ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

To kick off ETC@USC’s five-part Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series, Serhad Doken, executive, innovation and product realization at Verizon, led a Zoom discussion on March 15. “Expectations for the Future of Entertainment and UI/UX design” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Six students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Iovine and Young Academy participated. Topics included user experience expectations, VR and 5G, “gaming” the algorithm, recommendations versus serendipity, artists earning a living, and what experiences have yet to be adopted. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

YouTube unveiled its $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund, which rewards creators who post the most engaging clips on its new “TikTok-style” feature. The program will debut in Fall 2021 and continue into 2022. Shorts was introduced in India before debuting in the U.S. in March. Regarding monetization, YouTube plans to experiment, including testing ads, sometime this year. YouTube Shorts director of global partnership enablement Amy Singer said the company will “reach out” to thousands of creators every month. Continue reading YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

The U.S. Defense Department removed Xiaomi from a blacklist preventing U.S. investment in the Chinese tech company, an action taken during the Trump administration that alleged the company had ties with the Chinese military. Two months ago, in a Washington D.C. court, a judge criticized the rationale behind the blacklisting and ordered a temporary halt against its enforcement. Xiaomi shares rose 6.1 percent in Hong Kong following the news. TikTok and WeChat also found redress against Trump-era actions against them. Continue reading U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

ByteDance’s TikTok Tests E-Commerce and Job Search Tools

In Europe, TikTok is working with streetwear label Hype and other brands to test in-app sales, a first step towards competing with Facebook in the e-commerce arena. Parent company ByteDance’s China-only app Douyin did $26 billion in e-commerce in its first year of operation. Sources reported that TikTok is already working with vendors in various European markets including the United Kingdom. TikTok is also working on another pilot program to connect people hunting for jobs with companies looking for employees. Continue reading ByteDance’s TikTok Tests E-Commerce and Job Search Tools

ByteDance Executive Shouzi Chew Is New TikTok Chief Exec

TikTok announced that Shouzi Chew — chief financial officer of parent company ByteDance — has been named chief executive of TikTok, replacing interim chief executive Vanessa Pappas. Pappas, who took on that role last year when then-chief executive Kevin Mayer departed, has been named global chief operating officer. Previous to his role at ByteDance, Chew was chief financial officer and international business president at Xiaomi, where he led the company’s initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Chew is fluent in English and Chinese. Continue reading ByteDance Executive Shouzi Chew Is New TikTok Chief Exec

Behind the Scenes, TikTok Working Hard to Create Viral Hits

Hit songs on TikTok seem to arise spontaneously, spurred on by user enthusiasm. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Take Megan Thee Stallion, for example, who recently won a Grammy for best female rapper. Her popular song “Savage” first become a hit on TikTok after that platform’s management analyzed user data and advised the singer’s record label how to best promote her. In other words, Tik Tok, which is described by experts as “more controlled” than competing apps, helps pick which videos go viral. Continue reading Behind the Scenes, TikTok Working Hard to Create Viral Hits

China Targets 34 Internet Platforms for Antitrust Compliance

Since China fined Alibaba $2.8 billion for violating antimonopoly regulations, 34 Chinese companies have publicly pledged to comply with those laws. The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), the country’s antitrust watchdog, published 12 statements, including those from TikTok owner ByteDance, Baidu search engine, and e-commerce platforms JD.com and Pinduoduo. The companies all vowed to build a fair and competitive market in specific areas. SAMR said it planned to publish more such avowals. Continue reading China Targets 34 Internet Platforms for Antitrust Compliance

Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Microsoft is on track to acquire Nuance Communications, an AI and speech recognition software company, for about $16 billion. The company intends to expand its offerings in medical computing; Nuance already has speech and text data related to healthcare, an established customer base and the transcription tool Dragon. According to Microsoft, the purchase will “double the size of the healthcare market where it competed to almost $500 billion.” With the purchase, Microsoft could also develop advanced AI solutions for the workplace across numerous industries. Microsoft’s last big purchase was LinkedIn, for $26.2 billion in 2015.  Continue reading Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Facebook’s R&D group NPE Team (New Product Experimentation) debuted the public beta of Hotline, a web-based application that allows creators to speak to an audience that can pose questions via text or audio. The first to try out Hotline was real estate investor Nick Huber who, via a livestream, talked about investing in industrial real estate as a secondary income. NPE Team identified Huber as an ideal Hotline user who would use it to expand professional skills or finances. Hotline is led by Facebook product developer Erik Hazzard. Continue reading Facebook Tests Web-Based Audio Q&A Application ‘Hotline’

Pinterest to Foster Influencer Content with New Creator Fund

Although image-sharing service Pinterest has been less reliant upon influencer culture than Instagram and other social media platforms, that began to change when it introduced Story Pins and creator profiles. These features were intended to make it easier for high-profile users to build a following and showcase their projects. Now, Pinterest is unveiling a $500,000 Creator Fund to pay a small group of influencers to create content for the platform. With this initiative, it joins TikTok and Snapchat in paying creators. Continue reading Pinterest to Foster Influencer Content with New Creator Fund

Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram. Continue reading Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Apple will finally roll out its app-tracking transparency initiative to protect user privacy. With new software, users will be asked in a pop-up window whether they want a given app to be able to track their activities. Advertisers, ad-tech companies and app developers are preparing ways to weather the change, which could include tweaked payment models and new advertising strategies. Many experts expect users to reject tracking. Facebook plans to debut its own pop-up window telling users the benefits of tracking. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

Beginning April 15, TikTok’s policy on personalized ads is changing. According to notices that TikTok users are seeing on their feeds, personalized ads will be mandatory — and users will no longer have the ability to opt out of such ads based on their actions — although the users will still be able to opt out of ads based on data TikTok gets from its advertising partners. Not included in this policy change are users in the European Union who are protected from personalized ads by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires user consent for such ads. Continue reading New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out