• The cost of using a robotic cleaner has come down, just as the need for it has risen during the pandemic Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 14:02

    The Neo is a four-foot-tall, 1,000-pound robot floor scrubber. The high-tech machine can cruise large commercial buildings on its own, with no human supervision required.

    Since its introduction in 2016, Neo’s sales have roughly doubled each year, said Faizan Sheikh, the chief executive and a co-founder of Avidbots, the Canadian start-up that created the robot. This year, however, demand has shot up 100 percent just since the pandemic-induced shutdown in March. Suddenly, the need for thorough, reliable and frequent cleaning is front and center.

    “Before, a top executive at a big company would not really have known how their facilities got cleaned,” Mr. Sheikh said. “They would have outsourced it to a facilities management company, who might outsource it out again.”

    Now, company leaders are showing more interest, asking questions about the cleaning process and schedule, as well as safety and effectiveness. “That can lead to interest in automation,” he said.

  • RT @vikasbajaj: Jim Hackett to retire as Ford's chief executive after three years on the job. He will be replaced by James Farley. @nealbou…
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 14:02
  • With the Pixel 4A smartphone, Google took the best stuff from its $800 high-end Pixel 4 and squeezed it into the body of a $350 device. That’s $50 less than last year’s Pixel 3A, which was Google’s first budget phone. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 13:27

    People generally adore Google for bringing useful technology to the masses at an aggressively low price, if not free.

    For those who like that, I have happy news: Google is getting really, really good at the price cutting, while still bringing quality, with its smartphones.

    The evidence? The Pixel 4A smartphone, which the company introduced on Monday.

    With this latest device, Google took the best stuff from its $800 high-end Pixel 4 — specifically, an excellent camera system and a large, bright screen — and squeezed it into the body of a $350 device. That’s $50 less than last year’s Pixel 3A, which was Google’s first budget phone.

    The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it’s a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

  • Nearly 400,000 businesses have run into the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief $150,000 limit. Also, hundreds of millions of dollars handed out through the program may have been fraudulently obtained. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 13:02
    Caroline Keefer’s apparel maker, River + Sky, was expecting a disaster loan of at least $500,000. She fears the $150,000 she received will not be enough.Credit...Nolwen Cifuentes for The New York Times
  • “Microsoft is viewed as your grandpa’s company, and it is trying to change that,” said an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “Microsoft goes from an uncool company to many under 25 to potentially as hip as TikTok if they get this done.” Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 12:42

    SEATTLE — Maybe money can buy love. Or, at least, Microsoft would like to find out.

    On Sunday, the tech giant announced in a blog post that it would continue holding talks to buy TikTok in the United States, opening up the possibility of using its financial might to buy the fickle infatuation of tweens.

    Microsoft made the announcement after its chief executive, Satya Nadella, talked with President Trump, who had threatened to ban the hugely popular social media company, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, because of national security fears. On Monday, Mr. Trump said that TikTok would shut down in the United States on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or another company bought it.

    A deal for TikTok — whose app featuring video clips has become wildly popular among young smartphone users — could give Microsoft, a company best known for databases and operating systems, control of one of the largest and most influential social networks in the country.

    “Microsoft is...

  • Microsoft said talks could result in its purchase of TikTok’s service in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, though it cautioned that the discussions were still “preliminary.” Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 12:12

    He called me to see whether or not — how I felt about it. And I said, “Look it can’t be controlled for security reasons by China — too big, too invasive, and it can’t be. And here’s the deal: I don’t mind if — whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, a big company, a secure company, a very, very American company buy it. It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing then to by 30 percent of it. I think buying 30 percent is complicated. And I suggested that he can go ahead. He can try, we set a date — I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else buys it, that’ll be interesting. If you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China essentially. But more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States because we’re making it possible for this...

  • A Florida teen accused of tricking his way into Twitter’s systems and taking over the accounts of some of the world’s most famous people raises questions about how someone so young could penetrate the defenses of one of the sophisticated companies. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 11:37

    For Graham Ivan Clark, the online mischief-making started early.

    By the age of 10, he was playing the video game Minecraft, in part to escape what he told friends was an unhappy home life. In Minecraft, he became known as an adept scammer with an explosive temper who cheated people out of their money, several friends said.

    At 15, he joined an online hackers’ forum. By 16, he had gravitated to the world of Bitcoin, appearing to involve himself in a theft of $856,000 of the cryptocurrency, though he was never charged for it, social media and legal records show. On Instagram posts afterward, he showed up with designer sneakers and a bling-encrusted Rolex.

    The teenager’s digital misbehavior ended on Friday when the police arrested him at a Tampa, Fla., apartment. Florida prosecutors said Mr. Clark, now 17, was the “mastermind” of a prominent hack last month, accusing him of tricking his way into Twitter’s systems and taking over the accounts of some of the world’s...

  • As the U.S. and other countries anxiously consider how to reopen schools, Israel, one of the first countries to do so, illustrates the dangers of moving too precipitously. Follow our updates on the pandemic. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 11:37

    Tens of millions of Americans have lost crucial jobless benefits, and lawmakers still can’t seem to agree on a relief measure. Israel’s troubled school reopenings could be a lesson for the U.S.

  • “We were going to do $300,000 in graduation parties this spring,” one caterer said. “That’s just gone.” Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 11:02
    When cancellations rolled into her catering business, Holly Sheppard moved to upstate New York and is honing her barbecue skills. “I’m going to make it through all of this,” she said.Credit...Amr Alfiky/The New York Times
  • When it is safe enough to return to school, young children would benefit most. Yet financial pressures are pushing colleges to reopen more rapidly, @dynarski says. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 10:32
    An elementary school in the Bronx closed in April because of the virus. New York City schools are expected to reopen in the fall with hybrid learning.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
  • How long will telemedicine last? Nearly $4 billion was charged for telehealth services in spring as the coronavirus took hold in the U.S., a huge increase over the previous year's spring. But insurance coverage once the pandemic subsides is uncertain. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 10:07
    While David Collins of Houston appreciates the ease of telemedicine, he sometimes prefers an in-person doctor’s visit. “If you break your arm, an e-visit isn’t going to help you at all,” he said.Credit...Callaghan O'Hare for The New York Times
  • Craft distilleries once rushed to help by making hand sanitizer. Now “they’re all on life support.” Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 09:27
    Craft distilleries like Dark Door Spirits in Tampa, Fla., shifted quickly to make hand sanitizer. An employee there put stickers on bottles of the disinfectant before shipment.Credit...Eve Edelheit for The New York Times
  • A deal for TikTok — whose app featuring video clips has become wildly popular among young smartphone users — could give Microsoft control of one of the largest and most influential social networks in the country. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 05:16

    SEATTLE — Maybe money can buy love. Or, at least, Microsoft would like to find out.

    On Sunday, the tech giant announced in a blog post that it would continue holding talks to buy TikTok in the United States, opening up the possibility of using its financial might to buy the fickle infatuation of tweens.

    Microsoft made the announcement after its chief executive, Satya Nadella, talked with President Trump, who had threatened to ban the hugely popular social media company, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, because of national security fears. On Monday, Mr. Trump said that TikTok would shut down in the United States on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or another company bought it.

    A deal for TikTok — whose app featuring video clips has become wildly popular among young smartphone users — could give Microsoft, a company best known for databases and operating systems, control of one of the largest and most influential social networks in the country.

    “Microsoft is...

  • Google is getting really, really good at the price cutting, while still bringing quality, with its smartphones, our @bxchen writes. The evidence? The Pixel 4A smartphone, which the company introduced on Monday. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 04:41

    People generally adore Google for bringing useful technology to the masses at an aggressively low price, if not free.

    For those who like that, I have happy news: Google is getting really, really good at the price cutting, while still bringing quality, with its smartphones.

    The evidence? The Pixel 4A smartphone, which the company introduced on Monday.

    With this latest device, Google took the best stuff from its $800 high-end Pixel 4 — specifically, an excellent camera system and a large, bright screen — and squeezed it into the body of a $350 device. That’s $50 less than last year’s Pixel 3A, which was Google’s first budget phone.

    The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it’s a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

  • A picture of a youth who had a strained relationship with his family and who spent much of his life online becoming skilled at convincing people to give him money, photos and information Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 04:11

    For Graham Ivan Clark, the online mischief-making started early.

    By the age of 10, he was playing the video game Minecraft, in part to escape what he told friends was an unhappy home life. In Minecraft, he became known as an adept scammer with an explosive temper who cheated people out of their money, several friends said.

    At 15, he joined an online hackers’ forum. By 16, he had gravitated to the world of Bitcoin, appearing to involve himself in a theft of $856,000 of the cryptocurrency, though he was never charged for it, social media and legal records show. On Instagram posts afterward, he showed up with designer sneakers and a bling-encrusted Rolex.

    The teenager’s digital misbehavior ended on Friday when the police arrested him at a Tampa, Fla., apartment. Florida prosecutors said Mr. Clark, now 17, was the “mastermind” of a prominent hack last month, accusing him of tricking his way into Twitter’s systems and taking over the accounts of some of the world’s...

  • Besieged by more than eight million applicants, the S.B.A.’s disaster relief has given out more money in the pandemic than it had in its entire history. But the demand has created a problem, capping loans for hundreds of thousands of applicants. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 03:41
    Caroline Keefer’s apparel maker, River + Sky, was expecting a disaster loan of at least $500,000. She fears the $150,000 she received will not be enough.Credit...Nolwen Cifuentes for The New York Times
  • President Trump said that TikTok would shut down on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or another company purchased it, and that he had suggested in a call that the chief executive of Microsoft “go ahead” with the acquisition. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 03:11

    He called me to see whether or not — how I felt about it. And I said, “Look it can’t be controlled for security reasons by China — too big, too invasive, and it can’t be. And here’s the deal: I don’t mind if — whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, a big company, a secure company, a very, very American company buy it. It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing then to by 30 percent of it. I think buying 30 percent is complicated. And I suggested that he can go ahead. He can try, we set a date — I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else buys it, that’ll be interesting. If you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China essentially. But more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States because we’re making it possible for this...

  • Twitter disclosed it was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for potentially misusing people's personal information to serve ads. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 02:26

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Twitter said on Monday that it was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for potentially misusing people’s personal information to serve ads, adding that it faced fines of $150 million to $250 million.

    In a corporate filing, Twitter disclosed that the F.T.C. began the investigation last October after it had linked a database of its users’ personal information, which it had for security purposes, with a system used by advertising partners.

    The action, which Twitter said was inadvertent, may have violated a 2011 agreement that the company signed with the F.T.C. over consumer privacy. At the time, Twitter had agreed to a settlement with the agency after hackers had gained administrative control of the social media service on multiple occasions. Under the agreement, Twitter was restricted from misleading people about the measures it took to protect their security and privacy.

    An F.T.C. spokeswoman declined to comment on the...

  • The pandemic has energized a growing movement for food sovereignty within the Navajo Nation Link https://t.co/abUezFR8p2
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 02:06
    Artie Yazzie grows produce for his community in the Arizona section of the Navajo Nation. The determination of growers and gardeners like him keeps the food sovereignty movement alive.Credit...John Burcham for The New York Times
  • Unlike his predecessors, President Trump has frequently waded in to berate or praise executives and try to influence their operations. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 01:51

    WASHINGTON — President Trump campaigned on a promise to run the economy like his business empire. And for almost four years, he has unabashedly wielded the power of the presidency to insert himself into corporate affairs, helping some companies and punishing others in line with his instincts and inclinations.

    The latest target of his attention is TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app under scrutiny for potentially providing the Chinese government with access to American user data. After threatening on Friday to ban the app from the United States, Mr. Trump reversed course, saying he would allow TikTok to keep operating if it was sold to an American owner.

    At the White House on Monday, Mr. Trump said that TikTok would be shut down in the United States on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or another “very American” company purchased it, and that he had told Microsoft’s chief executive in a call over the weekend to “go ahead” with the acquisition.

    He also argued...

  • President Trump gave the go-ahead for Microsoft to pursue an acquisition of TikTok, in his first public comments about the popular Chinese-owned video app after he had threatened to ban it from the United States entirely. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 01:26

    He called me to see whether or not — how I felt about it. And I said, “Look it can’t be controlled for security reasons by China — too big, too invasive, and it can’t be. And here’s the deal: I don’t mind if — whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, a big company, a secure company, a very, very American company buy it. It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing then to by 30 percent of it. I think buying 30 percent is complicated. And I suggested that he can go ahead. He can try, we set a date — I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else buys it, that’ll be interesting. If you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China essentially. But more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States because we’re making it possible for this...

  • If the coronavirus is raging unchecked through a region, no amount of funding can make it safe for children to be in school, an economist says. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 01:11
    An elementary school in the Bronx closed in April because of the virus. New York City schools are expected to reopen in the fall with hybrid learning.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
  • Telemedicine has taken off during the pandemic, but health insurers are still reluctant to pay for it once the crisis ends.  Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 00:56
    While David Collins of Houston appreciates the ease of telemedicine, he sometimes prefers an in-person doctor’s visit. “If you break your arm, an e-visit isn’t going to help you at all,” he said.Credit...Callaghan O'Hare for The New York Times
  • Marathon Petroleum is selling its Speedway gas stations to 7-Eleven's parent company for $21 billion. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 00:31

    HOUSTON — Marathon Petroleum, the largest U.S. independent refiner, announced on Sunday that it had sold its Speedway gas station chain to the Japanese retail group Seven & I Holdings for $21 billion in cash.

    The sale of Speedway, one of the country’s largest convenience store chains with nearly 4,000 outlets, is the biggest corporate deal in the oil sector since the coronavirus slashed demand for fuel early this year.

    With the addition of Speedway, Seven & I’s 7-Eleven chain will have around 14,000 stores.

    Marathon Petroleum, based in Ohio, has been struggling financially and has shuttered operations in two refineries. It had been seeking to spin off Speedway for months. Negotiations between Marathon and Seven & I had stumbled earlier this year over price.

    Marathon praised the deal in its announcement as a step forward in its efforts to shore up its finances and stave off pressure from activist investors seeking to dismantle the company.

  • It started with tricking people in Minecraft, then Fortnite, then joining a hacking community to get his hands on cryptocurrency. It culminated with accusations that the Florida teenager hacked Twitter. Link
    NYT Business Tue 04 Aug 2020 00:06

    For Graham Ivan Clark, the online mischief-making started early.

    By the age of 10, he was playing the video game Minecraft, in part to escape what he told friends was an unhappy home life. In Minecraft, he became known as an adept scammer with an explosive temper who cheated people out of their money, several friends said.

    At 15, he joined an online hackers’ forum. By 16, he had gravitated to the world of Bitcoin, appearing to involve himself in a theft of $856,000 of the cryptocurrency, though he was never charged for it, social media and legal records show. On Instagram posts afterward, he showed up with designer sneakers and a bling-encrusted Rolex.

    The teenager’s digital misbehavior ended on Friday when the police arrested him at a Tampa, Fla., apartment. Florida prosecutors said Mr. Clark, now 17, was the “mastermind” of a prominent hack last month, accusing him of tricking his way into Twitter’s systems and taking over the accounts of some of the world’s...

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