Source Code: Your daily look at what matters in tech.

next-upnext upauthorJanko RoettgersNoneDo you know what's coming next up in the world of tech and entertainment? Get Janko Roettgers' newsletter every Thursday.9147dfd6b1
×

Get access to Protocol

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
Earnings

Roku earnings: COVID-19 accelerates cord-cutting

Roku earnings: COVID-19 accelerates cord-cutting
  • Q1 revenue: $321 million (+55% YoY, -22% QoQ, vs. $306.7M expected)
  • Q1 loss: $55.2M (up 515% YoY from $10.7M in Q1 2019)
  • Q2 guidance: Roku has withdrawn its guidance for the rest of the year.

The big number: Roku closed in on 40 million active accounts in Q1, ending March with 39.8 million accounts, and growing its user base 37% year-over-year. Account growth has been accelerating under shutdown orders, with Roku disclosing that new account creation increased by more than 70% in April alone. Company stock surged 8% Thursday before the afternoon earnings call, but those gains were being erased in after-hours trading.

People are talking: "The pandemic is accelerating the shift to streaming by both viewers and the industry," said Roku CEO Anthony Wood during the earnings call. Consumers streamed 13.2 billion hours in Q1 of 2020, up 49% year-over-year, as streaming became everyone's favorite pastime during quarantine.

Opportunities: Roku executives argued Thursday that consumers continued to move away from traditional TV over the past couple of weeks despite being homebound, highlighting that prime-time TV viewing was down 18% year-over-year among 18- to 34-year-olds from mid-March to mid-April. Many of these viewers are opting for streaming instead, a trend that could accelerate during a prolonged economic downturn. "We believe that the pandemic is accelerating secular trends towards streaming, and that these trends are permanent," Wood said. "All those cord-cutters are not gonna re-sign up for cable."

Threats: Roku makes most of its money with advertising, and the company warned investors that it had seen "higher than normal cancellations" amid a general ad market decline. However, the company said it still expected to grow its ad business in 2020, as advertisers shift dollars to digital, and, among other things, look for ways to place advertising that would otherwise have run against live sports.

The power struggle: Roku has made some baby steps over the past two years to compete more holistically against Amazon and Google, which included the launch of its own line of smart speakers. The company also reportedly developed its own router, but has yet to officially announce that device. Engagement in these non-core business areas could slow over the coming months, as Roku told investors Thursday that it took steps to reduce the growth of its expenses at the end of the past quarter, cautioning that could slow progress in "strategic investment areas."

Protocol | Enterprise

Alphabet goes deep into industrial robotic software with Intrinsic

If it succeeds, the gambit could help support Google Cloud's lofty ambitions in the manufacturing sector.

Alphabet is aiming to make advanced robotic technology affordable to customers.

Photo: Getty Images

Alphabet launched a new division Friday called Intrinsic, which will focus on building software for industrial robots, per a blog post. The move plunges the tech giant deeper into a sector that's in the midst of a major wave of digitization.

The goal of Intrinsic is to "give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they're completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications," CEO Wendy Tan White wrote in the post.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

As President of Alibaba Group, I am often asked, "What is Alibaba doing in the U.S.?"

In fact, most people are not aware we have a business in the U.S. because we are not a U.S. consumer-facing service that people use every day – nor do we want to be. Our consumers – nearly 900 million of them – are located in China.

Keep Reading Show less
J. Michael Evans
Michael Evans leads and executes Alibaba Group's international strategy for globalizing the company and expanding its businesses outside of China.
People

To combat disinformation, centralize moderation

There's more to content moderation than deplatforming.

In addition to interplatform collaboration, big tech companies would also benefit from greater collaborations with academic researchers, government agencies or other private entities, the authors argue.

Image: Twitter

Yonatan Lupu is an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. Nicolás Velasquez Hernandez is a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs and a postdoctoral researcher at GW's Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' signing of a bill that penalizes social media companies for deplatforming politicians was yet another salvo in an escalating struggle over the growth and spread of digital disinformation, malicious content and extremist ideology. While Big Tech, world leaders and policymakers — along with many of us in the research community — all recognize the importance of mitigating online and offline harm, agreement on how best to do that is few and far between.

Keep Reading Show less
Protocol | Fintech

Marqeta turns to a fintech outsider

Randy Kern, a Salesforce and Microsoft veteran, is taking a plunge into the payments world.

Randy Kern is joining Marqeta after decades at Microsoft and Salesforce.

Photo: Marqeta

Marqeta has just named a new chief technology officer. And it's an eyebrow-raising choice for a critical post as the payments powerhouse faces new challenges as a public company.

Randy Kern, who joined Marqeta last month, is a tech veteran with decades of engineering and leadership experience, mainly in enterprise software. He worked on Microsoft's Azure and Bing technologies, and then went on to Salesforce where he last served as chief customer technology officer.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Protocol | Policy

What can’t Jonathan Kanter do?

Biden's nominee to lead the DOJ's antitrust section may face calls to remove himself from issues as weighty as cracking down on Google and Apple.

DOJ antitrust nominee Jonathan Kanter's work as a corporate lawyer may require him to recuse himself from certain cases.

Photo: New America/Flickr

Jonathan Kanter, President Joe Biden's nominee to run the Justice Department's antitrust division, has been a favorite of progressives, competitors to Big Tech companies and even some Republicans due to his longtime criticism of companies like Google.

But his prior work as a corporate lawyer going after tech giants may require him to recuse himself from some of the DOJ's marquee investigations and cases, including those involving Google and Apple.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Latest Stories