Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

In response to a worrying shortage in chips, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to conduct a 100-day review of the supply chains for semiconductors for various products, large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and rare-earth elements crucial to technology and defense. Biden is also seeking $37 billion in funding to “supercharge” chip manufacturing and urged a separate one-year review of supply chains of six “broader sectors” including food production and technology. Continue reading Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

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

Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

Roku is apparently planning to expand its VOD offerings by producing its own original content, having placed a LinkedIn ad in January looking for a “lead production attorney … [with] substantial experience in television and film production either at a studio, network, streaming service or entertainment law firm [for its] expanding slate of original content.” The ad also asked for someone with “experience working with Hollywood guilds and unions.” Roku recently purchased original content from the startup Quibi. During the holiday quarter, Roku experienced a 58 percent jump in revenue. Continue reading Roku Purchases Quibi Shows, May Produce Original Content

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

YouTube to Offer a 4K Option and Shorts That Mimic TikTok

YouTube in unveiling a suite of new features, including the launch of its YouTube Shorts, which will enable users to create short-form vertical videos similar to those featured on video-sharing platform TikTok. The company will also introduce an option for its pay-TV service YouTube TV that will enable subscribers to watch in 4K, stream programs to an unlimited number of devices and download content for offline viewing. YouTube also plans to expand its new e-commerce feature so viewers can buy products from creators’ channels. Continue reading YouTube to Offer a 4K Option and Shorts That Mimic TikTok

Twitter Considers New Strategies for More Revenue Streams

The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted advertising, but the company is now developing a subscription product that it has considered for years to create a new revenue stream. According to eMarketer, Twitter’s portion of the global digital ad market remains at 0.8 percent and has grown at a slower pace than those of Facebook and Snap. Its U.S. user base has also leveled off. The COVID-19 pandemic and pressure from investors to drive growth are other factors influencing Twitter’s decision to move forward. Continue reading Twitter Considers New Strategies for More Revenue Streams

Chip Shortage Affects Electronics, Gaming, Vehicles, Aviation

Qualcomm chief executive Cristiano Amon has announced a serious shortage of semiconductor chips impacting a range of industries. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers of electronics and vehicles first drastically cut back their demand for chips but then reversed course and demand skyrocketed. Amon is just one of several industry leaders warning of the shortages and highlighting manufacturers’ reliance on outsourcing chip production to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics. Continue reading Chip Shortage Affects Electronics, Gaming, Vehicles, Aviation

Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Microsoft debuted Viva, a package of tools to enable better employee management including a range of human resources-related software for payroll, tracking employee performance and resources for staff on benefits, career development and other life and work aspects. Chief executive Satya Nadella called the toolset “essential,” adding that “the very best tools and systems” for remote working are crucial in difficult times. During the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft has seen an earnings boom in cloud-computing, laptops and video games.

Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Spotify Technology SA posted unexpectedly strong subscription growth during Q4 2020, to 345 million monthly active users, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Paid subscriptions grew 24 percent above the same period last year to 155 million. But average revenue per subscriber fell 8 percent to €4.26 ($5.13) due to discounted plans and lower rates in India and Russia. The company’s 2021 outlook takes into account that such growth could diminish in 2021. Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $315. Continue reading Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon’s robust holiday shopping quarter garnered $125.5 billion in sales and net income of $7.2 billion, the first time the company reached $100+ billion in quarterly revenue, and only days after Apple achieved the same milestone. Amazon amped up sales when it moved its two-day Prime Day shopping event from summer to October. The company’s overall 2020 sales hit $386.1 billion, a 38-percent year-over-year jump. According to analysts, e-commerce grew about 50 percent during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon Plans for HQ2 Include Helix Tower, Outdoors Theme

Amazon has unveiled plans for its HQ2 complex to be located in northern Virginia and accommodate about 13,000 employees with “room for more.” The “centerpiece” is the Helix, a 350-foot tower featuring two spiraling walkways with native plants and trees that twist to the building’s highest point. The development, which highlights an “outdoors theme,” also includes three 22-story office buildings, smaller retail buildings in a woodsy setting, an outdoor amphitheater, a dog run and parking for about 950 bicycles. Continue reading Amazon Plans for HQ2 Include Helix Tower, Outdoors Theme

Nintendo Raises Forecasts Following Strong Holiday Quarter

Buoyed by increased sales of its Switch console, Nintendo reported operating profit of $2.2 billion (229.7 billion yen), its best quarterly earnings since 2008. Analysts previously estimated the quarter’s earnings at 189.6 billion yen. Nintendo raised its annual forecast, again, to a sale of 26.5 million Switch units, up from 24 million. It also pegged its operating profit forecast 24 percent higher, due to increased sales during the COVID-19 pandemic and hit game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” Continue reading Nintendo Raises Forecasts Following Strong Holiday Quarter

ETC Publishes Videos of ‘Ripple Effect’ Digital Town Square

On January 20, the Entertainment Technology Center at USC presented a Digital Town Square, the second of two “Ripple Effect” events. The 2.5-hour online program — “Breaking Down ‘Ripple Effect’ Part 2: Virtual Production” — was co-sponsored by Microsoft Azure and led by Erik Weaver, ETC Adaptive Production director and executive producer of “Ripple Effect.” The program examined lessons learned and virtual production principles of the live-action short. The keynotes, panels and fireside chat are currently available on ETC’s YouTube Channel. Continue reading ETC Publishes Videos of ‘Ripple Effect’ Digital Town Square

World Economic Forum Introduces Global AI Action Alliance

The World Economic Forum (WEF), in partnership with 100+ organizations, debuted its Global AI Action Alliance with the mission to “harness the transformative potential of artificial intelligence by accelerating the adoption of trusted, transparent and inclusive AI systems globally.” Its steering committee includes IBM chief executive Arvind Krishna and International Trade Union Confederation general secretary Sharan Burrow, with multinational organizations OECD and UNESCO. The Alliance is the recipient of $500,000 from a Patrick J. McGovern Foundation $40 million grant to support AI and data projects. According to PwC, AI could contribute $15+ trillion to the world economy by 2030. Continue reading World Economic Forum Introduces Global AI Action Alliance

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