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Google morphs into Alphabet; investors cheer clarity

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Google morphs into Alphabet; investors cheer clarity
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: Google Inc announced a surprise overhaul of its operating structure on Monday, creating a holding company called Alphabet to pool its many subsidiaries and separate the core web advertising business from newer ventures like driverless cars.

The move appeared to be an attempt by the search engine giant to focus on its more creative and ambitious projects, while investors cheered the potential for more financial disclosures of its disparate business segments.

“It suggests that in all likelihood, Google is not going to slow the pace of their experimental processes like self-driving cars,” said Michael Yoshikami, head of Destination Wealth Management, which has $1.5 billion under management.

The surprise news sent shares of Google up as much as 7 percent to $708 in after hours trading.

The new structure could also give Wall Street better insight into Google’s investment in moonshot projects like Google X, a secretive lab that produced the unpopular Google Glass wearable device.

“They are aware that they’ve got this hodgepodge of companies,” said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates. “Maybe it’s better to sort them out a bit and make it clearer which ones are bringing in the bacon and which ones are science projects and which ones are long-term bets.”

The Mountain View-based company co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 has grown from an Internet search engine to a far-reaching conglomerate that employs more than 40,000 people worldwide.

Google’s planned structure resembles the way companies like Berkshire Hathaway and General Electric are organized, with a central unit handling corporate-wide activities such as finance and relatively independent business units focused on specific areas.

Under the new corporate structure, the Google unit will encompass the core search engine as well Google Maps and YouTube.

In addition to Google X, the company’s new ventures such as Calico, which focuses on longevity, and connected home products maker Nest will be managed separately. Other units that are part of the new structure include Fiber, for its high-speed Internet efforts, venture capital arm Google Ventures, and Google Capital, which invests in larger tech companies.

NEW STRUCTURE

Alphabet Inc will replace Google as the publicly traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all the same rights.

“This new structure will allow us to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities we have inside of Google,” Page, the current CEO of Google, said in a blogpost. (https://googleblog.blogspot.in/)
Page will become CEO of Alphabet

Analysts said the new structure could herald a new era of fiscal discipline and transparency in some of Google’s more experimental and opaque business units.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google said the new arrangement will take effect later this year and that it will likely result in two reportable, financial segments.

“For example, if a unit is doing well or badly they can dial it up or down, they can form partnerships or different companies,” said Kay of Endpoint Technologies.

Some other analysts were cautious, saying the new holding company would need to provide more details on cash flow of the experimental business segments.

“Breaking up into two different segments – well, it’s not a terrible thing. It’s better than not doing it but on the other hand, you’re going to have a ton of businesses buried inside of a legacy Google,” said Brian Wieser, an analyst for Pivotal Research Group.

The shuffle also looked to have the markings of Ruth Porat, who joined Google as its chief financial officer in March from Morgan Stanley. In Google’s recent quarterly conference call, Porat, will serve as CFO of both Alphabet and Google, repeatedly emphasized keeping expenses under control.

With Page heading up Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, a long-time Google executive who most recently served as the company’s senior vice president of products, will head Google. Pichai, a well-liked executive who oversaw Google’s Android and Chrome units, is respected in Silicon Valley for attracting top engineers.

Google co-founder Brin will become president of Alphabet, and Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, will be executive chairman. The company’s current directors will become directors of Alphabet.

Analysts said the move could be followed by more structural changes in the future.

“This may be step one of several steps,” said Morningstar analyst Rick Summer.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies

Caitlin Ashworth

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AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial volunteer dies | The Thaiger

A volunteer for a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial in Brazil has died. But he never actually received the experimental vaccine, although he was involved in the trial groups. He did, however, die of Covid-19.

But trials on the vaccine, being developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, are set to continue. The university says “there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial.” The vaccine is also planned to be produced in Thailand and be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021.

The 28 year old volunteer from Rio de Janeiro died from Covid-19 complications, according to CNN Brasil. He was apparently never injected with the experimental vaccine. If the volunteer had been given the Covid-19 vaccine and died, the trial would have been suspended, a source told Reuters, adding that the volunteer may have been part of the control group.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo is helping to coordinate the trials in Brazil and has also recommended the trials continue. So far, 8,000 volunteers have been injected with the first dose of the vaccine and some have already been jabbed a second time, a university spokesperson said.

“Everything is proceeding as expected, without any record of serious vaccine-related complications involving any of the participating volunteers.”

Thailand is set to be the Southeast Asia production site for the new vaccine. If the AstraZeneca trials are successful, the vaccine will be available to the Thai population by the first half of 2021. For Thailand, the vaccine is seen as a lifeline to save the country’s struggling economy, allowing borders to safely reopen and revive the tourism industry.

The company Siam Bioscience will manufacture the vaccine in Thailand and provide injections for the Thai populations as well as the neighbouring countries Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list

Maya Taylor

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The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Young Sok Yun on Flickr

The humble massaman curry has topped a list of the World’s 50 Best Foods, compiled by CNN Travel. Thailand’s coconut milk and potato-based curry (add the meat, tofu or vegetables of your choice) comes in at number 1, with 2 other popular Thai dishes also featuring. The hot and spicy shrimp soup, Tom Yum Goong, comes in at number 8, with papaya salad, aka somtam, in 46th place (mai phet please!) Tell us your favourite Thai dish, and why, in the comments section (below).

CNN Travel says its staff conducted extensive research on global cuisine to find the 50 best dishes ever created. Nice work if you can get it…

Italian pizza, Mexican chocolate, Japanese sushi, Chinese Peking duck and German Hamburger also top the delicious list.

Here’s what the writers had to say about the 3 Thai dishes that made the top taste grade…

Massaman curry, 1st place: Emphatically the king of curries, and perhaps the king of all foods. Spicy, coconutty, sweet and savoury. Even the packet sauce you buy from the supermarket can make the most delinquent of cooks look like a Michelin potential. Thankfully, someone invented rice, with which diners can mop up the last drizzles of curry sauce. “The Land of Smiles” isn’t just a marketing catch-line. It’s a result of being born in a land where the world’s most delicious food is sold on nearly every street corner.

Tom Yum Kung, 8th place: This best food Thai masterpiece teems with shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Usually loaded with coconut milk and cream, the hearty soup unifies a host of favourite Thai tastes: sour, salty, spicy and sweet. Best of all is the price: cheap.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Richard Lee on Flickr

Som Tam/Papaya salad, 46th place: To prepare Thailand’s most famous salad, pound garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle. Toss in tamarind juice, fish sauce, peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, lime juice, sugar cane paste, string beans and a handful of grated green papaya. Grab a side of sticky rice. Variations include those made with crab (som tam pu) and fermented fish sauce (som tam pla ra), but none matches the flavour and simple beauty of the original.

The World’s 50 Best Foods: Thai massaman curry tops the list | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: www.needpix.com

SOURCE: Thai Residents | CNN Travel

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China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue

Maya Taylor

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China ban on inbound, outbound tour groups to continue | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bicanski on Pixnio

The Chinese government is to keep the current ban on inbound and outbound tour groups, amid fears that the winter months could bring a resurgence of Covid-19. The Bangkok Post reports that the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has confirmed on its website that the ban remains in place. After several months with very low case numbers, officials are wary of the virus surging back this winter.

The ban on outbound tours is severely impacting places like Thailand, where former tourist hotspots are already suffering devastating economic consequences from the closure of the country’s borders in late March. Earlier this week, Thailand welcomed its first group of Chinese tourists in 7 months, but the Kingdom has a long way to go to get back to the 10.99 million Chinese who visited last year – if it ever does.

As the Covid-19 virus made itself known at the start of 2020, China put a stop to both domestic and outbound tours in January. Since July, domestic tours have started up again as a result of a significant reduction in Covid-19 cases.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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