Artists Equity Is Launched to Share the Wealth with Creatives

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have launched a production company called Artists Equity that will offer profit participation to creatives working behind the scenes as well as on camera. The new venture has secured $100 million in financing from RedBird Capital Partners, and Affleck and Damon have also committed undisclosed sums. Affleck has committed to working exclusively for Artists Equity while Damon says he will star in a predetermined number of films. The move is in response to streamers’ reluctance to share earnings, and reported industrywide dissatisfaction with that new status quo. Continue reading Artists Equity Is Launched to Share the Wealth with Creatives

Major Brands Are Starting to Experiment with the Metaverse

Madison Avenue continues to scale in the metaverse, which is experiencing a land-grab for the best storefronts as brands like Gap and Nike unveil digital-only versions of their goods competing against — and sometimes collaborating with — digital-first brands like sneaker maker RTFKT and fashion house Fabrikant. Mobile game destination The Sandbox has already sold more than 70 percent of its “land” to businesses including cryptocurrency exchange Binance and video-game maker Atari. Even traditionalists like NASCAR and JPMorgan Chase are pitching virtual tents. The bank has signed a lease in Decentraland, a 3D online world. Continue reading Major Brands Are Starting to Experiment with the Metaverse

JPMorgan Pegs Metaverse at $1 Trillion, Opens Virtual Bank

Investment banking firm JPMorgan Chase is betting on the metaverse, which it predicts “will likely infiltrate every sector in some way in the coming years, with the market opportunity estimated at over $1 trillion in yearly revenues.” The company has opened a virtual branch in Decentraland, a browser-based 3D world to coincide with publication of the 18-page “Opportunities in the Metaverse” report by Onyx, the blockchain division the bank launched in 2020. Although it’s the first bank known to open a branch in the metaverse, JPMorgan is just the latest of numerous businesses to plant its flag. Continue reading JPMorgan Pegs Metaverse at $1 Trillion, Opens Virtual Bank

Soul Machines Provides Brands AI with an Empathetic Touch

Soul Machines, which creates autonomously animated digital characters that use AI and natural language processing to interact with humans in real time, has completed a Series B1 financing round of $70 million led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The 6-year-old New Zealand-based firm has thus far raised $135 million to fund its effort to create AI-powered “digital people” for digital environments involving entertainment, the metaverse, customer service and education. Soul Machines says it plans to use the new investment to fund continued growth in enterprise markets and ongoing deep tech research for its Digital Brain project. Continue reading Soul Machines Provides Brands AI with an Empathetic Touch

New Blockchain Divide Between Consumers and Tech Titans

Cryptocurrency and NFTs seem to be getting a much different reception from the average consumer than the tech titans that helped launch the crazes. While entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Chris Dixon have dropped millions-to-billions into various blockchain piggy banks, Ubisoft gamers, startups on Kickstarter and artists like Brian Eno are speaking out against everything from NFTs to digital coins. Gamers, in particular, have made their disapproval known, somewhat surprising given they’re typically first-movers, eager to try new technologies and push boundaries. Now, reports are emerging of a schism in the game world. Continue reading New Blockchain Divide Between Consumers and Tech Titans

Companies Join Forces to Minimize Algorithmic Bias in Hiring

Top corporations have agreed to improve their AI-driven hiring programs. As artificial intelligence has been applied to assist in the often arduous process of screening candidates, it is reported that the software may be adversely affecting the potential of diversity in the workforce. A group of companies is designing algorithmic safeguards to improve AI screening software as part of an initiative to solve this issue. The companies hope that system upgrades will ultimately help improve decisions involving areas such as hiring, promotion, compensation and a more diverse workforce. Continue reading Companies Join Forces to Minimize Algorithmic Bias in Hiring

Meta Is Joined by Apple, Various Brands in Metaverse Pursuit

Brands have begun dabbling in the metaverse. Chipotle, Vans and Nike are among those experimenting on Roblox, a platform where users play games, while Verizon staged a stadium game in Fortnite Creative, an affiliate service of the popular Epic game. Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook is said to be encouraging brands to use Instagram’s AR filters to get acclimated to the metaverse. There are reports that Apple is preparing its own meta debut, with Taiwan-based analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting, presumably based on his supply-chain sources, that Apple plans to unveil an AR wearable late next year. Continue reading Meta Is Joined by Apple, Various Brands in Metaverse Pursuit

‘Vans World’ Opens Shop in the Metaverse via Gamer Roblox

Lifestyle apparel firm Vans has teamed with Roblox to bring skateboard destination “Vans World” to the online gamer’s vast audience. The creator of iconic footwear for boarders of all stripes is the latest brand to plant its flag in the metaverse, where kids are spending increasingly large chunks of time. Sony Music Entertainment, Gucci, BMG, Warner Bros. Pictures, Hasbro and Nike are among the firms that have partnered with Roblox, a global social platform with its own currency that in Q2 reported more than 42 million daily users who create and share immersive 3D experiences. Continue reading ‘Vans World’ Opens Shop in the Metaverse via Gamer Roblox

Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes that allow customers to order and pay for food and drinks caught on in restaurants and appear to be here for good. Retail chains including CVS and Foot Locker have also added them as have marketers. Because QR codes can store digital information and open an app or website that tracks peoples’ personal information, they’re ideal for vendors looking to create their own customer databases. Consumers will soon be served customized offers marketed within QR code payment systems. Continue reading Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

Netflix to Launch Online Shop for Show-Branded Merchandise

Streaming giant Netflix has plans to open an e-commerce shop to sell branded goods tied to its many popular shows. The effort is led by Netflix vice president of consumer products Josh Simon, who held a similar position at Nike. Thus far, Simon has grown his team to 60 people (from 20) and inked deals with Amazon, Sephora, Target and Walmart to sell beauty kits, clothes, toys and other products related to its series and films. The online store — which Simon dubs a “boutique” — was created with e-commerce tech company Shopify. Continue reading Netflix to Launch Online Shop for Show-Branded Merchandise

Amazon Wins Appeal Against European Commission Decision

A European Union court struck down a 2017 European Commission decision ordering Amazon to pay $300 million (250 million Euros) in taxes, saying that regulators failed to prove the company had an illegal advantage and that its analysis was “incorrect in several respects.” The Commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager has spearheaded a campaign against several Big Tech companies, including Apple and Google. It was her second recent defeat after the General Court overturned a 2016 decision against Apple. Continue reading Amazon Wins Appeal Against European Commission Decision

More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

One lesser-known story of COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry is how brands have turned to filmmaking. “The Day Sports Stood Still,” a documentary about the NBA shutdown, started as an idea that NBA player Chris Paul brought to producer Brian Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment. The documentary, which debuted on HBO and HBO Max, also drew in Nike’s production entity Waffle Iron Entertainment. “The best partnership you can have is a marriage where the themes between the company and the story are aligned,” said Grazer. Continue reading More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

CES: Brands Rethink Entertainment and Trends in Marketing

During a compelling CES 2021 presentation, MediaLink chair and chief executive Michael Kassan discussed how the past year has changed marketing with The SpringHill Company chief executive Maverick Carter, General Motors global chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl and Nike vice president of North America marketing Adrienne Lofton. “Staring through screens, you can lose connective tissue,” said Carter. “But we discovered you can still bring people together. Instead of jumping in the meeting, we had to talk about where we were at that day.” Continue reading CES: Brands Rethink Entertainment and Trends in Marketing

Executive Spotlight: Interview with Bluescape’s Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the CEO of Bluescape, the leading visual work platform. He is a serial entrepreneur and advisor with a broad and deep knowledge of technology, business and financial markets. Prior to Bluescape, Jackson co-founded Ziploop Inc. (acquired by Snipp Interactive in October 2017), served on the boards of Eventbrite, DocuSign and Kanjoya; took Intraware to IPO, and was president/COO of DataFlex following its acquisition of Granite Systems, among other achievements. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Jackson about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bluescape and the services it deploys to the media & entertainment space. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: Interview with Bluescape’s Peter Jackson

Online Shopping Spikes, Amazon Hires 100,000 New Workers

As the coronavirus fuels a rise in online sales, Amazon plans to hire 100,000 more workers and raise pay for all employees in the U.S. and Canada by $2 an hour. The company’s starting wage is currently $15 per hour in its U.S. fulfillment centers. In the U.K., wages will rise £2 ($2.45) per hour and approximately €2 ($2.24) an hour in many European Union countries. At end of 2019, Amazon employed almost 800,000 full-time and part-time workers. Other companies are also seeing increased online sales as a result of COVID-19. Continue reading Online Shopping Spikes, Amazon Hires 100,000 New Workers