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Facebook released its first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.


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Facebook grew its users and revenue in the first quarter, but the social media giant reiterated that a new privacy update Apple released this week could hinder its ads business. 

“We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recently-launched iOS 14.5 update, which we expect to begin having an impact in the second quarter,” Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said in a statement.

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The social network grew its revenue by 48%, to $26.17 billion, beating Wall Street’s expectations of $23.7 billion. Facebook earned $3.30 a share, surpassing the forecast of $2.34 per share anticipated by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. With more businesses going online during the coronavirus pandemic, Wehner noted that the company’s revenue growth was fueled by an increase in the average price per ad. Facebook’s stock jumped by nearly 5%, to $322.04 per share, in after-hours trading. 

Roughly 2.85 billion people logged in to Facebook every month, up 10% compared with the same period last year, the company said Wednesday. 

Facebook’s first-quarter earnings come as a public battle with Apple continues to escalate. The social network said Monday that it started rolling out a change required by Apple as part of Apple’s iOS 14.5 software update. App developers, including Facebook, will start showing iPhone and iPad users a prompt that asks for permission to track them across other apps and websites. Before showing Apple’s required notification, Facebook plans to display its own screen that outlines how the company uses the data, including by noting that advertising allows the company to avoid charging a subscription fee to use its various services.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said during a conference call that the company is helping businesses navigate through the iOS 14.5 changes and is rebuilding “meaningful” parts of its ad technology. She added that the social network believes businesses can still get “great results” from digital ads. 

The world’s biggest social network has had a poor track record when it comes to protecting user privacy. Its most damaging scandal involved data harvesting by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that could have impacted the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. Facebook, though, has publicly pushed back against Apple’s privacy change, stating that it could make it tougher for small businesses to target ads to attract new customers. Apple, on the other hand, says the new feature, known as App Tracking Transparency, will give users more control over their data. 

While Facebook believes the change could harm its ad business, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has downplayed the looming impact on his company. In March, he said in an interview on social audio app Clubhouse that he was “confident” that Facebook would be able “to manage through that situation well.”

New products in the works

At the same time it’s battling Apple, Facebook continues to work on new products as competition heats up from short-form video app TikTok, social media site Twitter and other tech companies.

Facebook plans to roll out several audio tools in the coming weeks, including a Clubhouse competitor and a feature called Soundbites that’ll let users share short audio clips. This week, Spotify added a mini player for songs and podcasts in the Facebook app, which lets users discover new content more easily through social media. 

Facebook has also been doubling down on video within the last year, releasing tools such as videoconferencing feature Messenger Rooms. The company also introduced a short-form video feature called Reels on Facebook and on its photo-service Instagram, going head-to-head with TikTok.

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Digital payments company Square is now offering checking and savings accounts for small-business customers. On Tuesday, the company unveiled Square Banking, a set of tools for collecting payments, managing banking and viewing cash flow all at once.

“When you take payments and bank through Square, everything is connected. Watch your sales flow directly into Square banking, so accessing and moving your money is fast, easy — and can even be automated,” Square said in a press release.

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Square Banking is the latest expansion by the payments company run by Jack Dorsey, who’s also CEO of Twitter. Last week, Dorsey said Square will create a new business focused on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, to help developers design decentralized financial products.

The new checking and savings accounts join the company’s lending option, now called Square Loans, as well as the Square debit card, which the company launched in 2019 for business customers. 

The new accounts will let businesses access money they bring in through Square payments, without first having to transfer it to a separate bank account. Square said the new banking accounts don’t have a minimum balance and that there aren’t monthly account fees. 

Square’s checking accounts will be provided by Sutton Bank, which also issues the Square debit card. Square said funds are FDIC-insured.

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With employees expected to start returning to the office in September, Apple is reportedly clamping down even future on remote work. Some Apple employees are saying it’s even harder to get remote work approved now that the company is moving forward with its hybrid plan, according to a report Thursday from The Verge

Apple’s corporate culture is well known throughout Silicon Valley as secretive, often requiring employees to be on site. However, there were some exceptions to this and some teams were more lenient about remote work, according to The Verge. But now, some of these previous exceptions are reportedly being denied. 

In June, Apple told employees it expects them to be in the office at least three days a week. Employees reportedly pushed back on this plan, asking CEO Tim Cook for more flexibility. Apple reportedly dismissed the request and told employees that “in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”

Some Apple employees have said they plan to quit due to the hybrid work policy, reported The Verge, citing messages in a company Slack channel. 

Apple isn’t the only tech company grappling with plans to return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic. Google, which similarly is asking most employees to be in office three days a week, has frustrated employees with what they say are inflexible and opaque remote work policies. Last month, Facebook extended remote work options to all of its employee, and Twitter has said all employees will have the option to work from home permanently. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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