A new front emerges in the corporate world
As the Israel-Hamas war stretches on — with Israeli airstrikes hitting more targets in Gaza amid calls by the U.S. and others to delay a potential ground invasion — companies are finding themselves increasingly tangled in the conflict’s complex politics.
Businesses across the corporate world are seeking to find a balance in their responses to the war that don’t offend users, partners and their own employees. As universities dealing with irate donors have found, that isn’t easy.
Social media giants are dealing with a debate over online expression. LinkedIn issued a warning to a pro-Israel website that accused thousands of people of publishing pro-terrorism content that was apparently scraped off the social network. Critics of the site said it featured people who didn’t explicitly support Hamas or who sought to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Meta has struggled with applying its content policies fairly across its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company has already apologized for a glitch that translated some language in user profiles from Arabic as “Palestinian terrorists.”
Employers are also facing pressure to take a stand. Corporate leaders have had to weigh how far to go in any statements they make, as they search for a balance between denouncing the Hamas attacks and antisemitism, and decrying Islamophobia and calling for a cease-fire.
Experts say companies often find themselves out of their depth in talking about the knotty topic and that sometimes there’s little benefit to rushing out a statement. Still, leaders of groups have been criticized for not commenting publicly, especially since organizations had spoken out on issues including abortion rights and Black Lives Matter.
Some companies, especially those without operations in the Middle East, have chosen not to speak. The C.O.O. of the software company Asana, for example, said it was guided by a major principle: “What problem are we trying to solve?”
High-ranking officials have already faced blowback. The C.E.O. of Web Summit, one of Europe’s biggest tech conferences, resigned this past weekend as major sponsors and speakers pulled out of the event following criticism of his public remarks on Israel.
And a top agent at Creative Artists Agency resigned her leadership roles at the firm after apologizing for content critical of Israel that she had posted on her Instagram account.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Chevron agrees to buy a rival driller, Hess, for $53 billion. The all-stock deal is the second takeover announced this month by an energy giant doubling down on its core business, despite concerns about climate change. Buying Hess will fortify Chevron’s holdings in oil-rich Guyana, just as Exxon Mobil’s $59.5 billion bid for Pioneer Natural Resources consolidates ownership of the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico.
House Republicans plan a forum for speaker candidates. The event, scheduled for later ton Monday will give the nine lawmakers angling for the leadership position to state their case to colleagues ahead of a vote Tuesday on a new nominee. But the crowded field is likely to complicate that effort. The House remains unable to function without a presiding speaker.
Hollywood actors and studios will restart contract negotiations. The SAG-AFTRA union and the alliance representing media giants will meet on Tuesday, as figures on both sides press to restart American movie and television productions. The two were far apart earlier this month on issues including streaming payouts and the use of artificial intelligence.
A new report calls for a global minimum tax on billionaires. Researchers writing for the E.U. Tax Observatory found that a 2 percent levy on the world’s 2,756 wealthiest people could raise close to $250 billion a year for cash-strapped governments. It’s the latest demand for higher taxation of the wealthy amid criticism about their low overall tax bills, but given opposition among lawmakers, including in Congress, such a move is unlikely in the near term.
Big focus on Big Tech
Four of the world’s biggest publicly traded companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Meta — report earnings this week, with investors anxiously awaiting signs that Big Tech’s bet on artificial intelligence is beginning to pay off.
Microsoft and Google’s parent Alphabet will report on Tuesday. Meta is set to go on Wednesday, and Amazon on Thursday. Further out are Apple on Nov. 2 and Nvidia, the chip-maker, on Nov. 21.
Here’s what to watch: Consumer and business takeup of A.I. will be a big focus. Analysts will also be zeroing in on updates about the digital advertising and e-commerce markets, ahead of the crucial holiday sales period.
They will also want to know if the worst has passed after the tech giants laid off thousands of workers and slowed their corporate spending earlier this year amid an uncertain economic outlook.
A tech rally earlier this year has evaporated. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite sank to a near five-month low on Friday, as investors fretted about growing geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and the prospect of higher-for-longer interest rates. The Nasdaq has fallen roughly 3.3 percent since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, raising fears of a wider war in the region that could hurt an already fragile global economy.