TikTok Library Taps Giphy to Add New Video Creation Tools

TikTok is introducing a new feature, the TikTok Library, aimed at making it easier for creators to augment entertainment content and jump on trends. The TikTok Library will initially be populated with content from Giphy, including the audio-enhanced GIFs known as Giphy Clips. Companies ranging from TV and movie studios to game makers, record labels, sports leagues and media outlets have been sharing licensed content using Giphy Clips. Giphy was founded in 2013, and was in 2020 purchased for $400 million by Facebook, now Meta Platforms.  Continue reading TikTok Library Taps Giphy to Add New Video Creation Tools

Microsoft Takes Its Case for Activision Purchase to Capitol Hill

Microsoft has begun laying the groundwork to gain regulatory approval for its $68 billion Activision Blizzard bid, assuring D.C. decision-makers the purchase will not improperly advantage its own platforms and services. In an effort at transparency, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith say they’re “sharing where we’re going with members of Congress” and meeting with think tank representatives to compile a best-practices road map to ensure lawmakers and stakeholders the deal presents no threat. Microsoft says it wants Activision’s IP not to dominate existing markets but to help stake its claim in the emerging metaverse. Continue reading Microsoft Takes Its Case for Activision Purchase to Capitol Hill

Regulatory Fervor Has Worldwide Reverberations for Big Tech

There are signs a Big Tech backlash could have sweeping ramifications in U.S., Europe, Australia and elsewhere, rewriting the rules for how major technology companies deal with everything from startups to artificial intelligence. Foes of the tech titans may even be leveraging the mood of general hostility toward antitrust tactics exhibited by lawmakers around the globe by seizing the moment to press for changes in the regulation of transatlantic data flows, digital advertising, and self-dealing in addition to new rules circumscribing facial recognition and use of consumer data. Silicon Valley is said to be taking the threat seriously. Continue reading Regulatory Fervor Has Worldwide Reverberations for Big Tech

TikTok Reveals New Content Creation Tools, Tests Live Studio

TikTok is introducing new camera and editing tools, a collaboration with Giphy, and support for 1080p video. The platform is also taking on Twitch and YouTube with TikTok Live Studio. The Windows program is currently in a test phase, allowing creators who download it to their desktop to stream live from the host computer or a connected device such as a smartphone or game console. This could keep TikTok fans in-app for live streaming, eliminating the need for third-party broadcast software like Streamlabs or OBS Studio. Continue reading TikTok Reveals New Content Creation Tools, Tests Live Studio

UK Regulator’s Order for Meta to Sell Giphy Shocks Big Tech

Regulators the world over have been exhibiting antitrust leanings in an effort to temper Big Tech’s unfettered growth, but the UK’s unprecedented move ordering Meta Platforms to sell animated images platform Giphy nearly a year after the purchase has shocked many. The surprise is due not only to the timing, but also for its U.S. implications, and because Giphy’s modest stature has triggered the realization that no deal is too small to escape scrutiny. Meta’s Giphy deal is being described as a “killer acquisition,” wherein an innovative startup is purchased with an intent to quash future competition. Continue reading UK Regulator’s Order for Meta to Sell Giphy Shocks Big Tech

Spotify Launches Netflix Hub with Soundtracks and Podcasts

Spotify has launched a Netflix Hub designed to extend the experience of enjoying one’s favorite streaming films and shows through official soundtracks, playlists, podcasts and  exclusive Spotify content. Spotify explained the evolution of the pre-existing partnership by pointing out that within two weeks of the premiere of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” Spotify listeners “created more than 22,500 unique themed playlists.” The new Hub will include “experiences” like the recent Netflix collaboration on an “enhanced album” for the revisionist Western “The Harder They Fall,” featuring producer Jay-Z in a behind-the-scenes look at the soundtrack. Continue reading Spotify Launches Netflix Hub with Soundtracks and Podcasts

Meta Building a Safe Metaverse While Expanding VR Holdings

Social media platforms, which have had challenges maintaining a safe, socially conscious online environment — as the year’s spate of whistleblower disclosures and global regulatory hearings proves — may face an even tougher time maintaining civility in the metaverse. The shift from monitoring text, images and video to supervising a live 3D world will be orders of magnitude more complicated, observers say. According to a 2020 safety video for “Horizon Worlds,” a game Facebook developed for its virtual reality platform Oculus Quest, the company plans to record what happens in the metaverse, storing data that transpires in users’ VR headsets. Continue reading Meta Building a Safe Metaverse While Expanding VR Holdings

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

European Union Adopts New Strategy to Contain Tech Firms

The European Union has led the movement to leverage antitrust laws in an effort to limit the power of Big Tech companies from the United States. Now, convinced that the impact of these efforts did not go far enough to change behavior, they are pursuing a different tack, this time drafting regulations that address specific business practices. But even as the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google were grilled in a Congressional hearing last week, they reported skyrocketing revenue and billions in profit. Continue reading European Union Adopts New Strategy to Contain Tech Firms

Big Tech Firms Step Up Acquisitions Despite Antitrust Probes

Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft — the five largest U.S. tech firms — are speeding up their acquisitions, even as they are under antitrust investigation by federal officials and state attorneys general. By the end of June, the companies had disclosed 27 deals, up 29 percent from the same period last year, when they announced 21 deals. The increase in purchases could be used as proof by regulators and economists that these companies are using their wealth to dominate competitors and increase their market share. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Step Up Acquisitions Despite Antitrust Probes

FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

About a year ago, the Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons predicted that the antitrust probe of Facebook would be done before the presidential election, a goal that now seems unlikely. If it runs into next year, a new president could change the FTC’s priorities. For now, the Facebook investigation continues, with staff members prepping depositions of Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and examining its purchase of Giphy, a search database for short videos. Continue reading FTC Probe of Facebook Unlikely to Conclude by Election Time

Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Facebook has acquired the GIF platform Giphy for $400 million. Giphy’s 100+ million active daily users send over 1 billion GIFs a day. Facebook stated that Giphy’s content database will be integrated into its apps including Instagram, although it didn’t state a timeframe. Since every social app offers at least some GIF integration, including many that rely on a GIF keyboard and Giphy’s database, Facebook’s purchase is both a competitive edge and another way to harvest the kind of data that attracts advertisers. Continue reading Facebook’s Purchase of Giphy to Provide Valuable User Data

Facebook Eyes New Ways to Earn Revenue from Messaging

Facebook is looking to integrate mobile games into its Messenger app and business-to-consumer chats into WhatsApp. Both of these initiatives have the potential to generate new revenue for the social network. Game developers would potentially pay big bucks to make their games such an integral part of the Facebook experience. The gaming integration is already in the works, while the WhatsApp move may be introduced later. Facebook is talking with game developers to add new play options to Facebook Messenger. Continue reading Facebook Eyes New Ways to Earn Revenue from Messaging