Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Next week, the EU’s Digital Markets Act takes effect, and U.S. tech giants are preparing for headaches. Among the DMA’s goals is making companies like Amazon, Google and Meta Platforms more open and interoperable in 2023. Last month, veteran EU official Gerard de Graaf, who helped create the DMA, was installed as director of a satellite office in San Francisco. There, he will help Big Tech prepare for breaking out their wallets and breaking open their walled gardens as the result of  “significant” changes to how they’ve been doing business in Europe. Meanwhile, telecoms in Europe are looking for tech firms to pay new fees based on bandwidth issues. Continue reading Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Platforms is planning staff reductions as part of a 10 percent cost reduction goal, reports say. Stalled growth and increased competition are among the reasons cited by 20 additional tech firms who have since the summer been contracting their workforce. In the case of Meta, it appears to also be a matter of reallocating funds so as not to drastically scale back its metaverse ambitions. Departments there are being reorganized and affected workers are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company. Word is Alphabet’s Google is also seeking to fill vacancies by reassigning existing staff. Continue reading Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Tencent Holdings Sinks $297M into Ubisoft Owner Guillemot

Tencent has invested $297 million in Guillemot Brothers Limited, the company that owns Ubisoft, maker of “Assassin’s Creed.” The Chinese game giant already had a 4.5 percent stake in Ubisoft that it can now increase to 9.99 percent. Tencent gains a 49.9 percent stake with 5 percent voting rights in the parent company. Shares of Ubisoft fell 17 percent last week when it became apparent there was no takeover in the offing. The deal is part of a strategy “to develop immersive game experiences, and to bring some of Ubisoft’s most well-known AAA franchises to mobile,” said Tencent president and CEO Martin Lau. Continue reading Tencent Holdings Sinks $297M into Ubisoft Owner Guillemot

Lyft Media Aims to Expand Multi-Platform Digital Ad Presence

Lyft Media is the new business unit under which the ride hailing company is consolidating its advertising sales activities. More than two years since Lyft acquired Halo Cars Inc., manufacturer of car-top digital monitors, it is renewing its focus on generating ad revenue. In-car tablets that show advertisements in addition to letting riders track routes, control music and tip and rate their drivers are being testing in Los Angeles and by year’s end will be in 25 percent of Lyft vehicles there and in Washington D.C., Chicago and San Francisco. Continue reading Lyft Media Aims to Expand Multi-Platform Digital Ad Presence

ByteDance on Hiring Spree for Expansion of Its Pico VR Unit

ByteDance appears ready to make a splash in the U.S. virtual reality market and is expanding the presence of its Pico VR unit on the West Coast, as per recent job listings. The Beijing-based ByteDance purchased Pico in August 2021, and now has more than 40 open positions posed for operations in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. According to Pico’s website, the company makes “best in class” wireless VR headsets, and in addition to the U.S. has operations in Europe, China and Japan. Many of the current job listings are for a content division called Pico Studios. Continue reading ByteDance on Hiring Spree for Expansion of Its Pico VR Unit

Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Despite slowing e-commerce sales growth and signs of a global recession, Amazon plans to continue diversifying through investments like building a brick-and-mortar grocery chain, launching a satellite network for Internet delivery, expanding Alexa services, and developing self-driving cars — including through Zoox, an autonomous taxi subsidiary. That was the message from company CEO Andy Jassy at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco. The remarks come after Amazon posted its first quarterly loss in seven years in Q1, which also marked the company’s slowest revenue growth since 2001. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Continue Diversifying Despite Tough Times

Elon Musk Makes ‘Best and Final’ $43B Offer to Buy Twitter

Less than two weeks after announcing he had built up a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter (and more recently turning down an offer to join its board of directors), billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Elon Musk has made a cash offer of $54.20 a share to purchase the popular social networking service, valuing the company at about $43 billion. “Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company,” Musk wrote in a letter to Twitter chairman Bret Taylor disclosed in an SEC filing. “My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder. Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.” Continue reading Elon Musk Makes ‘Best and Final’ $43B Offer to Buy Twitter

Twitter Revenue Tops $5 Billion in 2021, Up 22 Percent in Q4

Twitter net income dropped 20 percent in Q4, but the company posted revenue gains for both the quarter and the year, up 22 percent to $1.57 billion for the three months ending December 31, and 37 percent for the year, which closed at just over $5 billion. Net income was $182 million in Q4, versus $222 million in 2020, due to increased costs in areas such as hiring and marketing. Twitter announced a $4 billion stock buyback and said it would maintain its aggressive Q4 2023 goal of 315 million monetizable Daily Active Users (mDAUs). Continue reading Twitter Revenue Tops $5 Billion in 2021, Up 22 Percent in Q4

Pinterest Posts Its First Full-Year Profit on Sales of $2 Billion

Pinterest stock spiked in extended trading Thursday after its 2021 earnings results stressed the company’s first full-year of profit, as well as the first year to tick above $2 billion in annual revenue. Pinterest stock rose 28 percent in extended trading on a better than expected Q4. “We took important steps in 2021 with the launch of our foundational technology to deliver a video-first publishing platform,” Pinterest co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann said, emphasizing that the company would continue to focus on the new initiatives that helped revenue grow 20 percent for Q4 and 52 percent for the year. Continue reading Pinterest Posts Its First Full-Year Profit on Sales of $2 Billion

Squarespace Adds Monetization Options to Its Video Feature

Squarespace has introduced a new video feature for content creators that provides them with the ability to sell access to videos either as a one-off or via a continuing subscription plan. The website creation and hosting service will offer 30 minutes of uploaded content for free, while creators looking to post more content have the option to sign up for Member Areas plans, starting at $9 per month. To compete with the likes of YouTube, Patreon and OnlyFans, users will be able to upload video directly to their Squarespace site with options for monetizing content. The company’s native video player offers “slick playback” and “deep integration into the Squarespace platform.” Continue reading Squarespace Adds Monetization Options to Its Video Feature

Discord Premium Helps Creators Monetize Within the Platform

Discord has begun testing a Premium Membership feature that lets creators monetize their communities by offering subscriptions. The program allows content providers to offer tiered-access, create subscription-only channels, or paywall entire communities (which Discord calls “servers”). “With Premium Memberships, creators and community owners will have the ability to gate part or all of their server behind a paid subscription,” the company says. Many Discord communities have been offering that sort of experience by integrating services like Patreon, Twitch and YouTube. With Premium Memberships they’ll be able to do it natively through Discord. Continue reading Discord Premium Helps Creators Monetize Within the Platform

Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Unity has agreed to acquire the technology division of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for a price reported at $1.625 billion. The San Francisco-based creator of the popular 3D game platform says the Academy Award-winning VFX firm will “continue as a standalone entity” renamed WetaFX, which Unity predicts will become its largest customer in the media and entertainment space, delivering tools Unity says will “unlock the full potential of the metaverse.” Weta and Unity have already been deeply involved over the years, collaborating on a host of tools used for films, games and immersive experiences. Continue reading Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Unity Platform Offers Turnkey Solution for Multiplayer Games

San Francisco-based Unity Technologies, maker of the cross-platform Unity game engine has launched in beta Unity Gaming Services, a turnkey solution to make it easier to develop and maintain cross-platform multiplayer titles. New are tools for monetization, customer acquisition and player engagement. Statistics from a Unity study indicate 71 percent of multiplayer gamers do so from a mobile device, and 61 percent engage from consoles, while 40 percent say they play on both. The survey indicates 56 percent of Americans play multiplayer games, one in five having begun within the past year. Continue reading Unity Platform Offers Turnkey Solution for Multiplayer Games

HiDef and Unity Pursue Social Impact and Diversity in Games

Game studio HiDef has teamed up with San Francisco-based software developer Unity Technologies to work on a games-as-a-service project that focuses on games that “connect and entertain people through creative expression, competition, shared experiences, and cultural discovery.” The San Diego-based HiDef, founded by Anthony Castoro, Jace Hall, Rick Fox and David Washington in 2019, recently raised $9 million. HiDef said the first title is a metaverse mobile game using the Unity game engine, created in concert with Unity’s gaming services team. Continue reading HiDef and Unity Pursue Social Impact and Diversity in Games

Twitter Revisits E-Commerce with New Shop Module Feature

Twitter recently launched its Shop Module pilot, a new feature that will let businesses add a shopping section to their profiles. The feature, introduced initially in the U.S., allows a dozen retailers — including GameStop Corp. and Arden Cove — to market up to five products at the top of their Twitter profiles. Users can swipe between products and purchase them in an in-app browser without having to leave Twitter. With Shop Module, Twitter has revived its e-commerce activity after abandoning the “Buy Now” button debuted in 2015. Continue reading Twitter Revisits E-Commerce with New Shop Module Feature