Amazon Stands to Gain $3 Billion a Year from Prime Video Ads

Amazon this week began serving advertising to Prime Video customers who did not elect to pay an additional $2.99 per month in addition to the basic annual Prime membership of $139 per year or $14.99 per month. Adding commercials is estimated to potentially bring in more than $3 billion a year for Amazon, which is expected to have 2023 revenue of around $567 billion. The surplus will come in handy to pay out $1 billion a year over 11 years for the rights to NFL’s “Thursday Night Football.” The ad-supported Prime Video service launches in the U.S., Canada, UK and Germany, with Mexico, France, Italy, Spain and Australia following later in the year. Continue reading Amazon Stands to Gain $3 Billion a Year from Prime Video Ads

Startup Flip AI Creates Custom LLM to Address Observability

Startup Flip AI has built a custom LLM to run its observability platform. Observability is the act of monitoring corporate IT systems, ferreting out issues or identifying potential problems before they occur. It’s a 24/7 process, and can slow down sites or apps, sometimes causing crashes. Not to be confused with the PDF reader app, Flip AI has trained an LLM specifically to monitor new and emerging challenges. Concurrently, Flip AI has announced $6.5 million in seed funding led by Factory with participation from Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund and GTM Capital. Continue reading Startup Flip AI Creates Custom LLM to Address Observability

Disney to Purchase Remaining Stake in Hulu from Comcast

Disney announced it plans to purchase the remaining one-third stake in Hulu from Comcast’s NBCUniversal in a move that has been widely expected. The announcement follows Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019, which gave the entertainment giant two-thirds of streaming service Hulu. Disney, which is expected to pay at least $8.61 billion for the remaining stake, currently offers the Hulu service as part of a streaming bundle with its Disney+ and ESPN+ platforms. “The acquisition of Comcast’s stake in Hulu at fair market value will further Disney’s streaming objectives,” explained the company in a press release. Continue reading Disney to Purchase Remaining Stake in Hulu from Comcast

OpenAI Announces Official Launch of GPT-4 Multimodal Tech

OpenAI has released GPT-4, which it says is a more powerful and reliable version of the artificial intelligence technology powering its viral ChatGPT chatbot. GPT-4 can analyze images and handle larger blocks of text and is generally “more creative and collaborative” than earlier iterations when it comes to things like composing songs, writing screenplays and mimicking a user’s authorial style. “GPT-4 can solve difficult problems with greater accuracy, thanks to its broader general knowledge and problem-solving abilities,” OpenAI says. GPT-4 is already driving the chatbot technology behind Microsoft’s Bing AI search engine, now in beta. Continue reading OpenAI Announces Official Launch of GPT-4 Multimodal Tech

Twitter Revenue and Adjusted Earnings Are Down 40 Percent

Twitter’s December adjusted earnings and revenue fell about 40 percent, year over year, according to reporting in The Wall Street Journal. CEO Elon Musk, who completed his acquisition of the social platform in October, has instituted deep cuts as he tries to reinvent the company hobbled with an estimated $1 billion in interest per annum on the $13 billion he borrowed to helped pay for the company. The troubles are due in part to bad timing, as the ad market on which Twitter and other socials depend took an overall downturn. Musk, nonetheless, remains optimistic the company will at least break even in 2023. Continue reading Twitter Revenue and Adjusted Earnings Are Down 40 Percent

Twitter Teams with IAS, DoubleVerify to Ensure Brand Safety

In an effort to reassure advertisers that their messaging won’t wind up in a “hellscape,” Twitter has teamed with ad tech firms DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science (IAS) on a third-party brand safety and suitability initiative. The program, which allows companies to analyze surrounding content and make filtering choices, will initially roll out in the U.S. The move comes in the wake of reports of advertiser unrest at Twitter since Elon Musk took control, though at least one outlet reports that more companies than ever (though smaller ones) are alighting at the blue bird’s nest, “sensing a pricing opportunity.” Continue reading Twitter Teams with IAS, DoubleVerify to Ensure Brand Safety

Subpoenas Fly with Tech Elite Drawn into Musk-Twitter Battle

More than 100 subpoenas have reportedly been issued in the legal battle between Elon Musk and Twitter, creating a full employment act for lawyers recruited to represent Silicon Valley’s elite. In addition to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, those summoned to speak include investor Marc Andreessen, Oracle executive chair Larry Ellison, tech investors David O. Sacks and Joe Lonsdale, and former Twitter security head Peiter Zatko. The matter is set to be heard in Delaware Chancery Court starting October 17. “Every firm in the Valley is salivating like dogs trying to get in on that action,” said University of San Francisco professor of legal ethics Carol Langford. Continue reading Subpoenas Fly with Tech Elite Drawn into Musk-Twitter Battle

Walmart+ Subscribers Get Basic Tier of Paramount+ for Free

Walmart is taking a page from Amazon’s playbook and providing its Walmart+ customers streaming video content thanks to a deal with Paramount Global. Walmart+ subscribers will receive an ad-supported Paramount+ subscription as a perk. In addition to helping Walmart keep customers happy, the deal will further Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish’s stated goal of having 100 million Paramount+ subscribers by 2024. Walmart launched Walmart+ about two years ago charging $98 a year, or $12.95 a month, in exchange for free shipping with online purchases, free grocery deliveries for orders above $35 and discounted prescriptions and gas. Continue reading Walmart+ Subscribers Get Basic Tier of Paramount+ for Free

FCC’s Carr Says TikTok Should Be Banned from App Stores

TikTok is facing blowback from the Federal Communications Commission, with one member asking Apple and Google to remove the social video platform from their app stores. FCC commissioner Brendan Carr warned in a joint letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai that “TikTok is not what it appears on the surface. It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos and memes,” but a sophisticated surveillance tool “that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.” As a division of China’s ByteDance, TikTok is “required by Chinese law” to share data with the PRC government. Continue reading FCC’s Carr Says TikTok Should Be Banned from App Stores

Dire Snap Forecast Dampens Social Media, Digital Ad Sectors

Snap’s investor warning of slow growth ahead has sent shivers through the social media sector, the digital advertising industry, and Wall Street. Though the general messaging that supply chain issues coupled with the war in Ukraine is bad for business is not exactly news, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s message that “the macro environment has deteriorated further and faster than we anticipated when we issued our quarterly guidance last month” hit a nerve. Snap lost 43 percent of its market cap on Tuesday, with the social media sector showing signs of drag and analysts forecasting trouble ahead for ad-supported media. Continue reading Dire Snap Forecast Dampens Social Media, Digital Ad Sectors

Musk, Twitter Board Sued in Wake of $7 Billion Commitment

Elon Musk revealed on Thursday he has brought in investors willing to supply $7 billion toward his Twitter buyout. On Friday, he and Twitter were sued by a Florida pension fund seeking to prevent the Tesla CEO’s proposed $44 billion takeover. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to roll his existing $1.9 billion stake into a Musk-controlled Twitter. The fresh endorsement reverses the Saudi’s stance last month, when he tweeted “I don’t believe that the proposed offer by @ElonMusk ($54.20) comes close to the intrinsic value of @Twitter given its growth prospects.” Continue reading Musk, Twitter Board Sued in Wake of $7 Billion Commitment

Twitter Board Attempts to Block Musk as Equity Firms Circle

Twitter is fending-off Elon Musk’s takeover intentions with a poison-pill strategy that will make it much more costly for him to buy the company once his holdings exceed 15 percent. Although the Twitter board has yet to formally respond to Musk’s $43 billion offer of $54.20 per share, it is expected to reject it based on the defensive posture  adopted Friday. The poison-pill plan would be in effect for nearly a year, giving Twitter time to find another buyer. While Musk has not detailed how he would fund his offer, word surfaced Monday that Apollo Global Management is evaluating participation. Continue reading Twitter Board Attempts to Block Musk as Equity Firms Circle

Hot Topics at SXSW: NFTs and a Possibility of Ads on Netflix

Having risen to the position of world’s largest television network largely on the strength of its ad-free programming, there are now predictions that Netflix will over the next few years begin streaming advertisements. Fueled by a perceived softening in tone toward commercials by Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann at a recent investor conference, an analyst at the Variety Intelligence Platform’s “Future of Content” event at SXSW told festival attendees the change would come due to competition from so-called FAST channels — “free ad-supported streaming television.” Continue reading Hot Topics at SXSW: NFTs and a Possibility of Ads on Netflix

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Breaks Prior Record for Digital Sales

Amazon’s Prime Day sales this year reached $5.6 billion on the first day (Monday) and $5.4 billion on day two (Tuesday). According to Adobe Analytics, these numbers made Monday the biggest day for digital sales this year and Tuesday the second biggest, with total U.S. online retail sales 6.1 percent higher than Prime Day’s $10.4 billion worth of sales in 2020. Last year’s Cyber Monday previously held the record of busiest digital sales day at $10.9 billion, although that was a 24-hour event versus Prime Day’s 48 hours. Continue reading Amazon Prime Day 2021 Breaks Prior Record for Digital Sales

Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has identified Apple as one of the company’s biggest rivals, even as it posted record-breaking revenue and profit in Q4. The two companies have clashed over data collection, app-store fees and, most recently, Apple’s plan to enable users to opt-out of data collection by third-party apps. That disadvantages Facebook, which has become an online advertising giant. Zuckerberg noted that Apple’s move will interfere with Facebook’s ability to target ads to its 1.85 billion daily users. Continue reading Zuckerberg Anticipates Broader Competition with Rival Apple