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Quibi to reportedly shut down after just 6 months

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Jeffrey Katzenberg at CES

Source: CNBC

Quibi, the short-form entertainment service for mobile devices, will shut down operations just over six months after its launch, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The company, which was founded by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman, raised nearly $2 billion ahead of its launch in April.

This story is developing.


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Google and Facebook to be scrutinized by new U.K. unit from next year

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Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, arrives to testify during the House Financial Services hearing on An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

LONDON —  The U.K. on Friday said a new government unit will work to tackle ongoing concerns about a concentration of power among a small number of tech giants.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said it plans to create a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) to enforce “a new code to govern the behavior of platforms that currently dominate the market, such as Google and Facebook.”

The code is designed to ensure that consumers, small businesses, and news publishers aren’t disadvantaged by actions taken by tech giants, the government said.

Under the new code, some of the world’s biggest tech companies may have to be more transparent about the services they provide and how they use consumers’ data. They may also be forced to give consumers a choice over whether to receive personalized advertising, and they won’t be able to place restrictions on customers that make it difficult for them to use rival platforms. 

The DMU, which will be part of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will start work in April 2021.

The government said the DMU may be given the unit the power to suspend, block and reverse decisions made by large tech companies. The DMU could also order them to take certain actions to achieve compliance with the code, and impose financial penalties for non-compliance, the government said.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement: “I’m unashamedly pro-tech and the services of digital platforms are positively transforming the economy — bringing huge benefits to businesses, consumers and society.”

“But there is growing consensus in the UK and abroad that the concentration of power among a small number of tech companies is curtailing growth of the sector, reducing innovation and having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them. It’s time to address that and unleash a new age of tech growth,” Dowden said.

Digital strategy

In July, the CMA called on the government to give it more powers and set up the DMU, saying it was necessary to rein in big digital advertising platforms. The regulator said it was concerned about how tech giants like Google and Facebook use digital advertising to fuel their business models.

Though the CMA’s recommendations had a domestic focus, the watchdog said the problems it had identified were “international in nature” and that it would look to “take a leading role globally” as part of its digital strategy.

“Through our examination of this market, we have discovered how major online platforms like Google and Facebook operate and how they use digital advertising to fuel their business models,” Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said on July 1. “What we have found is concerning – if the market power of these firms goes unchecked, people and businesses will lose out.”

Ronan Harris, Google’s vice president for the U.K. and Ireland, said in a statement at the time: “Advertisers today choose from a wide range of platforms that compete with each to deliver the most effective and innovative ad formats and products.”

He added: “We support regulation that benefits people, businesses and society and we’ll continue to work constructively with regulatory authorities and Government on these important areas so that everyone can make the most of the web.”

Facebook has previously said it would engage with U.K. government bodies “on rules that protect consumers and help small businesses rebuild as the British economy recovers” from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We face significant competition from the likes of Google, Apple, Snap, Twitter and Amazon, as well as new entrants like TikTok, which keeps us on our toes,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement on July 1. “Giving people meaningful controls over how their data is collected and used is important, which is why we have introduced industry leading tools for people to control how their data is used to inform the ads they see.”

— CNBC’s Ryan Browne contributed to this story.


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Amazon gives front-line workers a $300 holiday bonus

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An Amazon warehouse

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Amazon is providing front-line workers a one-time bonus to share its appreciation for their work heading into “the peak of the holiday season,” the company announced Thursday.

In a blog post, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of retail operations, said full-time operations staff who are employed by the company from December 1 to December 31 will receive a $300 bonus. Part-time workers employed within the same timeframe will receive a $150 bonus.

“I’ve been at Amazon for 22 holiday seasons and this one is definitely unique, to say the least,” Clark said. “I’m grateful to our teams who continue to play a vital role serving their communities.”

Amazon said it will spend more than $500 million on the one-time holiday payments. In June, Amazon also spent $500 million on “Thank You” bonuses for front-line employees who continued to come to work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The company has spent billions of dollars since March on coronavirus-related investments, including wage increases, safety gear and enhanced cleaning measures, as well as on building out testing capabilities. Amazon issued temporary wage increases and double overtime pay at the height of the pandemic, but both of those incentives came to an end in June.

Since then, warehouse workers have expressed frustration that their hazard pay was being cut even as the pandemic has persisted and they still face increased health and safety risks in the workplace. In October, Amazon disclosed that more than 19,000 of its front-line workers in the U.S. contracted the coronavirus between March 1 and Sept. 19.

Amazon defended its decision to end the wage increases and double overtime pay, saying these pay premiums were announced to “help meet increased demand” from online orders, which has since stabilized.  

Retailers including Walmart and Target have also paid out bonuses to their workers as the holiday shopping season picks up.


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Things to consider before you buy

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Black Friday TV shopping guide: Things to consider before you buy