Technology Roundup – Alibaba’s Jack Ma suspected missing, Minority union forms at Google

Published on: January 4, 2021
Author: Amy Liu

Alibaba’s Jack Ma suspected missing; stock falls 2%

  • Alibaba (NYSE:BABAfounder Jack Ma hasn’t made a public appearance in more than two months and that has fueled speculation about the Chinese billionaire’s whereabouts, Yahoo Finance reports.
  • BABA slips 2.3% in premarket trading.
  • He was scheduled to appear on the final episode of his “Africa’s Business Heroes” show, which gives African entrepreneurs a chance to compete for a portion of $1.5M, but was replaced by an Alibaba executive in the November final.
  • Ma’s business empire, including fintech Ant Group, has come under scrutiny by Beijing ever since Ma criticized China’s regulation system in an Oct. 24 speech.
  • That increased attention from Chinese regulators derailed Ant Group’s IPO in November.

Minority union forms at Google, a rare Silicon Valley development

  • The Alphabet Workers Union is a minority union – it has a little more than 225 engineers and other workers for now – but any union is still a rarity in Silicon Valley.
  • It’s formed mostly in secret over the past year, the NYTnotes, and elected leadership last month.
  • It’s affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, putting it in company with media/telecom labor groups in North America.
  • As a minority union, it’s not really in position to negotiate for work contracts, but it does add some staying power to what has been growing unrest among workers over issues tied to pay policies, harassment and company ethics.
  • Google replies: “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our work force. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

ViacomCBS expands distribution agreement with Hulu

  • ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) announced a new distribution agreement that adds more content from ViacomCBS’ leading portfolio of news, entertainment and sports networks to Hulu’s live TV subscription streaming service, Hulu + Live TV.
  • The multi-year deal includes continued carriage of CBS broadcast stations, CBS Sports Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, and The CW, as well as continued distribution of ViacomCBS’ premium subscription service, SHOWTIME®.
  • The deal will also introduce fourteen additional ViacomCBS networks to Hulu + Live TV, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, VH1, CMT, Nick Jr., TV Land, BET Her, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic.
  • Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
  • Shares up 4%premarket.

AT&T stock +1.9% as Raymond James upgrades, expecting strong 2021

  • AT&T (NYSE:T) is up 1.9% premarket after an upgrade to Outperform at Raymond James, from Market Perform.
  • There’s a “solid total return story” in the company, which it calls a rare large-cap value play.
  • Analyst Frank Louthan is expecting an “unimpressive” fourth quarter but “there is more that can go right during the next 12 months than can get worse for AT&T.”
  • The dividend yield is still high, HBO Max should see strong subscriber growth in the coming year, and current heavy shorting makes a “recipe” for upside, he writes.
  • The firm has a price target of $32, implying 11% upside.
  • Wall Street analysts are Neutral on the whole, as are Seeking Alpha authors. The stock has a Quant Rating of Neutral.

Roku bids to acquire rights to Quibi’s content – WSJ

  • Following an unsuccessful run, short-form streaming platform Quibi is in advanced talks to sell its content catalog to Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU)reports WSJ.
  • Under the terms, Roku would acquire rights to Quibi’s library. Financial terms are not disclosed and the deal talks could still fall apart.
  • Quibi, founded by the movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, was launched in April 2020 but never gained traction and said in October that it was shutting down.
  • The ad-supported app, the Roku Channel, offers movies and shows produced by other companies. A deal with Quibi would give Roku a roster of exclusive programming.
  • Last month, HBO Max headed to Roku and WarnerMedia finally struck a deal after months of hard-fought negotiations.