Texas Instruments Points to Signs of Chip Industry Revival

Texas Instruments Points to Signs of Chip Industry Revival(Bloomberg) -- Texas Instruments Inc. gave a quarterly sales and profit forecast that was in line with estimates, indicating that demand from electronics makers is poised to improve amid progress resolving the China-U.S. trade dispute.First-quarter earnings will be 96 cents a share to $1.14 a share, on revenue of $3.12 billion to $3.38 billion, the Dallas-based company said Wednesday in a statement. On average, analysts predicted profit of $1.04 a share and sales of $3.2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Texas Instruments has the biggest customer list and widest product range in the semiconductor industry, making its earnings an indicator of demand across the economy. The company has told investors the electronics business is in the middle of a typical cyclical decline after companies ordered too many parts last year. Such gluts typically last five quarters. In Wednesday’s report, which also included fourth-quarter results, Texas Instruments posted its fifth consecutive period of year-over-year revenue declines.“Most markets showed signs of stabilizing,” the company said in the statement.The company’s forecast for the first quarter was held back by the outlook for the communications equipment industry, which is “going down hard,” Chief Financial Officer Rafael Lizardi said during a conference call. Texas Instruments’ key industrial and automotive markets are close to returning to growth, he said.Shares fell about 1% in extended trading after closing at $133.34 in New York. Despite the revenue declines, the stock has posted a 38% gain in the past 12 months.Three months ago, Texas Instruments said that the U.S. trade dispute with China, the world’s largest market for semiconductors, was adding to customer caution. Since then the countries have signed the first part of what’s promised to be a comprehensive set of trade agreements.Like other chipmakers, the company has raised to the U.S. government the risks to the industry from the trade fight with China and the action taken against Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant. The Trump administration has barred U.S. companies from doing business in many cases with Huawei, citing national security concerns.Texas Instruments generated 3% to 4% of its annual revenue in 2019 and 2018 from Huawei, one of the biggest buyers of semiconductors, the company said.On Wednesday, Texas Instruments reported fourth-quarter net income fell to $1.07 billion, or $1.12 per share, from $1.24 billion, or $1.27, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue dropped almost 10% to $3.35 billion. Analysts had estimated a profit of $1.01 a share on sales of $3.21 billion.The company’s chips perform basic functions in everything from factory machinery to mobile phones. Texas Instruments gets the biggest portion of its revenue from the industrial market and is also a major supplier to automakers and telecommunications equipment producers.(Updates with comment from CFO in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at [email protected], Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Here are the six startups in Betaworks’ new Audiocamp

Back in September, Betaworks put out a call for startups to participate in its latest “camp,” this one focused on audio.

Danika Laszuk, the head of Betaworks Camp, told me at the time that the startup studio was looking for companies that are trying to build “audio-first” experiences for smart speakers and wireless headphones, or pursuing other audio-related opportunities like synthetic audio or social audio.

Now Betaworks is unveiling the six startups that it has selected to participate in the program, covering everything from game assistants to AI music production. Each startup receives a pre-seed investment from Betaworks, and will be working out of the firm’s New York City offices for the next three months.

Here are the companies:

    • Storm is working on a live audio platform that it says will allow your friends to ask you anything.
    • Midgame is building voice-enabled gaming assistants, starting with a bot that answers questions to improve your gameplay in Stardew Valley.
    • Scout FM is developing hands-free listening experiences such as podcast radio stations and voice assistants for Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
    • Never Before Heard Sounds is an AI-powered music production company, working to create new sounds and new musical datasets.
    • SyncFloor is a marketplace of commercial music that can be used in movies, TV shows, ads, video games and elsewhere.
    • The Next Big Idea Club offers a subscription for curated nonfiction books — you can buy the books themselves, but also read, watch or listen to condensed summaries.

Here are the six startups in Betaworks’ new Audiocamp

Back in September, Betaworks put out a call for startups to participate in its latest “camp,” this one focused on audio.

Danika Laszuk, the head of Betaworks Camp, told me at the time that the startup studio was looking for companies that are trying to build “audio-first” experiences for smart speakers and wireless headphones, or pursuing other audio-related opportunities like synthetic audio or social audio.

Now Betaworks is unveiling the six startups that it has selected to participate in the program, covering everything from game assistants to AI music production. Each startup receives a pre-seed investment from Betaworks, and will be working out of the firm’s New York City offices for the next three months.

Here are the companies:

    • Storm is working on a live audio platform that it says will allow your friends to ask you anything.
    • Midgame is building voice-enabled gaming assistants, starting with a bot that answers questions to improve your gameplay in Stardew Valley.
    • Scout FM is developing hands-free listening experiences such as podcast radio stations and voice assistants for Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
    • Never Before Heard Sounds is an AI-powered music production company, working to create new sounds and new musical datasets.
    • SyncFloor is a marketplace of commercial music that can be used in movies, TV shows, ads, video games and elsewhere.
    • The Next Big Idea Club offers a subscription for curated nonfiction books — you can buy the books themselves, but also read, watch or listen to condensed summaries.

Google’s Collections feature now pushes people to save recipes & products, using AI

Google is giving an AI upgrade to its Collections feature — basically, Google’s own take on Pinterest, but built into Google Search. Originally a name given to organizing images, the Collections feature that launched in 2018 let you save for later perusal any type of search result — images, bookmarks or map locations — into groups called “Collections.” Starting today, Google will make suggestions about items you can add to Collections based on your Search history across specific activities like cooking, shopping or hobbies.

The idea here is that people often use Google for research but don’t remember to save web pages for easy retrieval. That leads users to dig through their Google Search History in an effort to find the lost page. Google believes that AI smarts can improve the process by helping users build reference collections by starting the process for them.

Here’s how it works. After you’ve visited pages on Google Search in the Google app or on the mobile web, Google will group together similar pages related to things like cooking, shopping and hobbies, then prompt you to save them to suggested Collections.

For example, after an evening of scouring the web for recipes, Google may share a suggested Collection with you titled “Dinner Party,” which is auto-populated with relevant pages from your Search history. You can uncheck any recipes that don’t belong and rename the collection from “Dinner Party” to something else of your choosing, if you want. You then tap the “Create” button to turn this selection from your Search history into a Collection.

These Collections can be found later in the Collections tab in the Google app or through the Google.com side menu on the mobile web. There is an option to turn off this feature in Settings, but it’s enabled by default.

The Pinterest-like feature aims to keep Google users from venturing off Google sites to other places where they can save and organize things they’re interested in — whether that’s a list of recipes they want to add to a pinboard on Pinterest or a list of clothing they want to add to a wish list on Amazon. In particular, retaining e-commerce shoppers from leaving Google for Amazon is something the company is heavily focused on these days. The company recently rolled out a big revamp of its Google Shopping vertical, and just this month launched a way to shop directly from search results.

The issue with sites like Pinterest is that they’re capturing shoppers at an earlier stage in the buying process — during the information-gathering and inspiration-seeking research stage, that is. By saving links to Pinterest’s pinboards, shoppers ready to make a purchase are bypassing Google (and its advertisers) to check out directly with retailers.

Meanwhile, Google is simultaneously losing traffic to Amazon, which now surpasses Google for product searches. Even Instagram, of all places, has become a rival, as it’s now a place to shop. The app’s Shopping feature is funneling users right from its visual ads to a checkout page in the app. PayPal, catching wind of this trend, recently spent $4 billion to buy Honey in order to capture shoppers earlier in their journey.

For users, Google Collections is just about encouraging you to put your searches into groups for later access. But for Google, it’s also about getting people to shop on Google and stay on Google, no matter what they’re researching. Suggested Collections may lure you in as an easy way to organize recipes, but ultimately this feature will be about getting users to develop a habit of saving their searches to Google — and particularly their product searches.

Once you have a Collection set up, Google can point you to other related items, including websites, images  and more. Most importantly, this will serve as a new way to get users to perform more product searches, too, as it can send users to other product pages without the user having to type in an explicit search query.

The update also comes with an often-requested collaboration feature, which means you can now share a collection with others for either viewing or editing.

Sharing and related content suggestions are live worldwide.

The AI-powered suggested collections are live in the U.S. for English users starting today and will reach more markets in time.