Category Archives: Business

Facebook woes with User Data

Things are looking bad for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. In the UK, he’s being called before Parliament. In the US, Congress and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) want to chat. On Wall Street, Facebook stock is tanking. An attempt at crisis management fell flat. And irate users are talking about dropping the social media platform altogether since allegations surfaced that the personal data of 50 million members was used to help elect Donald Trump. — David Rovella, Bloomberg

Facebook Probed Over Data Allegedly Used by Trump. The FTC and members of Congress are investigating how the personal data of all those Facebook users allegedly made it to Cambridge Analytica, the firm that worked for Trump’s campaign.

Youtube Ad Controversy

Google has apologized to major advertisers after their ads were featured alongside YouTube videos carrying homophobic and antisemitic messages. It led to Marks & Spencer, HSBC, BBC, and McDonald’s pulling ad content from Google websites in the UK. Google said that it will take a tougher stance on hateful content in response to this incident, hire more staff and tighten safeguards in its YouTube Partner Program.

We appreciate this constructive approach by Google, because millions of videos are added every week, and its indeed very difficult to scan all videos for their content. Text scanning can be done, and it is already being done by new software. Picture scanning software is also improving.

Old economy companies like M&S, BBC, should understand that they need Google more than Google needs them. These companies are acting holier than thou. Advertisers should know that they don’t have much negotiating power against the Internet giant Google. If they don’t use Google, their competition will do, and there are not many options anyway. So they should make less noise. Long live Youtube!

Blackstone looking to raise $40bn Infrastructure Fund

Blackstone, the biggest name in private equity has turned its attention to infrastructure. Blackstone’s head of private equity Joe Baratta, excited about the infrastructure opportunities that a Donald Trump presidency could potentially unleash, planted his flag firmly in the sand:

“To be relevant in that end of the market, I think you need to be deploying billions of dollars at a time, not hundreds of millions. So you’re probably talking about a vehicle that’s 20, 30, 40 billion dollars of equity,” he told Bloomberg TV. When asked if that meant aiming for the largest vehicle ever raised, he added: “Correct. That would be the ambition if this comes to fruition, which we certainly think it will, in terms of the public sector aligning with the private sector to invest in the fabric of this country.”

The largest vehicle to date is Global Infrastructure Partners’ third fund, which closed recently at $15.8 billion. The second-largest is Brookfield’s third infrastructure fund, which closed last summer on $14 billion. Baratta’s upper end effectively dwarfs the two combined. Go big or go home. Continue reading Blackstone looking to raise $40bn Infrastructure Fund