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Google to restructure Cloud business, with some roles eliminated

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Thomas Kurian, the incoming head of Google Cloud and formerly president of product development at Oracle, speaks at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Sept. 24, 2013.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Google is restructuring its Cloud group internally, which will include eliminating some roles, a Google spokesperson confirmed to CNBC.

“We recently communicated organizational changes to a handful of teams that will improve how we market, partner, and engage with customers in every industry around the globe,” a company spokesperson said in an email to CNBC on Friday. “We made the difficult, but necessary decision to notify a small number of employees that their roles will be eliminated.”

The restructuring comes as CEO Thomas Kurian has been at the helm for one year. In that time frame, he’s made a number of changes, mostly additions to the headcount, which he and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai have boasted of over the last few quarters.

The restructuring is primarily meant to realign focus on international markets and affects fewer than 50 employees, according to a person close to the company. The company would not comment on how many employees are affected or which areas within the Cloud business would be affected, only saying it is working with internal “mobility teams” to find the employees new roles within the company.

“We are grateful for everything they have accomplished and their commitment to Google Cloud,” the spokesperson said.

Kurian this week outlined the company’s strategy, which included targeting five industries: retail, health care, financial services, media and entertainment, and manufacturing.

Alphabet broke out Cloud revenue numbers for the first time in its fourth-quarter earnings report. Google’s cloud business generated $8.92 billion in revenue in fiscal 2019, compared with $5.84 billion in 2018, and the company claims it’s on a $10 billion annual run rate.

While that growth is impressive, Amazon Web Services booked more than $35 billion in revenue last year, and analysts including Synergy and Gartner put it in firm first place in terms of market share, with Microsoft as the clear No. 2.

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buy gold as prices weaken, says UBS Wealth Management

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Gold bars being cast at a plant by Gulidov Krasnoyarsk Non-Ferrous Metals Plant in Russia.

Kirill Kukhmar | TASS | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Investors should be putting their money in gold now, as it represents a “very good hedge” ahead of risk events such as the U.S. election, UBS Global Wealth Management told CNBC.

“We like gold, because we think that gold is likely to actually hit about $2,000 per ounce by the end of the year,” according to Kelvin Tay, the firm’s regional chief investment officer, on Tuesday.

“And gold has certain hedges to it,” Tay said. “In (the) event of uncertainty over the U.S. election and the Covid-19 pandemic, gold is a very, very good hedge. And its recent weakness represents a great entry point for investors,” he added, speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Gold prices have shot to record highs this year — and surpassed $2,000 per ounce for the first time in history. Recently, however, prices have dipped again and last traded at around $1,880 per ounce as of Tuesday afternoon during Asia hours.

The precious metal is also attractive due to the low interest rate environment, Tay pointed out.

If interest rates stay low as the Fed has indicated, the opportunity cost of holding gold — a non-yielding asset — will be “quite low,” he added. That’s because investors are not forgoing interest that would be otherwise earned in yielding assets.

Tay also recommended that investors put some money into Chinese government bonds as they are set to be included in major index provider FTSE Russell’s World Government Bond Index. The inclusion, from October 2021, is set to bring billions of dollars of inflows into China.

Tay pointed out that Chinese government bond yields, at 2.5%, are higher than other regions, compared to U.S. yields at 0.6% and European yields at largely negative levels.

“This is really high returns for a very good quality government with very strong balance sheets,” he said.

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Irish schools harnessing solar and smart tech to measure energy use

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Microsoft’s Irish unit is working with a utility firm on a renewable energy scheme that will involve the installation of internet-connected solar panels on the rooftops of schools in the country. 

The project, with SSE Airtricity — a green energy provider and subsidiary of Scotland’s SSE — encompasses 27 schools spread across the Irish provinces of Leinster, Munster and Connaught.

In an announcement Monday, SSE Airtricity said internet of things technology would be harnessed to connect the panels to a cloud computing platform from Microsoft. Within the schools, digitally connected screens have been set up to let pupils follow energy usage information in real time.   

An investment of nearly 1 million euros ($1.17 million) from the Microsoft Sustainability Fund will fund the program.

While the installation of solar panels will help the schools to offset carbon dioxide emissions, there is a wider aspect at play that could have consequences further afield.

In its statement, SSE Airtricity said the software tools would be used to “aggregate and analyze real-time data on energy generated by the solar panels.”

This, it added, would demonstrate “a mechanism for Microsoft and other corporations to achieve sustainability goals and reduce the carbon footprint of the electric power grid.”

The use of renewable energy technologies on buildings designed for education is not unique to the Republic of Ireland.

Earlier this year, Norwegian firm Veidekke was tasked by the city of Oslo to build an energy-efficient, solar-paneled school in Norway.

According to Veidekke, the school — which is set to cover around 14,000 square meters and is slated to be finished before the 2023 academic year begins — will have solar panels on both its façades and roof.

Over in the U.K., the University of Plymouth is one of many institutions to use a Building Management System, or BMS, to both monitor and control things like lighting and the energy used by devices in its buildings.

According to the institution, its BMS “controls 95 percent of our campus buildings, ensuring intelligent control of the building systems to make sure there’s no energy waste.”

The development of sustainable learning environments is not solely reliant on tech, either. In 2019, a 200-foot long “green pollution barrier” was installed at an elementary school in Sheffield, northern England. The idea behind the BREATHE barrier, as it’s known, is to act as an air pollution filter from road traffic.

 

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Nikola shares slide after second sexual abuse allegation raises questions about GM deal

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