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Earnings

Introducing Protocol’s guide to a wild earnings season

We're going to focus on what the results can tell us about the wider tech industry.

Introducing Protocol’s guide to a wild earnings season
Photo: "Bearish" icon by Edward Boatman, from thenounproject.com

As coronavirus continues to ravage the global economy, this quarter's earnings season stands to give us a fascinating insight into the fortunes and future of the tech industry.

Tech earnings season kicks off in earnest this week, with Netflix, IBM, Intel and Snap all reporting results in the coming days. Many other big names will follow next week.

  • There will be big differences between how companies perform, from Netflix enjoying a potential boost from us all being quarantined at home, to Apple struggling as a result of its supply chain problems in China.

We're going to focus on what the results can tell us about the wider tech industry. Here are some of the big trends that we'll be looking out for:

  • Companies' Q2 guidance will be incredibly useful. With three weeks of data in already, they've got a decent sense of what the economy's like right now — and whether the worst is behind us or yet to come. As StockTwits wrote, "it will probably be a great quarter to listen to the earnings conference calls and a poor one to attend to earnings numbers."
  • We'll get clarity on China's supply chain issues, particularly in Apple's earnings. That has huge ramifications across the industry, particularly in the hardware space.
  • Cloud's big boost will be quantified when the larger providers report their earnings. And chipmakers, which also report this week, could give a sense of whether cloud companies are preparing for further growth in demand this year.
  • We'll find out how much ad revenue has dropped by. Analysts expect the biggest hit to be in Q2, but there was likely some pullback toward the end of March, when average daily ad spending fell over 20%, according to Pathmatics.
  • And we'll see if consumers are still spending. Some analysts expect Netflix and Amazon to report an uptick in demand from quarantiners: JPMorgan's Doug Anmuth said last week that Netflix is a "a clear beneficiary of stay-at-home." But a tanking global economy and soaring unemployment could lead consumers to cut back on spending. We'll get our first sense of that soon.

Stay tuned here to keep track of tech earnings as they're reported over the coming days and weeks.

Microsoft wants to replace artists with AI

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Turning your stories into images.

Image: USPTO/Microsoft

Hello and welcome to 2021! The Big Tech patent roundup is back, after a short vacation and … all the things … that happened between the start of the year and now. It seems the tradition of tech companies filing weird and wonderful patents has carried into the new year; there are some real gems from the last few weeks. Microsoft is trying to outsource all creative endeavors to AI; Apple wants to make seat belts less annoying; and Amazon wants to cut down on some of the recyclable waste that its own success has inevitably created.

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Photo: IBM Research

The iconic image of quantum computing is the "Google chandelier," with its hundreds of intricately arranged copper wires descending like the tendrils of a metallic jellyfish. It's a grand and impressive device, but in that tangle of wires lurks a big problem.

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Yelp is the latest company to announce it will be depositing $10 million across three Black-owned banks, including Carver in New York.

Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Getty Images

Aaron Mitchell, the director of HR for Netflix Animation Studio, had already been working for months on a proposal to address the racial wealth gap when the killing of George Floyd rocked the country in May. Suddenly, it seemed like every company was coming out of the woodwork with pledges to invest and diversify and do better.

On May 27, Mitchell sent an email to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings asking him what he thought of a plan to invest $100 million in Black banks, a unique strategy to funnel more capital back into Black communities struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At that point, no other corporation had made a similar public commitment. Mitchell said the $100 million was an arbitrary amount of money with symbolic significance: It was the same amount that Netflix spent on "House of Cards," a flashpoint in the company's history.

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Microsoft wants to use AR to see through fog and smoke

Apple autonomous cars, AI coffee orders, emailing help and other patents from Big Tech.

See what isn't there.

Image: Microsoft/USPTO

It's beyond dark out at 5:30 p.m. these days, so perhaps, as you're stuck at home with nowhere to go, you're tempted to log off your bad screen and onto your good screen a little earlier than you should. Perhaps that's what happened over at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as this was a bit of a fallow week for patents from Big Tech.

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Tom Siebel takes a victory lap after C3.ai’s blockbuster debut on Wall Street

C3.ai raised $651 million in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

C3.ai shares closed at $92.49 on Wednesday.

Photo: NYSE

Tom Siebel strikes again.

Shares of C3.ai, the company he founded in 2009, just went gangbusters on the company's first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Living up to its ticker "AI," the firm offers catered solutions that help clients like Shell and the U.S. Air Force, among others, predict when their machines may need maintenance.

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