Archives for October 2018

Microsoft Cloud Outpaces Amazon

Last week, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reported its fiscal first-quarter results that surpassed market expectations for the fourth consecutive time. The company continues to deliver tremendous growth within the cloud segment. In fact, its performance helped Microsoft become the second-biggest stock after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), stripping Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) of the title.

Microsoft’s Financials

Microsoft’s Q1 revenues grew 19% over the year to $29.1 billion and were significantly ahead of the market’s forecast of $27.73 billion. EPS of $1.14 also beat the Street’s expectations by $0.18.

By segment, Productivity and Business Processes revenues grew 19% to $9.8 billion, ahead of the Street’s forecast of $9.4 billion. Revenues from the Intelligent Cloud grew 24% to $8.6 billion and from the Personal Computing segment increased 15% to $10.7 billion. The market was looking for revenues of $10.13 billion from the segment.

Within the segments, Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenues grew 47% over the year to $8.5 billion. Azure sales reported an increase of 76% over the year. Growth has slowed down from 89% reported a quarter ago, and 90% reported a year ago. Analysts are not too concerned about the slowing rate because the larger base is making the comparative growth look lower. It also saw strong growth in its internet-based computing segment with sales of Office 365 and Dynamic 365 growing 36% and 51%, respectively.

For the second quarter, Microsoft expects revenues of $31.9-32.7 billion, compared with the market’s forecast of $32.35 billion. Analysts expect Q2 EPS of $1.08.

Microsoft’s Cloud Growth

The market has been pleased with Microsoft’s performance in the Cloud. According to a report by Cloud Security Alliance, Amazon’s market share for its AWS has slipped to 41.5% this year, compared with more than 60% share that it held at the end of 2017. During the same period, Microsoft’s Azure’s share has steadily climbed to 29.4%.

Microsoft continues to add features to Azure to drive this growth. During the last quarter, it added almost 100 new capabilities to the platform with focus on existing workloads like security and new workloads like Internet of Things and Edge AI. It helped it add customers like Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAF), Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD), and Mastercard (NYSE:MA) to its cloud portfolio.

Some new features added during the quarter include the release of Azure Confidential Computing that makes Azure the first cloud to provide a secure platform for protecting the confidentiality and the integrity of data while in use. To help companies leverage the IoT segment, Azure Sphere is its end-to-end solution for securing microcontroller-powered devices. The service is broadly available and seeing strong customer interest. It also released Azure Digital Twins, a new service that models relationships and interactions across people, places, and devices.

It is also investing in making Azure a better offering for enterprise data. Azure ML is building on its existing data services including SQL Database, Cosmos DB, Data Warehouse, and Data Lake and using AI tools to unlock insights. Microsoft is hopeful that these solutions will help data scientists build and train AI models faster and then deploy them through the cloud or to the Edge.

I would like to know from the users how they rank Microsoft’s cloud offerings over Amazon’s?

Microsoft’s stock is currently trading at $103.85 with a market capitalization of $797.2 billion. It had climbed to an all-time high of $116.18 in September this year. The stock was trading at a 52-week low of $80.70 in November last year.

Market Needs To Prove It

Monday’s Session

The S&P 500 (SPY) got off to an impressive start Monday, at one point posting a gain of 48 points. Once again selling conviction picked up producing another ugly set of daily candlesticks.


Early in the session, today’s high exceeded Friday’s, which is what we want to see (compare A to 1 ). Then, the market reversed sharply and dropped below Friday’s low (compare B to 2), which adds to the concerns we had at the end of last week. Price was also rejected near 2700.


As shown in the chart below, the market also recaptured the 61.8% retracement intraday, and then closed well below it (the attempt failed). More detail on the concept of retracements can be found in a September Seeking Alpha post.


We have the same concerning “failed attempt” look on the daily chart of the NASDAQ (QQQ).


Why A Big Move Could Still Be In The Cards

This week’s stock market (VTI) video kicks off with a set of observable concerns and then takes a hard look at both the bullish and bearish cases.

The market (VOO) needs to show us something that looks like a bottoming formation. Rather than getting that Monday, we got a concerning reversal near key areas. The data says “inflection point”. It is difficult to make the claim the market is siding with the “big push higher” case given the shorter-term evidence we have in hand as of today’s close. To the contrary, the charts in their present form still say “be careful out there”.

Disclosure: I am/we are long SPY, VTI.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Altria Responds To Kodak Moment With Aggressive Tactic

Altria (MO) is the ideal stock for dividend growth investors, with its record of 52 dividend boosts in 49 years and a current yield around 5%.

Still, the company may be facing the wrong kind of Kodak moment – a time when its primary product is in danger of being replaced by a new technology. Certainly, the maker of Marlboros won’t decline as fast as the camera company, because many longtime cigarette smokers will stay with the brand until they die (from smoking or otherwise). However, the fresh supply of nicotine consumers is turning to vaping, which apparently provides both a more powerful kick and significantly reduced health risk.

JUUL’s Business Exploding

JUUL Labs sales have skyrocketed nearly 800% between July 2017 and July 2018. JUUL’s market share, which was just over 50%, increased to 75% in the four weeks ended October 6, according to Nielsen data quoted by CNBC, compared to just a 6% for Altria and its MarkTen brand.

Sales of conventional cigarettes, meanwhile, continue on their long downward trend, about 4.5% a year. And the government seems serious about forcing a change in nicotine consumption from cigarettes to alternative products that don’t produce the cancer-causing chemicals of tobacco smoke.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has outlined a plan to decrease smoking rates from 15% of the U.S. population to as low as 1.4%. That would be a 93% reduction. Marlboro and L&M price increases could never make up for it. Long before the full decrease was reached, the much-loved dividend would have to fall.

The obvious solution would be for Altria to invest in privately held Juul, which is raising more than $1 billion to expand globally. But there’s a problem. As a company committed to responsibly reducing the harm caused by tobacco use, Altria can hardly reverse course and join a business that says one thing (“we’re for adults who want to quit smoking”) and does something else (offer a product that’s incredibly attractive to teenagers and hook them on nicotine).

A JUUL pod typically contains 5% nicotine, as much as a full pack of cigarettes. MarkTen’s concentrations range from 2.4% to 4.0%. Sadly, many teenagers don’t even realize they’re getting a nicotine fix.

Putting Pressure On JUUL

What Altria can do is put pressure on JUUL at the regulatory level – and that’s exactly what it appeared to do last week.

In response to the FDA’s demand that vapor manufacturers formulate specific plans to combat calls an epidemic of teenage use, Altria announced a three-part program aimed at discouraging teenagers from using the product:

1) Pod-based products will be removed from the market until the FDA specifically approves them, leaving cartridges inside the vape pens as the main delivery system.

2) Only tobacco, menthol, and mint flavors will be produced. Sweet flavors such as Vineyard Blend and Smooth Cream will be eliminated.

3) Altria will support a federal minimum age of 21 for all tobacco products. Currently, many states allow sales at 18.

The first two restrictions are expected to cut 20% of Altria’s vapor product line by volume, but most of its sales come from cartridges in the traditional flavors. The same rules would be much more damaging if applied to JUUL, whose most popular flavor is mango, according to one poll. JUUL sells mostly flavor pods, marketing them in upscale promotional images like the one below. (Where can I get that polished wood end table?)

JUUL kit with colorful flavor pods.

JUUL marketing uses attractive images of pods. (JUUL website photo)

Vaping advocates were outraged by Altria’s restrictions, with headlines like “Altria Shows FDA How to Kill the Vaping Market.

Indeed, a ban on pods is even more than the anti-vaping Truth Initiative has requested.

MarkTen’s website is considerably less sexy, as this functional image shows.

markten cartridges

Most of MarkTen’s sales come from cartridges. (MarkTen website photo)

Altria is betting on another type of cigarette alternative, heat-not-burn, which uses real tobacco rather than dispensing flavored nicotine. Under the arrangement, Altria would sell IQOS in the U.S. under the Marlboro Heat Sticks brand name and share revenue with its former subsidiary, Philip Morris International, which owns the technology. The companies are trying for FDA approval of IQOS as well as a label calling it a reduced-risk product, but have been having some difficulties.

Advantages Of Vaping

In any case, teenagers seem to prefer vaping, which has several advantages, including sweet flavors that wouldn’t be legal for IQOS, which is classified as a cigarette. There’s also the fact that JUUL’s devices can be confused with USB flash drives by clueless parents and teachers (which I did when I saw one after my college-age son had a party).

Is Altria using its clout with regulators in a cutthroat manner to damage a disruptive competitor, as vaping advocates fear? Maybe. But given how many young people are getting addicted, this is a case where they’re doing the right thing for both their business and the country.

JUUL is now under pressure to respond to the FDA’s demand for action by banning sweet flavors. If it does not, regulators may order it anyway.

The likely disruption to JUUL’s business could allow Altria a window of opportunity to avoid a Kodak moment. That could happen in three ways: By investing in the younger company once it is acting more ethically, by ramping up promotion of MarkTen to make it competitive with a JUUL that can no longer sell sweet flavors, and/or by making IQOS the preferred cigarette alternative if the FDA approves it and restricts vaping.


Altria’s business model is at risk, but the company has been fighting threats to tobacco use since the Surgeon General’s report of 1964 and didn’t get to a $118 billion market cap without clever strategies. I consider the stock a buy.

Disclosure: I am/we are long MO.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

#MeToo A Year Later. How Far Have We Really Come?

One year ago on Oct 15th, 2017, the #MeToo movement exploded virally as a hashtag and has since forced the world to have a very long overdue conversation. Since its inception, a number of prominent men have lost their jobs, as well as California and New York passing laws to require company harassment training and make it easier to report abuse.

Times Up, the Hollywood-born legal defense fund fighting sexual harassment, raised over $20 million to provide legal resources to women in the workplace. And earlier this month, the organization hired its first president and CEO. Although the country has seen some movement in the fight for women’s rights, change takes time.

It got me thinking…what has actually changed since the #MeToo movement and what has not? I wanted to share my own thoughts and ask 5 powerful women entrepreneurs to weigh in on what they thought has changed for women, what hasn’t changed as well as suggesting one action we can take to continue the forward momentum.

Here are my thoughts:

In the past year there has been a collective breath taken by every woman, as more action is being taken in response to women speaking up about being harassed. Our voices are starting to be heard and that allows for more truth. What hasn’t changed is the questioning of women’s truth. We just saw this with the questioning of Dr. Ford’s claims against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

My suggestion is that women need to build their confidence so that they communicate their truth and don’t fear action. When you experience an injustice and sexism, do and say something.

The biggest change I’ve noticed is that women are sharing more freely about the experiences they had, in many cases so long ago. Still scarred, hurt and edgy — but talking about something they’ve mostly kept to themselves until now. What surprises me is how many people are brushing the experiences/accusations aside based on their political affiliation, rather than viewing it as a compassionate human.

My suggestion is to pay attention to your reaction when a new #MeToo story comes out. Watch what your initial impulse is… and follow the source of your belief or disbelief as objectively as you possibly can. If it ties into protecting something politically or personally motivated, check yo’ self!

 Nisha Moodley, Women’s Leadership Coach & Founder of Global Sisterhood Day

Since #MeToo, more women feel a sense of not being alone, and that our voices, bodies, and experiences matter. We matter. Paradoxically, what has not changed is that we are still shown, in numerous ways, that to many people our voices, bodies, and experiences do not matter.

Educate yourself on intersectional feminism, because the more layers of oppression a person experiences, the more complex and challenging it will be for them to thrive. If we’re going to stand for true equality and freedom for all, we have to prioritize and include the needs of LGBTQ folks, people of color, differently-abled folks, children, and our planet. If we’re going to continue to rise and steer our world towards progress, we need to include those who the status quo seeks to exclude.

The most significant change that has precipitated all these other changes has been a huge burst of energy and cohesion among women and their supporting networks. Women are coming out with their stories in greater numbers. Women are running for office in record breaking numbers. Unfortunately, while there has been major cross gender support for this movement, the old boys club remains the same. Some of the same men in power will always chalk this movement up to hysteria or some sort of desire for fame as related to victim hood.

We have to stop feeling that we need to be submissive to men in power. We have to speak up against people who dismiss women who tell their story or air their grievances. You have to define what that means for you, and it can be as small as speaking out against a sexist uncle at Thanksgiving, or as big as running for office. Find your voice. Don’t keep it inside anymore.

I love that women have been standing together in solidarity and saying, ENOUGH. Yes, Time Is Up! Last summer female founders came forward to talk about the harassment and bias and inappropriate behavior we were experiencing from venture capitalists and other high-profile executives in startup land. While the tide is starting to shift for female entrepreneurs in a startup ecosystem designed for and that caters to men, we still have a very, very long way to go in terms of gender parity when launching high-growth startups. 

We need more women to become investors. In 2016, VCs gave male-led startups $58.2 billion compared to 1.46 billion to women-led companies. Yet, women do great things when our startups are venture backed. Our companies have been shown to produce a 35 percent higher ROI when venture-backed. Putting more women in funder seats, ups the chances of women getting funded, as well as additional effects on the startup community, including diversifying venture firms and deal flow.

More women are owning their power to speak up for themselves and share stories that were once shameful, as an opportunity to inspire others to do something different or speak up. Unfortunately, women are still getting themselves into really bad situations and let go of their power to physically, verbally and spiritually abusive men.

Vote! Vote on policies that make change. Take back your power.

3 Reasons Why Los Angeles Could Become the Nation's Next Tech Hub

Los Angeles, a city known for its glitz, glam and its title as the undisputed entertainment capital of the world, has another industry hidden up its sleeve: a thriving, rapidly growing tech ecosystem.

At a time when startups, prominent tech figures from Tim Ferriss to Peter Thiel, and employees alike are all beginning to find homes outside the Silicon Valley, the race for becoming the next tech hub in the United States is on. For a variety of reasons, Los Angeles is well-positioned to take that crown.

Here are a handful of reasons why.

1. Los Angeles is the manufacturing capital of the United States.

Believe it or not, the manufacturing capital of the USA isn’t Pittsburgh or Cleveland or Philadelphia?–?it’s actually L.A. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are around half a million manufacturing jobs in Los Angeles alone.

Because of its manufacturing capacity and access to resources, L.A. is positioned particularly well to become the go-to hot-spot for hardware startups in the United States. There are already organizations in place that have capitalized on this opportunity.

One example is Make in L.A. Located in San Fernando Valley, Make in L.A. is a private accelerator and venture capital fund focused on bringing hardware startups to market all under one roof. The program is all housed within southern California’s largest coworking space and partner organization, Toolbox LA, where members of the program can refine prototypes in the makerspace, clarify go-to-market strategies, sharpen their value propositions and network with fellow founders without ever having to leave the building. Specifically, Toolbox LA is a community-driven workspace that includes an event space and a biotech incubator in addition to the makerspace and hardware accelerator provided by Make in L.A. 

Lastly, with hardware companies like Google Hardware, Ring and uBeam leading the charge, aerospace giants like SpaceX and JPL putting down roots in LA, along with innovative startup models like the one implemented at Make In LA, the hardware startup scene in southern California looks more than promising.

2. The city has full support from its mayor.

In early October, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti officially kicked off the start of Manufacturing Week.

With over 400 Los Angeles techies, entrepreneurs and social workers in attendance, the event was just one of many measures Garcetti is backing to promote a healthy tech ecosystem. Make It in L.A., a non-profit dedicated to helping hardware entrepreneurs make their products a reality, and, an incubator and accelerator for startups in downtown Los Angeles, are a couple other examples.

3. There’s a $155 billion valuation in Silicon Beach.

According to a recent study conducted by MediaKix, the Silicon Beach?–?the name given to the startup scene in Santa Monica, Venice, Playa Del Rey and Culver City?–?alone is now valued at $155 billion. This is largely thanks to companies like Dollar Shave Club, Headspace, Hulu, and Snap setting up shop in the area.

Additionally, it’s no surprise that the beach lifestyle of the Silicon Beach is appealing to younger workers, making it easy to “snipe” young talent from slower, arguably less exciting areas such as the suburbs in Cupertino and Mountain View. With a favorable climate and ocean view, it won’t be difficult for companies to sway talent to relocate to the Silicon Beach upon their college graduation.

4. There’s a wide variety of entrepreneurs.

Because L.A. is the world’s epicenter of entertainment, it’s comprised of everyone from filmmakers to musicians to stand-up comedians, resulting in a unique blend of creatives and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles that isn’t as prevalent in other areas of the country. Now, with the proliferation of the L.A. startup ecosystem, these same individuals have the potential to bring their creativity to the tech world.

I’ve experienced this first hand upon moving down from the Bay Area to L.A. Having lived in five states and over 20 cities, there truly is a unique sense of grit and hustle embedded in people’s DNA down here. A hustle that has, more than likely, culminated as a result of waitresses anxiously waiting for their next audition or an aspiring musician working night shifts until they get their big break–and it’s exciting to see that same tenacity bleeding over into the startup world.

While the Silicon Valley still remains the icon of the startup world, which city will house the next wave of tech entrepreneurship still remains up in the air. With its manufacturing capacity, immense funding, support of its mayor and culture of grit and hustle, LA seems like it could very well be the front-runner.

A very special thanks to Raychel Espiritu for providing insight and research for this article.

A Massive New Study of 38,000 Workers Says This 1 Thing Makes Employees Much Happier (and Probably More Loyal)

Want happier employees? A big new study by four economics professors has some surprising findings on how to make it happen. And, it becomes clear pretty quickly as you read through the results that happier employees are likely to be more loyal employees. 

This isn’t a small, “improve happiness by 5 percent” finding. In fact, the employees who reported better life satisfaction displayed a similar increase in reported happiness to what they would have if they’d doubled their household income, according to the study.

Here’s the study, the overall finding on how to improve employees’ happiness and loyalty, along with some practical strategies for making it happen.

Two questions, 38,000 workers

Writing for the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, four economics professors–three from colleges in Canada and one from South Korea– analyzed the responses of 38,000 workers to the Gallup-Healthways Daily Poll, which is a daily survey of hundreds of adults on many different topics.

Among the questions in the daily poll are two that are relevant here: one has to do with people’s general overall life satisfaction, and another has to do with their relationships with their supervisor at work.

By combining the answers that thousands of people gave to both of those questions, and correlating them with millions of other data points that allowed them to control for respondents’ personalities and even the days of the week on which they answered the questions, the researchers came up with a surprising but compelling conclusion.

Across the board, people who said they felt like their relationship with their work supervisor was more like that of partners, as opposed to one in which they felt like their supervisor was more of a traditional boss, were likely to report much greater life satisfaction. 

Prime working years

The findings go deeper, of course. Researchers found for one thing that the effect was greatest when employees were in their 40s and early 50s. That’s intriguing for two reasons. 

First for most people, if you were to chart their life satisfaction, you’d see it forms a rough “U” shape.

They have relatively high life satisfaction up until their 20s and 30s, and then it drops during middle age as they are likely to be dealing with competing demands between work and family. Then, it rises again as children grow up and they can start to see a future beyond work.

Second, workers are largely at the apex of their productivity and expertise at right around this stage. That means they can benefit most from this “boss as partner” paradigm right at the point when they have the most to offer at work. 

Prime loyalty

Another compelling finding within this part of the report: Fully two-thirds of workers reported that they worked for partners, rather than bosses

Now, one explanation might just be that two-thirds of bosses already follow this “partner” paradigm. But another explanation makes more sense. It’s that workers gravitated toward the work situations and bosses that had the most positive effect on their overall life satisfaction.

Put differently, if they had partner bosses, they stayed. But if they had boss bosses, they didn’t just suffer in silence.

Instead, they tried to move on. And by and large, you can imagine that it was the most successful and useful employees who found it easiest to find new homes.

Partner strategies

The paper, by economists John F. Helliwell and Max B. Norton of the University of British Columbia, Haifang Huang of the University of Alberta, and Shun Wang of KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Korea, doesn’t offer prescriptions.

But, it’s fairly easy to determine whether a boss is likely to be perceived as a partner or a traditional boss.

Of course, employee satisfaction isn’t the only goal at a company. The trick here is to act authentically in such a way that drives home appreciation for employees’ contributions, and frankly the sense that their satisfaction is at least one thing that bosses are striving for.

Here are 11 of the key areas. Partner bosses, who are nevertheless effective leaders, are more likely to:

1. Share their vision, and ensure that workers understand how their daily work fits into an overall plan. This also means celebrating wins.

2. Respect other people’s time. For starters, no needless meetings without agendas.

3. Set priorities and make decisions. Because if everything is a priority, nothing is.

4. Share information liberally. Yes, there are times when a boss has to keep confidences. But the bias should be toward sharing.

5. Demonstrate empathy. This includes offering sincere thanks.

6. Accept blame and sharing credit.

7. Model ethical behavior. Clearly.

Nokia kicks off cost-cutting plan after third-quarter profit drops 27 percent year-on-year

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Telecom network equipment maker Nokia on Thursday announced a new cost-cutting program after reporting quarterly profits down 27 percent from a year ago.

FILE PHOTO: The new Nokia 8110 is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The Finnish company, rival to Sweden’s Ericsson and China’s Huawei [HWT.UL], said it was targeting annual cost savings of 700 million euros by the end of 2020, without elaborating the scale of expected job reductions.

Nokia will this year complete a 1.2 billion euro cost-saving program launched after its 2016 acquisition of Franco-American Alcatel-Lucent.

Nokia’s third-quarter non-IFRS operating profit came in at 487 million euros ($555 million), broadly in line with analysts’ mean forecast of 492 million euros in a Reuters poll.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Anne Kauranen, additional reporting by Teis Jensen in Copenhagen, editing by Terje Solsvik

CityFibre to invest 2.5 billion pounds in full-fiber for UK homes

LONDON (Reuters) – CityFibre, a British broadband operator backed by Goldman Sachs, said it would spend 2.5 billion pounds ($3.25 billion) on rolling out fiber networks in 37 towns and cities, offering ultra-fast connections to as many as 5 million homes.

The company, which was bought by Goldman Sachs West Street Infrastructure Partners and private equity firm Antin for $750 million earlier this year, is taking on national provider BT, which has faced criticism for the extent of its own full-fiber ambitions.

CityFibre said its networks, which offer gigabit speeds, would help deliver one third of the government’s 2025 target of 15 million homes.

“Our roll out will soon bring to scale an innovative wholesale network, providing internet service providers and mobile network operators with greater choice and unrivalled technical capabilities, benefiting all sectors of the market,” Chief Executive Greg Mesch said on Wednesday.

The company signed a partnership deal last year with Vodafone to market its networks in 10 cities, including Edinburgh, Coventry and Leeds.

It said on Wednesday it had identified another 27 towns and cities, including Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester, where it would roll out full-fiber connectivity.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by David Evans

Exxon, Ben & Jerry's among buyers of $256 million in political ads on Facebook

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s new searchable database of U.S. political ads reveals that companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp, Ben & Jerry’s and Penzeys Spices are cumulatively spending millions of dollars to encourage voting and influence how Americans vote.

The entrance sign to Facebook headquarters is seen through two moving buses in Menlo Park, California, on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Little data is typically published on specific companies’ online ad spending, but Facebook’s increased transparency about political activity on its service has opened a trove of details ahead of elections on Nov. 6. The social media network showed that $256.4 million was spent on political ads since May.

Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter Inc have introduced similar databases. But compared to Facebook, Google covers a narrower set of advertisers and Twitter’s tool is more difficult to use.

The database unveiled by Facebook on Tuesday, called the “Ad Archive Report,” will provide weekly updates on how much advertisers are spending on Facebook ads that specifically, encourage voting or mention political races or issues of national importance.

That policy pulls in ads from official campaigns as well as paid posts containing a political dimension from boutique apparel makers, talk-show hosts and global firms.

Oil giant ExxonMobil has spent more than $2.1 million on Facebook ads since May, more than any corporation beside online petition service Inc. ExxonMobil has promoted a campaign supporting offshore drilling and urged a “no” vote on a Colorado ballot measure that would limit fracking.

The company did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Ben & Jerry’s, a part of Unilever Plc, has spent more than $401,000 since May on various ads, including one supporting a Florida ballot measure that would let felons vote.

Jay Tandan, the ice cream maker’s U.S. digital marketing manager, said the company welcomed the transparency.

“We’ve long stood up for our company values and used our tools as a business – including monetary expenditure and our social media presence – to support driving the change we hope to see in the world,” Tandan said in an email.

Penzeys, a nationwide retailer of spices based in Wisconsin, has put $773,000 into ads calling on people to vote despite any political frustration they may have following the contentious Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“Make your plan to vote, but please give thought to encouraging others to vote, too,” one ad seen by at least hundreds of thousands Facebook accounts said. “Help them put together the ingredients they need for a healthy and satisfying voting experience.”

Smaller firms are aiming to capitalize on the election too. California-based Concealed Online, which sells firearms training for concealed carry permits, has spent $1.76 million encouraging people in Texas, Florida and other states to apply before a possible shift in power brings gun restrictions.

To be sure, Facebook’s transparency has limits. It privately requires government-issued identification from political ad buyers but allows them pseudoanonymity in public disclosures through vague names such as Be Registered LLC.

The tech companies’ political spending databases arrived after the threat of regulation over the lack of disclosure on such spending.

Facebook also has faced a barrage of criticism from users and lawmakers after it said last year that Russian agents used its platform to spread misinformation before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, an accusation Moscow denies.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Oracle Executive Chairman Larry Ellison Slams Amazon Over Cloud Security

Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison is going after Amazon and its cloud computing arm, once again.

During the database giant’s annual user conference in San Francisco Monday, the Oracle co-founder spent much of his keynote criticizing Amazon over perceived failings. It marks another instance of Ellison using his own company’s technology conference as a vehicle to slam rivals in a public setting. Some other companies Ellison has publicly called out during previous conferences over the past 4 years include Salesforce, SAP, and Microsoft.

At the event Monday, Ellison railed against the security measures of Amazon, as well as taking a few shots at other companies like Google and Facebook that have been criticized over recent data blunders.

Ellison’s criticism over Amazon Web Services and its security has to do with the nature of cloud computing, in which customers rent access to computing infrastructure in a pay-as-you-go model.

Cloud computing became popular in part due to the rise of virtualization technology, which allows companies like AWS and Microsoft to more efficiently partition their client’s corporate data across many servers, with some machines storing the data of multiple companies. One benefit of virtualization technology is that each company’s data remains separate from other company’s data while technically residing on the same computer. This has the effect of squeezing more performance out of each machine.

A flaw within AWS, Ellison contends, is that Amazon runs its “AWS cloud control code” on the same machines as it stores corporate data. Ellison then outlined an apocalyptic scenario in which bad actors could “change the Amazon code and hack the system,” thus gaining access to other company’s corporate data.

This problem with Amazon’s approach, Ellison said, is “a fundamental problem with the architecture of the cloud.” Oracle, he said, “will never put our cloud control code in the same computer that has customer code.”

Still, it should be noted that a doomsday scenario like the one Ellison described has yet to occur. Additionally, every cloud computing company is increasingly touting their own cyber security technologies as superior to their competitors in order to capitalize over the public dismay of recent high-profile hacks and data breaches.

Despite Ellison’s comments toward Amazon over the past few years, the online retail giant remains the leader in cloud computing, according to several technology analysts.

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Research firm Gartner said in August that Amazon held about 51% of the overall cloud computing market in 2017, followed by Microsoft with 13.3%, Alibaba with 4.6%, Google with 3.3% and IBM with 1.9%. Oracle was not mentioned in that Gartner report.

Fortune contacted Amazon for comment and will update this story if it responds.