On Friday, news broke that the World Health Organization had declared the start of a pandemic. “What does that mean?” you may be asking. A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of a infectious disease, and this particular one is caused by a new super bacteria that is resistant to all antibiotics. In the US, health officials have ordered the closure of all public places, including schools, businesses, and even theme parks. This is the largest closure of US public places in history, and news of the closing has sparked a stock market rally. (The market reaction has been especially strong because it is clear that the market is based in the US.  There were also strong reactions in markets overseas, although there have been reports that some other government

Google’s and Microsoft’s profits soar as pandemic benefits big tech: Live updates. Google is reportedly unloading $300 million worth of its shares in the company that makes Tamiflu. Microsoft just received a multi-billion dollar order for its cloud services in China.

Here’s what you need to know:

credited to Cody O’Laughlin for The New York Times

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, said Tuesday that its revenue rose sharply in the latest quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, driven by strong demand for online ads in search results and YouTube videos, as well as continued growth in its cloud computing division.

Alphabet’s revenue rose 34% year-on-year to $55.31 billion and net income more than doubled to $17.93 billion in the first quarter. This is the third consecutive quarter of record profits for the company. The results exceeded analysts’ expectations. Alphabet shares rose more than 4 percent in after-hours trading.

Like other tech conglomerates, Alphabet has thrived during the pandemic. After a decline in travel-related advertising in the first few months of the pandemic, Google’s advertising activity has rebounded. Companies spend money on Google to attract consumers who spend more time online.

Advertising revenue was up 32% in the quarter, driven by strong demand for search engine marketing. Alphabet also received $6 billion from YouTube ads, up 49%.

The results showed once again the continuing strength of Google’s internet businesses, which are invulnerable – at least financially – to regulatory pressures and a barrage of antitrust lawsuits.

During a conference call with analysts, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said the company benefited from an increase in online activity during the quarter, but warned that this trend may not continue after blockchain restrictions are lifted and the economy recovers.

Google’s cloud computing business continued to gain customers during the pandemic as companies move more of their data and work to centralized data centers to save money and become more digitally agile. Cloud revenue rose 46% and losses fell to $974 million in the first quarter. But Google remains in third place in cloud computing, behind Amazon and Microsoft.

Alphabet’s results were also boosted by savings during the pandemic. The company’s sales and marketing expenses were flat despite a $14 billion increase in revenue and a decrease in total expenses from last year. These cost reductions came as Google continued to hire new employees. Alphabet has increased its workforce by nearly 17,000 people and now employs approximately 140,000 people worldwide.

credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Microsoft announced Tuesday that its quarterly revenue grew at one of the fastest rates in years and its market value approached the $2 trillion mark.

Revenue reached $41.7 billion in the fiscal third quarter, up 19% year-over-year and the largest quarterly increase since 2018. Profits rose 44% to $15.5 billion. The results exceeded the company’s and Wall Street’s expectations and show how Microsoft and other major technology companies benefited from the coronavirus pandemic.

A year after the start of the pandemic, the curve of digital applications is not slowing, Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, said in a statement. They’re speeding up.

Commercial cloud revenue was $17.7 billion, up 33% from the previous year. Sales of Azure, Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing product, rose 50 percent and those of commercial Office 365 products rose 22 percent as companies began using cloud computing for IT and other tools.

According to research group Synergy, Microsoft has almost taken over Amazon in the field of cloud computing. Amazon holds about a third of this growing market, while Microsoft’s share has crossed the 20% mark.

Sales of personal computer products reached $13 billion in the quarter, up 19%, as people bought more computers and switched to new devices with larger screens to learn and work from home during the pandemic. Gaming revenue was up 50%, driven by spending on the new Xbox game console, launched late last year, and Xbox content and services.

The company also benefited from currency fluctuations and a court ruling in tax disputes in India.

Starbucks’ global sales rose 11 percent last quarter as restrictions related to the coronavirus were eased at some locations. Credit…Susie Howell for The New York Times

Coffee giant Starbucks, seeing signs that customers are ready to pack up and leave the dark days of the pandemic behind, said its sales in the US had fully recovered in the first three months of the year.

In the second quarter, U.S. retail sales rose 9% from a year earlier, while global sales rose 11% to $6.7 billion.

In the past quarter, we’ve seen very early signs that friends and family are celebrating being together again, Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Starbucks, said in a meeting with analysts after the stock market closed Tuesday. Of course, not all markets are opened up to the same extent for vaccine distribution.

Starbucks reported a profit of $659 million for the quarter, up sharply from $328 million a year earlier when many of its stores were closed due to quarantine restrictions around the world.

Starbucks expects full-year global revenue growth of 23% as the rest of the world recovers from the pandemic and gets back to business.

Although the Covid 19 pandemic is not yet over, this moment gives us confidence that we can increase our forecast for the full year, Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the number of participants in loyalty rewards programs in the U.S. increased by 18 percent last year; there are now more than 23 million active participants in 90-day programs. Johnson said drive-thru business also remained high, with ticket sales rising as customers ordered multiple drinks and often added dishes like the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich or Cupcake Pops to their order.

Any discussion that even remotely involves politics, propaganda or society in general quickly loses its pleasantness, Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp.Credit…Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images wrote on his blog.

Basecamp, a productivity software company, announced Monday that it has made internal changes, including a ban on talking about politics at work.

Any discussion that even remotely involves politics, propaganda or society in general quickly deviates from its pleasant nature, Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, wrote on his blog. We shouldn’t think that if we stay out of it, we become complicit, and if we get involved, we become a target.

Basecamp’s decision is not unlike the ban on talking politics at Coinbase imposed by CEO Brian Armstrong in September, which forced dozens of employees to leave the company.

The timing of these statements is probably no coincidence: They followed a wave of worker activism and corporate action on social issues. Big companies like Amazon, BlackRock and Google have opposed Republican attempts to impose restrictive voting rules in almost every state this month.

Surveys show that the majority of workers believe that the companies they work for should have a voice in social issues. The new policy at Basecamp, which has about 60 employees, is one of the more tentative signs that the feeling is not always mutual.

Both leaders presented their new policies as a way to eliminate distractions and made exceptions for things they felt were important to their business. If a bill on crypto-currency is introduced, we could get involved, Armstrong wrote last year, and Basecamp co-founder David Hansson wrote Monday that the company could get involved in discussions about issues like antitrust, privacy and employee oversight.

In both cases, the moves were greeted with a mixture of admiration and criticism: Supporters of the policy said it was good for business, while opponents argued that the decision to stay out of politics was inherently political and probably unworkable.

In addition to banning political discussions on work platforms, Basecamp said it would eliminate paternalistic perks like fitness bonuses and training bonuses (instead, the company plans to give employees the equivalent amount in cash), ban commissions and end dwelling on past decisions.

The changes at Basecamp are notable because the company’s founders have long promoted the company’s user-friendly culture through books and blogs.

Coinbase’s Armstrong praised Basecamp on Twitter, calling it another mission-driven company. Who will be next? He asked.

In a new statement, Fox said the Smartmatic report was part of its overall coverage of former President Donald Trump’s statements.Credit…Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

For months after election technology company Smartmatic sued Fox News and three of its presenters, the two companies were embroiled in a pre-trial skirmish that continued Monday when Fox filed a brief in support of an earlier motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In her complaint for defamation, filed on 4. Filed in the New York State Supreme Court on February 2, Smartmatic accuses Fox Television and hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro of spreading corporate lies and widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Shortly after the complaint was filed, Fox terminated Dobbs’ programming on Fox Business and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the allegations of voter fraud aired on Fox News and Fox Business were newsworthy and fairly handled. Smartmatic replied on the 12th. April in a brief message that the three Fox hosts were playing with their guests by promoting conspiracy theories related to the election.

In its latest salvo, Fox argued that Smartmatic’s coverage was part of a general coverage of the election challenge based on former President Donald Trump’s statements.

Smartmatic is asking this court to be the first court in history to hold the press accountable for the records of a sitting president and his lawyers, breaking that barrier in the context of one of the most high-profile events imaginable: the disputed presidential election, Fox said in a statement filed Monday. The Court should deny this motion, which violates the First Amendment.

Representatives of Smartmatic declined to comment.

Smartmatic claims the Fox hosts knew the statements about the company on the show were false. If the court finds that Smartmatic is a public figure, Smartmatic’s lawyers must prove that Fox acted with actual malice in his treatment of the company.

Fox’s memos filed Monday argue that Smartmatic, which is seeking $2.7 billion in damages, has not shown that the networks or presenters acted maliciously, only that the three Fox presenters failed to investigate the allegations in their programs.

Fox’s letter indicates that Smartmatic’s allegations are largely based on an allegation of failure to investigate.

He added: In an attempt to compensate for the weakness of its claims, Smartmatic emphasizes their volume. But the pile of insufficient claims is still insufficient.

The documents Fox filed Monday will likely be the last in its lawsuit against Smartmatic before the court reviews the case. No date has yet been set for the hearing.

Another voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, sued Fox for defamation in March. Fox called the lawsuit baseless and promised to challenge it in court.

Congress estimates that eligible companies have lost hundreds of billions of dollars, but lawmakers have covered only a fraction of that amount.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

A $28.6 billion subsidy fund for restaurants, bars, caterers and other food businesses opens Monday, the government announced Tuesday, providing an additional lifeline to some of America’s hardest hit small businesses.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, established last month as part of a $1.9 trillion rescue package for America, will provide grants of up to $10 million to compensate for lost sales. The amount each company can receive is generally equal to the difference between its gross receipts in 2019 and 2020, less certain other forms of federal assistance, such as. B. Appropriations for payroll protection programs.

The money should arrive soon. Congress estimated that eligible companies lost hundreds of billions of dollars, but lawmakers allocated only a fraction of that amount.

Restaurants are the heart of our neighborhoods and the engine of economic activity on our main streets, said Isabella Casillas Guzman, director of the Small Business Administration, which will distribute the grants. They are among the hardest hit and need support to survive this pandemic. We want restaurants to know that help is available.

Starting Monday, all eligible businesses can apply for the program, but for the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration will only approve applications from businesses owned by people in one of the priority groups established by Congress: Women, veterans and the socially and economically disadvantaged. The agency said the latter group includes people who meet certain income and asset limits and are black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander or South Asian.

Applicants from these groups will be asked to confirm their own eligibility for the exclusivity period. This three-week priority period alone could exhaust the fund.

Listed companies, companies with more than 20 shops and restaurants that have closed down permanently are not eligible.

Applications may be submitted through the Small Business Administration website and some distribution systems. Technology companies Clover, NCR Corporation, Square and Toast are working with the agency to develop applications for their customers.

Enthusiastic restaurant owners are preparing to submit applications and have begun lobbying for additional funding to prevent eligible applicants from dropping out.

This is great news, but $28.6 billion won’t be enough, Russell Jackson, a New York City chef, wrote on Twitter, calling on Congress to increase the program if necessary.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, spoke about the serious drawbacks of working remotely.

JPMorgan Chase opens its U.S. offices to all employees on the 17th. May, subject to a 50% occupancy rate. That’s according to an internal memo sent Tuesday and accessed by The New York Times.

The bank, which employs more than 240,000 people worldwide, told staff at its office that the opening comes as the bank – and its employees – prepare for a more formal return to the office in early July. (Bank branch staff were on site throughout the pandemic period).

Next month, we will invite more employees to make you feel comfortable in the office, the bank’s six-member executive committee said in a memo. We realize that this may take some time, but hope that all US-based employees will return to the office on a standard rotation schedule in early July.

Companies are wondering how and when to get employees back into the office. Last month, Microsoft opened its headquarters to employees, but encourages those who want to stay home to do so. IBM has created a repositioning guide for employees returning to the office.

We know many of you are excited to come back, but we also know that for some of you, the idea of coming to work on a regular basis is an adjustment you will have to deal with, JPMorgan’s Operations Committee said in an email.

The financial sector, which values face-to-face communication and learning, has been one of the most eager sectors to bring employees back to the office. Investment banks are also trying to keep morale up, as a record workload has caused some junior analysts to warn of burnout, exacerbated by the isolation and blurring of personal and professional boundaries that come with working from home.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, recently said in a letter to shareholders that there are serious drawbacks to working remotely, such as delayed decision-making and barriers to learning and creativity. He also acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated trends such as hybrid and flexible work arrangements, which have made working from home an integral part of the American economy.

The bank continues to build a massive new headquarters in Manhattan, scheduled to open in 2024 and employ 12,000 to 14,000 people.

We are very excited about the public spaces, state-of-the-art technology, health and wellness facilities and many other features of the building, Dimon wrote.

The City of London, the financial hub, is looking for ways to attract people as the move to flexible working scares off some professionals.Credit…Tolga Akmen/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

The City of London, the square mile of central London that is the heart of British finance and law, once counted more than half a million daily commuters on its streets. But the coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new era of home-based work that could lead to the permanent devastation of this industry. The City of London Corporation, their governing body, is looking for ways to revive them.

One way to use the vacant land is to create at least 1,500 new homes by 2030, the company said in a five-year plan announced Tuesday. The area, which is home to several rail stations, has until now been primarily a suburban destination, with a population of only 8,000.

The City, as it is known, is particularly vulnerable to the trend towards flexible working hours. Hundreds of large companies are located there and they want to give their employees flexibility in how often they work outside the office. Last summer, during the brief easing of pandemic restrictions in England, the streets of the City were deserted while the rest of London and other cities bustled with activity.

Companies have told us they still intend to stay in central London, but their working practices will inevitably change to reflect post-pandemic trends such as hybrid and flexible working, said Catherine McGuinness, chair of policy at the City of London Corporation.

In New York, developers are also converting office buildings in Manhattan into housing.

The city will not only seek to bring back its regular employees and visitors, but will also seek to become more attractive to non-financial and professional service providers. It plans to offer creative professionals cheaper long-term office leases in vacant or little-used space.

And it hopes to attract more tourists by offering events, shopping and cultural activities outside of working hours. We will look at ways to shape and revitalise the city’s weekend and night offerings, the report said. Bold programming for large events could include Saturdays or Sundays in the summer with no traffic or parties at night.

Philadelphia traffic last month. BP reported a profit increase Tuesday and said it expects oil demand to continue to recover after the pandemic.Credit…Matt Rourke/Associated Press

BP on Tuesday reported a rise in profits for the first quarter of 2021, a sign that the oil company’s profits are recovering along with demand for its products after a lackluster 2020.

BP said its cost-adjusted profit, which analysts watch most closely, was $2.6 billion, up from $791 million a year earlier. The London-based giant said the price it received for its oil had risen by more than 20% in the quarter. BP described its trading and sales activities in natural gas, where prices also rose, as exceptionally strong.

Referring to strong economic growth in China and the United States, BP said it expects the oil market to continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Bernard Looney, the company’s chief executive officer, said he wanted to use the money from the oil and gas business to fund the transition to electricity and other clean energy.

In the first quarter, the plan seemed to work well. The company had sales of approximately $10.9 billion. This amount included income from the sale of interests in fossil fuels, including an interest in a gas field in Oman. As a result of divestments, BP’s oil production fell by 22% compared to the same period last year.

At the same time, BP expanded its activities to offshore wind farms. It has partnered with Equinor, a Norwegian energy company developing wind farms off the east coast of the United States, and is buying wind farms off the UK coast at what some in the industry consider high prices.

BP also said it would resume a share buyback program, a way to boost BP’s share price once it meets its deleveraging targets; the company has not bought back shares since the first quarter of last year as its operations were hit by the pandemic. The company plans to spend $500 million on these purchases in the second quarter.

Last summer, BP also cut its dividend to 5.25 cents a share for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon disaster a decade ago. The dividend will remain at that level, the company said.

BP has said it could run a surplus if oil prices rise above $45 a barrel. Prices have risen significantly recently, with the international benchmark for Brent crude oil at around $66 per barrel.

Nonprofit organizations from across the ideological spectrum have filed briefs in support of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, said Judge Brett Kavanaugh. linked to credit T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The case, argued before the Supreme Court on Monday, created a strange juxtaposition that did not escape the judges.

In this case, the charities are at odds with the state of California over donor disclosure requirements, a dispute over a seemingly trivial technical issue that some believe has serious implications for political donations. This has turned groups that are often on opposite sides of the political debate into – fictional – allies, DealBook Bulletin reports.

Nonprofits from across the ideological spectrum submitted letters of support for the petitioners, the Kochs-backed charity Americans for Prosperity, which Judge Brett Kavanaugh noted. The foundation claims that California is violating the constitutionally protected right to anonymous association by collecting and failing to protect data from key donors (there were security breaches on the state’s website). Judge Kavanaugh quoted a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Education Fund, and other organizations that agreed that the most important corollary to freedom of association is the right to keep one’s associations secret.

Of course, we don’t agree with all of the prosecutors in this case, Brian Hauss of the A.C.L.U. said at a press conference after the trial in court. In this case, the A.C.L.U. sides with the Americans for Prosperity Foundation regarding what it calls California’s systematic incompetence in protecting non-public data. From a legal point of view, however, it recognised the distinction between public and non-public publication. In other words, the memo did not call for widespread anonymity.

Opponents say it’s a black money deal. Senate Democrats argued in their memo that the fund is pushing the issue forward as a way to make it easier for special interests to influence policy with untraceable money. This case is a disgrace to campaign finance disclosure laws, Judge Stephen Breyer said. A decision is expected in June.

UPS shares rose after the company announced its first quarter results. Consolidated operating profit rose 158% from a year earlier… Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

  • U.S. stocks traded mostly flat Tuesday as investors processed corporate results and awaited the Federal Reserve’s next decision on Wednesday. The S&P 500 Index remained unchanged, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.3%.
  • Tesla 4.5% after the maker of electric cars posted a quarterly profit of $438 million, the highest in its history. UPS rose 10.4% after the package delivery company reported results that exceeded analysts’ expectations.
  • Alphabet, Microsoft and Visa are among the companies that will also release results Tuesday after the close of trading.
  • By Friday, a quarter of S&P 500 companies had reported first-quarter earnings, with 84% doing better than expected, according to FactSet. If this trend continues, it would be the highest percentage since FactSet began tracking this measure in 2008.

Europe

  • Most European stock market indices fell. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell by 0.1%.
  • Shares in London-based bank HSBC rose 4 percent, making it the best performing company in the FTSE 100 index, after the bank announced that pre-tax profits in the first quarter rose nearly 80 percent from a year earlier. As the global economic outlook improved, the bank released $435 million it had set aside to cover losses on loans.
  • UBS fell 2 percent after the Swiss bank said it lost $774 million in the first quarter due to the collapse of U.S. hedge fund Archegos Capital Management.

linked to the Max Guter credit

In today’s On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide says that what tech leaders believe and do matters. But when we focus on CEOs, we sometimes overlook the fact that it’s not CEOs but ordinary people who create technology as we see it.

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