computer memory company in Idaho, accused Jinhua last year of stealing intellectual property. In July, Micron was barred from selling some of its products in China after Jinhua and its Taiwanese partner, United Microelectronics, accused Micron of violating their patents.

Jinhua is opening $5.7 billion factory in China’s Fujian Province and has become increasingly ambitious in its desire to become a global player in the memory chip business.

The United States and China have been engaged in a trade war, with Mr. Trump imposing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatening to hit all imports from China with levies. China has responded with its own tariffs, and the two countries have exchanged increasingly heated words in recent weeks.

How Trump’s Trade War Went From 18 Products to 10,000

The battle began when the United States imposed tariffs on solar panels and washing machines. It has led to a global tit-for-tat targeting billions of dollars of goods.

The United States wants China to open its market to American businesses and end its longstanding practice of pressuring American companies to hand over valuable technology as a condition of doing business there. Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi are expected to meet in Argentina next month at the Group of 20 summit meeting, where they plan to discuss trade, North Korea and other issues.

While Mr. Trump’s tariffs have proved to be unpopular with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, his efforts to stop the theft of intellectual property have drawn praise even from his skeptics on trade.

“China’s state-owned & directed companies lie, cheat & steal at government’s behest,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said on Twitter on Monday. “Fujian Jinhua must be held accountable for being part of that illegality. This was the right move today to protect our tech knowledge.”

(JN) Brasileiros vendem Cimpor em Portugal

(JNA InterCement acordou a venda da unidade de negócio de Portugal e Cabo Verde da Cimpor. O comprador é o grupo turco Oyak. A justificação para a transacção é a redução da dívida do grupo brasileiro.

As fábricas da Cimpor em Portugal vão ser vendidas. A unidade de negócios no país, onde está sediada, foi alienada ao grupo Oyak. O objectivo é ajudar a reduzir a dívida do grupo brasileiro seu accionista, a InterCement.

“A InterCement e a Cimpor assinaram com o Grupo Oyak um contrato que tem como objecto a venda de todos os activos que compõem a unidade de negócio de Portugal e Cabo Verde”, indica o grupo brasileiro presidido por Luís Alves Fernandes e que tem Daniel Proença de Carvalho como “chairman”, em comunicado enviado às redacções.

A justificação para a operação é a diminuição da dívida da Cimpor, empresa que ficou com uma situação patrimonial deficitária nos últimos anos (em 2016, o capital próprio era negativo em 409 milhões de euros): “Esta transacção enquadra-se no plano de redução da dívida do Grupo publicamente anunciado pela InterCement e pela Cimpor, em resposta à adversidade do contexto que se tem observado nos mercados da América do Sul, especialmente no Brasil”.

A transacção contempla, anuncia a nota, “a manutenção das estruturas humanas destas empresas”, sendo que ainda aguarda a aprovação das autoridades da concorrência.

Não é anunciado qualquer valor para a operação. De acordo com a Reuters, a operação resultará num encaixe de 700 milhões de euros para o grupo vendedor.

Cimpor foi comprada em 2012 pela InterCement

A InterCement, que pertence ao grupo Camargo Corrêa, passou a controlar a Cimpor em 2012, quando lançou uma oferta pública de aquisição sobre a cimenteira portuguesa, comprando as posições que estavam então dispersas pela Votorantim, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, o fundo de pensões do BCP e a Investifino, do empresário Manuel Fino e por pequenos investidores.

 

Em Portugal, a Cimpor conta actualmente com três fábricas, duas moagens e uma capacidade de produção de 9,1 milhões de toneladas de cimento.

 

O volume de negócios da Cimpor em Portugal foi de 258 milhões de euros em 2017, um crescimento de 3,1% em relação ao ano anterior. Em Cabo Verde, que integra a mesma unidade de negócios, o volume criado foi de 30 milhões, uma quebra homóloga de 7,6%.

 

A unidade de negócio que junta os dois mercados – que é aquela que foi vendida – gerou um resultado operacional (EBITDA – resultados antes de juros, impostos, depreciações e amortizações) de 47,4 milhões de euros, o que significou um crescimento de 27,7% em relação a 2016.

Grupo turco comprador muda unidade de cimentos

Segundo revela o comunicado enviado pelo comprador, o grupo turco Oyak é o maior fundo de pensões do país e investe em vários sectores, “como o cimento e o betão, a exploração mineira e a metalúrgica, o automóvel, a energia e o sector químico, a agricultura, a logística, as finanças e a alumina especializada”. O grupo tem uma empresa da área de cimentos, a Oyak Cement, que conta com sete fábricas integradas de cimento, três moagens de cimento e 45 centrais de betão pronto na Turquia.

O anúncio da compra da Cimpor acontece no mesmo dia em que os turcos da Oyak Cement, a compradora, comunicaram ao mercado uma relevante alteração na sua estrutura accionista. A Taiwan Cement comprou 40% da unidade de cimentos do grupo Oyak por 640 milhões de dólares, ficando os restantes 60% nas mãos do grupo. Um negócio que avalia a nova dona da Cimpor em 1,6 mil milhões de dólares.

De acordo com um comunicado citado pela Bloomberg, um dos objectivos da parceria entre a Taiwan Cement e a Oyak passa por “unir esforços no mercado internacional de cimentos”.

 

Cimpor já esteve na Turquia

A Cimpor chegou a ter uma operação na Turquia, mas abandonou o mercado após a oferta pública de aquisição lançada pela InterCement. A saída aconteceu no âmbito de uma troca de activos negociada entre a compradora e a concorrente brasileira Vororantim, que era a segunda maior accionista da cimenteira portuguesa. Também após a compra da Cimpor pela brasileira InterCement, do grupo Camargo Corrêa, houve uma permuta de activos entre as duas empresas. Com essa mudança, entraram na cimenteira portuguesa mais de 2 mil milhões de euros de dívida. No final de 2016, a dívida da companhia era de 3.381 milhões de euros.

A capitalização da Cimpor

Tendo em conta a situação deficitária que apresentou até 2016, a Cimpor tem tentado realizar operações de capitalização. A cimenteira nacional não conseguiu, no ano passado, que se verificassem as condições suficientes para concretizar um aumento de capital, para o qual tinha tido autorização da assembleia-geral e poderia ir até aos dois mil milhões de euros. Falhada esta operação, o plano de capitalização acabou por se materializar em Dezembro, quer com a realização de prestações acessórias de 700 milhões por parte do seu maior accionista, quer com a oferta pública inicial da argentina Loma Negra, através da qual levantou 876 milhões de euros.

 

Depois disto, o grupo voltou a dar novos passos para a sua capitalização. A InterCement Autria, que é a maior accionista, propôs converter, através de um aumento de capital, aquelas prestações suplementares de 700 milhões emprestadas em Dezembro.

 

A cimenteira portuguesa convocou, agora, para 20 de Novembro uma assembleia geral extraordinária para aprovar um aumento de capital que pode chegar a um máximo de 887,1 milhões de euros. A operação inclui uma entrada em espécie no montante de 700 milhões de euros, que respeita à referida conversão em capital do crédito concedido pelo seu maior accionista, a InterCement Austria Holding, mas também uma tranche que pode ir até aos 187 milhões de euros, destinada aos minoritários que queiram manter as suas participações.

(NYT) How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’

(NYT) The internet giant paid Mr. Rubin $90 million and praised him, while keeping silent about a misconduct claim.

SAN FRANCISCO — Google gave Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a hero’s farewell when he left the company in October 2014.

“I want to wish Andy all the best with what’s next,” Larry Page, Google’s chief executive then, said in a public statement. “With Android he created something truly remarkable — with a billion-plus happy users.”

What Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. The woman, with whom Mr. Rubin had been having an extramarital relationship, said he coerced her into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013, according to two company executives with knowledge of the episode. Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible, said the people, who spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing confidentiality agreements. Mr. Rubin was notified, they said, and Mr. Page asked for his resignation.

Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package, paid in installments of about $2 million a month for four years, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The last payment is scheduled for next month.

Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct. In two instances, it ousted senior executives, but softened the blow by paying them millions of dollars as they departed, even though it had no legal obligation to do so. In a third, the executive remained in a highly compensated post at the company. Each time Google stayed silent about the accusations against the men.

The New York Times obtained corporate and court documents and spoke to more than three dozen current and former Google executives and employees about the episodes, including some people directly involved in handling them. Most asked to remain anonymous because they were bound by confidentiality agreements or feared retribution for speaking out.

The transgressions varied in severity. Mr. Rubin’s case stood out for how much Google paid him and its silence on the circumstances of his departure. After Mr. Rubin left, the company invested millions of dollars in his next venture.

Sam Singer, a spokesman for Mr. Rubin, disputed that the technologist had been told of any misconduct at Google and said he left the company of his own accord.

“The New York Times story contains numerous inaccuracies about my employment at Google and wild exaggerations about my compensation,” Mr. Rubin said in a statement after the publication of this article. “Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room. These false allegations are part of a smear campaign by my ex-wife to disparage me during a divorce and custody battle.”

Mr. Rubin’s exit from Google after an inappropriate relationship was previously reported, but the nature of the accusation and the financial terms have not been disclosed.

In settling on terms favorable to two of the men, Google protected its own interests. The company avoided messy and costly legal fights, and kept them from working for rivals as part of the separation agreements.

When asked about Mr. Rubin and the other cases, Eileen Naughton, Google’s vice president for people operations, said in a statement that the company takes harassment seriously and reviews every complaint.

“We investigate and take action, including termination,” she said. “In recent years, we’ve taken a particularly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority. We’re working hard to keep improving how we handle this type of behavior.”

After publication of this article, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, and Ms. Naughton wrote in an email to employees that the company had fired 48 people for sexual harassment over the last two years and that none of them received an exit package.

“We are committed to ensuring that Google is a workplace where you can feel safe to do your best work, and where there are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately,” Mr. Pichai and Ms. Naughton wrote.

Some within Google said that was not enough.

“When Google covers up harassment and passes the trash, it contributes to an environment where people don’t feel safe reporting misconduct,” said Liz Fong-Jones, a Google engineer for more than a decade and an activist on workplace issues. “They suspect that nothing will happen or, worse, that the men will be paid and the women will be pushed aside.”

Google, founded in 1998 by Mr. Page and Sergey Brin when they were Stanford University graduate students, fostered a permissive workplace culture from the start.

In Silicon Valley, it is widely known that Mr. Page had dated Marissa Mayer, one of the company’s first engineers who later became chief executive of Yahoo. (Both were single.) Eric Schmidt, Google’s former chief executive, once retained a mistress to work as a company consultant, according to four people with knowledge of the relationship. And Mr. Brin, who along with Mr. Page owns the majority of voting shares in Google’s parent, Alphabet, had a consensual extramarital affair with an employee in 2014, said three employees with knowledge of the relationship.

David C. Drummond, who joined as general counsel in 2002, had an extramarital relationship with Jennifer Blakely, a senior contract manager in the legal department who reported to one of his deputies, she and other Google employees said. They began dating in 2004, discussed having children and had a son in 2007, after which Mr. Drummond disclosed their relationship to the company, she said.

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David C. Drummond, Alphabet’s chief legal officer, had an extramarital relationship with Jennifer Blakely, a senior contract manager in the legal department who reported to one of his deputies.CreditDaniel Rosenbaum for The New York Times

Google then took action. Ms. Blakely said Stacy Sullivan, then the head of human resources and now chief culture officer, told her that Google discouraged managers from having relationships with subordinates.

“One of us would have to leave the legal department,” Ms. Blakely said. “It was clear it would not be David.”

Since the affair, Mr. Drummond’s career has flourished. He is now Alphabet’s chief legal officer and chairman of CapitalG, Google’s venture capital fund. He has reaped about $190 million from stock options and awards since 2011 and could make more than $200 million on other options and equity awards, according to company filings.

Ms. Blakely was transferred to sales in 2007 and left Google a year later. The company asked her to sign paperwork saying she had departed voluntarily. She said she “signed waivers, releases and whatever else they wanted.”

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“Google felt like I was the liability,” Ms. Blakely said.CreditCayce Clifford for The New York Times

In late 2008, she said, Mr. Drummond left her. They later fought a custody battle for their son, she said, which she won.

How Mr. Drummond, 55, was treated “amplifies the message that for a select few, there are no consequences,” said Ms. Blakely, 54. “Google felt like I was the liability.”

Google’s sexual harassment policy states that violators may be terminated — but it was flexible in how it enforced the rules.

In 2013, Richard DeVaul, a director at Google X, the company’s research and development arm, interviewed Star Simpson, a hardware engineer. During the job interview, she said he told her that he and his wife were “polyamorous,” a word often used to describe an open marriage. She said he invited her to Burning Man, an annual festival in the Nevada desert, the following week.

Ms. Simpson went with her mother and said she thought it was an opportunity to talk to Mr. DeVaul about the job. She said she brought conservative clothes suitable for a professional meeting.

At Mr. DeVaul’s encampment, Ms. Simpson said, he asked her to remove her shirt and offered a back rub. She said she refused. When he insisted, she said she relented to a neck rub.

“I didn’t have enough spine or backbone to shut that down as a 24-year-old,” said Ms. Simpson, now 30.

A few weeks later, Google told her she did not get the job, without explaining why.

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Richard DeVaul of X apologized for an “error of judgment” with Star Simpson, who had interviewed for a job with him.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

She waited two years to report the episode to Google after she said she wrestled with talking about it. A human resources official later told her that her account was “more likely than not” true and that “appropriate action” was taken. She said the official asked her to stay quiet about what had happened, which she did — until Mr. DeVaul’s public profile began rising in articles in The New York Times and The Atlantic.

“We would never tell a complainant to stay quiet,” Chelsea Bailey, the head of human resources at X, said in a statement, adding that officials investigated and “took appropriate corrective action.” She declined to say what that was, citing employee confidentiality.

In a statement, Mr. DeVaul apologized for an “error of judgment.” He said X decided not to hire Ms. Simpson before she went to Burning Man and that he did not realize she had not been informed.

In another harassment case, Google paid Amit Singhal, a senior vice president who headed search, millions of dollars on the way out.

In 2015, an employee said Mr. Singhal groped her at a boozy off-site event attended by dozens of colleagues, said three people who were briefed on the incident. Google investigated and found that Mr. Singhal was inebriated and there were no witnesses, they said.

Google found her claim credible, they said. The company did not fire Mr. Singhal, but accepted his resignation and negotiated an exit package that paid him millions and prevented him from working for a competitor, said the people.

In a blog post in February 2016, Mr. Singhal said he wanted to focus more on philanthropy and his family.

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Amit Singhal, Google’s search chief, left the company in 2016 after being accused of groping a female employee.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

With Google silent about the circumstances of Mr. Singhal’s departure, he found another lucrative job. Less than a year later, he became head of engineering at the ride-hailing company Uber. Weeks later, the technology news website Recode reported that Mr. Singhal had left Google after a misconduct accusation. Uber dismissed Mr. Singhal for not disclosing the inquiry.

Uber and Mr. Singhal declined to comment. In a statement last year, he said that “harassment is unacceptable in any setting” and that he had not engaged in any such behavior.

Mr. Rubin joined Google in 2005 when it acquired his start-up, Android, for $50 million. Over the next few years, he helped build Android — the software now used in 80 percent of the world’s smartphones — into a huge success.

Search had positioned Google as a dominant player on desktop computers, but Android extended its reach and put Google’s maps, email and web browser on devices that people carry every day. The ads and mobile apps running on Android also generated tens of billions of dollars in profit.

That success gave Mr. Rubin more latitude than most Google executives, said four people who worked with him.

Mr. Rubin often berated subordinates as stupid or incompetent, they said. Google did little to curb that behavior. It took action only when security staff found bondage sex videos on Mr. Rubin’s work computer, said three former and current Google executives briefed on the incident. That year, the company docked his bonus, they said.

Mr. Singer, the spokesman for Mr. Rubin, said the executive “is known to be transparent and forthcoming with his feedback.” He said Mr. Rubin never called anyone incompetent.

Mr. Rubin, 55, who met his wife at Google, also dated other women at the company while married, said four people who worked with him. In 2011, he had a consensual relationship with a woman on the Android team who did not report to him, they said. They said Google’s human resources department was not informed, despite rules requiring disclosure when managers date someone who directly or indirectly reports to them.

In a civil suit filed this month by Mr. Rubin’s ex-wife, Rie Rubin, she claimed he had multiple “ownership relationships” with other women during their marriage, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. The couple were divorced in August.

The suit included a screenshot of an August 2015 email Mr. Rubin sent to one woman. “You will be happy being taken care of,” he wrote. “Being owned is kinda like you are my property, and I can loan you to other people.”

In 2011, Mr. Rubin was appointed a Google senior vice president and started receiving about $20 million a year in salary, bonus and stock-based compensation, said two former Google executives with knowledge of the terms. In 2012, Google also lent Mr. Rubin $14 million to buy a beach estate in Japan. The loan was offered at below 1 percent interest, said people briefed on the transaction.

When Google combined management of Android with its Chrome division in 2013, Mr. Rubin lost a power struggle to Mr. Pichai, Google’s current chief executive.

He remained highly valued. That year, Google offered Mr. Rubin a one-time bonus of $40 million in stock and an additional $72 million of stock over the next two years, said two people with knowledge of the terms.

Mr. Rubin built a robotics division within Google named Replicant. During a six-month span in 2013, he spent an estimated $90 million to buy eight robotics firms.

Around that time, Mr. Rubin was casually seeing another woman he knew from Android, according to two company executives briefed on the relationship. The two had started dating in 2012 when he was still leading the division, these people said.

By 2013, she had cooled on him and wanted to break things off but worried it would affect her career, said the people. That March, she agreed to meet him at a hotel, where she said he pressured her into oral sex, they said. The incident ended the relationship.

The woman waited until 2014 before filing a complaint to Google’s human resources department and telling officials about the relationship, the people said. Google began an investigation.

In September 2014, a few weeks into the inquiry, Google’s board awarded Mr. Rubin a stock grant worth $150 million, to be paid out over several years, said three people briefed on the decision. It was an unusually generous sum, even by Google’s standards.

Mr. Page typically recommends how much senior executives are paid, said three former Google executives. Over the years, Mr. Page had told people he felt Mr. Rubin was never properly compensated for his contribution to Android, two people who spoke to him said.

The $150 million stock grant to Mr. Rubin was approved by the Google board’s leadership development and compensation committee — composed of Paul Otellini, Intel’s former chief executive who died in 2017, and two of Google’s earliest investors, John Doerr of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and Ram Shriram of the venture firm Sherpalo Ventures.

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Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, typically recommends how much senior executives are paid, said people familiar with the situation.CreditJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

It is unclear if Mr. Page or the board knew of the investigation into the harassment complaint when Google approved the $150 million grant for Mr. Rubin. Mr. Page, 45, did not respond to a request for a comment; Mr. Doerr and Mr. Shriram declined to comment.

Google’s inquiry ultimately found the complaint against Mr. Rubin credible, said the two company executives familiar with the incident. Mr. Rubin denied the accusation, but it became clear that — at the very least — the relationship was inappropriate, they said. Mr. Page decided Mr. Rubin should leave, they said.

The $150 million stock grant gave Mr. Rubin an enormous bargaining chip when he started negotiating his exit package about a month later. That is because an executive’s stock compensation — and how much of it they would leave behind — is often taken into consideration during settlement talks.

When Google fires lower-level employees, it typically marches them out immediately and pays little, if any, severance. But for senior executives, Google weighs other factors, said former executives. A wrongful termination lawsuit could mean unwanted media attention for Google and the victims of a misconduct case, with a loss resulting in significant damages.

In the end, Google paid Mr. Rubin $90 million, said two people with knowledge of the terms. The package was structured so that he received $2.5 million a month for the first two years and $1.25 million a month for the following two years.

A provision in the separation agreement precluded Mr. Rubin from working for rivals or disparaging Google publicly, they said. Google also delayed repayment of the $14 million loan.

The company then went out of its way to make Mr. Rubin’s departureseem amicable, including Mr. Page’s public statement of gratitude.

Afterward, Google invested in Playground Global, a venture firm Mr. Rubin started six months after leaving the company. Playground has raised $800 million. He also founded Essential, a maker of Android smartphones.

Last November, after the technology news site The Information reported that Google had investigated Mr. Rubin for an inappropriate relationship, he took a leave of absence from Essential. He has since returned to run it and is busy with speaking engagements and investments.

Mr. Rubin’s wealth, fueled by Google, has increased by 35 times in less than a decade. According to his ex-wife’s suit, his net worth is now about $350 million, up from $10 million in 2009.

(CNBC) Tim Cook: Personal data collection is being ‘weaponized against us with military efficiency’

(CNBC)

  • Apple and its CEO have long touted personal privacy, distancing themselves from recent, growing scandals among tech companies — but the comments from Cook are some of the strongest to date.
  • CEO Tim Cook said the business of selling ads against personal data has become a “data industrial complex” and stopped just short of naming tech giants like Facebook and Google in his criticisms.
Apple backs federal privacy laws in the US, says Tim Cook

Apple backs federal privacy laws in the US, says Tim Cook  

“Every day, billions of dollars change hands, and countless decisions are made, on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations. Our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams,” Cook said. “These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold.”

“Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions,” Cook said.

Apple and its chief executive have long touted personal privacy, distancing themselves from recent, growing scandals among tech companies — but the comments from Cook are some of the strongest to date.

He said the business of selling ads against personal data has become a “data industrial complex,” but stopped short of naming tech giants like Facebook and Google in his criticisms. However, Facebook and Google are the two largest companies that make money selling ads the way Cook described.

“We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them,” Cook said. “This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.”

GDPR: Why everyone is freaking out over four letters

GDPR: Why everyone is freaking out over four letters  

Cook’s comments at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) received warm applause in the Belgian capital.

Many of the world’s data protection regulators gathered in Brussels — a city increasingly at the forefront of tech regulation — as the conference coincided with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year.

GDPR refers to a piece of legislation that aims to give consumers control of personal data collected by tech companies. It came into force in May, just weeks after the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal enveloped Facebook — and raised the profile of data protection as a consumer need.

The scandal also prompted governments worldwide to finally consider taking action against an often-overlooked area of law. But, U.S. lawmakers are seen as lagging behind their European peers.

Apple’s chief executive lauded the “successful implementation” of GDPR on Wednesday. And, in a thinly-veiled message to tech behemoths stateside, Cook insisted U.S.-based companies had no need to fear more stringent privacy regulation laws.

“This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment,” Cook said.

“We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There, and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights,” Cook said — the right to have personal data minimized, the right to knowledge, the right to access, and the right to security, he said.

—CNBC’s Josh Lipton contributed to this report.

Here’s Cook’s full speech:

Good morning.

It is an honor to be here with you today in this grand hall, a room that represents what is possible when people of different backgrounds, histories and philosophies come together to build something bigger than themselves.

I am deeply grateful to our hosts. I want to recognize Ventsislav Karadjov for his service and leadership. And it’s a true privilege to be introduced by his co-host, a statesman I admire greatly, Giovanni Butarelli.

Now Italy has produced more than its share of great leaders and public servants. Machiavelli taught us how leaders can get away with evil deeds, and Dante showed us what happens when they get caught.

Giovanni has done something very different. Through his values, his dedication, his thoughtful work, Giovanni, his predecessor Peter Hustinx — and all of you — have set an example for the world. We are deeply grateful.

We need you to keep making progress — now more than ever. Because these are transformative times. Around the world, from Copenhagen to Chennai to Cupertino, new technologies are driving breakthroughs in humanity’s greatest common projects. From preventing and fighting disease, to curbing the effects of climate change, to ensuring every person has access to information and economic opportunity.

At the same time, we see vividly — painfully — how technology can harm rather than help. Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies. Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false.

This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or crazy. And those of us who believe in technology’s potential for good must not shrink from this moment.

Now, more than ever — as leaders of governments, as decision-makers in business and as citizens — we must ask ourselves a fundamental question: What kind of world do we want to live in?

I’m here today because we hope to work with you as partners in answering this question.

At Apple, we are optimistic about technology’s awesome potential for good. But we know that it won’t happen on its own. Every day, we work to infuse the devices we make with the humanity that makes us. As I’ve said before, technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn’t want to do great things. It doesn’t want anything. That part takes all of us.

That’s why I believe that our missions are so closely aligned. As Giovanni puts it, we must act to ensure that technology is designed and developed to serve humankind, and not the other way around.

We at Apple believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. But we also recognize that not everyone sees things as we do. In a way, the desire to put profits over privacy is nothing new.

As far back as 1890, future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis published an article in the Harvard Law Review, making the case for a “Right to Privacy” in the United States.

He warned: “Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade.”

Today that trade has exploded into a data industrial complex. Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency.

Every day, billions of dollars change hands and countless decisions are made on the basis of our likes and dislikes, our friends and families, our relationships and conversations, our wishes and fears, our hopes and dreams.

These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold.

Taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions. If green is your favorite color, you may find yourself reading a lot of articles — or watching a lot of videos — about the insidious threat from people who like orange.

In the news almost every day, we bear witness to the harmful, even deadly, effects of these narrowed worldviews.

We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them.

This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us. And it illustrates the importance of our shared work and the challenges still ahead of us.

Fortunately this year you’ve shown the world that good policy and political will can come together to protect the rights of everyone. We should celebrate the transformative work of the European institutions tasked with the successful implementation of the GDPR. We also celebrate the new steps taken, not only here in Europe, but around the world. In Singapore, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand and many more nations, regulators are asking tough questions and crafting effective reforms.

It is time for the rest of the world — including my home country — to follow your lead.

We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. There and everywhere, it should be rooted in four essential rights: First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data — or not to collect it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for. This is the only way to empower users to decide what collection is legitimate and what isn’t. Anything less is a sham. Third, the right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of, correct and delete their personal data. And fourth, the right to security. Security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights.

Now, there are those who would prefer I hadn’t said all of that. Some oppose any form of privacy legislation. Others will endorse reform in public, and then resist and undermine it behind closed doors.

They may say to you, “Our companies will never achieve technology’s true potential if they are constrained with privacy regulation.” But this notion isn’t just wrong, it is destructive.

Technology’s potential is, and always must be, rooted in the faith people have in it, in the optimism and creativity that it stirs in the hearts of individuals, in its promise and capacity to make the world a better place.

It’s time to face facts. We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.

At Apple, respect for privacy — and a healthy suspicion of authority — have always been in our bloodstream. Our first computers were built by misfits, tinkerers and rebels — not in a laboratory or a board room, but in a suburban garage. We introduced the Macintosh with a famous TV ad channeling George Orwell’s 1984 — a warning of what can happen when technology becomes a tool of power and loses touch with humanity.

And way back in 2010, Steve Jobs said in no uncertain terms: “Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain language, and repeatedly.”

It’s worth remembering the foresight and courage it took to make that statement. When we designed this device we knew it could put more personal data in your pocket than most of us keep in our homes. And there was enormous pressure on Steve and Apple to bend our values and to freely share this information. But we refused to compromise. In fact, we’ve only deepened our commitment in the decade since.

From hardware breakthroughs that encrypt fingerprints and faces securely — and only — on your device, to simple and powerful notifications that make clear to every user precisely what they’re sharing and when they are sharing it.

We aren’t absolutists, and we don’t claim to have all the answers. Instead, we always try to return to that simple question: What kind of world do we want to live in?

At every stage of the creative process, then and now, we engage in an open, honest and robust ethical debate about the products we make and the impact they will have. That’s just a part of our culture.

We don’t do it because we have to. We do it because we ought to. The values behind our products are as important to us as any feature.

We understand that the dangers are real — from cyber-criminals to rogue nation states. We’re not willing to leave our users to fend for themselves. And we’ve shown we’ll defend those principles when challenged.

Those values — that commitment to thoughtful debate and transparency — they’re only going to get more important. As progress speeds up, these things should continue to ground us and connect us, first and foremost, to the people we serve.

Artificial Intelligence is one area I think a lot about. Clearly it’s on the minds of many of my peers as well.

At its core, this technology promises to learn from people individually to benefit us all. Yet advancing AI by collecting huge personal profiles is laziness, not efficiency. For artificial intelligence to be truly smart, it must respect human values, including privacy.

If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound.

We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It’s not only a possibility, it is a responsibility.

In the pursuit of artificial intelligence, we should not sacrifice the humanity, creativity and ingenuity that define our human intelligence.

And at Apple, we never will.

In the mid-19th century, the great American writer Henry David Thoreau found himself so fed up with the pace and change of industrial society that he moved to a cabin in the woods by Walden Pond.

Call it the first digital cleanse.

Yet even there, where he hoped to find a bit of peace, he could hear a distant clatter and whistle of a steam engine passing by. “We do not ride on the railroad,” he said. “It rides upon us.”

Those of us who are fortunate enough to work in technology have an enormous responsibility.

It is not to please every grumpy Thoreau out there. That’s an unreasonable standard, and we’ll never meet it.

We are responsible, however, for recognizing that the devices we make and the platforms we build have real, lasting, even permanent effects on the individuals and communities who use them.

We must never stop asking ourselves, what kind of world do we want to live in?

The answer to that question must not be an afterthought, it should be our primary concern.

We at Apple can — and do — provide the very best to our users while treating their most personal data like the precious cargo that it is. And if we can do it, then everyone can do it.

Fortunately, we have your example before us.

Thank you for your work, for your commitment to the possibility of human-centered technology, and for your firm belief that our best days are still ahead of us.

Thank you very much.

(NYT) Google Turns Over Identities of Bloggers on Benfica

(NYT

Benfica’s enormous popularity in Portugal has taken a hit the past year as blogs released damaging confidential information about the club.CreditCreditManuel De Almeida/EPA, via Shutterstock

Google Inc. and other internet service providers have turned over confidential user information to a Portuguese soccer team that may help it identify anonymous bloggers who have written about allegations of wrongdoing against the team.

The information was turned over as part of a lawsuit filed by the team, the Lisbon-based Benfica, earlier this year in United States District Court in California as part of an effort to stop the bloggers.

Benfica, the serial national champion, has been battling a tide of leaked information for much of the past year that has cast a negative shadow over it . The leaks have been drip-fed onto a specially created website since December, producing sensational headlines and leading to a crisis within a club that counts some of the country’s most important politicians and business figures as members.

However, Benfica was unable to stop the leaks through Portugal’s legal system. So the club, a two-time European champion, turned in April to California’s courts. It issued subpoenas to Google and a handful of other companies that own the platforms used by the bloggers.

The efforts have paid off. “We only confirm that we made agreements with those digital platforms,” said a spokesman for Benfica. He declined to provide further details of the information the team received.

In a statement, Google said it complied with the legal process. “Google gave notice to impacted users who then had an opportunity to challenge the legal process in a U.S. court,” said a spokeswoman for the company.

The owner of the popular Artista do Dia blog is among those whose user identity has very likely been passed on to Benfica by Google. He received an email from Google in September telling him he could try to quash Benfica’s demand through a legal challenge.

Faced with thousands of dollars of legal fees, the author, whose identity The New York Times has been confirmed, was only able to reply with an impassioned email, in which he outlined that he had not been responsible for the leak, and like many others, had written about a subject of enormous public interest.

“I thought Google and billions of users of Google services were protected by a company with principles and, above all, respect for users who trust their platforms,” said the writer, a professional services worker with two children. “I think it opens a very serious precedent that will only allow those with financial possibilities to remain anonymous.”

Benfica’s status within Portugal is immense. The team counts at least half of the country’s 10 million citizens as fans, the weight of which gives it a greater cultural and social significance than most ordinary sports teams. Even in good times, details of exploits inside its Estadio da Luz home dominate local media.

Image
Porto’s Portuguese coach Sergio Conceicao, who leads one of Benfica’s top rivals.CreditFrancisco Leong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The leaks, which began last year, have purported to show influence peddling schemes that targeted top soccer officials and, perhaps most worryingly for the club, efforts to influence the refereeing system. Benfica denies wrongdoing. It has separately been charged with illegally obtaining confidential information from a mole working inside the justice ministry.

The bloggers’ cases are not without precedent. They are similar to a yearslong legal battle between Chevron and internet providers Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in which the company sought identity information belonging to activists, attorneys, journalists and others who have spoken out against the company.

Albert Gidari, consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said under current regulations Google had little option but to comply with Benfica’s subpoena. Internet companies get hundreds of thousands of similar requests, said Gidari, who spent 20 years representing some of the world’s biggest technology companies including Google. “It isn’t scalable to know what’s behind each case,” he said.

Google already goes “one step beyond” what it is required to do by giving notice of the subpoena to users, he added.

Benfica’s search for the bloggers and web users has dominated the headlines since The New York Times first reported on the issue earlier this month. Benfica fans have also tried to unmask the identity of those behind the blogs. In at least one case, the name and photograph of a man suspected of being one of the bloggers was widely circulated on the internet but turned out to be wrong.

Fans of Benfica’s rivals, Sporting Clube de Portugal and F.C. Porto, are behind most of the blogs the team is targeting for legal action. Benfica alleges the two other teams are part of a conspiracy to discredit it, a claim that is typical in soccer in Portugal, where club executives frequently launch allegations against one another. The leaks first appeared on a weekly television show on Porto’s channel, before a website called O Mercado de Benfica appeared in December 2017.

Porto’s communications director Francisco Marques said he received the data anonymously from an individual purporting to be a fan of the club. Marques said he passed all the files he received to the police. He suspects the website publishing the leaked information is run by the same person.

In its lawsuit in California, Benfica claimed the details published online were “trade secrets” that buttressed its success in winning championships and cultivated an academy system that generated “more than any other club in the world” in player sales this decade. The claim did not mention police raids on Benfica’s offices or ongoing investigations into alleged results manipulation and corruption it faces.

“Despite commencing numerous actions, both civil and criminal, in Portugal, Benfica has thus far been unable to stem the tide of stolen information or identify the thieves. It is clear to Benfica that only with the cooperation of the hosting organizations will Benfica be able to stop the campaign to discredit it,” its U.S. lawyers wrote.

Gidari, the former privacy lawyer, said the suit seemed similar to others brought by other large organizations confronting the public disclosure of damaging information.

He added that though in some cases there may be valid reasons behind subpoenas, they are often “strategic lawsuits brought to silence critics.”

(BBC) Gilberto Benetton: Co-founder of fashion chain dies

(BBC)

Gilberto BenettonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Gilberto Benetton, a co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, has died at the age of 77 after a short illness.

He, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy in the 1960s.

The family is one of the most powerful in Italy, with interests in construction, transport and catering.

Gilberto is credited with diversifying the company away from the clothing business, and growing it into a multi-billion euro giant.

He was the former head of the family holding company, Edizione, which controls Italy’s biggest infrastructure group Atlantia.

A unit of Atlantia operated the bridge in Genoa which collapsed in August, leading to the death of 43 people.

His death comes just three months after that of younger brother Carlo in July. He was aged 74.

The Benettons also control roadside caterer Autogrill and Rome’s airports.

Migrants picked up by the AquariusImage copyrightSOS MÉDITERRANÉE
Image captionBenetton was criticised for the use of photos of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean

The Benetton clothing chain’s brightly-coloured sweaters were considered most chic in the 1980s and 1990s and its eye-catching advertisements kept it in the spotlight.

An early one featured a black woman breastfeeding a white baby.

A later one, labelled “We, On Death Row”, used photographs of prisoners sentenced to death in the US.

The company continues to provoke. This summer, its advertising featuring images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean, was called “despicable” by Italy’s interior minister and attacked by the charity, SOS Méditerranée, for using pictures of people “in distress”.

(BBG) Netflix Is Selling $2 Billion of Junk Bonds to Fund New Shows

(BBG) Netflix Inc. is once again turning to the junk-bond market to fund new programming as the streaming-video giant seeks to maintain its torrid subscriber growth.

The $2 billion bond offering, which will be issued in dollars and euros, comes just a week after the company reported a bigger jump in subscribers than Wall Street analysts expected. While the bonds would push the cash-burning company’s debt load above $10 billion for the first time, the company has seen its equity value skyrocket as it adds subscribers internationally.

The U.S. portion of the 10.5-year bond may yield around 6.375 percent, while the euro notes could pay 4.625 percent, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Netflix paid less than 6 percent when it last tapped the market in April, in part because underlying Treasury yields were lower.

“To me it feels a bit like a win-win situation,” said John McClain, a high-yield money manager at Diamond Hill Capital, which oversees $22.6 billion including Netflix debt. “You’re buying the highest-quality, high-yield business at yields that are fairly close to the overall market. It’s low-cost funding for them, especially relative to the cost of issuing new equity.”

Netflix said in a statement that it will use proceeds from the offering to continue to acquire and fund new content. The company said last week that it expects to burn about $3 billion in cash this year as it continues to prioritize original series and movies. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Wells Fargo & Co. are managing the sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the deal is private.

Impressive subscriber growth and revenues have given the Netflix leeway to continue to spend massive amounts of money to fund its programming. Last week, S&P Global Ratings upgraded the company’s credit by one level to BB-. Moody’s Investors Service raised its rating in April, when the company last issued bonds.

Moody’s said in a note Monday that it even though Netflix’s debt load keeps getting bigger, the ratings firm expects a measure of the company’s earnings to rise faster. Between now and 2020, as Netflix continues its transition from licensing shows and movies to producing its own, Moody’s forecasts the company’s total debt will fall relative to its earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization.

The company’s announcement comes a few days after Uber Technologies Inc. raised billions of dollars of cash by tapping the high-yield bond market in a private placement. Demand for the debt has been spurred by the worst supply shortage since 2008, according to JPMorgan analysts, and the higher demand kept a lid on relative borrowing costs even as the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates.

(LibreMercado) Un año después del #Metoo: los empresarios dejan de contratar a mujeres por miedo

(LibreMercadoEl movimiento de moda de las feministas ha transformado el entorno laboral en Estados Unidos. Los ejecutivos temen a las mujeres.

Manifestación de feministas | Cordon Press

Se cumple un año del movimiento feminista #MeToo y, como si de un tsunami se tratara, sus consecuencias son devastadoras en el ámbito laboral estadounidense. Sus intenciones eran nobles: denunciar agresiones, abusos o acoso sexual a las mujeres. Pero el método empleado para destapar a los depredadores sexuales está propiciando todo lo contrario. Las féminas están siendo discriminadas. Veamos.

Bastaba con poner el #hashtag en redes sociales Yo también, (MeToo)para publicar el nombre del malvado acosador. Más de 200.000 tuits denunciaban algún tipo de abuso y señalaban con dedo acusador a sus supuestos agresores permaneciendo impunes. Adiós a la presunción de inocencia. La caza de brujos fue continuada por Asia Argento. La actriz abrió la veda en el Festival de Cannes el pasado año.

“En 1997, fui violada por Harvey Weinstein, aquí, en Cannes”, declaró públicamente. Pero su discurso continuó no sólo culpabilizando a Weinstein, sino asegurando que “en la sala también había más acosadores como el productor”. Ella misma, con mirada desafiante, confesó que “las actrices sabían quiénes eran y que estaban sentados allí junto a las artistas”. No dijo nombres y, en un minuto, Argento consiguió que todos los hombres que asistieron a la ceremonia fueran sospechosos de ser violadores. Justos por pecadores. Posteriormente, un joven llamado Jimmy Bennet denunció Asia Argento “por haberlo violado”, y pudo demostrarlo a través de un contrato de confidencialidad firmado con la propia artista para tapar tan turbio asunto. Ironías del destino.

Pero las declaraciones de la intérprete en Italia originaron tal sentimiento de psicosis general que contagió al ámbito laboral en EEUU. Hace doce meses no existían datos sobre los efectos de Me Too en las empresas, pero los cambios y el miedo invadieron las oficinas norteamericanas. Libre Mercado ya adelantó la transformación en las relaciones personales entre hombres y mujeres en el trabajo. Los ejecutivos tomaban precauciones extremas con sus compañeras. Y es lógico. Si sólo es suficiente una acusación sin pruebas para perder el trabajo, lo mejor era tener a las mujeres lejos.

Hoy por hoy, la bola de nieve de las feministas del Me Too americanotiene forma de iceberg gigante. Ya hay cifras y estadísticas sobre cómo ha afectado a las empresas. Ciertamente, el escenario que dejan las feministas en el entorno del trabajo es tenebroso, oscuro y distópico. Y aún peor, las mayores damnificadas de las “proclamas feministas”, paradójicamente han sido las propias mujeres.

Cultura de la culpabilidad

Una nueva investigación realizada este año por la Sociedad para la Gestión de Recursos Humanos (SHRM) en Estados Unidos confirma que casi un tercio de los 1.034 ejecutivos encuestados dijeron haber cambiado sus comportamientos a un nivel moderado, grande o muy grande. Y atención, porque los jefes han hecho tres cuartos de lo mismo. El informe desvela que una cuarta parte de los 1.022 gerentes también dijeron que habían cambiado sus comportamientos.

Y es que no está el horno para bollos. Ya en 2017, el SHRM recoge un aumento significativo en las demandas por acoso sexual en el trabajo, pero en 2018 el volumen de quejas por discriminación sexual se ha disparado estrepitosamente con respecto a años anteriores. En California, el primer trimestre del año, las denuncias de las mujeres en el entorno laboral que, supuestamente, han sido agredidas sexualmente se ha incrementado hasta un 83%. Esto da escalofríos. ¿Tan depravados son los varones en el puesto de trabajo?

El 15% de trabajadores del estudio del SHRM piensa que el #Metoo ha evocado un ambiente de trabajo hostil para ambos géneros. “Tener un tercio de los ejecutivos que informan un cambio en el comportamiento es significativo”, dijo Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., presidente y CEO de SHRM. “Sin embargo, no podemos dejar que el péndulo oscile demasiado. Las organizaciones deben tener cuidado de no crear una cultura deculpabilidad hasta que se demuestre su inocencia y no podemos tolerar otras consecuencias no intencionadas”. La incertidumbre de lo que constituye el acoso sexual ha hecho que algunos hombres se sientan incómodos con las compañeras y se muestren cautelosos acerca de cómo cambiar las dinámicas del lugar de trabajo. “Una tendencia preocupante“, revelaba Taylor.

El fundador de la compañía relata una situación rocambolesca. Los ejecutivos no invitan ya a colegas femeninas a viajes, a eventos de noche o a sus círculos cercanos para evitar cualquier situación que pueda percibirse incorrectamente. De este modo, se reducen las oportunidades de ascender o escalar laboralmente para las hembras.

Llevar a la esposa a las reuniones

En base a la organización LeanIn.org, los hombres superan en número a las mujeres como gerentes y ejecutivos. El 30% de los gerentes hombres habría admitido que “se sienten incómodos trabajando solos con una mujer”.

Employment Law Alliance publicó una encuesta el pasado marzo sobre el impacto del movimiento #MeToo y encontró que el 23% de los 382 encuestados indicaron que era “algo común que los gerentes se negaran a viajar, cenar o reunirse solos a puerta cerrada con colegas del sexo opuesto”.

Joyce Chastain, presidenta de Chastain Consulting en Florida, narraba la situación de pánico laboral que su padre estaba viviendo en el trabajo. En vista de que el Me Too no deja títere con cabeza, el hombre optó por una solución que ya practicaba el vicepresidente Mike Pence: llevar a su esposa a todas las reuniones donde hubiera mujeres. Chastain contaba cómo su padre, un señor con un cargo importante, “no viaja jamás con una mujer soltera sin su madre esté presente”. Tampoco “almuerza ni toma cafés con trabajadoras sin su esposa como testigo”. Además, el progenitor de Joyce se preocupa por evitar estar solo con una mujer, “llegando a salir de la misma habitación u oficina si así ocurriera”. De esquizofrenia total.

“Algunos hombres en el trabajo están comenzando a seguir esta práctica para reducir el riesgo de responsabilidad por acoso sexual”, señaló Tom Spiggle, un abogado de The Spiggle Law Firm en Arlington, Virginia. Finalmente, y como decíamos al inicio del artículo, las mujeres están siendo discriminadas.

125 leyes #MeToo

Un total de 32 estados americanos presentaron más de 125 leyes en este último año plagado de lemas feministas. No obstante, es llamativo cómo las denuncias de acoso sexual o comportamiento inapropiado en el lugar de trabajo no necesariamente condujeron al procesamiento de los acusados.

Como ya hemos dicho, sí que hubo un aumento del 83% de reclamaciones en California durante los primeros tres meses de 2018, pero hay matices importantes: los fiscales de Los Ángeles no han presentado un solo cargo penal. En muchas ocasiones, la víctima solía negarse a participar en una entrevista de seguimiento con un fiscal, un paso necesario para continuar el proceso. Ahora, cabe preguntarse si este miedo escénico laboral de los hombres llegará a España o no… Lo veremos.

(Reuters) Altice Portugal wants to move into financial services-CEO

(Reuters) The Portuguese unit of telecoms firm Altice is actively discussing expanding into financial services in 2019 and is in talks with two banks about how to do it, the company’s chief executive Alexandre Fonseca said.

“It’s a possibility [for next year], without a doubt,” Fonseca told Reuters, adding that his company is talking with two Portugal-based financial institutions about the project.

“We will continue to work to improve our services and be disruptive, not only in what we traditionally offer but also in areas we are less known for,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca did not say which institutions Altice Portugal, the country’s largest telecoms operator, had picked as potential partners, nor the type of services it hopes to deliver.

But he did say that the company wants to focus on digital channels within banks to develop a new generation of financial services.

“We [Altice group] try to diversify because today’s operator is not the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Fonseca said. “A telecom today has to offer a wide range of services and products to the client.”

In 2017, French newspaper Le Parisien reported that Altice Europe, led by Patrick Drahi, considered creating a digital bank.

Fonseca said that project is on hold but that shouldn’t stop Altice Portugal from offering its own financial services to clients.

Altice Portugal would not be the first telecom to venture into the financial sector, with Orange Bank, part of French telecoms group Orange, hoping to get two million bank customers within 10 years.

(BBC) Paul Allen: Microsoft co-founder and billionaire dies aged 65

(BBC)

Paul Allen speaks at a New York event in 2011Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAllen announced his diagnosis earlier this month

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, has died aged 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He had revealed the disease’s return only two weeks ago, after previously being treated for it in 2009.

He had said he and his doctors were “optimistic” about treatment.

His Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said: “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends… Personal computing would not have existed without him.”

In a statement confirming his death on Monday afternoon, his sister Jody described the businessman as a “remarkable individual on every level”.

“Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends,” the statement said.

“At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

The businessman made his fortune alongside school friend Bill Gates, after they co-founded technology giant Microsoft in 1975.

“From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend,” said Mr Gates.

“He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.”

Paul Allen and Bill Gates at an 1987 eventImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

He left the company in 1983 following his first diagnosis of the blood cancer Hodgkin’s disease, but recovered to become a successful venture capitalist with his media and communications investment firm, Vulcan that he set up in 1986.

Presentational grey line

Analysis

Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter, San Francisco

I’ve spent Monday at the 25th anniversary of technology magazine Wired, an event celebrating the history of not just the magazine, but technology itself.

Paul Allen, who will be deeply missed by those here, was one of the industry’s giants. His name would have been on Wired’s pages many, many times.

Mr Allen had beaten cancer before, and he had appeared confident that he could beat it again. Those close to him said he was active, on emails at least, until the very end – offering advice, strategy and insight to the many, many people who looked to him for support.

Mr Allen didn’t always have a great relationship with his co-founder, Bill Gates. The pair had a well-publicised row over stock ownership. But they shared an awful lot in common, first as children learning programming, and then as adults donating billions to philanthropic efforts.

Presentational grey line

Mr Allen’s investment firm confirmed news of his death on Monday evening.

“Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal,” Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement.

He is estimated to have donated more than $2bn to philanthropy throughout his life including science, education and wildlife conservation causes, the Associated Press report.

He was also an avid sports fan, owning both the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team and Seattle Seahawks NFL team, who won the US Superbowl in 2013.

(WSJ) Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public

(WSJGoogle opted not to disclose to users its discovery of a bug that gave outside developers access to private data. It found no evidence of misuse.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on a plan not to notify users of a software glitch that gave outside developers potential access to private data.
Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on a plan not to notify users of a software glitch that gave outside developers potential access to private data. PHOTO: DAVID PAUL MORRIS/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network and then opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears that doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny and cause reputational damage, according to people briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

As part of its response to the incident, the Alphabet Inc. GOOGL 2.73% unit on Monday announced a sweeping set of data privacy measures that include permanently shutting down all consumer functionality of Google+. The move effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of a product that was launched in 2011 to challenge Facebook Inc. FB 0.25% and is widely seen as one of Google’s biggest failures.

A software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue, according to the documents and people briefed on the incident. A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger “immediate regulatory interest” and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, the people said.

The closure of Google+ is part of a broader review of privacy practices by Google that has determined the company needs tighter controls on several major products, the people said. In its announcement Monday, the company said it is curtailing the access it gives outside developers to user data on Android smartphones and Gmail.

Social Bug

How a software glitch allowed app developers to potentially access Google+ user data

2

1

User A signs up to Google+ and fills out profile fields: name, employer, job title, gender, birth date and relationship status.

User A goes into privacy settings to make profile data viewable only to certain friends on Google+, including User B.

User B signs up for an app that asks the user to log in using Google+ credentials. The user gives the app permission to access profile information.

The app developer collects data on User B. Because of the software glitch, the developer can also collect User A’s private profile data.

Google discovered and fixed the glitch in March 2018. It found no evidence of misuse of data.

Sources: People briefed on the incident and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal

The episode involving Google+, which hasn’t been previously reported, shows the company’s concerted efforts to avoid public scrutiny of how it handles user information, particularly at a time when regulators and consumer privacy groups are leading a charge to hold tech giants accountable for the vast power they wield over the personal data of billions of people.

The snafu threatens to give Google a black eye on privacy after public assurances that it was less susceptible to data gaffes like those that have befallen Facebook. It may also complicate Google’s attempts to stave off unfavorable regulation in Washington. Mr. Pichai recently agreed to testify before Congress in the coming weeks.

The Meaning of Life According to Google

The Meaning of Life According to Google

​Google handles 90% of the world’s internet searches, and it increasingly is promoting a single answer for many questions. Even subjective or unanswerable queries sometimes get seemingly definitive answers. Here’s how the algorithms are — and aren’t — working. Video/Photo Illustration: Heather Seidel/The Wall Street Journal

“Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice,” a Google spokesman said in a statement.

In weighing whether to disclose the incident, the company considered “whether we could accurately identify the users to inform, whether there was any evidence of misuse, and whether there were any actions a developer or user could take in response,” he said. “None of these thresholds were met here.”

The internal memo from legal and policy staff says the company has no evidence that any outside developers misused the data but acknowledges it has no way of knowing for sure. The profile data that was exposed included full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status; it didn’t include phone numbers, email messages, timeline posts, direct messages or any other type of communication data, one of the people said.

Google makes user data available to outside developers through more than 130 different public channels known as application programming interfaces, or APIs. These tools usually require a user’s permission to access any information, but they can be misused by unscrupulous actors posing as app developers to gain access to sensitive personal data.

A privacy task force formed inside Google, code named Project Strobe, has in recent months conducted a companywide audit of the company’s APIs, according to the people briefed on the process. The group is made up of more than 100 engineers, product managers and lawyers, the people said.

In a blog post on Monday, Google said it plans to clamp down on the data it provides outside developers through APIs. The company will stop letting most outside developers gain access to SMS messaging data, call log data and some forms of contact data on Android phones, and Gmail will only permit a small number of developers to continue building add-ons for the email service, the company said.

Google faced pressure to rein in developer access to Gmail earlier this year, after a Wall Street Journal examination found that developers commonly use free email apps to hook users into giving up access to their inboxes without clearly stating what data they collect. In some cases, employees at these app companies have read people’s actual emails to improve their software algorithms.

The coming changes are evidence of a larger rethinking of data privacy at Google, which has in the past placed relatively few restrictions on how external apps access users’ data, provided those users give permission. Restricting access to APIs will hurt some developers who have been helping Google build a universe of useful apps.

The Google+ data problem, discovered as part of the Strobe audit, was the result of a flaw in an API Google created to help app developers access an array of profile and contact information about the people who sign up to use their apps, as well as the people they are connected to on Google+. When a user grants a developer permission, any of the data they entered into a Google+ profile can be collected by the developer.

In March of this year, Google discovered that Google+ also permitted developers to retrieve the data of some users who never intended to share it publicly, according to the memo and two people briefed on the matter. Because of a bug in the API, developers could collect the profile data of their users’ friends even if that data was explicitly marked nonpublic in Google’s privacy settings, the people said.

During a two-week period in late March, Google ran tests to determine the impact of the bug, one of the people said. It found 496,951 users who had shared private profile data with a friend could have had that data accessed by an outside developer, the person said. Some of the individuals whose data was exposed to potential misuse included paying users of G Suite, a set of productivity tools including Google Docs and Drive, the person said. G Suite customers include businesses, schools and governments.

Because the company kept a limited set of activity logs, it was unable to determine which users were affected and what types of data may potentially have been improperly collected, the two people briefed on the matter said. The bug existed since 2015, and it is unclear whether a larger number of users may have been affected over that time.

Gmail scanned messages and sold ads related to their content, a practice that privacy groups said was a violation of user trust. Google responded that other email providers were already using computers to scan email to protect against spam and hackers, and that showing ads helped offset the cost of its free service. In 2014, Google stopped scanning inboxes of student, business and government users and last year said it was halting all Gmail scanning for ads.

2010: Buzz

Debut of Google Buzz was fumbled when the social site publicly displayed the contact lists of its users, leading to a probe by the Federal Trade Commission. Google settled with the FTC in 2011 and agreed to undergo 20 years of privacy audits by the agency. At the time of the settlement, Google said in a blog post that the Buzz launch “fell short of our usual standards for transparency and user control.”

2010: Street View

Google said its Street View camera cars collected private data through wireless networks while driving by people’s homes. Google stopped collecting Street View images in some countries as a result.

2013: Glass

Google Glass, a wearable computer headset with the ability to record video, was seen by some as a privacy intrusion when people began wearing them into private spaces like bathrooms. Google stopped selling the device to consumers and retooled it for professionals.

2013: Prism

Leaks revealed Google was part of a program called Prism, which allowed the U.S. National Security Agency to collect data on internet users. Google denied it ever gave the government direct access to its servers.

2018: YouTube

Privacy groups complained YouTube violated a federal law protecting children’s privacy by collecting data from users under 13. The company said users under 13 aren’t permitted to use YouTube. Google and the FTC have said they will evaluate the complaint.

2018: Android

The Associated Press found that Google collects location data of Android users even after their “location history” is turned off, a policy called misleading by privacy groups and lawmakers. Google told the AP that its descriptions of its location tools are clear.

2018: Google+

A software bug gave outside developers access to the private user profile data of a half-million Google+ users, and executives decided not to inform the public, partly out of fear of regulatory scrutiny. Google officials said the incident didn’t rise to the threshold of alerting users, and found no evidence any of the data were accessed..

Google believes up to 438 applications had access to the unauthorized Google+ data, the people said. Strobe investigators, after testing some of the apps and checking to see if any of the developers had previous complaints against them, determined none of the developers looked suspicious, the people said. The company’s ability to determine what was done with the data was limited because the company doesn’t have “audit rights” over its developers, the memo said. The company didn’t call or visit with any of the developers, the people said.

The question of whether to notify users went before Google’s Privacy and Data Protection Office, a council of top product executives who oversee key decisions relating to privacy, the people said.

Internal lawyers advised that Google wasn’t legally required to disclose the incident to the public, the people said. Because the company didn’t know what developers may have what data, the group also didn’t believe notifying users would give any actionable benefit to the end users, the people said.

The memo from legal and policy staff wasn’t a factor in the decision, said a person familiar with the process, but reflected internal disagreements over how to handle the matter.

The document shows Google officials felt that disclosure could have serious ramifications. Revealing the incident would likely result “in us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal,” the memo said. It “almost guarantees Sundar will testify before Congress.”

A range of factors go into determining whether a company must notify users of a potential data breach. There is no federal breach notification law in the U.S., so companies must navigate a patchwork of state laws with differing standards, said Al Saikali, a lawyer with Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP. He isn’t affiliated with any of the parties.

While many companies wouldn’t notify users if a name and birth date were accessed, some firms would, Mr. Saikali said. Some firms notify users even when it is unclear that the data in question was accessed, he said. “Fifty percent of the cases I work on are judgment calls,” he said. “Only about half the time do you get conclusive evidence that says that this bad guy did access information.”

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in May of this year, requires companies to notify regulators of breaches within 72 hours, under threat of a maximum fine of 2% of world-wide revenue. The information potentially leaked via Google’s API would constitute personal information under GDPR, but because the problem was discovered in March, it wouldn’t have been covered under the European regulation, Mr. Saikali said.

Google could also face class-action lawsuits over its decision not to disclose the incident, Mr. Saikali said. “The story here that the plaintiffs will tell is that Google knew something here and hid it. That by itself is enough to make the lawyers salivate,” he said.

In its contracts with paid users of G Suite apps, Google tells customers it will notify them about any incidents involving their data “promptly and without undue delay” and will “promptly take reasonable steps to minimize harm.” That requirement may not apply to Google+ profile data, however, even if it belonged to a G Suite customer.

(ECO) Navigator dispara 8% com redução da taxa Trump. Papeleira contraria maré negra em Lisboa

(ECOPapeleira nacional anunciou que os EUA vão aplicar uma taxa 1,75% sobre as vendas naquele mercado, em vez de uma taxa de 37% como chegaram a admitir. Terá um impacto de apenas dois milhões no lucro.

Dia negro na bolsa portuguesa mas não para todas as cotadas nacionais. Que o diga a Navigator, que vê os seus títulos dispararem quase 8% após ter anunciado que, afinal, a taxa anti-dumping que as autoridades americanas vão aplicar (37%) sobre as vendas de papel naquele mercado será apenas de 1,75%.

As ações da papeleira portuguesa somam 7,90% para 4,208 eurosEstão a contrair o sentimento de aversão ao risco que se verifica um pouco por todos os mercados internacionais e ao qual o PSI-20 também não escapa: o índice cede mais de 1% para 4.984,28 pontos com quase todas as cotadas abaixo da linha de água.

Mais de 1,3 milhões de ações da Navigator já tinham trocado de mãos em duas horas de negociação em Lisboa, com o nível de liquidez já acima da média diária dos últimos 12 meses (713 mil títulos por sessão), fornecendo uma ideia do apetite comprador dos investidores por estes títulos.

Este desempenho está também a impulsionar as ações da Semapa, que detém 70% da Navigator e ainda os cimentos Secil: os títulos da holding avançam 3,86% para 16,68 euros.

Papéis da Navigator voam na bolsa

A impulsionar a cotada liderada por Diogo da Silveira está a decisão do Departamento do Comércio americano de aplicar uma taxa de apenas 1,75% sobre as vendas de papel da Navigator no mercado dos EUA, bem abaixo da taxa e 37,35% que as autoridades chegaram a pensar impor. Com isto, melhoram-se as perspetivas para o lucro da empresa portuguesa: em vez de um impacto negativo de 45 milhões, a taxa deverá retirar apenas dois milhões aos resultados líquidos do ano em curso, estima a Navigator.

“São notícias positivas para Navigator”, refere o BPI CaixaBank numa nota de research desta quinta-feira. “Considerando que a tarifa foi revista consideravelmente, tendo um impacto de 0,5% na nossa estimativa para o EBITDA, vemos um potencial de subida de 7% na nossa avaliação para a Navigator. Reforçamos a nossa posição positiva sobre o título”, acrescenta o banco de investimento. O BPI atribui um preço-alvo de 5,20 euros, com recomendação “Compra”.

Em causa estava uma taxa anti-dumping de 37,34% que as autoridades norte-americanas queriam impor de forma retroativa sobre as vendas de papel da Navigator no período entre agosto de 2015 e fevereiro de 2017, valor este que foi revisto para 1,75%, após a empresa ter “invocado a existência de erros administrativos na decisão” anterior.

Na sessão de quarta-feira, os títulos da Navigator haviam tombado mais de 7%, recuperando dessas perdas no dia de hoje.

(ECO) Processo de privatização parcial da Sonangol está em curso

(ECOO projeto de privatização parcial da petrolífera estatal Sonangol está a ser estudado pelo governo angolano, e insere-se no quadro do Programa de Regeneração da empresa.

O Governo de Angola está a analisar um projeto de privatização parcial da petrolífera estatal Sonangol, mas só depois de junho de 2019, indicou o ministro dos Recursos Minerais e Petróleo angolano, citado esta quinta-feira na imprensa local.

Segundo Diamantino Azevedo, o projeto em causa insere-se no quadro do Programa de Regeneração da empresa, em curso desde agosto e que já levou ao fim do monopólio no setor da Sonangol, com a criação, para já com uma Comissão Instaladora, da Agência Nacional de Petróleo e Gás (ANPG).

O ministro declarou que, enquanto se passa a função de concessionária da Sonangol para a ANPG, a petrolífera tem em curso o “Programa de Regeneração”, de forma a focar-se apenas nos “negócios nucleares”, constituídos pelos fluxos ascendente e descendente da cadeia produtiva de petróleo (pesquisa, exploração, produção, refinação e distribuição).

O processo, adiantou, vai levar à privatização de algumas empresas não nucleares do grupo e, no futuro, à privatização parcial da Sonangol por dispersão bolsista, um processo ligado às boas práticas dessa indústria. “É o que se passa hoje com as grandes companhias petrolíferas mundiais”, afirmou.

A apresentação do modelo de funcionamento foi feita pelo coordenador adjunto da Comissão Instaladora da ANPG, Jorge Abreu, que lembrou as três etapas pelas quais o processo decorre e que começam em janeiro de 2019, com a fase da transmissão da função de concessionária para a agência.

Nesta fase inicial, prosseguiu, a função de concessionária vai-se manter na Sonangol, concentrando-se na relação com os operadores e respondendo ao Conselho de Administração da Agência.

A segunda fase vai de janeiro a junho de 2019 e é designada por “Transição”, na qual o Conselho de Administração da ANPG vai dirigir o processo de autonomização e as entidades corporativas da Sonangol se obrigam a prestar serviços à Agência.

A terceira fase, a de “Otimização da Transição”, vai de junho de 2019 a janeiro de 2020 e abrange a migração dos ativos da função de concessionária para a ANPG.

Os funcionários da Sonangol que cuidam desta função transitam para a ANPG, sendo que “a questão remuneratória não será prejudicada”, uma referência à manutenção dos salários e eventuais privilégios.

Jorge Abreu declarou que o plano de reestruturação do setor petrolífero em curso “é irreversível” e não vai afetar a estabilidade dos negócios na indústria petrolífera angolana, algo que persegue a assinatura de novos contratos e a exploração de campos marginais.

(GUA) James Murdoch favorite to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chairman – report

(GUA) Son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace the embattled Tesla founder

James Murdoch, son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, is the leading candidate to take over chairmanship of Tesla.
 James Murdoch, son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, is the leading candidate to take over chairmanship of Tesla. Photograph: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic

James Murdoch is the favourite to take over the chairmanship of volatile electric-carmaker Tesla from its embattled founder, Elon Musk, according to reports.

The son of newspaper, satellite TV and movie studio tycoon Rupert Murdochis now the lead candidate for the Tesla chair, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing two people briefed on the discussions.

Musk agreed he would step down as chairman by mid-November but remain as chief executive officer, after he and Tesla reached a settlement with US financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month in which they agreed to pay $20m each to financial regulators. The billionaire had claimed in early August to have secured funding to take Tesla private, sending markets scrambling.

There then followed much concern about his health and stability after he talked about sleeping little because of the high stress of the job, and he smoked a joint during a podcast interview amid swirling speculation about drug use.

James Murdoch is currently chief executive of 21st Century Fox, but will leave the role when the entertainment giant completes the sale of the majority of its assets to Disney, and will be succeeded by his brother Lachlan. He joined Tesla’s board last year as a non-executive director and has reportedly said he wants the job of chair.

The Tesla board is understood to have not yet made a final decision about Musk’s successor and may still appoint an external candidate.

On Tuesday, Murdoch resigned from the board of Sky plc, the owner of Sky News, as part of Comcast’s takeover of the company, beating 21st Century Fox in an intense bidding war. He is also contemplating starting a technology investment fund.

“The Tesla chairman job is perfect for James,” a person briefed on the discussions told the FT. “He’s working on this fund and will be sitting next to Elon … he’s going to get access to so much deal flow.”

However, Musk denied the Financial Times story in a response to a tweet about the report, writing: “This is incorrect.”

Silicon Valley-based Musk created the electric carmaker and aerospace company SpaceX, which has been launching space rockets in a bid to win commercial space transportation business in future – and realising Musk’s talk of colonising Mars.

Tesla is wildly successful by many measures, but has been under pressure over profits, keeping up with demand and conditions for workers.

Its shares have struggled amid the recent controversy, trading around $259.52 at the time of writing, around a 27% fall since Musk tweeted his intention to take the firm private at $420 a share.

The SEC filed a suit accusing Musk of fraud in relation to the tweets, alleging his go-private plan, which he abandoned weeks later, had no basis in fact. The tech billionaire accepted a $20m fine and agreed to step down as chairman as part of the settlement.

Tesla and 21st Century Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares of Tesla on Wednesday afternoon pared losses to trade down 1.6% at $258.50.