Snap shares plummet as user growth slows, revenue misses

13 May

Snap shares plummet as user growth slows, revenue misses

Snap Inc shares plunged in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the parent of the popular disappearing-messaging app Snapchat reported slowing user growth and revenue that fell short of analyst estimates amid stiff competition from Facebook Inc.

Shares of the company fell more than 24 per cent to $17.39 after the first quarterly earnings report since Snap’s red-hot initial public offering in March.

Snap said its daily active users (DAUs) rose 36.1 per cent to 166 million in the first quarter from a year earlier, down from the 47.7 per cent rise in users for the fourth quarter and 62.8 per cent jump for the third quarter that the company had reported in its IPO filing.

J.P. Morgan expected Snap’s DAUs to grow to 169 million in the first quarter, while Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co Inc pegged DAUs at 173 million.

Still, the growth was faster than larger rival Facebook, which said its daily user base grew 18 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter, as well as Twitter, which reported growth of 14 per cent in daily active users from a year earlier.

Facebook, which once made a $3-billion bid for Snapchat, has upped the ante by offering features similar to Snap on its platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp. The company recently said Instagram Stories alone had reached 200 million daily active users.

Snap said average revenue per user rose 181.3 per cent to 90 cents in the first quarter.

Revenue jumped nearly four-fold to $149.6-million but fell short of the average analyst forecast for revenue of $158-million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company’s net loss widened to $2.21-billion, or $2.31 per share, in the first quarter, from $104.6-million, or 14 cents per share, due to stock-based compensation around the IPO.

Snapchat launched in 2012 as a mobile app that allows users to send photos that vanish within seconds.

The company rebranded as Snap Inc last year, and its $3.4-billion public listing was the hottest technology offering in three years.



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13 May

Facebook to play down links to websites with deceptive ads

Facebook is planning to intensify its crackdown on so-called clickbait websites, saying it will begin giving lower prominence to links that lead to pages full of deceptive or annoying advertisements.

The downgrade of the links was expected to take effect beginning on Wednesday on News Feed, the home page of Facebook where people go to see posts from friends and family.

Facebook said it wanted to downplay links that people post to websites that have a disproportionate volume of ads relative to content, or that have deceptive or sexually suggestive ads along the lines of “5 Tips to be Amazing in Bed” or “1 Crazy Tip to Lose Weight Overnight!”

Links to websites with pop-up ads or full-screen ads also would be downplayed, it said.

People scrolling through their News Feed are often disappointed when they click on such links and do not find valuable information, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of ads and business platform, said in an interview.

“People don’t want to see this stuff,” he said. “We’re just trying to figure out how to find it and rank it further down News Feed when possible.”

Facebook uses a computer algorithm to determine which posts people see first from friends and family, and it frequently refines the algorithm to keep up with spam or other concerns.

The company said in August it was adjusting the algorithm to downplay news stories with clickbait-style headlines, a style of headline that intentionally withholds information or misleads people to get them to click on them.

In December, facing criticism that hoaxes and fake news stories spread too easily on Facebook in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8, the company made it easier for people to report those kinds of posts.

Facebook, the world’s largest social media network with 1.9 billion monthly users, has enormous power with its algorithms to potentially drive traffic to media publishers or stymie it.

The company said it reviewed hundreds of thousands of websites linked to from Facebook to identify those with little substance but lots of disruptive or shocking ads.

Bosworth declined to name any websites Facebook wants to target. He said only publishers of spam needed to worry about seeing less traffic, and other publishers could see their traffic go up.

“This is a small number of the worst of the worst,” he said.



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13 May

Snap shares drop on weak user growth

Snap Inc shares plunged as much as 23.5 per cent on Thursday after the owner of the wildly popular Snapchat app’s user growth and revenue numbers failed to show that it was adequately dealing with rising competition from Facebook.

Snap, which calls itself a camera company, posted its debut quarterly scorecard following its hugely successful IPO in March, reporting slowing user growth and widely missing Wall Street’s revenue expectations.

Snap shares crater at market open after dismal earnings report (Reuters)

Snap shares plunged to $17.59, their lowest since the initial public offering on March 2, wiping off more than $6-billion of its market value. The stock had debuted at $17.

“The 7 million daily active users net-adds were not strong enough to disprove the ‘Facebook is crushing Snapchat’ thesis,” which we think will persist for a while,” Barclays analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.

Analysts, including Sandler, on Thursday revised their expectations for the stock with at least nine brokerages lowering their price targets. The median price target on the stock is $24.

Currently, 12 of the 35 brokerages covering the stock rate it “buy” or higher. Sixteen have “hold” ratings and seven rate it “sell” or lower.

Facebook Inc had also plunged after posting results for the first time in 2012, but has since ensconced itself as a Wall Street darling by transforming the company into an advertising giant.

Shares of Twitter Inc, which competes with Snap and had 328 million average monthly active users in the latest quarter, had also tumbled 24 per cent after its first quarterly report.

UPHILL CLIMB

Snapchat is battling Facebook for users on multiple fronts.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, has more than 200 million people a day using its Stories while WhatsApp Status, launched in February, has more than 175 million daily active users.

Both applications mimic Snapchat, allowing users to post a string of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Facebook also allows users to tweak photos on their smartphones with visual details like a rainbow or a beard of glitter, also similar to Snapchat.

Facebook itself had some 1.94 billion people using its service monthly as of March 31.

Snap’s daily active users (DAUs), on the other hand, rose 36.1 per cent to 166 million in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking a slowdown from the 47.7 per cent rise for the fourth quarter and 62.8 per cent jump for the third quarter.

Questions about Snap’s ability to monetize its product – a hit with millennials – remained as well.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) was 90 cents in the first quarter, up from 33 cents the same quarter a year earlier, but below the $1.05 per user in the fourth quarter of 2016.

“Snap came to the public markets just as its user and monetization growth were both starting to meaningfully slow. It now faces incrementally fierce competition from deeper-pocketed rivals including Facebook,” Instinet LLC analyst Anthony DiClemente said.



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19 Mar

European Union, U.S. adopt new data-sharing rules

New rules governing trans-Atlantic data transfers were formally approved Tuesday, months after Europe’s top court ruled against the previous arrangements amid concerns over the surveillance activities of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The European Union and the U.S. say the new Privacy Shield imposes stricter obligations on American companies, including the likes of Facebook and Apple, to safeguard the personal data of individuals, from health matters through to social media activities.

Critics argue the new framework, which comes into force Aug. 1, doesn’t go far enough, that consumer protections are not strong enough and that the possibility of blanket surveillance from U.S. agencies remains. Another court challenge to the new arrangements is widely anticipated.

As part of the deal, the U.S. government has promised that any access on national security grounds by public authorities to personal data transferred under the new arrangements will be subject to “clear conditions, limitations, oversight and preventing generalized access.”

The two sides say that the deal also includes stronger monitoring and enforcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission, including increased co-operation with European authorities.

Under the terms of the new deal, there will be an annual joint review of the pact and those who think their data has been misused have a route for complaint. And the U.S. will appoint a new official – an ombudsman based at the State Department – responsible for following up on European complaints.

“The approval of the Privacy Shield is a milestone for privacy at a time when the sharing of data is driving growth in every sector, from advanced manufacturing to advertising,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said.

“For businesses, the free flow of data makes it possible for a startup in Silicon Valley to hire programmers in the Czech Republic, or a manufacturer in Germany to collaborate with a research lab in Tennessee,” she added.

The deal potentially brings an end to a period of uncertainty for businesses following last October’s decision by the European Court of Justice that the previous Safe Harbor pact was invalid because it did not adequately protect consumers when their data was stored in the U.S.

The pact, which had been used by around 4,500 companies, had allowed the easy transfer of data from the EU by having U.S. companies promise to provide privacy protections equivalent to those in the EU. The EU court’s ruling that the pact was invalid opened up the possibility that data privacy officers across the 28-country EU might be inundated by complaints from consumers worried about their privacy.

“The adoption of Privacy Shield will enhance legal certainty for thousands of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic while providing an adequate level of protection for citizens’ data,” Markus J. Beyrer, the director general of lobby group BusinessEurope.

Concerns over data transfers had been stoked by the spying revelations made by Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency. Snowden’s revelations prompted the complaint to the court from Max Schrems, an Austrian law student.

Schrems said the new arrangements don’t go far enough and argued that the requirements on the U.S. authorities are not equivalent to those in the EU.

“It is little more than a little upgrade to Safe Harbor,” he said. “It is very likely to fail again. … This deal is bad for users, which will not enjoy proper privacy protections, and bad for businesses, which have to deal with a legally unstable solution.”

Schrems’ view was echoed by Jan Philipp Albrecht, a European Parliament lawmaker for The Greens, who said the European Commission “signed a blank check for the transfer of personal data of EU citizens to the U.S., without delivering equivalent data protection rights.”

As a result, there is widespread speculation that another challenge will emerge.

Professor Felix Wu of Cardozo Law School in New York said “someone is surely going to challenge it” but that on balance he anticipated the European Court would back Privacy Shield.

Scott Vernick, a partner and head of data security at Fox Rothschild LLP in Philadelphia, also thinks “there’s a better than even chance” the new deal will withstand a legal challenge.

“It seems to me you will always have hard-line interests spoiling for a fight because they have a very particular view about privacy protections available in the EU as against the U.S.,” he said.

Both U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker and Vera Jourova, the European Commissioner for Justice, said they are confident the new deal will stand up in court.

“My confidence stems from the fact that we have designed the rules of Privacy Shield based on the previous Court judgment,” Jourova said.



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8 Mar

Snapchat builds Bitmojis into app, confirms acquisition of Toronto startup

An open secret in Toronto’s tech startup community was officially confirmed Tuesday when booming social media service Snapchat announced its 150 million daily active users would now have in-app access to Bitmojis from Toronto’s Bitstrips.

Back in late March, when news that one of California’s hottest startups had purchased the somewhat obscure Canadian company, the valuation was pegged close to $100-million (U.S.) by some sources. At the time, neither company confirmed the relationship, and in June Snapchat opened a small and separate Toronto sales office to tap the Canadian market for advertising opportunities.

While a Snapchat spokesperson confirmed that an acquisition took place and that the company was “thrilled” to add the Toronto startup to the “Snapchat family,” the company said it would not discuss terms and confirmed the two Toronto offices would remain separate.

Bitstrips, which was founded in 2007, had raised about $11-million (U.S.) from venture funders such as Li Ka Shing’s Horizon Ventures and storied Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. Bitstrips founder Jacob “Ba” Blackstock, a former cartoonist, released a statement saying “We’re incredibly excited to be joining the innovative team over at Snapchat.”

Today’s announcement will let users add Bitmojis – which are personalized graphics that let users express a range of emotions and ideas using a cartoonish caricature of themselves – as a sticker to the chat and Snap features of the app. If a Snapchat contact also has Bitmoji setup, friendship stickers featuring both users will be available (users will still need to install the separate Bitmoji app to access the new features).

Originally built around photo-based messages that would expire and disappear from the receiver’s inbox, Snapchat has morphed into one of the must-have apps for young mobile users as well as a video distribution channel where users can publish a daily summary of their activities. All of this has generated an ecosystem of Snap celebrities as well as partnerships with major online publishing brands. The majority of Snapchat’s users are in the 18-24-year-old demographic, and the five-year-old app has received $2.6-billion in funding from venture investors, putting the private company’s valuation close to $16-billion.



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27 Feb

Chen poised to launch new BlackBerry phone as sales keep sliding

BlackBerry Ltd. Chief Executive Officer John Chen has presided over five new phones during his two and a half years running the company, none of which have managed to turn around steadily declining smartphone sales. Some analysts are wondering who would buy a sixth.

BlackBerry is hosting a live online event on July 26. Although it hasn’t confirmed phones will be on the agenda, Chen said Tuesday the company would talk about them in the next “week or two” and Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard said last week the next phone launch was “very, very imminent.”

Chen has said he’ll unveil two phones between now and March 2017, both running Google’s Android operating system. A “mid-range” handset selling for about $350 is scheduled to arrive before September. It’s a response to tepid demand for its first Android-powered phone, the high-end Priv, which Chen said had a limited audience. In Chen’s first full quarter as CEO, which ended Mar. 1, 2014, BlackBerry sold 1.3 million phones. In the most recent quarter it sold 500,000.

A new phone highlights an apparent contradiction for BlackBerry: the company has consistently said its future lies in sales of security-focused software, which recently overtook hardware as the dominant source of revenue, yet it keeps coming up with new phones. This despite the fact that some analysts say the company should cut the money-losing hardware business altogether.

Right Formula “A lot of people are looking at it and saying ‘Wow I don’t know why they’re even in that business,’” John Butler, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone. Chen “clearly has been struggling to find the right formula for the hardware,” Butler said.

BlackBerry reported fiscal first-quarter earnings on June 23 that broke even, compared with the average analysts estimate of a 6-cent (U.S.) loss. Revenue in the quarter was $424-million, including software sales of $166-million that were 21 per cent higher than the same period last year. Shares of the Waterloo Ontario-based company have dropped 31 per cent in Toronto this year to $8.82 (Canadian) for a market value of $4.6-billion.

The company needs to keep making phones for its most important government and corporate customers who see BlackBerry handsets as the most secure on the market, Chen told journalists on Tuesday at an event in New York to show off its software products. If it cut phones completely, those clients might abandon its software as well, he said.

Hub System “There’s a certain number of customers that want to have the whole integrated product,” Desmond Lau, a Toronto-based analyst with Veritas Investment Research Corp., said in a phone interview. “They may be trying to milk that for as long as possible in order to ensure that the software revenues are maximized.”

Chen has said he wants the company’s hardware unit to be profitable by September and recently restructured the unit to include revenue generated by licensing some of its hardware-related software like its BlackBerry Hub notification system.

“It looks like they’re trying to make it work in every which was possible,” Lau said. The focus on large business and government clients makes sense since BlackBerry has lost traction with regular consumers, he said.

Wishful Thinking

“They’re not in a position to capture much consumer share just by making another Android device,” he said.

Earlier this month BlackBerry announced it was ending production of its Classic phone, a keyboard-equipped device modelled after the most popular phones from BlackBerry’s heyday in the late 2000s. The announcement came just days after the U.S. Senate said it would not provide BlackBerrys to staffers any more. Chen said he went and spoke to the Senate and explained his plans for the new phones.

“They really want to test out our new products,” he said. “Everybody made it sound like we’re getting out of the handset business. It could be wishful thinking on some peoples’ part but it’s not true. Not yet at least.”



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23 Feb

Dear Milo: The six stages of lifetime-ban grief from fellow Twitter exile Charles C. Johnson

By now it’s probably seeming more real to Milo Yiannopoulos, formerly @nero on Twitter and now banned for life, that the little blue bird is never coming back. His followers will find new heroes, his enemies will stop caring about his tantrums; it’s all coming to an end.

If you missed it, Mr. Yiannopoulos has been banned from Twitter after Ghostbusters and SNL actress Leslie Jones was subjected to a campaign of racist and sexist harassment seemingly at the direction of the Breitbart writer and champion of so-called “alt-right” politics on the Internet.

There’s maybe only one member of the right-wing blogosphere who knows exactly what the next year of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s life is going to be like now, and that’s Charles C. Johnson.

We reached out to Mr. Johnson, 27, who lives in California, to find out what it has been like to become Twitter famous for right-wing online trolling, and then have all that access taken away. “I was the canary in the coal mine,” he says, speaking from the Republican National Convention. “I’m the man who was banned from Twitter before it was cool.”

Some might recall that for a hot minute in 2015, Mr. Johnson was the subject of think pieces on whether Twitter is a mall or a public square, whether it was a free-speech paragon or just another media company trying to sell ads. “Chuck,” as Mr. Johnson also goes by, was referenced in passing this week as new waves of those think pieces sloshed around pondering Mr. Yiannopoulos and those same questions about Twitter’s role and responsibility in our social-media society. “A moment of silence for the dearly departed Milo Yiannopoulos. May he rest peacefully in his Twitter grave next to Charles C. Johnson,” wrote Teddy Wilson, a reporter for the non-profit online news agency Rewire, on Twitter.

Mr. Johnson is a serial provocateur who has a habit of making false claims that he usually does not retract in the face of evidence. There’s a reason he was once described by Gawker as the “Web’s Worst Journalist” and by The New York Times as “mood slime.”

For instance, back in his tweeting days, he frequently claimed, with no evidence, that President Barack Obama was gay: “Once you accept the premise that Obama is gay a lot of things start to make sense,” he wrote in December, 2014. So take everything he claims with a grain of salt.

The stages of Twitter-ban grief:

Shock

On May 24, 2015, Twitter permanently suspended Mr. Johnson, after temporarily banning him three times earlier, in what looks like an escalating series of misdeeds, including falsely claiming that a picture of a young woman he posted was that of a high-profile rape victim. The proximate cause of his final ban was a tweet that was a solicitation of funds to “take out” Black Lives Matter organizer and spokesperson DeRay Mckesson, which many interpreted as a threat against his life or livelihood.

“I was watching Anthony Bourdain, and I went to bed. I woke up, my grandma called me up, ‘Go turn on CNN … They are saying you want to assassinate a civil rights leader!’ Twitter has never given me a reason – to this day – as to why I was suspended.

“They IP-blocked my house, my entire street. Anyone who sets up a Twitter account at my house, they can’t get on. They shut down accounts they think might be affiliated with me. They shut down my company’s account.”

Fast forward to this week: “Milo was like, ‘no, they’ll never ban me … because people like me more than they like you.’ His view was, if you’re a celebrity they will actually protect you on Twitter. I didn’t think that was true. I was like, ‘They’ll figure out an excuse to ban you.’ I had a conversation with him three days ago about how this was going to happen.”

Bargaining

“They say you’ve been kicked off, your account will not be restored. I sent them like 40 messages. I’ve used various Silicon Valley connections, to offer a truce. I’ve actually sent attorneys to send them messages. I’ve offered to cut deals with them where I can just put my account on locked and not broadcast to everyone, just to my followers. I have no problem paying Twitter like a thousand dollars a month or whatever.

“I want to sit down with them and just talk to them. I want 15 minutes of [Twitter CEO] Jack Dorsey’s time. I want them to tell me why I was kicked off. Why is there no Twitter court? Why can’t you adjudicate. If you’re going to suspend somebody’s account, at least give me a reason or an appealable process.

“We used to bust up monopolies in this country, and I think that’s probably what needs to happen with Twitter if its behaviour continues. We expect to file a lawsuit in my case against Twitter in the near future. I’m trying to talk to Milo about essentially joining that suit.”

Anger/Race blaming

Mr. Johnson has written pieces that blame Twitter’s user-growth issues on an explicit policy of being “anti-white.” Challenged again in our interview, he rhymed off what he believes are examples.

Twitter has a policy on not discussing the accounts it suspends in aggregate or in specific, and declined to comment on Mr. Johnson’s allegation of racial bias.

“People have called me the Nelson Mandela of Twitter, which is hilarious,” he says.

Depression

“It does affect you, but it affects more your psychology … you get e-mails from people: ‘I’m sorry to see you go.’ I do miss Twitter, I do think it’s a very useful tool for getting out your message. In all honesty, being off of Twitter has hurt me financially. Traffic on my website is up, though my donations are down. The one thing I miss the most about Twitter was the relationships with all these people who send me information.

“In a way, my banning actually made things worse. What it did was created this view of a war on Twitter. Twitter has descended into something much more vicious, like the comment sections on a lot of websites. I think that might also be because of the larger economic forces.

“It’s terrible that people have to deal with racism, anti-semitism, anti-feminist or anti-conservative or anti-whatever views … but this is just part of life now on the Internet. If you get really angry on the Internet, or really sad … maybe don’t go on the Internet. Maybe go outside. Maybe go read a book, hang out with a loved one. These are all things I’ve learned about dealing with the stress of it.”

Acceptance

“Being kicked off of Twitter was a freeing experience. It does make it harder to broadcast your views on things in the moment, but maybe it’s not always good to say what you think in the moment. Maybe less is more. It’s also forced me to build relationships behind the scenes that have actually elevated my career.

“I do enjoy having my day back. I saw Milo a few days ago, he looked a little haggard being on Twitter all the time. I have other friends who have a difficult relationship with their wives or girlfriends because they are obsessed with Twitter. In a way, being off of Twitter forced me to prioritize my business decisions, and my life decisions.

“One thing I like to do now post-Twitter, I like to go for long swims in the local pool or lake … that way no one can reach me on the Internet and it feels really good.”

Moving on

“I’m not as noisy as I once was but I’m very much involved behind the scenes. I’m going on various YouTube channels. The mistake a lot of people make is that you’re no longer present when you’re off Twitter, but there’s a big Internet out there.”

Note: there are still lots of accounts that claim to be Mr. Johnson. One such account is @ChuckCJ0hnson, which retweeted photos and videos from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week that appear to have been taken or made with his co-operation, though he denies he is operating the account.

“I’m not on Twitter under my name. If people want to create fan pages to me, and other accounts, they are free to do that. I have nothing to do with those accounts,” he says.



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19 Feb

Pokemon Go creators working to be ‘respectful’ of reality

The creators of “Pokemon Go” say they’re working to remove real-world locations that don’t wish to be included in the mobile gaming sensation.

The Pokemon Company’s consumer marketing director J.C. Smith said in an interview this week that they’re updating the augmented-reality game so it remains fun for players but respects the real world.

“When something is really popular, we have to figure out the most respectful way to deal with it and make sure that everyone is playing safely and doing things in a respectful manor,” said Smith. “It’s only been two weeks since it launched, and there’s been so much attention and so many people playing that it’s tough to think of all the ways it could affect the world.”

The location-aware game provides virtual rewards for players who visit real sites designated as “Pokestops” in the game. Several locations, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan and the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., have asked to be removed from “Pokemon Go.”

Since the free game launched July 6 for mobile devices and rocketed to the top of the download charts, some players have injured themselves in pursuit of virtual monsters or have been distracted while playing “Pokemon Go” while driving.

“For us, we’re making sure the play experience is done right,” said Smith. “Initially, there was some server overload, which we’ve worked on. Now, we’re looking at features in the game and how to fine-tune them so that it’s appealing to the fans but also respectful of the private institutions that are affected by it.”

Smith wouldn’t offer a timeline of when updates will come to the game. “Pokemon Go” developer Niantic offers an online form to request exclusions, but changes to the game are not automatic.

For some sensitive locations, change has already come to “Pokemon Go.” U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger said the museum had been removed from the game per its wishes.

Despite the monumental success of “Pokemon Go,” Smith said the mobile game’s triumph isn’t affecting how the Pokemon Co. is approaching future projects based on the 20-year-old franchise, such as a live-action film to be produced by Legendary Entertainment or the upcoming “Pokemon Sun” and “Pokemon Moon” games for the Nintendo 3DS system.

“We don’t need to directly tie anything to ‘Go’ for it to benefit our fans or the brand as a whole,” said Smith. “In the end, the characters are the same. Pikachu in our animated series or Pikachu in our upcoming Legendary film or Pikachu in ‘Go’ are all the same.“’



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11 Feb

Twitter shares rise on report of news streaming deal with Bloomberg

Twitter Inc’s shares rose 6 per cent on Monday after a report that the company is partnering with Bloomberg LP for streaming news, marking the stock’s third straight day of gains following strong results last week.

Twitter and Bloomberg Media will create a service that will stream news produced solely for Twitter, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“(The share movement) is solely because of the Bloomberg partnership. There will be exclusive content streaming on Twitter, and that’s innovative. The market appears to like that,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

Twitter reported its strongest user growth in over a year last week. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey cited technical changes to Twitter’s timeline as one of the reasons for the growth.

The microblogging service’s user growth had stalled in the past few quarters, prompting the company to take steps to attract subscribers and advertisers alike.

“There is a steady string of positive news on Twitter that is changing the narrative. And as the narrative improves, it makes that much easier for the advertisers to have comfort with the platform,” Richard Greenfield from BTIG said.

Twitter received a setback last month when it lost a deal to live stream NFL games this year to Amazon.com Inc.

CFRA analyst Scott Kessler said the Bloomberg deal could allay some investor concerns following the loss of the NFL deal and the prospects of live video, a big focus area for Twitter.

“I think a lot of people wondered how (Twitter) is going to fill up that hole and what does that say about the future of live video,” Kessler said.

Dorsey snapped up more than half a million of the company’s shares for about $9.5-million, according to a filing on Friday.

Twitter was abuzz with takeover chatter last year involving big names such as Salesforce.com Inc and Walt Disney Co . The rumors died down due to the lack of concrete offers.

Including Monday’s gains, Twitter’s shares are now up 6.8 per cent so far this year. The stock had lost about 30 per cent of its value in 2016.



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7 Feb

Uber looks to soar with flying taxis by 2020

After upending the taxi market with its ride-hailing service, Uber Technologies Inc is now aiming for the skies with its flying taxis.

The company expects to deploy its flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dubai by 2020, Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas on Tuesday.

Uber’s flying taxis will be small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically, or VTOLs, with zero emissions and quiet enough to operate in cities.

Flying taxis would cut down travel time between San Francisco’s Marina to downtown San Jose to 15 minutes, compared with the more than two hours it takes by road, Uber estimates.

In an early scale operation, the company can get to $1.32 per passenger mile, a little higher than taking an UberX for a similar distance, Holden said.

In the longer term, Uber expects the cost of taking flying taxis to fall below car ownership.

The company is working with Hillwood Properties to make four vertiports – VTOL hubs with multiple takeoff and landing pads, and charging infrastructure – in Dallas starting next year, Holden said.

Uber, valued at $68 billion, has also teamed up with companies such as Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney and Embraer to make the flying taxis.

The company has also partnered with U.S. electric vehicle charging station maker ChargePoint Inc. Uber is working on developing an exclusive charger for its network.

Uber, which has partnered with the Dubai government, expects to conduct passenger flights as part of the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The ride-hailing service has recently been rocked by a number of setbacks, including detailed accusations of sexual harassment from a former female employee and a video showing Chief Executive Travis Kalanick harshly berating an Uber driver.



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source : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/tech-news/uber-looks-to-soar-with-flying-taxis-by-2020/article34809052/?cmpid=rss1