Incubated at Twitter by Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Launching Beta

Bluesky, a decentralized platform conceived by Jack Dorsey while he was CEO of Twitter, has generated more than 30,000 waitlist signups as it prepares for a private beta launch of Bluesky Social. Bluesky’s main innovation is the Authenticated Transport (AT) Protocol, described as a networking technology “to power the next generation of social applications.” AT Protocol is an open standard designed to allow different social apps the ability to interoperate, giving users more control by letting them independently adjust algorithm settings or move profiles without losing data. Continue reading Incubated at Twitter by Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Launching Beta

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

Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

Tencent’s nearly two-decade growth trajectory came to a halt Wednesday with a 3 percent revenue drop over the same period in 2021. The contraction marked the Chinese video game and social media giant’s first quarterly revenue decline since going public in 2004. Tencent’s April-June revenue fell by about $20 billion, the result of China’s slowing economy and sagging digital advertising revenue, as well as tighter government video game regulations and diminished consumer user spending. Prior to Q4 2021, Tencent had consistently posted double-digit — and sometimes triple-digit — growth since its IPO. Continue reading Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

House Rep Plans to Update Streaming Revenue for Musicians

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) is working on new legislation to help musicians boost their share of the revenue pouring into streaming services, which currently sits at fractions of a cent per stream. Tlaib is working with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) on a new royalty program that would increase the royalty rate per-stream model. Tlaib and her team are actively collaborating to draft the resolution. The Recording Industry Association of America says that streaming accounts for 83 percent of all recorded music income.  Continue reading House Rep Plans to Update Streaming Revenue for Musicians

U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

U.S. tech execs are experiencing app envy, with companies from Uber to PayPal and billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey setting their sights on building one-size-fits-all “super apps” to rival Tencent’s WeChat in China and SoftBank’s LINE in Japan. Where typical apps are built to do one thing really well, so-called super apps are generalists, which in theory means people will use them more often. Spotify and Snap have also expressed interest in super solutions, which have been popular in Asia since 2020 and are sparking new interest in the West. Continue reading U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

Chinese Technology Companies Are Experiencing Slowdowns

China’s tech sector is taking a hit. Revenue for e-commerce giant Alibaba posted what appears to be its most sluggish quarterly increase ever, at 9 percent, with competitor JD.com also paced among its worst performances, with revenue up 18 percent for Q1. The nation’s search engine leader, Baidu, reported 1 percent revenue growth, while Tencent remained flat. Supply chain problems due to the COVID-19 resurgence in conjunction with Beijing’s recent measures to battle back monopolies are cited as causes for the negative market turn. Since late 2020, China has been investigating alleged monopolistic practices among many top corporations. Continue reading Chinese Technology Companies Are Experiencing Slowdowns

Tencent Reports a Significant Profit Decline on Flat Revenues

Chinese tech and entertainment conglomerate Tencent Holdings posted a 23 percent first quarter profit decline on earnings that inched up only 0.1 percent, its worst results since publicly listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004. China’s COVID-19 resurgence and the ensuing regulatory crackdown of the past year were cited as factors. The world’s largest video game developer said that it is refocusing on quality product as Beijing telegraphs it will limit the number of titles release in the coming months. Authorities suspended video game licenses and put time restrictions on game streaming in an effort to protect the nation’s youth. Continue reading Tencent Reports a Significant Profit Decline on Flat Revenues

TikTok Launches SoundOn to Help Music Creators Monetize

TikTok has launched a distribution platform for music creators, SoundOn. The all-in-one platform, which also offers marketing assistance, is designed to help artists develop and launch their careers. Released in beta last year, SoundOn has already gone live in the U.S., UK, Brazil and Indonesia, enabling music to be directly uploaded to TikTok and Resso, a music streaming platform ByteDance launched in 2020. SoundOn enables “artists to grow their fanbases, harness their creative voice and get their music heard worldwide,” TikTok says. Creators keep 100 percent of their streaming royalties in year one and 90 percent thereafter. Continue reading TikTok Launches SoundOn to Help Music Creators Monetize

Microsoft Takes Its Case for Activision Purchase to Capitol Hill

Microsoft has begun laying the groundwork to gain regulatory approval for its $68 billion Activision Blizzard bid, assuring D.C. decision-makers the purchase will not improperly advantage its own platforms and services. In an effort at transparency, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith say they’re “sharing where we’re going with members of Congress” and meeting with think tank representatives to compile a best-practices road map to ensure lawmakers and stakeholders the deal presents no threat. Microsoft says it wants Activision’s IP not to dominate existing markets but to help stake its claim in the emerging metaverse. Continue reading Microsoft Takes Its Case for Activision Purchase to Capitol Hill

Big Tech Bristles as Antitrust Bill Moves to a Full Senate Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance a bill designed to level the playing field between Big Tech and smaller players forced to rely on the giant firms to reach customers. Allegations that the behemoths abuse their power to subjugate competitors and exploit consumers permeate Capitol Hill. After being reminded by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) that antitrust laws haven’t been meaningfully updated “since the birth of the Internet,” the American Innovation and Choice Online Act was advanced on a bipartisan basis, setting it on a path for a full Senate vote. Continue reading Big Tech Bristles as Antitrust Bill Moves to a Full Senate Vote

Microsoft Believes Activision Purchase Is ‘Key’ to Metaverse

Microsoft has made a nearly $70 billion offer to buy Activision Blizzard in a move that will bolster its Game Pass franchise, instantly expand its reach in mobile gaming, and create a content platform for the consumer virtual worlds that are expected to be big business in coming years. Statista estimates the global gaming market generated just over $178 billion in revenue in 2021, more than PwC projections for video streaming (almost $59 billion) and box office ($23 billion) combined. When the transaction closes, Microsoft says it will be the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony. Continue reading Microsoft Believes Activision Purchase Is ‘Key’ to Metaverse

Didi Exits NYSE for Hong Kong, China Tightens Tech Control

China is making an investment statement as it attempts to take control of its financial future and set new yen-centric standards for international monetary exchange. Much is being read into Didi Chuxing delisting itself Friday from the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised billions of dollars, capping at $39 billion for the Beijing version of Uber. The message is: with money of its own and a knack for finding more, the world’s No. 2 economy feels it no longer needs Wall Street and says it will relist on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Continue reading Didi Exits NYSE for Hong Kong, China Tightens Tech Control

TikTok Owner ByteDance Aspires to Become a Global Leader

TikTok parent ByteDance has announced the establishment of six new divisions to monitor the worldwide dissemination of its short-form video apps. The units include online learning; collaboration tool Lark, (the ByteDance version of Slack); game development arm Nuverse; and B2B division BytePlus, selling white-label versions of  proprietary algorithms to enterprise customers. ByteDance also operates Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. The change from a flat hierarchy and haphazard business approach is prompting speculation that ByteDance aspires to be known for much more than video sharing. Continue reading TikTok Owner ByteDance Aspires to Become a Global Leader

Gaming Industry Reacts to New Entertainment Rules in China

Chinese online game companies are falling in line with Xi Jinping’s government mandate to curb negative influences on the country’s youth, vowing to self-police the workarounds kids have found to circumvent regulatory limits on play-time. In August, China banned persons under 18 from playing video games more than three hours each week. More than 200 game firms including Tencent and NetEase say they will comply with regulations announced by China’s National Press and Publication Administration and take steps to ensure the rules are enforced. The NPPA suggested use of facial recognition to accomplish that goal. Continue reading Gaming Industry Reacts to New Entertainment Rules in China