U.S. Brokers Global Minimum Tax with Support of 130 Nations

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen revealed that 130 nations have agreed to a global minimum tax (GMT) on corporations as part of a larger agreement to update international tax rules. The Biden administration has urged that the rate be at least 15 percent, but Yellen has yet to announce an agreed-upon rate. The agreement — intended to end the practice of global corporations moving their headquarters to low-tax international jurisdictions — is a “key element” of Biden’s domestic plans for revenue and spending. Continue reading U.S. Brokers Global Minimum Tax with Support of 130 Nations

Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

Facebook revealed that former President Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform would last for at least two years. Trump will be eligible for reinstatement on the social network in January 2023, before the next U.S. presidential election. At that time, experts will decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded.” Further violations would trigger “rapidly escalating sanctions” and potentially a permanent suspension. The company also announced that it would end its policy of treating the posts of world leaders and other politicians differently than those of other Facebook users. Continue reading Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

Apple Still Leads Wearables Market, Small Rivals Fuel Growth

IDC reported that 100+ million wearables — including smartwatches, fitness trackers and AR glasses — shipped in Q1, a record-breaking number, especially in what tends to be a slow period. Q2 this year has also seen a 34.4 percent increase in sales year-over-year. The research firm revealed that Apple leads the sector, with a market share of 28.8 percent, followed by Samsung at 11.3 percent, Xiaomi at 9.7 percent and Huawei at 8.2 percent. After that, the next player is India’s boAt, which has a market share of 2.9 percent. Continue reading Apple Still Leads Wearables Market, Small Rivals Fuel Growth

Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

Russia’s Internet regulator, Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media), has increased demands that Facebook, Google and Twitter remove “illegal” content and restore blocked pro-Kremlin content or face restrictions. Since anti-Kremlin protesters used the platforms more recently, Roskomnadzor has upped the frequency of its demands. This week it told Google to block “thousands of pieces of illegal content” or risk throttling. A Russian court also fined Google six million rubles ($81,000) for not removing another piece of content. Continue reading Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

YouTube unveiled its $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund, which rewards creators who post the most engaging clips on its new “TikTok-style” feature. The program will debut in Fall 2021 and continue into 2022. Shorts was introduced in India before debuting in the U.S. in March. Regarding monetization, YouTube plans to experiment, including testing ads, sometime this year. YouTube Shorts director of global partnership enablement Amy Singer said the company will “reach out” to thousands of creators every month. Continue reading YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

Netflix Battles New Rivals, Cracks Down on Password Sharing

Netflix, with 207.6 million global subscribers, still dominates streaming video. But the growing number of rivals, including Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, is beginning to chip away at its position. Netflix reported four million new subscribers in Q1 2021, below the six million it predicted; it expects only one million new customers in the current quarter. It is also cracking down on password-sharing, but co-chief executive Reed Hastings said the process won’t be aggressive. Continue reading Netflix Battles New Rivals, Cracks Down on Password Sharing

Countries Plan to Invest in New Chip Manufacturing Facilities

Due to a global semiconductor shortage, the United States, European Union countries and Japan are planning to spend billions of dollars to build chip fabrication plants (“fabs”). These countries also face the fact that more than two-thirds of the world’s chips are made in Taiwan. China is offering subsidies to its domestic chip industry, as industry-leaders Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics plan to build U.S.-based fabs, potentially aided by significant U.S. government subsidies. Continue reading Countries Plan to Invest in New Chip Manufacturing Facilities

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

Twitter Innovates to Lure New Users, Double Revenue by 2023

Since launching in 2006, popular social service Twitter has remained largely unchanged. The company is now planning a wide-ranging series of new products with the goal of attracting new users. They include ephemeral content, an audio chat service, a newsletter platform, moderation tools and, most recently, new options to pay for exclusive content from some users and to launch communities for specific interests. By 2023, the company hopes to double its user base from its 2019 level and its revenue from 2020 levels. Continue reading Twitter Innovates to Lure New Users, Double Revenue by 2023

Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

Australia’s parliament passed the first law of its kind, requiring Facebook and Google to pay local publishers for news content on their platforms. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg noted that, “the code is a significant microeconomic reform, one that has drawn the eyes of the world on the Australian parliament.” In fact, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison had discussed the new law with leaders of Canada, France, India and the United Kingdom. Facebook recently pledged to spend at least $1 billion over the next three years to license news content. Continue reading Australian Landmark Law Passes, Big Tech to Pay for Content

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

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

CES: Pulitzer Winner Details Megashifts Impacting Our World

Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and columnist for The New York Times discussed his latest thesis that the world has moved from the Industrial Revolution to a world that is “Fast, Fused and Deep.” During CES 2021, Friedman spoke with Professor Amnon Shashua, president and CEO of Mobileye, the Israeli subsidiary of Intel that develops autonomous and assisted driving AI solutions. Friedman framed the discussion by describing the Industrial Revolution as establishing “Walls” to govern the transfer of trade and human beings, a “Floor” as a social safety net to cushion people, and a “Ceiling” on the pace of change. Continue reading CES: Pulitzer Winner Details Megashifts Impacting Our World

Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has long been celebrated in China for his successful entrepreneurship that has made him that country’s richest individual. More recently, however, his troubles with the Chinese government led that country’s media to dub him an “evil capitalist” and “bloodsucking ghost.” Last week, China opened an antitrust probe into Alibaba and is investigating Ant Group, a fintech company Ma spun out of Alibaba. After nixing that company’s IPO, China is now telling Ma to fix its many perceived flaws. Continue reading Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

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