Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company announced 11 tech and media companies will receive funding and support as part of the Disney Accelerator program, now in its fourth year. The companies will be given access to work space at Disney’s L.A. creative campus and guidance from entertainment and media technology leaders. The 2017 class covers a range of compelling areas such as artificial intelligence, eSports, messaging, online learning, robotics, video games and virtual reality. Among the 11 startups are Epic Games, creator of Unreal Engine tech, and location-based VR firm The VOID. Continue reading Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

Facebook Vies With YouTube for Digital Influencer Content

YouTube is where 1.5 billion people go every month to watch videos for more than an hour a day, and influencers such as brothers Jake Paul and Logan Paul have millions of followers and draw in lots of digital ads. Facebook makes it easier for videos to go viral, but hasn’t had much success in getting viewers to watch videos for more than a few minutes. In an effort to do so, Facebook has turned to live sports, making its own programs and a handful of stars who crave Facebook’s enormous reach more than YouTube’s monetization. Continue reading Facebook Vies With YouTube for Digital Influencer Content

Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Facebook is ramping up its social VR efforts through live video streaming. “Users of Facebook Spaces, the social hangout in virtual reality that the company launched earlier this year, can now broadcast via Facebook Live,” reports Variety. “The new feature essentially allows Spaces users to host a kind of virtual reality talk show, and stream it to all of their followers, even if those audiences are tuning in with a mobile phone or a desktop browser.” Slate will be the first to use the new feature to produce a weekly live show. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Ticketmaster has partnered with LISNR, a data-over-audio company, to use an ultrasonic sound technology on users’ smartphones to admit them to live events and track their movements. The technology, dubbed “smart tones,” transmits information between devices, and was recently used by Jaguar Land Rover so that mobile devices in different vehicles could communicate with one another. Ticketmaster is launching a new e-ticketing system called Presence, powered by LISNR tech, that it hopes will reduce entry wait times at live events. Continue reading Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

With its new Snap Map feature, now available on iOS and Android, Snapchat encourages friends to get together in real life instead of just digitally. Snap Map shares your current location via a map that updates when Snapchat is opened. The tech is based on Snap’s acquisition of social map app Zenly. Users can select specific friends for location sharing or disappear from the map via Ghost Mode. Tapping a friend’s “BitMoji avatar opens their Story to show what they’re up to, or lets you message them directly to make meetup plans,” explains TechCrunch. “Snap Map also gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed.” Continue reading Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

In a blog post this week, Facebook VP of core ads Mark Rabkin discusses “Video Advertising in the Mobile Age” and includes some interesting trends in television and social media consumption. While TV remains a powerful medium, people commonly turn to mobile feeds, apps, websites and texting when television no longer holds their attention. Facebook conducted a small study of TV viewers who watched the season premiere of a popular show last fall and found, not surprisingly, that use of Facebook increased during commercial breaks. The post shares tips for creating more effective ads for this audience. Continue reading Facebook Offers Tips for Effective Video Ads in a Mobile Era

China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

Tencent, parent company of China’s biggest social network WeChat and, by revenue, the biggest global online game business, is also an entertainment titan, with China’s biggest online businesses in music, literature, comics and animation. Tencent Pictures, which invested in last weekend’s smash hit “Wonder Woman,” and “Kong: Skull Island,” is key to Tencent’s effort to become a global player in feature filmmaking. The company is also investing heavily in Silicon Valley projects so as not to miss out on the next big thing. Continue reading China’s Tencent Invests in Feature Films, U.S. Tech Startups

WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

China’s most popular messaging app WeChat is drawing in luxury fashion brands. France’s Longchamp and U.K.’s Burberry are selling clothes and purses there, and LVMH brands Givenchy and Dior are conducting flash sales on the app. By hosting upscale retail, WeChat owner Tencent Holdings has put itself in competition with Alibaba Group Holding, China’s dominant e-commerce company, as well as search engine Baidu. All three titans are testing the waters outside their traditional businesses. Continue reading WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

Chat App Kik Plans Debut of Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

Ted Livingston, founder/chief executive of messaging app Kik, is a Bitcoin enthusiast — so much so that he plans to debut his own cryptocurrency, dubbed Kin and based on the Ethereum network, later this summer. The company plans what is called an initial coin offering (ICO), which lets startups create their own digital money, raise funds via crowdsourcing, and thus develop their own cyber economies. Livingston had previously launched another cryptocurrency, Kik Points, in 2014, which ended its run in the fall. Continue reading Chat App Kik Plans Debut of Ethereum-Based Cryptocurrency

TV Networks Add Snapchat Shows to Multiplatform Strategy

Snapchat Shows is exceeding Snap Inc.’s expectations, encouraging the company to focus on an ambitious expansion to the app’s 166 million daily global users. The first Snapchat Show launch, in January 2016, was an internal creation, “Good Luck America,” which has since averaged 5.2 million viewers per episode in its second season, a 53 percent surge from its first season. That popularity is emboldening a long list of celebrities and media entities to jump on board, among them Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, A&E and BBC. Continue reading TV Networks Add Snapchat Shows to Multiplatform Strategy

Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

In a first for Yahoo-owned Tumblr, the blogging platform is launching a group video chat app it has named Cabana. The new app — available now on iOS and coming to Android next month — enables video chat for up to six users who can also stream YouTube video content while chatting. Blogging remains the company’s primary focus, but Cabana represents the first communication app it has developed. Tumblr is “not pivoting, but definitely exploring a new direction here,” said founder/CEO David Karp. “The idea is similar to Houseparty, the app from the company behind former live-streaming darling Meerkat,” notes Recode, and “similar to Airtime, Sean Parker’s chat startup that was revived a year ago.” Continue reading Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Slack came to life three years ago, out of a failed video game, and, as messaging software, combines rich data on how people use a product with information on how people feel about using it. When it debuted in 2014, word of mouth catapulted Slack to a value of $4 billion. Now, the private company has attracted competition from Microsoft, which last fall unveiled Teams, free to 85 million users of Office 365, and Facebook with its free collaboration tool Workplace. A smaller company, Atlassian, has also had success. Continue reading Slack Faces Off Against Bigger Competitors, Tweaks Software

Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

In a few cities last week, Snapchat introduced a new search tool that relies on machine learning to collect text and visual metadata, enabling users to find content, even from users they do not follow. Previously, users only saw Stories from others they followed or that Snapchat served up. This is Snap Inc.’s first major change to its Snapchat software since the company went public in early March; in January, Snap added a search function allowing users to search for friends and publisher content. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces Search Tool Based on Machine Learning

Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

Facebook has again integrated one of Snapchat’s most notable features, introducing Stories, which allows users to create photo/video montages that vanish within 24 hours. Two other camera-oriented features allow users to make the camera accessible with one rightward swipe and add filters and masks; and introduce a direct-messaging tool. All three features will be unveiled this week. Facebook has experienced a slump in posting, and is studying Snapchat as a way to zero-in on its millennial appeal. Continue reading Facebook Co-Opts Stories, Puts More Pressure on Snapchat

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