Toronto Has Become a Magnet For Major Tech Companies

Toronto has become an attractive locale for Silicon Valley companies to set up shop. Intel plans to build a graphics-chip design lab there, Uber Technologies will open an engineering hub, and Google’s parent, Alphabet, aims to build a new Toronto campus as part of its “smart city” on Lake Ontario. Microsoft also said it will increase its Canadian workforce by 20+ percent. All that activity has led Silicon Valley Bank, which funds startups and venture capital firms, to open an office in what is the largest Canadian city. Continue reading Toronto Has Become a Magnet For Major Tech Companies

New Disney Hub on Spotify Designed for Families and Kids

Spotify recently announced a new partnership with Disney that brings a collection of Disney playlists to the streaming music platform. The Disney Hub on Spotify — currently available for fans in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K. and U.S. — features soundtracks and other music related to Disney movies and TV shows. Among the current categories are Disney Hits, Disney Favorites, Disney Classics, Disney Sing-Alongs, Disney Princess, Marvel Music and The Best of Star Wars. Continue reading New Disney Hub on Spotify Designed for Families and Kids

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs project began in 2017 when Toronto invited the company to turn an undeveloped 12-acre lot, Quayside, into a model of the digital city of the future. Now, Alphabet has issued a 1,524-page master plan that, in four volumes, details how it will spend the $1.3 billion earmarked for the project. Among those plans, Alphabet details using environmentally-friendly timber, installing an underground pneumatic tube for garbage removal, and building streets for autonomous vehicles from subsidiary Waymo. Continue reading Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Spotify, which now has 123 million worldwide users of its ad-supported audio service, is expanding its podcast business by offering advertisers the ability to target consumers based on the types of podcast programs they are streaming. Brands across 10 global markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) will have the option of targeting Spotify Free users based on podcast categories such as “Business & Technology,” “Comedy” and “Lifestyle & Health.” 3M and Samsung have been testing the new ad-targeting tool. Continue reading Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Latest Sandler Film Sets New Viewership Record for Netflix

Netflix announced yesterday that “Murder Mystery,” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was viewed by nearly 30.9 million households in the film’s first three days of availability, setting a new opening weekend record for a Netflix original. According to the company, 13,374,914 accounts in North America streamed the new film, while 17,494,949 worldwide accounts represented the additional viewing figures. Netflix says it only counted views if members watched at least 70 percent of the film. Netflix inked a four-picture deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions in 2015, and renewed for another four movies two years later. Continue reading Latest Sandler Film Sets New Viewership Record for Netflix

Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

Some companies are changing their model for picking out the best new ideas to develop. In most industries, the typical path of a new product begins in the R&D department and is led by senior staff. But that’s beginning to change, said USC Marshall School of Business chaired professor Ann Majchrzak, who noted that companies are starting to realize that the R&D department “might not be the best predictor of what is a good idea.” Instead, some companies are experimenting with internal crowdsourcing, which lets any employee pitch an idea. Continue reading Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

This week, YouTube announced a new partnership with Major League Baseball that will allow the video streaming site to exclusively live stream a total of 13 MLB games to both YouTube and YouTube TV for free to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Dates and times are forthcoming, but the games will stream on the MLB YouTube channel along with a temporary pop-up channel on YouTube TV specific to MLB. While YouTube and MLB have worked together in the past, they’ve never struck a deal related to exclusive streaming.

Continue reading MLB Plans to Live Stream Games to YouTube, YouTube TV

Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

In Canada, privacy commissioners stated that Facebook’s “superficial and ineffective safeguards and consent mechanisms” violated local and national laws in allowing third parties to access users’ personal data — and that the company has refused to fix the problems. The New York State attorney general plans to investigate Facebook’s “unauthorized collection” of 1.5+ million users’ email address books. Facebook just banned “personality quiz” apps similar to the one behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to improve security. Continue reading Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

Sinemia, billed as a competitor to MoviePass with its multi-tiered subscription-based movie ticket offering that started in Europe, announced it will shutter its U.S. operations. Like MoviePass, Sinemia has faced challenges sustaining its subscription model and working out monetization, especially while contending with similar services from theater chains such as AMC with its Stubs A-List offering. In addition, Sinemia has been dealing with a patent lawsuit from MoviePass and a class-action suit from subscribers frustrated by account policies, hidden fees and app problems. Continue reading Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

Verizon Media (formerly Oath) now has production studios located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Sunnyvale and Taiwan. In addition, it built a 5G Los Angeles studio with plans to help pioneer new formats and production tech enabled by advanced 5G wireless connectivity. The worldwide facilities are being used by Verizon Media brands such as AOL, HuffPost, TechCrunch and Yahoo. The L.A. space — led by Verizon Media’s immersive media arm RYOT — is outfitted with full motion capture and volumetric capture stages. Continue reading Verizon Media Tackles Production Tech With Global Studios

MPAA Announces Record Earnings in Global Entertainment

The Motion Picture Association of America revealed that the global entertainment market reached $96.8 billion in 2018, 9 percent over 2017 and a new record. Most notable was the growth of streaming video, 27 percent over 2017 to 613.3 million global subscriptions. Cable subscriptions, meanwhile, dropped 2 percent to 556 million subscribers, marking the first time that streaming bested cable (although cable still earns more money). Theatrical box office in the U.S. and Canada grew to $11.9 billion, while the overall global box office grew to $41.1 billion. Continue reading MPAA Announces Record Earnings in Global Entertainment

Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Leaked internal Facebook documents reportedly suggest that the company initiated secretive worldwide lobbying efforts to gain influence from hundreds of regulators and legislators across nations including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, all 28 member states of the European Union, the United States and United Kingdom. Reports indicate the social giant promised investments and incentives to politicians in hopes of getting their support for Facebook’s opposition to data privacy legislation. Continue reading Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

Vice Media’s new CEO Nancy Dubuc plans strategic changes to help limit spending and increase company profits. Part of the reorganization will involve laying off about 10 percent of staff (roughly 250 people) across all departments. The Canadian digital media and broadcasting company is expected to shift its focus to film, television and branded content, in addition to restructuring its international teams. The news follows Vice’s hiring freeze in 2018 and recent announcements from other media companies regarding layoffs. Continue reading Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

Justice Department Levies Multiple Charges Against Huawei

The Justice Department charged Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou with the theft of trade secrets, obstructing a criminal investigation and evading economic sanctions on Iran. The charges are part of an aggressive move by the U.S. to block the Chinese telecom firm suspected of undermining national interests. The charges are based on Huawei’s internal emails describing a plan to steal T-Mobile testing equipment. Internal memos also link Meng to bank fraud to evade sanctions against Iran. Continue reading Justice Department Levies Multiple Charges Against Huawei

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