Kuaishou, Rival to ByteDance’s Douyin, Plans Hong Kong IPO

Although the Ant Group suspended its high-profile IPO last week, Kuaishou Technology, a popular short-video and streaming media platform founded in 2011, is moving ahead. According to sources, the company, whose platform competes with ByteDance’s Douyin (TikTok in China), aims to raise about $5 billion and reach a valuation of about $50 billion by filing for an initial public offering in Hong Kong as soon as January 2021. The company was founded by engineers Su Hua, formerly at Google China, and Cheng Yixiao, a Hewlett Packard veteran. Continue reading Kuaishou, Rival to ByteDance’s Douyin, Plans Hong Kong IPO

TikTok-Oracle Deal Rests on Data Security, Ownership Details

In its deal with Oracle, ByteDance is angling for majority ownership of TikTok. “Conceptually, I can tell you I don’t like that,” responded President Donald Trump, who is still in favor of U.S. majority ownership of the app’s operations. Although Trump admitted he hadn’t been briefed on the specifics of the deal, Senate Republicans and others are concerned that it falls short of the original goal. A source stated that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin aims to ensure that U.S. ownership is “well over 50 percent.” Meanwhile, the Commerce Department, at President Trump’s direction, announced this morning that TikTok and WeChat will be banned from app stores in the U.S. beginning on Sunday. Continue reading TikTok-Oracle Deal Rests on Data Security, Ownership Details

More Details on Oracle’s Bid to Be TikTok’s Trusted Partner

Although Microsoft and Walmart’s joint bid was considered the leader to become the “trusted partner” of the U.S. operations of ByteDance’s social video app TikTok, cloud and platform services company Oracle has come out on top. The structure of the Oracle deal is still unknown, but one source said it will not be an “outright sale.” The White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) still have to approve the proposal. President Trump stated he would ban TikTok if it isn’t sold by September 20. TikTok has about 100 million monthly users in the U.S. Continue reading More Details on Oracle’s Bid to Be TikTok’s Trusted Partner

TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

According to sources, ByteDance and the U.S. government are discussing avoiding a full sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Although President Trump issued an executive order for ByteDance to do so by a November 12 deadline, the Chinese government restricted the export of AI technology, making the sale more difficult. One possibility is that TikTok will partner with a U.S. company that would help secure its data. Sensor Tower reported that, again, TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app globally in August 2020. Continue reading TikTok and U.S. Reportedly in Talks on Possible Partnership

Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

Oracle Corporation is making a bid to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and President Trump has voiced his approval. Oracle cofounder and chair Larry Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump at his house earlier this year, and Oracle chief executive Safra Catz worked on Trump’s transition team in 2016. According to sources, Oracle has engaged in some preliminary conversations with minority TikTok owners, but it is unknown if the talks have advanced. Microsoft has also been in talks with TikTok and Twitter has explored a purchase. Continue reading Oracle Joins Microsoft and Twitter as Latest to Pursue TikTok

With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

After weeks of negotiations and following a phone call between President Trump and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, the company stated it will purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations. Microsoft will work to seal the deal — which will also include Canada, Australia and New Zealand — with ByteDance by September 15. Stating appreciation for Trump’s “personal involvement,” Microsoft added that U.S. users’ data would be transferred to and remain in the country. Trump earlier said he would ban TikTok from the U.S. Continue reading With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

In the economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic, Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are thriving. Amazon and Facebook are viewed as essential services, and Apple and Google are working on tools that will help the nation’s state health departments trace COVID-19 infections. While funding for startups shrivels, these companies are hiring. Only months ago, these companies were embattled by regulators and privacy advocates. Now their lobbyists are working to delay California’s new privacy law. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Are Thriving in the Midst of Global Pandemic

SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

SoftBank Group changed technology venture capital when it launched the Vision Fund in May 2017, by setting $100 million as the minimum investment. Since then, the Vision Fund, which raised almost $100 billion, has invested in Uber Technologies, Didi Chuxing Technology and other startups. Now, the Japanese company is debuting Vision Fund 2 and jumpstarting it with its own $38 billion investment. The fund, which will focus on artificial intelligence, has already drawn investment commitments from Apple and Microsoft. Continue reading SoftBank Debuts Vision Fund 2, Focused on AI Investment

Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Computer-generated influencers have arrived. The glamorous all-digital Miquela Sousa (also known as Lil Mequela), which was created by Los Angeles-based startup Brud, has been the star of an Ugg advertising campaign, appearing on billboards around the world. Brud believes it can create CGI social media stars that are easier to manage and monetize than human celebrities. It’s not alone in its efforts; Soul Machines, which has debuted dozens of digital humans, is launching its Digital DNA platform to make it easier to create virtual avatars. Continue reading Computer-Generated Photoreal Influencers, Avatars Are Here

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

China wants to become the most dominant nation in artificial intelligence, and it’s got three advantages that might help that become a reality. In addition to strong government support, which includes a willingness to share data about its citizens, China also has an immense number of engineers to write software and 751 million Internet users who can test out the work they do. As China seeks to gain market share, President Xi Jinping seeks to strengthen intellectual property laws to give its startups an advantage. Continue reading China Set to Toughen IP Laws in Pursuit of Tech Dominance

Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

After adding a new camera to its messaging app Messenger, Facebook is now enabling group video chatting, with support for up to six different users at the same time. The move fits in with Facebook’s strategy of emphasizing videos and photos, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on the company’s November earnings call that, “soon, we believe a camera will be the main way we share.” That may be good for Messenger users, but a challenge to several video-messaging apps just receiving venture capital infusions. Continue reading Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance to Support VR Startups

HTC helped put together the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance, a coalition of 28 venture capital firms committed to investing $10 billion in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality startups. Among the companies joining the consortium are Sequoia Capital, well known for investing in tech giants Apple and Intel; Matrix Partners; and 500 Startups. Prior to this, HTC — which created the Vive VR headset — had pledged more than $100 million to the nascent VR industry. HTC has since spun off Vive into its own separate company. Continue reading Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance to Support VR Startups

Startups Offer New Possibilities with Interactive Video Tech

Brands are getting closer to the long-awaited “shoppable video” model that provides consumers with the ability to purchase items directly through their favorite TV show or online music video. Companies are developing interactive video technology that provides direct links to items within video content via a click or touch of the screen. Israeli startup Interlude, founded by musician Yoni Bloch, has raised $18.2 million so far. Cinematique, founded by CEO Randy Ross, has raised $5.4 million and has developed touchable video tech for numerous brand partners. Continue reading Startups Offer New Possibilities with Interactive Video Tech

Stripe’s Relay Simplifies E-Commerce on Apps and Social Media

Stripe, a startup already valued at $5 billion, just introduced easy-to-use tools that enable retailers to sell goods on Twitter and e-commerce apps including ShopStyle and Spring. Dubbed Relay, the new tools strip away the complications and expense of adding a “buy button” on Twitter and other apps. Stripe says a retailer can add that button with Relay in as little as 30 seconds. In addition to Twitter, Stripe has also partnered with Facebook and Pinterest, although neither company has yet to launch Relay. Continue reading Stripe’s Relay Simplifies E-Commerce on Apps and Social Media

Page 1 of 212