Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Google's jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals - CNBC

Google's jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals - CNBC


Google's jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals - CNBC

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 02:02 AM PDT

Google signage.

NurPhoto | Getty Images

Google's fast-growing tool for searching job listings has been a boon for employers and job boards starving for candidates, but several rival job-finding services contend anti-competitive behavior has fueled its rise and cost them users and profits.

In a letter to be sent to European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday and seen by Reuters, 23 job search websites in Europe called on her to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates.

Similar to worldwide leader Indeed and other search services familiar to job seekers, Google's tool links to postings aggregated from many employers. It lets candidates filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply.

Alphabet Inc's Google places a large widget for the 2-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as "call center jobs" in most of the world.

Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialized search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make.

Other job technology firms say Google has restored industry innovation and competition.

The tensions expose a new front in the battle between Google and online publishers reliant on search traffic, just as EU and U.S. antitrust regulators heed calls to scrutinize tech giants including Google. Google so far over the last decade has withstood similar accusations from companies in local business and travel search.

Vestager, who has been examining job search on Google, leaves office Oct. 31. But a person familiar with the review told Reuters that Vestager is preparing an "intensive" handover so that her successor does not drop it. Her office declined to comment on the handoff.

Lack of action could spur Tuesday's signatories, which include British site Best Jobs Online to German peers Intermedia and Jobindex, to follow with formal complaints against Google to Vestager, a person familiar with the matter said.

Berlin-based StepStone GmbH, which operates 30 job websites globally, and another German search service already have taken that step, another person said.

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, which are examining online competition in the United States, declined to comment on whether they are probing Google's jobs search.

Industry executives universally expect that Google will sell ads in the jobs tool, as is typical for its services, enabling the world's biggest seller of online ads to claw billions of dollars in revenue from rivals.

Google long has been frustrated by other search engines filling its results, because they both add a step in users' quest for quick information and pose a threat to its ads empire.

Nick Zakrasek, senior product manager for Google search, said that the company welcomed the industry feedback on jobs search. Google said its offering addresses previous antitrust complaints by allowing rival search services to participate and includes a feature in Europe designed to give rivals prominence.

"Any provider - from individual employers to job listing platforms - can utilize this feature in search, and many of them have seen a significant increase in the number of job applications they receive," Zakrasek said in a statement. "By improving the search experience for jobs, we're able to deliver more traffic to sites across the web and support a healthy job search ecosystem."

Divisive Tool

Google includes jobs only from websites that follow its guidelines, which require postings to be structured such that its computers can easily interpret them. Many leading players have conformed.

For instance, Weston, Massachusetts-based Monster Worldwide Inc has implored customers through training materials to list salary ranges and jobsite addresses on postings in hopes that following Google's guidelines for such items will generate more clicks.

Monster had lost users in recent years because poor website formatting left it with low placement in regular Google results, its Chief Executive Scott Gutz said. The new tool gave Monster a path back to the top.

"There's been a leveling of the playing field," Gutz said.

Google's widget drew 120 million user clicks in June in the United States alone, about double from August 2017, according to research firm Jumpshot, which receives browsing data from antivirus apps.

Holmdel, New Jersey-based iCIMS Inc, which operates job websites for about 4,000 employers, said Google's tool is the third largest referrer of visitors to clients' pages and applicants from it are three times more likely to be hired than those from rival tools, it said.

"What we're already seeing with Google's entrance is better matching candidates to jobs," said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS.

Frustrated are competitors such as Zippia, a San Mateo, California jobs search startup specializing in career path data. CEO Henry Shao said Google's jobs tool "pushes down" Zippia content in search results, making it more difficult to attract users unless it invests in following Google's guidelines.

Zippia lacks the resources to pursue formal complaints, but would aid investigators that call, Shao said.

Larger detractors include StepStone, a unit of media company and long-time Google critic Axel Springer <SPRGn.DE> which eschewed Google's guidelines on most of its jobs websites. Among concerns is that participants are handing over data that could help Google bypass them entirely.

The 23 firms pressing Vestager echoed that worry and said that Google including generic links to competing services high on its European jobs widget was not enough to ensure "equal treatment."

Austin, Texas-based Indeed, which has not formatted its website to participate in Google's tool, declined to comment.

Indeed's traffic from Google has dipped 5% since 2016, according to Jumpshot. It compensated by boosting advertising and pushing new paid offerings, affecting earnings growth, former employees said.

Owner Recruit Holdings Co Ltd <6098.T> forecasts that sales from its Indeed-dominated segment will grow 35% in the year ending March 31, 2020, compared to 50% the year earlier, while adjusted profit margin will be flat.

Eric Liaw, a general partner invested in workplace tech startups at Silicon Valley's Institutional Venture Partners, said Google has "to be careful about how much air they suck out of the room given the scrutiny they are under."

AI, Universities And The Knowledge Gap - Forbes

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 11:15 AM PDT

Future Labs AI Summit

Cognilytica

When it comes to addressing the future of the artificial intelligence industry, few people are caught in the middle of every change and shift than academics pushing forward leading research at universities. Steve Kuyan of NYU and FutureLabs is at the crossroads of the future of academic research in AI is well as the business implementation side. He recently shared his unique insights and perspectives on what we might expect from the industry going forward. As AI continues to gain popularity due to its seemingly never ending list of use cases, it should come as no surprise that it is a hot topic of discussion.

Helping AI startups grow

Started as a partnership between New York University Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), the City of New York, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the New York Economic Development Corporation, the Future Labs is focused on taking smaller companies and helping them to scale up in a way that will allow their businesses to grow in a steady and healthy way. Specifically, FutureLabs focuses on tech companies and the future of the technology industry to help produce what they consider to be future global leaders. Currently, FutureLabs offers programs specifically designed to take AI startups and help them to grow in a way that will allow them to find the right audience and lead them to inevitable success. Startups within this program are focused on designing AI technology that can serve the greater good and provide true aid to businesses and individuals around the world. The FutureLabs program has been actively supporting AI startups for almost a decade, going so far back that they had to market the companies as being focused on recommendation and personalization in the early days to get funding for AI projects since AI was not as widely embraced back them. 

Making AI more accessible

In almost every case, the future of a growing field is in the hands of the students who are learning about it. Though several years back you would be hard pressed to find any students interested in taking classes on AI, these courses now fill up almost immediately because of the growing popularity within this area of study. NYU is no exception. FutureLabs is known for hosting conferences designed to bring innovative designers into a collective space to talk about what they are working on and how AI looks from multiple viewpoints. These conferences, which are filled with valuable information and inspiring stories are the exact kind of dialogues that you want students in AI programs to be exposed to. Watching the many ways that a student can use their degree is an excellent way to help keep them inspired and can help them to begin working on their own innovative designs. This is why when FutureLabs realized that the existing conferences were far too expensive for most average people or students to attend, they sought to make a conference with primary industry leaders that came at a reasonable price.

These conferences allowed for students to hear Netflix explain that without the innovative AI algorithms currently running their recommendation systems, they would have missed out on an estimated billion dollars in loss from people unsubscribing. Alongside Netflix, students were able to learn about AI from the perspective of startup companies, academics in the field, and other corporate partners using AI to change the way that they do business and interact with their customers. Further, audiences were able to learn about how AI can make their daily jobs easier from an internal process perspective, showing them that a future workplace with AI is a better and more comfortable one. These presentations showed audiences filled with students and people of every background that the future of AI is truly infinite and undoubtedly worthy of investment.

The growing AI talent gap

Beyond merely inspiring students to get into AI as a field of study, academia is currently being faced with another problem that runs the risk of limiting the growth of AI as a technology. Since AI is gaining popularity with many companies, many top professors and experts within the field are being recruited by big businesses at large salaries to work for them. While this is good for the experts, it is leaving a large knowledge gap because there simply are not enough teachers to educate the next generation of AI practitioners, data scientists, and ML experts. Some companies have recognized this issue and begun to pay professors and experts to work for the company while also maintaining their teaching schedules, which allows the education cycle to continue with a very delicate balancing act. This is an advantage for some companies because having teachers in their employ also allows them to have a direct connection to students who may have a bright future in the field.

The focus on artificial intelligence shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. As technologies begin to grow and adapt, more use cases will present themselves for artificial intelligence within companies and our daily lives, and this will likely continue to perpetuate the growth of this area over time. Since the possibilities and boundaries with artificial intelligence continue to grow, it appears that AI with touch every single industry. Continuing to make sure we have enough folks who are skilled in the right areas to continue to push AI forward will only become more important.

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