Nielsen Will Split into Two Firms Following Activist Pressure

Following pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, Nielsen Holdings announced plans to split the media research firm into two independent publicly traded companies. Nielsen revealed it would create two separate companies by spinning off its Global Connect business. In a deal expected to close in 9-12 months, the two companies will be named Global Connect and Global Media. “Both the Global Media and Global Connect businesses are independently essential to the industries they serve, but each business has unique dynamics,” explained CEO David Kenny, who will stay on as chief exec of the Global Media business.  Continue reading Nielsen Will Split into Two Firms Following Activist Pressure

Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

In 2020, Amazon will open a new branded grocery store in Woodland Hills, California, a suburb in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. The company is reportedly planning additional stores in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Amazon stated it will feature traditional checkouts, rather than Amazon Go cashier-less technology. Amazon currently owns Whole Foods, with 500 stores, purchased for $13.2 billion in 2017 and Amazon Go, and offers grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, its website and Prime Now. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son and board director Rajeev Misra, who is also SoftBank Investment Advisers chief executive, are focused on saving the Vision Fund, whose bets on Uber Technologies and WeWork have been disastrous. Last week, SoftBank bailed out WeWork, whose value had dipped 80 percent below its peak, with $10 billion. The London-based private investment fund debuted two years ago, with the goal of raising $100 billion to invest in startups valued at $1+ billion, the so-called unicorns of Silicon Valley. Continue reading SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

WeWork’s largest investor, SoftBank, took over the ailing company and ousted co-founder/former chief executive Adam Neumann. WeWork, which ran out of money quickly after failing to go public, attempted to reinvent how office space is sublet, with a technology twist. But Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business management professor Vijay Govindarajan noted that the startup’s business model “is nothing more than a real estate play.” SoftBank, which has a three-year plan to save WeWork, put top executive Marcelo Claure at the helm. Continue reading SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

According to sources, Apple is in talks with cinema chains to open its feature-length films in a traditional theatrical release, with an exclusive stay in theaters before becoming available on Apple TV+. Apple might choose, however, to first debut its films in art house cinemas in New York and Los Angeles. The company reportedly is pursuing this strategy to draw in major directors and producers, as well as avoid the tension Netflix created when it released its movies without an exclusivity window. Continue reading Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

With IPO on Hold, WeWork Investors Consider CEO’s Future

When WeWork, the office-space startup renamed We Company, was valued at $47 billion, skeptics expressed concern that, in 2018, it lost $1.6 billion on revenues of $1.82 billion. Still, many stuck with co-founder/chief executive Adam Neumann. But when We Company faced its IPO, more concerns were voiced about its business model and profit potential. After mulling over reducing its valuation by half, WeWork postponed the IPO. Now, said sources, some board members and investors are discussing the ouster of Neumann. Continue reading With IPO on Hold, WeWork Investors Consider CEO’s Future

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Verizon to Sell Tumblr to WordPress Owner Automattic Inc.

Verizon announced that it is selling New York-based Tumblr to WordPress parent company Automattic Inc. Terms of the deal have not been formally announced, although some reports suggest that Automattic paid less than $3 million. Verizon purchased Tumblr in 2017 following its Yahoo acquisition; Yahoo paid $1.1 billion for the blogging platform four years earlier. Today, Tumblr is an active social networking hub and home to 475 million blogs. While it has a dedicated community, it does not share the same cultural impact as platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Continue reading Verizon to Sell Tumblr to WordPress Owner Automattic Inc.

Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

CBS, Disney’s ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Fox are suing non-profit streaming service Locast in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Locast, funded in part by AT&T, retransmits local television stations without permission, free to consumers. The Supreme Court shut down Aereo, which streamed content without permission in 2014. Locast says its status is legal under the Copyright Act of 1976, because, unlike Aereo, it is a non-profit operating “booster” and “translator stations” that strengthen a TV station’s signal. Continue reading Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New York-based cable provider Altice USA is planning to compete in the crowded wireless market by launching a new mobile service that offers consumers unlimited data at a $20-$30 monthly price point per phone, according to individuals familiar with the plans. Employees will test the new service, likely to be named Altice Mobile, in the coming weeks, with plans for a summer launch. The company will be joining cable rivals Charter and Comcast in offering wireless deals to subscribers. Cable providers are hoping that offering wireless service will discourage their customers from cord-cutting. Continue reading Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Moving Forward With 5G Service

At a J.P. Morgan investment conference, Verizon chief executive Hans Vestberg revealed that the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is performing at 1.5 Gigabits per second. The caveat is that, per Ookla Speedtest, the company is “tightly curating” the test for reviewers, including a testing site outside of Motorola’s offices and other locations adjacent to its 5G hardware. Meanwhile, Sprint stated that it will turn on 5G in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City on May 31; it opened up preorders for 5G devices on May 17. And AT&T is offering 5G to business customers in 19 cities. Continue reading Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Moving Forward With 5G Service

New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange Is Approved by the SEC

U.S. regulators have approved a new stock exchange originally introduced to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year by tech entrepreneur Eric Ries, who raised $19 million from VCs for his project. The new Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) will provide tech firms with options to traditional New York exchanges. The “Silicon Valley-based national securities exchange” is “promoting what it says is a unique approach to governance and voting rights, while reducing short-term pressures on public companies,” reports Reuters. Continue reading New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange Is Approved by the SEC

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