Business News at a Glance
Posted August 16, 2018 9:44 p.m. EDT
Google Employees Protest Secret Work on Censored Search Engine for China
Hundreds of Google employees, upset at the company’s decision to secretly build a censored version of its search engine for China, have signed a letter demanding more transparency to understand the ethical consequences of their work. In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, employees wrote that the project and Google’s apparent willingness to abide by China’s censorship requirements “raise urgent moral and ethical issues.” The letter is circulating on Google’s internal communication systems and is signed by about 1,400 employees, according to three people familiar with the document, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
‘Weaponized Ad Technology’: Facebook’s Moneymaker Gets a Critical Eye
Facebook has made a mint by enabling advertisers to identify and reach the people most likely to react to their messages. Ad buyers can select audiences based on details like a user’s location, political leanings and interests. Brands love it. So do political campaigns. But microtargeting, as the technique is called, is coming under increased scrutiny in the United States and Europe. Some government officials, researchers and advertising executives warn that it can be exploited to polarize and manipulate voters. “It has essentially weaponized ad technology designed for consumer products and services,” said Sarah Golding, president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, an industry organization in Britain.
U.S. and China to Rekindle Trade Talks as More Tariffs Loom
The United States and China will return to the negotiating table late this month in an attempt to ease months of tensions that have been building since trade talks broke down this year and both countries began imposing escalating rounds of tariffs on each other. China said Thursday that it would send a delegation led by Wang Shouwen, its vice minister of commerce, to Washington to meet with a group of officials led by David Malpass, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs. The talks come as the trade relationship between the two countries faces further deterioration.
FDA Approves Generic EpiPen That May Be Cheaper
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first generic version of EpiPen, providing new competition that could help drive down the cost of a lifesaving product that had become a notorious symbol of high drug prices. The generic copy is made by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and will rival Mylan, which had come under intense criticism for raising the price of its EpiPen sixfold since buying it in 2007. The drug-device product is an epinephrine auto-injector, which can be used for treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions in adults and children who weigh more than 33 pounds.
Netflix and Kenya Barris, Creator of ‘Black-ish,’ Reach a Deal
Netflix formally announced Thursday that it had struck a production deal with Kenya Barris, the creator of the acclaimed ABC comedy “black-ish.” The move was widely expected. Barris had spent several months negotiating an early exit from his ABC contract, which he and the network agreed to three weeks ago. The relationship between Barris and ABC soured after the network passed on several of his new shows. It also made the unusual move of refusing to air an episode of “black-ish” earlier this year that dealt with race relations in a particularly pointed fashion.
Walmart Is Finding Success in the Grocery Aisle
Walmart’s many efforts to bolster its food shopping services — including letting customers order online and pick up in person, expanding its home delivery of groceries, even experimenting with robots — appear to be paying off, the company said Thursday. The company, the largest grocer in the United States with a 23 percent share of the market, said that the grocery division’s performance last quarter was its best in nine years, propelling a crucial measure of sales to its largest increase in a decade. The results pushed Walmart’s stock up more than 10 percent, and were described in a note from Stifel analysts as “impressive.”
Trump Says Newspapers Are ‘in Collusion’ on Championing a Free Press
President Donald Trump on Thursday assailed the media for editorials in newspapers across the country that championed the freedom of the press, a unified response in the face of the president’s relentless attacks. In a series of morning Twitter posts, Trump said The Boston Globe was “in collusion” with other newspapers for leading the editorial effort, choosing a word that has become synonymous with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference — an investigation that he has repeatedly called a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” Trump also added “PROVE IT!” in one of the messages, though it was not clear what he meant.
What Corona Owner’s $4 Billion Bet on a Marijuana Firm Says About Pot’s Future
What does a beer company do to hedge against slowing growth in its main business? In the case of the parent company of Corona, the answer is to invest heavily in the marijuana industry. Constellation Brands, which also makes Robert Mondavi wine and Svedka vodka, announced Wednesday that it had invested $4 billion in Canopy Growth, a publicly traded Canadian cannabis producer. The deal comes nearly 10 months after Constellation first took a 10 percent stake in Canopy to help create nonalcoholic cannabis-infused drinks and other products. Constellation’s investment in Canopy shows just how far traditional alcoholic beverage companies are willing to go to find growth.