Facebook Goes to Washington: DealBook Briefing
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Big Tech Tries to Make Nice With Lawmakers
Will a public relations campaign in Washington by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and others take the heat off technology giants?
Ms. Sandberg, who sat down with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and was interviewed by Axios, conceded that Facebook made mistakes during the 2016 presidential campaign. And she gave more information to congressional investigators.
As collected by Cecilia Kang, NYT:
• Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, Democrat of Missouri: “She said 10 to 15 times, ‘We’ve got to do better.’ ”
• Representative K. Michael Conaway, Republican of Texas: “They are leaning in on this issue.”
• Representative G. K. Butterfield, Democrat of North Carolina: “I remain cautiously optimistic.”
But those expecting huge changes in Facebook’s business model will be disappointed.
Sara Fischer and David McCabe, Axios:
Sandberg held firm to the company’s longstanding hard line on free speech, saying the company would not remove the Russian-linked ads if they were posted by “legitimate people” and not fake accounts.
• NYT: How Facebook advertising works.
• How the world views tech now, according to Ross Baird of the venture capital firm Village Capital in NYT:
“For all the lip service that Silicon Valley has given to changing the world, its ultimate focus has been on what it can monetize.”
The date to remember
Executives from Facebook, Alphabet and Twitter will testify before the Senate Intelligence committee on Nov. 1.
Awaiting Fallout From Trump’s Health Care Move
Now that Mr. Trump is taking his biggest step yet to unwind the Affordable Care Act, how will the stock market react?
So far, health insurers are keeping quiet. But some representatives for the industry are speaking out.
The White House’s proposal “would draw younger and healthier people away from the exchanges and drive additional plans out of the market,” Ceci Connolly of the Alliance of Community Health Plans told The NYT.
Shares in major American health insurers were little changed in premarket trading today.
Banks Are Still Hunting for Ways to Make Money
Today, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are reporting earnings. How are they doing in the quest to find more profit?
JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup both beat earnings expectations, but not because of fixed-income trading. “Solid but perhaps not exceptional,” one shareholder told the WSJ.
From where are banks trying to squeeze more money?
• JPMorgan benefited from better lending margins, according to Bloomberg.
• Citi benefited from better investment banking performance.
• Goldman, which reports on Tuesday, is getting into mortgages for house-flippers by buying Genesis Capital, according to The WSJ. (Yesterday we discussed its Innovation Lab initiative.)
The latest challenges
• Breakingviews: Banks will need more than a cut in the corporate tax rate, with sluggish loan growth and growing defaults on the horizon.
• CNBC: Expect tech companies like Google and Amazon to muscle their way into lending.
Today in Digital Currencies: Bitcoin Is Riding High
Jamie Dimon, a famous Bitcoin skeptic, said he’s not going to talk about the digital money anymore.
That’s O.K., because everyone else is.
Bitcoin hit a new high of $5,856. Why?
• Expectations that China might ease restrictions on Bitcoin
• A prediction from Michael Novogratz, formerly of Fortress Investment Group, that Bitcoin could hit $10,000 within the next year.
• JPMorgan and Citi are joining Goldman in considering whether to trade in the cryptocurrency.
• Christine Lagarde said it was time to get serious about the digital currency, pointing out that the I.M.F.’s Special Drawing Right could incorporate cryptocurrency technology.
What could go wrong?
Paul Vigna, WSJ:
The new record is also coming despite a potentially divisive split of the Bitcoin industry in November, when an expected software upgrade is expected to be implemented. The upgrade would increase the Bitcoin network’s capacity, but is bitterly contested. The fight could lead to two competing versions of Bitcoin.
Tugce Ozsoy and Natasha Doff, Bloomberg:
“It’s a very speculative market,” Jon Moulton, a U.K.-based private equity veteran who owns bitcoins, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Francine Lacqua. “It’s going to be a very volatile asset for a long time.”
The Race to Become the Next Fed Chair
Who’s still in the running?
• Janet Yellen, the choice for continuity.
• Jerome Powell, the choice for maintaining current rate policy but more deregulation.
• Kevin Warsh, the choice for skeptics of inflationary policy.
• John Taylor, the choice for those even more worried about inflation.
The WSJ reports that President Trump met with Mr. Taylor on Wednesday.
Who’s in the lead?
Depends on whom you ask.
• Politico: Steven Mnuchin is pushing for Mr. Powell.
• Bloomberg: A survey of economists found Mr. Warsh is considered the leading candidate, with Ms. Yellen and Mr. Powell tied for second.
Eli Broad Steps Down From Public Life
Who could take over as the leading patron for Los Angeles after Mr. Broad — one of the city’s top social and philanthropic figures for five decades — steps down from public life?
Adam Nagourney and Adam Popescu, NYT:
He read from prepared notes as he listed other people who might fill his shoes, including Steve Ballmer, the former chief executive of Microsoft who is now the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers; Bob Iger, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former chairman at Disney, and Nicolas Berggruen, a philanthropist and investor who is building a think tank in the Santa Monica Mountains.
He also mentioned David Geffen, who donated $150 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
A rundown of Mr. Broad’s achievements
• He has counseled mayors and governors.
• He has donated $4 billion to philanthropy and medical research.
• The Broad Foundations’ endowment now totals $2.5 billion.
• He spearheaded the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A.
A blast from Mr. Broad’s past
Courtesy of Shelby Grad, an assistant managing editor at The L.A. Times:
Outcome Health Is Said to Have Misled Advertisers
Yet another hot tech start-up’s business model is being questioned, in the wake of scrutiny at Theranos, Zenefits and Just Mayo.
The WSJ reports that Outcome Health, which puts those video screens in doctors offices that show drug ads, had misled its pharmaceutical clients by charging them for more ad placements than it had screens available to show them.
Rolfe Winkler, WSJ:
Some Outcome employees also provided inflated data to measure how well ads performed, created documents that inaccurately verified that ads ran on certain doctors’ screens and manipulated third-party analyses showing the effectiveness of the ads, according to some of these people and documents.
The report says that there’s no evidence that Outcome’s top executives knew about the scheme. But three employees have been put on paid leave, and the company is conducting a review.
Among the investors in Outcome
• Goldman Sachs
• Alphabet’s CapitalG
• Pritzker Group Ventures
More Corporate Action on Harassment Accusations
• NYT: Roy Price, the executive in charge of Amazon’s investment in films and television shows, was suspended after a Hollywood producer publicly accused him of making unwanted sexual advances toward her.
• NYT: The CtW Investment Group, which advises several union pension funds invested in 21st Century Fox, has called for the company to overhaul its board and conduct a comprehensive review of its workplace culture in the wake of sexual and racial harassment scandals at Fox News.
“If the board was aware of the settlements and refused to investigate and mitigate the risk, instead allowing the problem to fester, then it failed in its risk oversight function and facilitated a tone at the top that permits unethical behavior by high performers,” Dieter Waizenegger, CtW’s executive director, wrote in the letter, referring to settlements paid to women at Fox News who made sexual harassment allegations.
• NYT: The police in London and New York said on Thursday that they were looking into complaints involving Harvey Weinstein.
• Bryan Taylor, one of TPG’s top technology deal makers, is leaving after 13 years, Bloomberg reports.