FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

FoxNext — the gaming, VR and theme park division of 21st Century Fox — is making a move into mobile games with its purchase of Aftershock, a mobile games spinoff of Vancouver-based Kabam, itself purchased by South Korean gaming company Netmarble. With studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Aftershock is developing a massive multiplayer mobile strategy game around the blockbuster movie “Avatar” in partnership with director James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. Aftershock reportedly has two other game titles in development. Continue reading FoxNext Pursues Mobile Gaming With Aftershock Purchase

SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Japanese telecommunications/Internet titan SoftBank Group just led a $502 million investment round in Improbable, a London-based startup that makes virtual worlds for video games and real-world simulations. In exchange, SoftBank will take a board seat and a non-controlling interest in Improbable, although details of the deal were not released. SoftBank founder/chief executive Masayoshi Son’s growing interest in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things has been a driver in the company’s recent deals. Continue reading SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Facebook, Everfly Build Emergency Internet Service Solution

Facebook has partnered with drone startup Everfly on an unusual plan to offer Internet access in the wake of natural disasters or other major crises. Tether-tenna, as it is dubbed, combines the Everyfly drone and Facebook’s antenna that connects people to the Internet. The prototype drone, unveiled by Facebook at its F8 developer conference, has a 14-foot wingspan and can stay aloft in the air for 24 hours. Once in the air, the antenna system can broadcast the Internet to thousands of people surrounding it. Continue reading Facebook, Everfly Build Emergency Internet Service Solution

Ad-Supported Streamer Tubi TV More Than Doubles Funding

Investors believe Tubi TV may be on the right track with its ad-supported streaming service that now offers more than 50,000 premium movies and TV shows for consumers willing to sit through four to five minutes of commercials for every half hour of content. The San Francisco-based service, which launched in 2014, has more than doubled its funding to $34 million with a new $20 million infusion from four VCs led by Jump Capital. According to Tubi TV founder and chief executive Farhad Massoudi, the service now has “many millions” of users. Continue reading Ad-Supported Streamer Tubi TV More Than Doubles Funding

Usernames No Longer Included in Twitter 140-Character Limit

Twitter is following up on last year’s promise to offer its users more room in their tweet replies. Now, when a user responds to another’s tweet, that individual’s username will not be counted as part of the 140-character limit in the response. “The move is part of a broader effort at Twitter to go ‘beyond 140’ characters and give people more room to tweet without dramatically altering the company’s signature 140-character limit,” notes Recode. “For a while in late 2015 and early 2016, the company considered expanding the character limit to 10,000 characters. But that plan fell through.” Continue reading Usernames No Longer Included in Twitter 140-Character Limit

‘Dig Once’ Broadband Legislation Generates Bipartisan Support

“Dig Once” legislation — whereby construction workers would install plastic pipes any time they build or upgrade roads and sidewalks — is gaining momentum. The idea is that, although the plastic pipes that can house fiber cables may be empty when installed, they make it easier and cheaper to add at a later date. Good news is that the proposal has bipartisan support, having been proposed since 2009 by California Democrat congresswoman Anna Eshoo and now supported by Tennessee Republican representative Marsha Blackburn. Continue reading ‘Dig Once’ Broadband Legislation Generates Bipartisan Support

Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

A new report suggests that the commercial Internet now represents 6 percent of our gross domestic product. “The ad-supported Internet contributed about $1.121 trillion to the U.S. economy last year and is responsible for more than 10 million jobs across all 50 states, according to a new study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The study found that the number of jobs created by the Internet more than doubled from 2012 to 2016, largely spurred by the rapid adoption of mobile devices, the transition to e-commerce, and the growth of a new gig economy. In regards to size and scope, “About 86 percent of the ad-supported Internet economy falls outside of New York City, San Francisco, Boston, the Washington, DC area, and Seattle.” Continue reading Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

Google App Engine Supports More Programming Languages

At Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, Google announced its overhauled version of App Engine, the company’s platform-as-a-service for building application backends. “The big news is that App Engine now supports any programming language,” reports TechCrunch, “so a developer can create the app in whatever language they are comfortable using. Google sees this as a game changer, making the platform more open, which is a big theme with the company as it transitions to try and lure enterprise customers.” App Engine was originally a closed environment, but the new version is open and initially supports seven languages (Java 8, Ruby, Go, Python 2/3, C#, PHP 5/7 and Node.js). Continue reading Google App Engine Supports More Programming Languages

Google Plans Expanded Launch of Waze Car-Sharing Service

Google aims to take on Uber and Lyft more directly with the expansion of its carpool service on the Waze navigation app. Instead of riders hailing cars, the Waze service relies on drivers to pick up people heading in the same direction. The price is much lower than Uber because riders pay up to 54 cents a mile, the IRS’ reimbursement rate for business travel. Google plans to bring the Waze car-sharing service to several cities in the U.S. and Latin America over the next several months. Continue reading Google Plans Expanded Launch of Waze Car-Sharing Service

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Many social networks have thrived on creating relationships with celebrities and influencers, but Snapchat prefers to treat them like ordinary users — so much so that its terms of service prohibit users from getting paid to post. The aim is to provide users a more authentic, less product-promoting experience. It’s also Snapchat’s strategy for differentiating its platform, thus better attracting advertisers that prefer the credibility of an “authentic experience” to influencer endorsements of products. Continue reading Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

Alphabet just spun off its research lab X’s autonomous vehicle project into a separate company named Waymo, to be led by chief executive John Krafcik. The move means the company believes its driverless car technology is nearing readiness for commercialization, due to advancements in sensor technology and breakthroughs in machine learning. Although Alphabet was an early leader in this field, the company has struggled to build a business around the technology, as Tesla, Uber and GM have moved forward. Alphabet is working with Fiat Chrysler on a ride-sharing service to launch next year. Continue reading Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Google Fiber, an Alphabet company, just asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to expand its current service using the 70/80 Ghz band to connect apartments to high-speed Internet. The technology, which Google Fiber acquired by purchasing San Francisco broadband company Webpass, beams Internet signals to the roofs of apartment buildings, from there connecting individual apartments via cable. Now, Google Fiber wants to roll out this service on a much larger scale. Continue reading Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

Following Sony’s recent announcement that the company’s PlayStation Vue streaming service would offer HBO and Cinemax, both premium cable channels are now available as standalones for $15 per month or as part of a new bundle. In addition, the HBO Now app launched yesterday on PS3 and PS4 consoles. According to The Verge, “the new Ultra bundle will include all of Vue’s current offerings, including HBO and Showtime, for $64.99 per month in most locations, and $74.99 per month in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. PlayStation says Vue is the first streaming service to offer live programming from HBO and Cinemax without a bundle subscription.” Continue reading Sony PS Vue Offers HBO, Cinemax as Standalones or Bundle

Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

Twitter is reportedly in early discussions with Google, Salesforce.com and others about a possible takeover of the San Francisco-based company. “Twitter is considering divesting itself of … Vine, the mobile six-second video service, and MoPub, a mobile advertising business,” according to The New York Times. Stalled growth has been a challenge for Twitter, which has largely failed to keep up with competitors in recent years. Facebook’s “offerings like Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger continued to outpace Twitter in user growth and profitability, while five-year-old Snapchat has become the newest darling of the social media world.” Continue reading Facing Slow Growth, Twitter Said to Be Considering Takeover

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