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Google to pause political ads again ahead of inauguration

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An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018.

Arnd Wiegmann | Reuters

Google will pause political ads along with any referencing “impeachment, inauguration or protests at the U.S. Capitol” beginning Thursday.

“We regularly pause ads over unpredictable, ‘sensitive’ events when ads can be used to exploit the event or amplify misleading information,” Google said in a statement Wednesday. “Beyond this, we have long-standing policies blocking content that incites violence or promotes hate and we will be extremely vigilant about enforcing on any ads that cross this line.”

In an email to advertisers, Google said there would not be any carveouts in the policy for news or merchandise advertisers. While the policy is in place, advertisers will not be able to run ads referencing candidates, the election, its outcome, the upcoming inauguration, the ongoing presidential impeachment process, violence at the U.S. Capitol or any future planned protests regarding those topics.

“This policy will be broadly scoped across ads running through Google Ads, DV360, YouTube, and AdX Authorized Buyer and is intended to block all ads related to the items outlined above,” the email said.  

Google also noted its “longstanding Dangerous and Derogatory Content policy,” which prohibits ads promoting hate or inciting violence. “Given the events of the past week, we are extremely vigilant about enforcing on any ads that might reasonably be construed as crossing this line.”

The email to advertisers said the company plans to keep the policy in place until at least Jan. 21.

The announcement comes the morning after Google suspended President Trump’s YouTube account Tuesday and formally warned the White House about its use of the world’s largest video platform.

Google had also implemented a temporary pause on elections-related advertising following the election, which it lifted roughly a month later in December. The company had banned those ads for a period of time in an attempt to prevent potential exploitation or misinformation via advertising since it expected delayed election results.

The pause was first reported by Axios. 


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Tencent shares fall over 5% after closing in on $1 trillion valuation

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WeChat mascots are displayed inside Tencent office at TIT Creativity Industry Zone in Guangzhou, China, May 9, 2017.

Bobby Yip | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China — Tencent shares dropped more than 5% on Tuesday — one day after a huge rally pushed its valuation to nearly $1 trillion for the first time.

The Chinese internet giant saw its shares hit as high as 767.5 Hong Kong dollars on Monday, rallying 11% at one point. That pushed the company’s market capitalization to 7.35 trillion Hong Kong dollars ($949 billion) on Monday.

Monday’s rally appeared to be propelled by bullish calls by two investment banks. In a research note, Citi raised its target price to 876 Hong Kong dollars from 734 Hong Kong dollars, a 14% rise from Monday’s close.

UBS also upped its price target on Tencent from 700 Hong Kong dollars to 830 Hong Kong dollars — that’s a more than 8% rise from Monday’s close.

But investors took profit on Tuesday, driving Tencent shares lower by around 5.48% to 724.50 Hong Kong dollars at 2.45 p.m. local time. The stock was down over 6% earlier in the day but pared some losses.

Investors are waiting for Tencent’s 2020 results for the fourth quarter and full year, which will be released in March.

Analysts are expecting revenue to come in at 131.83 billion yuan (about $20.36 billion) for the December quarter, a 24.6% year-on-year rise, according to Refinitiv estimates. Net income is expected to grow nearly 29% to 32.85 billion yuan.

Tencent is known for its huge gaming business which analysts expect to have performed well in the fourth quarter. Revenue from smartphone games in particular are expected to grow 46% year-on-year to 38 billion yuan, helped by new title releases, according to a recent note from Jefferies.

Other analysts have also backed that up.

“We expect solid results in upcoming 4Q20, with strength in the game business overall,” Macquarie analyst Han Joon Kim said in a note published Jan. 19.

But Tencent has also been growing other areas of its business including advertising, cloud computing and financial technology via its WeChat Pay mobile payment system.

WeChat, in particular, has been a focus of investors.

Last week, Tencent announced that transactions on its WeChat Mini Programs rose more than 100% in 2020 from 800 billion yuan in 2019. The company did not reveal the 2020 figure. But it highlights the way that Tencent is trying to monetize and increase the stickiness of its messaging app WeChat, which is used by over a billion people.

Mini Programs are apps people can use within WeChat without having to leave the messaging app. They have been a key part of the growth of WeChat.

Though the monetization efforts of WeChat are still in the early stages, analysts see this as a long-term effort.

“We continue to find stronger emphasis on improving accessibility and functionality than monetization. We think lack of monetization of mini programs in 2021 is fine, as there is limited expectation of such embedded in earnings expectation anyways,” Macquarie’s Kim said.

“Rather, Tencent’s growing influence in on-line commerce activity will strengthen the stock’s long-term narrative and support its valuation multiple.”


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Google says PAC won’t fund Congress members against election results

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Sundar Pichai

Source: CNBC

Google’s political action committee won’t fund members of Congress who voted against the presidential election results this cycle, the company confirmed to CNBC on Monday evening.

“After the disturbing events at the Capitol, NetPAC paused all contributions while undertaking a review,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CNBC. “Following that review, the NetPAC board has decided that it will not be making any contributions this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certification of the election results.”

Axios first reported the funding pause.

Last week, tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft announced they would pause contributions from their political action committees in the wake of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Insurgents planned to forcibly turn over election results after high-profile Congress members and former President Donald Trump falsely alleged a “stolen” election.

Google’s PAC donated to Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign in 2017 and 2018.

The company up until Jan. 7 — after the insurgence — allowed the same lawmakers and Trump to recite voter fraud falsehoods on YouTube. Trump’s YouTube home page still automatically plays a 46-minute video rife with false allegations of voter fraud. It has been up for a month and had nearly 6 million views.


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Chinese video app Kuaishou Hong Kong IPO could raise over $5 billion

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A Kuaishou app interface on a mobile phone, Yichang, Hubei province, China, Jan 20, 2021. Kuaishou is gearing up for an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong.

Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese short video app Kuaishou has priced its Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) as it looks to raise funds to take on rivals such as Douyin, the Chinese version of TiKTok.

Kuaishou said it would issue 365,218,600 shares each priced between $105.00 Hong Kong dollars to $115.00 Hong Kong dollars.

At the top end of the range, the company could raise around $42 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5.42 billion). The amount could be raised if the so-called over allotment option is exercised. The option allows the underwriting banks to issue a certain percentage more shares if demand is high.

Shares will begin trading on Feb. 5 in Hong Kong.

Kuaishou’s IPO comes as Chinese regulators look to crack down on the country’s technology sector and have already made moves to reign in livestreaming platforms. In November, State Administration for Radio, Film and Television’s put caps on how much people can spend on virtual items and banned teenagers from purchases.

Virtual items are where viewers purchase some sort of digital gift to give to their favorite streamers. In the nine months that ended Sept. 30, Kuaishou made 25.3 billion yuan (approx. $3.9 billion) of revenue from live streaming, which accounted for over 60% of total revenue. A large part of live streaming revenues come from virtual gifting.

Kuaishou’s other revenue drivers include advertising and a fledgling e-commerce business where users can buy goods through its app.

Regulators in China have been laser-focused on the tech sector looking to introduce rules in areas from data protection to micro-lending and antitrust.

WeChat owner Tencent, is one of Kuaishou’s biggest backers, and owns around 21.5% of the company.

Kuaishou said it will use the proceeds for growing its products, research and development, selective acquisitions around content, social entertainment and software and general working capital.

Loss-making


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