Immersive Gamebox Pacts with Netflix for IRL ‘Squid Game’

Netflix has licensed “Squid Game” rights to location-based game destination Immersive Gamebox, which will launch an interactive — and safe — version of the deadly competition, at U.S. locations including Manhattan, Dallas, Salt Lake City and San Jose, as well as overseas sites in the UK and Germany. Fans who purchase a ticket for $24.99 to $39.99 (£20.62 to £32.98) can participate in all six challenges from the show using 3D motion tracking visors and touchscreens placed around the room. Players that don’t “survive” will lose “lives,” while winners “earn money in the piggy bank,” though not actual cash.  Continue reading Immersive Gamebox Pacts with Netflix for IRL ‘Squid Game’

In First for Apple, Maryland Store Employees Vote to Unionize

The National Labor Relations Board announced over the weekend that 65 Apple employees at a Towson, Maryland store (near Baltimore) have voted to unionize (33 voted against). The Apple CORE (Coalition of Organized Retail Employees) will become part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The decision follows a growing labor trend across restaurant, retail and tech industries, while marking a first for Apple’s more than 270 U.S. retail locations. The Towson facility is the third Apple Store to conduct a union drive this year, but the first to hold an official vote. Continue reading In First for Apple, Maryland Store Employees Vote to Unionize

Spotify Says One Billion MAUs by 2030 a Path to Profitability

Trying to assuage fears over what investors are concerned is a limited-growth market, audio streamer Spotify says it plans to hit one billion global monthly average users by 2030. Spotify closed Q1 with 422 million MAUs and 182 million paid subscribers, per Statista. At an Investor Day presentation in New York City this week, CEO Daniel Ek and chief freemium business officer Alex Norström showed slides indicating the company’s goal represents compounded annual growth rates of 26 percent for MAUs, paid subscribers and revenue (on a currency-adjusted basis). To get there, the executives emphasized emerging markets and podcasts. Continue reading Spotify Says One Billion MAUs by 2030 a Path to Profitability

Atlanta Apple Store Employees Pause Union Organizing Push

Apple Store workers in Atlanta, Georgia have paused organizing efforts that could have resulted in the first unionized Apple Store in the U.S. The matter was scheduled to be put to vote this month, but the Communications Workers of America withdrew the request, citing the safety of Cumberland Mall workers amidst a COVID-19 surge and charges of union busting by Apple. At least three other U.S. Apple Stores are holding union drives, according to reports. Workers at a Towson, Maryland location are scheduled to vote June 15, with New York City’s Grand Central Terminal Apple Store also teeing-up, union leaders say. Continue reading Atlanta Apple Store Employees Pause Union Organizing Push

Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

While this year’s TV Upfronts were packed with celebrity appearances and musical performances, the focus had clearly shifted from scheduling to content that could be watched anytime and anywhere and the technologies that facilitate ad insertions and brand messaging opportunities. In addition to changing viewer habits, streaming and binge watching have resulted in new priorities for program services, now focused on libraries that amount to inventory by the ton, according to reports from the television industry’s annual New York pitch event for advertisers. Continue reading Ad Tech, Brand Messaging Take Center Stage at TV Upfronts

YouTube Adds ‘Green Screen,’ Most-Played, Gifting Features

YouTube is amplifying shopping features, adding an effect that lets creators use other backgrounds for shorts and offers a new monetization opportunity through gifting subscriptions. YouTube teased upcoming features that it claimed would make it easier for viewers to discover and buy from brands. At its Brandcast event in New York City, the Google unit touted new ways to engage shoppers, users and advertisers. One new feature allows two creators to simultaneously go live and co-host a single shopping stream, the idea being to double the audience for such events by drawing the fanbase of both creators. Continue reading YouTube Adds ‘Green Screen,’ Most-Played, Gifting Features

Upfronts: YouTube Promotes Talent, Google Advertising Tech

YouTube’s Brandcast presentation at the TV upfronts focused on the platform’s massive consumer reach, popular influencers and technology solutions. In a Tuesday evening presentation at New York’s Imperial Theatre, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki messaged that now “YouTube is the mainstream,” a contention supported by Nielsen findings that in October the video streamer reached about 230 million U.S. viewers 18 and older. Leveraging sisterly synergy, the company unveiled a new ad frequency cap that lets marketers use Google Ads to set limits on how often ads will stream to specific IP addresses, which has ramifications for services beyond YouTube. Continue reading Upfronts: YouTube Promotes Talent, Google Advertising Tech

Art Film Streamer Mubi Debuts NYC Theater Ticket Program

While the arthouse cinema business has been pushed to the edge of extinction in recent years, production company and streaming platform Mubi is offering movie lovers hope. Featuring an eclectic mix of films, the monthly digital subscription service Mubi Go comes with a weekly invite for New York City members to experience a film in select theaters. Mubi expects to expand the theatrical component to Los Angeles next year, and from there to select markets throughout the U.S. Mubi Go launched in Britain in 2018 and has since teamed with more than 150 arthouses. Continue reading Art Film Streamer Mubi Debuts NYC Theater Ticket Program

Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Alphabet conducted internal research that found Google software engineers felt as productive working from home as before the pandemic, although 75 percent of employees said they wanted more “collaboration and social connections” at work. Human resources vice president Brian Welle reported that “most staff also specifically craved physical proximity when working on new projects.” As a result, Alphabet still plans to bring employees back to the office this fall, although some will be able to work full-time from home. Continue reading Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

New York Is First City to Open a Cyberattack Defense Center

New York City just opened its Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure (CCSI) Project, a real-time operational center to protect the metropolitan area against cyberattacks. Located in lower Manhattan, the center shares intelligence with 282 partners, including the New York Police Department (NYPD), Amazon, International Business Machines (IBM), the Federal Reserve Bank and several New York healthcare systems. The anti-cybercriminal effort started two years ago but has been entirely virtual until now. Continue reading New York Is First City to Open a Cyberattack Defense Center

Arthouse Theaters Opt to Stream Indies via Virtual Cinemas

Movie theaters have been shutting down as the coronavirus pandemic keeps patrons at home, and smaller, often family-run chains are taking it hard. At the Laemmle Theatres arthouse chain in Los Angeles, Greg Laemmle noted his concern about “generating revenue during this period.” Like other such small theater chains, Laemmle has taken a step he never dreamed of: introducing “virtual cinemas” to stream the movies that would have run in their theaters to audiences’ homes. Digital tickets cost around $12, and the link remains available for a few days. Continue reading Arthouse Theaters Opt to Stream Indies via Virtual Cinemas

‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

As use of Zoom Video Communications’ conferencing services have soared, the company’s chief executive Eric Yuan has had issues scaling up the popular app. The nine-year-old tool, once a favorite in the business world, is now ubiquitous among a wide swathe of consumers, educators and others. Issues with privacy and hacking have arisen, and Yuan admitted he “messed up” on security, especially with the claim — proven false — that Zoom offered end-to-end encryption. Yuan said the full encryption feature will be available in a few months. Meanwhile, some users are switching to other platforms. Continue reading ‘Zoombombing’ on the Rise, Zoom Works to Improve Security

Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Less than a year after Amazon pulled out of a deal to build its second headquarters (HQ2) in Manhattan, it inked a lease for 335,000 square feet in the neighborhood to house more than 1,500 employees. Facebook is also reportedly in talks to lease 700,000 square feet in a nearby neighborhood. If that plan goes through, the social media platform, which has other real estate holdings in the city, would become one of its largest corporate tenants, which include JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. Continue reading Amazon and Facebook to Lease More Space in Manhattan

Netflix Reopens Beloved Shuttered Theater in New York City

The Paris Theater has, for decades, been a cherished movie venue in New York City. Many mourned its August closure as the last surviving single-screen theater in the city. But now Netflix has come to the rescue, reopening it this month as a hub for premieres, screenings and special events. Netflix held its theatrical run of director Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” there earlier this month. Having its own theater will make it easier for Netflix to arrange Oscar-qualifying theatrical releases of its movies. Continue reading Netflix Reopens Beloved Shuttered Theater in New York City

Qualcomm Offers Roadmap of Global 5G Networks Rollout

At Qualcomm’s Analyst Day in New York City, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon presented a visual roadmap projecting the global rollout of 5G networks in 2020, stating that mid-band (sub-6GHz) 5G will spread broadly, first in major cities and then, in 2021, in developing countries. The deployment of 5G is important for Qualcomm, which is expected to be a major provider of 5G chips and IP to global carriers and OEMs. The deployment projected by Amon is subject to change based on potential regulatory changes. Continue reading Qualcomm Offers Roadmap of Global 5G Networks Rollout