TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

The Walt Disney Company’s streaming service Disney+ reached 100 million subscribers in its first 16 months of operation, after reporting 94.9 million subscribers on January 2. With the latest announcement, Disney+ is clearly on track to reach the goal of 260 million subscribers by 2024. At a shareholder meeting, Disney chief executive Bob Chapek again stressed that Disney+ is a company priority and that it still plans to add 100+ new titles each year. In comparison, Netflix has 203.7 million subscribers. Continue reading Disney+ Achieves 100 Million Subscriber Mark in Record Time

Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

In 2018, former California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making the state the first to enact a net neutrality law. The Trump administration sued to block it, and the Biden administration dropped that suit, but the telecom industry had filed a separate suit. Now, U.S. District Court judge John A. Mendez denied the telecom suit, allowing the state to enforce the 2018 law. State senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called the decision “a huge victory for open access to the Internet, our democracy and our economy,” while some industry groups suggest federal legislation would be a preferred approach to a state-by-state model. Continue reading Court Decision Allows California to Enforce Net Neutrality Law

Cuomo Greenlights March 5 Opening for NYC Movie Theaters

New York governor Andrew Cuomo gave the okay for movie theaters to open beginning March 5 for a maximum of 50 people per screening, a capacity of 25 percent. This marks the first time that movie theaters there have opened in almost a year. Theaters must use advanced air filtration systems, while attendees are required to wear masks and sit in their assigned seats. State theaters outside New York City have reopened over the last few months based on lower COVID-19 infection numbers. In reaction to the news, AMC Entertainment stock rose 16 percent. Continue reading Cuomo Greenlights March 5 Opening for NYC Movie Theaters

States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Rather than wait for federal Internet privacy laws, a growing number of states are pursuing their own proposals. Virginia, Washington, New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida are moving ahead with data protection legislation, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive more users online for work, education and other daily activities. California passed its Consumer Privacy Act in 2018. But Internet privacy experts warn that companies will find it difficult to do business across state lines should this state-by-state model take hold. Continue reading States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

After several months of investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and two U.S. Attorneys’ offices, Zoom Video Communications revealed that it has provided investigators with information regarding its interactions with China and other governments in addition to security and user privacy issues. A former employee based in China, Xinjiang Jin (also known as Julien Jin) has been charged by the Department of Justice for helping the Chinese government halt a remote commemoration of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Continue reading SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell said Hollywood production is slowly but steadily coming back. In March, all projects approved under the California film and TV tax credit program requested force majeure to retain their tax credits, and now 10 of them have resumed production since June 12. Still, the number of on-location film permits in Los Angeles declined 7.6 percent from October to November while production in Vancouver and Toronto are at pre-pandemic levels although movie theaters are shuttered. Continue reading Productions Return Slowly in California But Boom in Canada

Rural Broadband Networks Get a Lift with $9.2B FCC Infusion

The Federal Communications Commission has allocated $9.2 billion to build rural broadband networks, which FCC chair Ajit Pai hailed as the biggest commitment to bring Internet services to these poorly served areas. The funding is the result of an auction in which companies such as Windstream Holdings, Charter Communications and SpaceX bid against each other to build the fastest broadband networks at the lowest costs. The 180 companies that won have 10 years to build the networks with incentives to finish sooner. Continue reading Rural Broadband Networks Get a Lift with $9.2B FCC Infusion

Congress Is United in Passing Internet of Things Security Bill

Congress gave unanimous approval to the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act, a law covering all the bases for the security of the Internet of Things. The Act was written with advice from Symantec, Mozilla and BSA | The Software Alliance among others, which contributed a list of considerations including secure development, identity management, patching, and configuration management. The law is perceived as establishing a baseline for IoT devices and products. Manufacturers can choose to release products that do not comply. Continue reading Congress Is United in Passing Internet of Things Security Bill

Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which will allow gig workers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others to remain independent contractors. These three companies created the proposition to exempt them from a state labor law that would require them to treat drivers as employees and pay for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Proposition 22 does include a wage floor and some benefits for drivers. San Francisco, headquarters for Uber and Lyft, presented the strongest opposition. Continue reading Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Amazon Fresh Stores have a very different look from Whole Foods, which the e-commerce giant purchased in 2017. The Fresh Store, which just opened its second outpost last week in Irvine, California, looks like a small warehouse, with Dash Carts offering integrated touchscreens and cameras. The Fresh Store is designed to be as easy as possible to retrofit in an existing retailer space and the look is spartan and appears to be optimized for robots. Prepared foods are available but there’s no place to sit and eat them. Continue reading Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

DoorDash, Lyft and Uber executives had already pledged $90 million to back California Proposition 22, exempting them from a new state labor law requiring gig workers to be reclassified as employees. But, said sources, political strategists told them they needed to spend even more to have a chance of passing the measure. Now, as we get closer to the November 3 election, backers have spent almost $200 million. A UC Berkeley poll found only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure and 36 percent are opposed. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

AMC Is Running Out of Cash, Sells Some Shares and Assets

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie theater chain, will run out of cash by the end of 2020 if current conditions do not change. Although it’s reopened 83 percent of its U.S. theaters, attendance is down 85 percent from a year ago. In September, AMC set a goal of raising $180 million but so far has raised only about $37.8 million by selling shares. Other fundraising options include taking on debt or selling assets. AMC sold its nine theaters in Europe’s Baltic region of Europe for about $77 million. Continue reading AMC Is Running Out of Cash, Sells Some Shares and Assets

Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

In the latest update to the ongoing battle between Apple and Epic Games, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California ruled that Apple does not have to reinstate Epic’s game “Fortnite” in its App Store. Epic Games, to avoid Apple’s 30 percent commission on apps sold in its store, offered its users a way to download the game on its own site. In retaliation, Apple banned “Fortnite” from the App Store. Gonzalez Rogers said Apple could continue to ban “Fortnite” because Epic violated its contract. Continue reading Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

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