How do you conduct your business without incurring the ‘wrath’ of government regulators? This is the latest dilemma tech giant, Google is facing in Russia. The company is under scrutiny by the government regulators for “failing” to delete banned content.
In this edition of Global Roundup, we are going to be sharing some exciting news from the tech space across the globe. These include the announcement by cryptocurrency exchange Binance that it has signed Cristiano Ronaldo as a partner to promote NFTs. In the same stream, Shopify has unveiled new tools to help merchants boost sales on its platform.
We will also share an update about streaming giant Netflix’s recent job-cut announcement. And, a piece of similar depression news from Russia, Cisco is shutting down operations.
Let’s get to the full updates in Global Roundup for the week:
Google faces fresh fines in Russia
Alphabet’s Google may face a new wave of fines of up to 5-10% of its turnover in Russia for what the state communications regulator said on Wednesday was a repeated failure to delete banned content, including “misleading information” on YouTube about events in Ukraine.
Reuters reports that it is the second fine based on a percentage of turnover that Google could face in Russia.
Recall that in May, Russian bailiffs seized more than 7.7 billion roubles ($143 million) from Google that it had been ordered to pay late last year, marking the first time Moscow had exacted a percentage of the company’s annual Russian turnover.
“The video hosting site YouTube deliberately promotes the dissemination of misleading information about the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine, discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation,” regulator Roskomnadzor said.
It said the repeat offence could lead to a fine of 5-10% of annual turnover in Russia, with the amount to be determined in court. Reuters calculated that the previous fine equated to just over 8% of turnover. The regulator also said Google has now been fined a total of 68 million roubles, excluding turnover fines, and that more than 7,000 banned items remain on YouTube.
Google, whose Russian subsidiary last week submitted a declaration of bankruptcy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Binance makes Cristiano Ronaldo partner in NFT push
Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volumes, said it has signed a partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo for the promotion of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
As part of the multi-year agreement, the Portuguese soccer star and Binance will create a series of NFT collections for sale on the company’s platform, the cryptocurrency exchange said, adding that the first collection would be released later this year.
An NFT is a digital asset that exists on a blockchain, a record of transactions kept on networked computers, and the blockchain serves as a public ledger, allowing anyone to verify the NFT’s authenticity and check who owns it.
Souring investor sentiment toward risky assets has led to a plunge in cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and has also spilt over into NFTs, which exploded in popularity last year.
Crypto companies have been relying on sports partnerships in a bid to go mainstream. Last year, Crypto.com signed a US$700 million deal to rename the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the Crypto.com Arena, while crypto exchange FTX Trading sold a stake to National Football League quarterback Tom Brady.
Shopify rolls out new tools to boost sales for merchants
Shopify Inc has launched new tools to help its merchants sell to other businesses on Twitter, as the Canadian tech giant attempts to shore up sales to counter a post-pandemic slowdown in online shopping.
More than 100 new tools were unveiled on Wednesday, including ones to be used to support its plans to push into business-to-business, for shoppers to connect their crypto wallets to a store and Apple’s “Tap to Pay” feature on iPhones.
Businesses are looking to move from direct-to-consumer to “connect-to-consumer”, which makes it easier for people to shop through social media platforms and pay using their phones, Finkelstein said in an interview.
Shopify, which helps businesses set up their online stores, hit the jackpot during lockdowns as global brands and mom-and-pop stores alike turned to sell online directly to consumers while their shops were shut.
With the economy reopening, however, investors are starting to question Shopify’s future, sending the company’s stock down 76% this year and erasing a big chunk of its pandemic gains.
Shopify’s answer to the slowdown is expanding into the wholesale market, a far bigger avenue than direct-to-consumer and with “billions in untapped revenue”, according to President Harley Finkelstein.
“This is the next retail phase… In many ways, shopping has become a vote with your wallet to support that brand … And that’s what I think connect-to-consumer is all about.”
The post-pandemic world has also thrown up challenges for Amazon, Shopify’s biggest rival, as it fields massive losses after building more warehouses than needed during the boom.
Netflix lays off 300 employees in fresh job cut
Netflix announced on Thursday it laid off 300 employees in the second round of job cuts after losing subscribers for the first time in more than a decade.
The cuts amounted to about 4% of the streaming giant’s workforce and mostly affected US employees. They came after the company cut 150 jobs last month.
“While we continue to invest significantly in the business, we made these adjustments so that our costs are growing in line with our slower revenue growth,” Netflix said in a statement.
Netflix said in February it had lost 200,000 subscribers globally at the start of 2022, and projected a decline of 2 million users in the upcoming quarter.
The company blamed the drop on a range of factors, including increased competition, the economy, the war in Ukraine, and the large number of people who share their accounts with non-paying households.
Last month’s layoffs also mostly affected the company’s US workforce. Advocates and former employees said at the time the cuts included many employees from underrepresented groups, and that the company seemed to also be pulling back on some of the diverse content it had funded in the years since the death of George Floyd.
Cisco to wind down business in Russia
Telecoms equipment maker Cisco will wind down its business in Russia and Belarus, the company told Reuters on Thursday, as the pace of Western companies departing accelerates.
The U.S. company stopped business operations, including sales and services, in the region in March.
Cisco joined U.S. sportswear maker Nike which also said on Thursday it was making a full exit from Russia, alongside others with have previously announced plans to leave, ranging from U.S. chain McDonald’s to French carmaker Renault.
Foreign companies seeking to exit Russia because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine face the prospect of new laws being passed in the coming weeks allowing Moscow to seize assets and impose criminal penalties. That has encouraged some businesses to accelerate their departure plans.
That’s the serving for the week. Have a great weekend.
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