VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

New Zealand-based Weta Digital, a visual effects company that has worked on such high-profile films as “Avatar” and “Avengers: Endgame,” is making a play to create its own original content. Co-founded by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, Weta Digital recently added firepower to its board of directors, including former Disney chief operating officer Tom Staggs, and is also searching to make strategic purchases in the special effects and animation business since animation can be produced remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading VFX House Weta Digital Aims to Become a Content Producer

Walmart and TikTok Team Up for Shopping via Live Streaming

Walmart and TikTok partnered to create a shoppable one-hour live-stream event let week — the Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular — that allowed TikTok creators to feature Walmart fashion items that users can buy without leaving the app. This is the first time that TikTok has hosted such a shoppable live stream in the U.S. Following the event, the items will continue to be featured and available for sale on Walmart’s TikTok page. Walmart is not sharing revenues with TikTok. Meanwhile, Instagram is also bringing shopping to Reels. Continue reading Walmart and TikTok Team Up for Shopping via Live Streaming

Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Facebook took the offense against Apple for its new policies limiting personalized ads on its products, stating that this would disproportionately hurt small businesses that rely on such ads. It pointed to internal research that found small businesses earned 60 percent less without access to targeted advertising. Facebook vice president for ads and business products Dan Levy called Apple’s move anticompetitive, benefitting the company’s own profits at the expense of not just small businesses but also app developers. Continue reading Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

States Focus on Ad Tech in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, 10 state attorneys general charged Google with abusing its dominance by overcharging publishers for ads and elbowing out rivals. The lawsuit also contends that Google struck a deal with Facebook to limit the latter’s efforts to compete for ads. Google claimed the suit is “baseless” and said that it intends to fight it. Another group of states is expected to file a case against Google. This lawsuit is the first to focus on tools that connect buyers and publishers of ad space. Continue reading States Focus on Ad Tech in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

In the final Fall 2020 installment of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series on November 12, Dolby Laboratories proposed two discussion topics: 1) Virtual and augmented reality; what are they good for, and what concerns you about them? And 2) Privacy, security and controlling your own data. Richard Doherty, senior director of technology strategy, Office of the CTO at Dolby Labs led a group of 14 Dolby employees in a discussion with seven USC students studying cinema, engineering, music, communication and business. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

Facing a bipartisan push from Congress to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a liability shield against lawsuits for Internet platforms, tech companies have said they are now ready to discuss it. For 20+ years, Internet platforms have adamantly defended Section 230 but, in recent weeks, both Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey have voiced support for “updating” and/or “expanding” the law. Democrats and Republicans have threatened to repeal Section 230. Continue reading Internet Platforms Say They’re Ready to Discuss Section 230

EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

The European Union’s executive branch issued drafts of two bills that would hike fines for illegal content and anticompetitive behavior up to 6 percent or 10 percent of annual worldwide revenue and even break up Big Tech firms to stop “competitive abuses.” Although the bills don’t mention any firms by name, they could be applied to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The UK, which is no longer part of the EU, has similar legislation in the works that would fine abusers up to 10 percent of annual global revenue. Continue reading EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Twitter €450,000 (about $546,000) for failing to notify the regulator or document a data breach within 72 hours. The breach, revealed in January 2019, exposed some Android users’ private tweets for over four years. Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran said the company takes responsibility … and remains “fully committed to protecting the privacy and data of [its] customers.” This is the first time a U.S. tech company has been served with a GDPR fine in a cross-border case. Continue reading Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

In Silicon Valley, some tech companies, investors and venture capital firms are relocating to cities with lower costs and less traffic. Oracle is pulling up stakes in Redwood City, California and heading to Austin, Texas, saying it plans to implement remote-work policies. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is moving its headquarters to Houston, Texas, where Elon Musk, long a Los Angeleno, has also moved. Although the reasons for leaving vary, many relocations seem to have been triggered by rising costs and the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading Pandemic, Rising Costs Ignite Tech Exodus From Silicon Valley

Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

This week, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook for anticompetitive practices. But it is also looking at how Facebook leveraged user data to both lure and control third party developers, relying heavily on data sharing via application programming interfaces (APIs). MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy director Sinan Aral noted that the upcoming cases could set a precedent for any platform that shares data via an API and has conditions on that data sharing.

Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

After an 18+ month investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and regulators from 46 states have officially accused Facebook of anticompetitive behavior by purchasing rivals. The separate lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Facebook currently owns three major messaging apps and the suits call for the company’s purchase of Instagram (for $1 billion in 2012) and WhatsApp (for $19 billion in 2014) to be undone. Since the acquisitions, both messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Continue reading FTC and States File Lawsuits That Aim to Break Up Facebook

Nielsen to Introduce New TV Ratings That Include Streaming

Nielsen will debut a new TV ratings system beginning in Q4 of 2022 that will incorporate digital viewing, including streaming TV, into its metrics of current traditional TV audiences. In 2021, it will preview the new data with existing ratings. Nielsen will need the approval of the TV networks and tech companies and hopes to gain ad seller and buyer support by the start of the fall 2024 TV season. Nielsen will also need to integrate its new metrics across platforms and data sources to ensure reliably comparable information. Continue reading Nielsen to Introduce New TV Ratings That Include Streaming

EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

The European Union is eagerly anticipating the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, even as it scrutinizes proposals targeting U.S. Big Tech behavior and, in some cases, business models in an effort to reestablish itself as the “global tech cop.” Although the Electoral College has yet to convene and vote and inauguration day isn’t until January 20, the European Commission and Council are already issuing policy papers on how they hope to partner with the new U.S. administration on numerous issues. Continue reading EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Facebook disclosed plans to buy Kustomer, a customer relationship management startup, in a deal valued by sources at close to $1 billion. Crunchbase stated the New York-based Kustomer has raised about $170 million in venture capital funding. Kustomer would help Facebook provide customer support on its main platform and its services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. The deal, subject to regulatory scrutiny, comes as Facebook is already being investigated for its acquisition of startups as anticompetitive behavior. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Buy Customer Service Startup Kustomer

Facebook Tech Problems Impact Ad Campaigns, Businesses

After Facebook’s “conversion lift” tool overestimated the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, impacting marketers total spend, the company is offering millions of dollars in credit. The error was undetected for a year beginning August 2019. Some of the advertisers said their confidence in Facebook’s metrics is now shaken, especially at a time of cutting costs and concern over ad spending. Small businesses are also seeing their accounts blocked without explanation and no recourse due to Facebook’s increased reliance on AI and automated filters. Continue reading Facebook Tech Problems Impact Ad Campaigns, Businesses

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