The Google logo outside if its New York City offices, which were closed on May 19, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images
Google is once again allowing financial web site Zero Hedge to make money using Google’s ad platform.
In mid-June, Google told CNBC it had banned Zero Hedge from using its ad platform because of the comments section of the site, which Google said consistently violated its policy against dangerous and derogatory material. Zero Hedge removed the content and implemented moderation on the comments section, then appealed Google’s move.
On Tuesday, Google said its team had re-reviewed the site, confirmed the material had been removed and began allowing it to begin running ads again on June 21. CNBC verified ads were running through Google on the site as of Tuesday.
“We work with publishers to keep them aware of our monetization policies, which cover user comments on sites, and offer guidance on how to address policy violations if they wish to be reinstated,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We have policies like these for many reasons, including to ensure companies advertising with us have confidence their ads aren’t running against dangerous, derogatory or hateful content.”
In mid-June, NBC News reported Google had also warned conservative publication The Federalist about the content in its comments section and gave it an opportunity to address the issues to prevent removal from its ads platform. The Federalist said last month it had deleted its comments section. At the time, Federalist co-founder Sean Davis called the matter a “pretty terrifying example of the power that you have of the unholy union of corrupt media and monopolistic tech oligarchs.”
Zero Hedge didn’t immediately return an emailed request for comment
Earlier this year, Twitter banned the Zero Hedge account from the social media platform after it published an article linking a Chinese scientist to the outbreak of the fast-spreading coronavirus last week, saying the account had violated “platform manipulation policy.” The account was reinstated in June, with Twitter calling the removal a mistake.
Employees of the online review site Yelp at the East Coast headquarters of the tech company on October 26, 2011 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Yelp is bringing back “nearly all” of its 1,100 furloughed employees and restoring employee pay and work hours starting in August, the company announced Monday.
The company will also extend its office closures into 2021, resulting in the layoff of 63 more employees.
Yelp in April laid off 1,000 employees and furloughed roughly 1,100 more, as the coronavirus pandemic dramatically decreased consumer interest in going out due to social distancing mandates.
“As local economies begin their recovery, we remain cautious but optimistic in the face of continued uncertainty,” Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote in an email to employees that was shared with CNBC.
“We expect to see a continued fluctuation in business openings and closures during the course of the pandemic as communities respond to local outbreaks. While the pacing and duration of the recovery are still unknown, the executive team and board feel confident in our ability to withstand the challenges and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead,” he added.
Workers across the nation are slowly returning to their jobs, though Covid-19 cases are still rising. Weekly jobless claims for the week that ended July 4 totaled 1.314 million, while continuing claims came in at 18.06 million, according to the Labor Department.
Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce.com speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 23, 2020.
Adam Galasia | CNBC
So far this month Salesforce, whose cloud software helps corporate salespeople stay on top of their leads, is managing to stay more valuable than one of its longstanding competitors, Oracle. Salesforce’s market capitalization now stands at $180 billion, compared with $174 billion for Oracle. So far this year Salesforce shares have increased 23%, while Oracle’s have risen 9%.
The development comes after Salesforce built greater and greater control of its original market, diversified and saw its internet-delivered software model validated by dozen of other companies, including Salesforce itself.
There’s also a lot of history between the companies. Marc Benioff, the co-founder and CEO of Salesforce, once worked for Larry Ellison, Oracle’s co-founder, chairman and chief technology officer. Benioff has called Ellison his mentor. Ellison invested $2 million in Salesforce and became its inaugural board member. The two men had a falling-out as Oracle began challenging Salesforce, and for years they have belittled each other’s companies.
“I honestly don’t see Oracle as a competitor,” Benioff was quoted as saying in 2010. Now his company is bigger than Oracle. An Oracle spokesperson declined to comment.
Salesforce, once derided as a company that favored growth over consistent profits, has grown up. It’s been profitable for 10 of the 12 most recent quarters, and acquisitions have helped the company become less reliant on its premier Sales Cloud product.
Almost all of Salesforce’s revenue comes from subscriptions and support. In the company’s most recent quarter, the largest proportion of that subscriptions and support revenue was in the “Platform and Other” category, which includes contributions from integration software MuleSoft and charting tool Tableau, which were acquired in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Platform and Other delivered 30% of subscription and support revenue, compared with 15% five years ago.
Even before those acquisitions, Benioff declared victory over Oracle in 2017 in a race to achieve $10 billion in cloud revenue.
Salesforce has expanded its business in part by concentrating more on individual industries. And some credit for that goes to Keith Block, a former Oracle executive whom Salesforce hired in 2013 and elevated to co-CEO alongside Benioff in 2018.
The industry effort, touching on products like the Financial Services Cloud and Health Cloud, is “an unbelievable business,” Benioff said on a 2018 conference call.
“I was excited to see in the quarter and for the seventh time in a row, IDC has ranked Salesforce as the number one CRM,” he told analysts on the company’s quarterly earnings call in May. In the quarter Salesforce’s revenue had grown 30% year over year; in Oracle’s most recent quarter, revenue was down 6%.
Ellison remains about eight times richer than Benioff, according to estimates from Bloomberg. In a meeting with analysts in 2015 Ellison said that he missed the cloud. Moments later, he suggested that an early cloud company was his idea.
I believed in this running things on the Internet, renting services, for a very long time. In fact, I think the first cloud company was called NetSuite. I still own a majority of NetSuite. And creating NetSuite was kind of my idea. It was my idea to build ERP [enterprise resource planning] for small business in the cloud. And the next company that came out was Salesforce.com. They came about nine months after NetSuite. And I was a large investor in Salesforce.com and very supportive of that. In fact, Salesforce.com, if you will, was a copy of NetSuite in the sense NetSuite said, okay, were going to put ERP in the cloud and that was Evan Goldberg. And then Marc Benioff said, hey, that’s a cool idea. I’m going to put CRM in the cloud. It wasn’t called the cloud; it was called SaaS [software as a service]. And they happened about nine months apart.
In the past decade Oracle has sought to become more cloud-oriented, both by building its own cloud infrastructure to challenge Amazon and by buying companies like NetSuite. Salesforce has nevertheless remained the more obvious cloud company between the two.
Other cloud stocks, like DocuSign and Zoom, have outperformed Salesforce this year, with demand flowing to services that enable people to work productively while staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. The WisdomTree Cloud Computing Fund, an exchange-traded fund based on Bessemer Venture Partners’ Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index, is up 67% for the year.
So while Salesforce is still growing, some younger and smaller cloud companies are growing faster.
As it surpasses Oracle, some investors would like to see more from Salesforce in the way of profit. Evercore analysts led by Kirk Materne explained the situation in a note to clients on June 23:
As CRM continues to scale and its organic growth rate normalizes into the high teens, the company’s ability to attract new investors that are more focused on cash flow generation has been marred by some of the recent acquisitions, as well as what is perceived as a “lukewarm” commitment to driving operating leverage. This has led to CRM being “trapped” between two investment camps as it’s not growing fast enough to attract momentum investors that are focused on earlier stage SaaS “category killers,” and it’s not profitable enough to attract more GARP-y [growth at a reasonable price] investors who have outperformed by owning software leaders, such as Adobe and Microsoft.
The analysts, who have the equivalent of a buy rating on Salesforce stock, came up with a few places where Salesforce can cut costs, including advertising and events. Raising its operating margin could lift Salesforce stock further, they argued, and that could put further distance between the company and Oracle.
“Delivering slightly higher organic margin expansion and cash flow could help drive a re-rate in the share price and a higher share price HELPS CRM’s long-term GROWTH ambitions as it provides more optionality around M&A,” they wrote.
Roger Stone arrives for his sentencing at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, DC on February, 20, 2020.
Marvin Joseph | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Facebook on Wednesday announced it removed a network of more than 100 accounts and pages posting misinformation on the company’s social network with ties to Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and ally of President Donald Trump.
“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” Facebook said in a statement.
The network of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” used Facebook to pose as Florida residents and post misinformation regarding local politics in Florida, land and water resource bills in Florida, material released by Wikileaks ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and Stone’s trial as well as his websites, books and media appearances.
The network was followed by more than 320,000 accounts across Facebook and Instagram. It consisted of 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Facebook Pages and four Instagram accounts. The network spent $308,000 on Facebook ads.
This group was also active on other internet services besides Facebook, the company said.
The company began looking into this network as part of an investigation into the far-right group Proud Boys’ efforts to return to Facebook after it had been banned from the service in 2018.
Stone was convicted last fall of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. The charges were brought by a grand jury as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Stone, 67, is currently scheduled to report to federal prison next week. His lawyers recently asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., to delay his surrender date to at least early September, citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in correctional institutions.
Stone has asked for clemency from Trump, who has signaled he may be considering a pardon or commutation of sentence. In June, for instance, Trump tweeted that Stone “was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”
Additionally, Facebook also removed a network of accounts focused on posting misinformation in Brazil with ties to Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro. the network consisted of 50 Facebook accounts, pages and groups and 38 Instagram accounts. The Facebook pages were followed by 883,000 accounts, and 917,000 users followed the Instagram accounts, the company said.
–CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.
Shepard Smith at Fox News Channel studios on September 17, 2019, in New York City.
Steven Ferdman | Getty Images
CNBC announced on Wednesday that former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is joining the network to host a one-hour evening news program on weekdays at 7 p.m. ET.
The newscast, which will be called “The News with Shepard Smith,” is set to launch in the fall. Smith’s title will be chief general news anchor and chief breaking general news anchor.
Smith joins CNBC after spending 23 years at Fox News Channel, where he anchored “Shepard Smith Reporting,” “The Fox Report” and “Studio B.” He also served as chief news anchor of the network and managing editor of the breaking news division.
“I am honored to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC’s loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad,” Smith said in a press release.
Smith left Fox News abruptly in October after establishing himself as a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly attacked Smith. Before announcing his departure, Smith was reportedly warned by Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace, president and executive editor, to stop criticizing evening anchor Tucker Carlson. Fox denied those reports.
CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman said Smith has a track record of fact-driven storytelling.
“We aim to deliver a nightly program that, in some small way, looks for the signal in all the noise,” Hoffman said in the press release. “We’re thrilled that Shep, who’s built a career on an honest fight to find and report the facts, will continue his pursuit of the truth at CNBC.”
Dan Colarusso, CNBC’s senior vice president of business news, said Smith’s program aims to go beyond financial markets, “to tell rich, deeply reported stories across the entire landscape of global news.” CNBC had been running a 7 p.m. show focused on Covid-19 and the economic crisis. It ended the program last Thursday.
Smith will appear on CNBC in the 10 a.m. ET on Thursday to discuss his upcoming show.
The vast majority of Apple stores closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic are located in the U.S., Morgan Stanley says
A staff member checks a customer’s temperature at an Apple Store entrance during phase one of reopening after lockdown from the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City, New York, U.S. June 17, 2020.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
The vast majority of Apple stores closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic are located in the United States, according to a new analysis from Morgan Stanley.
100 Apple retail stores were closed around the world at the end of last week, and 92 were located in the United States, according to the note. Apple has 510 stores worldwide and 271 stores in the United States.
Apple was one of the first major companies to close its retail stores during the pandemic, and the company says it monitors the Covid-19 situation to determine whether it is safe to operate its stores.
Apple stores are often in major malls or business districts, making it a key indicator of how smoothly and where retail operations can restart amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The ratio of closures in the U.S. suggests Apple sees a significantly riskier environment for retail in its home country versus the rest of the world.
Overall, closures are picking up again. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote that last week saw the first net increase in Apple Store closures since March, when Apple first shut down all stores outside China.
“As of July 7th, 410 of 510 Apple retail stores, or 80% of all stores, are reopened, down from 457 the week prior.”
Last week, Apple said that it has reclosed 77 stores in the United States because of rising Covid-19 cases in many regions. Previously, it had been reopening many locations with social distancing, mandatory masking and curb-side pickup or service appointment options.
An Apple spokesman said at the time in a statement: “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.”
Apple has continued to reclose stores, including one location in Georgia and one location in California this week. It also said on its website that it will close four additional stores in the Melbourne, Australia area as the city goes on lockdown because of Covid-19.
Efforts to restart the United States economy are faltering as states are increasingly pausing plans to ease restrictions on businesses. On Wednesday, there was a record single-day spike of 60,000 new coronavirus cases reported in the U.S. over a 24 hour period.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018.
Anushree Fadnavis | Reuters
The company revealed little about the new platform, though said it will work with its Payments and Twitter.com teams.
“We are building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future. This is a first for Twitter! Gryphon is a team of web engineers who are closely collaborating with the Payments team and the Twitter.com team,” Twitter said on the job posting.
The move could help diversify Twitter’s revenue beyond advertising, which accounts for more than 80% of the company’s revenue. In Q4 2019 — before the coronavirus shut down large swaths of the economy and advertisers began to draw back on spending — Twitter’s ad revenue was up 12% from the year-ago quarter. In Q1 2020, it was essentially flat from the previous year’s quarter.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The stock could also be boosted by Monday’s comments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the U.S. government was looking at banning TikTok, a rival social media platform. It’s already been banned in India.
The banning of TikTok could provide some competitive relief to social media platforms, such as Snapchat and Facebook, Morgan Stanley’s sales team wrote Tuesday morning.
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield speaks at his company’s Frontiers conference at Pier 27 & 29 in San Francisco on April 24, 2019
NOAH BERGER | AFP) (Photo credit should read NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Slack has acquired software as a service company Rimeto, the company announced Wednesday. Slack did not disclose the terms of the deal.
Rimeto, which has raised $10 million in venture funding, builds a detailed employee dictionary for companies. That allows employers and fellow employees to see employees’ skills, experience and current projects.
Slack said the acquisition will help its users fell more “connected,” especially as several offices continue to work at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Rimeto’s advanced profile and directory features will be integrated into Slack directly, but we will also continue to offer Rimeto as a standalone product and support their existing enterprise customers,” Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said in a release.