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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

This Week Shows How Hard It Is to Curb Big Tech

Seattle repealed its just-enacted “Amazon tax,” San Francisco elected a tech-friendly mayor, net neutrality is dead, and AT&T is buying Time Warner.
Source: Wired

Comcast bids $65B for Fox assets, setting the stage for a fight with Disney

Comcast made good on its plans to make an offer for 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets today, with a cash bid of $65 billion, or $35 per share.

That’s 19 percent more than the $52.4 billion that Disney agreed to pay in December.

This follows yesterday’s U.S. court approval of the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, which was widely expected to lead Comcast to make a new bid for Fox and, in the long-term, set the stage for broader consolidation between ISPs and media companies. (This is where I remind you that TechCrunch is owned by Oath, a digital media subsidiary of Verizon.)

In a letter to Fox executives (namely Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch), Comcast CEO Brian Roberts wrote that after meetings last year, his team was convinced that Comcast would be “the right strategic home” for the Fox assets, and that “we were disappointed when 21CF decided to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price.”

“In light of yesterday’s decision in the AT&T/Time Warner case, the limited time prior to your shareholders’ meeting, and our strong continued interest, we are pleased to present a new, all-cash proposal that fully addresses the Board’s stated concerns with our prior proposal,” Roberts said.

This could set off a battle between Comcast and Disney . The assets at stake include the Fox film studio (which owns the Avatar franchise, the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four and the original Star Wars), its TV studio, its cable networks and its stake in Hulu.

In the letter, Roberts also said a Comcast-Fox acquisition is “as or more likely to receive regulatory approval than the Disney transaction” and that Comcast would reimburse Fox for the $1.5 billion breakup fee with Disney.

Update: Fox released a statement confirming that it has received the bid. It also said, “21st Century Fox has not yet made a determination, in light of Comcast’s proposal, as to whether it will postpone or adjourn” its July 10 stockholder meeting to discuss the Disney acquisition.


Source: TechCrunch

Nintendo's $50 Poke Ball Plus is the ultimate gamepad for Pokemon Let's Go and Pokemon Go – CNET

Why yes, that IS a joystick in the center of the Poke Ball.
Source: CNET

Comcast offers $65 billion to snake Fox from Disney – CNET

Disney had a deal to buy Fox. Then Comcast stepped in.
Source: CNET

AT&T bowls over Justice Department, will soon own Justice League (The 3:59, Ep. 413) – CNET

We talk about the implications of AT&T buying Time Warner, how the Avengers and X-Men may be affected, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
Source: CNET

MoviePass reaches 3 million subscribers – CNET

It thinks it can get 2 million more soon.
Source: CNET

No, Netflix isn't going to stream a Minecraft video game – CNET

And a Stranger Things project will be on Telltale’s platform.
Source: CNET

Democrats introduce an election security bill that proposes paper trails and mandatory audits

As primaries ramp up in states across the U.S., concerns about election cybersecurity are mounting too. This week, a group of Democratic senators introduced a bill to mitigate some of the well-established risks that the nation’s uneven mix of voting machines and election systems poses.

The new bill, known as the Protecting American Votes and Elections Act, proposes two significant measures. First, because not all digital voting systems produce a paper trail, it would require all state and local elections to ensure that their equipment produces voter-verified paper ballots that can be cross-referenced. Second, for all federal elections regardless of outcome, state and local governments would be required to conduct audits comparing digital ballots to a random selection of paper ballots. The latter policy would cover the 22 states that currently don’t require audits following elections.

“Leaving the fate of America’s democracy up to hackable election machines is like leaving your front door open, unlocked and putting up a sign that says ‘out of town.’ It’s not a question of if bad guys get in, it’s just a question of when,” Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement accompanying the bill.

Voting integrity is one of Wyden’s pet issues and the senator has pressed for his home state of Oregon’s vote-by-mail system to be adopted nationally.

Wyden is joined by Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray and Elizabeth Warren on the legislation. Congressman Earl Blumenauer plans to introduce a corresponding bill in the house.

“We know that Russia hacked into American voter systems to influence our election – and we know they’ll try to do it again,” Sen. Warren said. “Our national security experts have warned us that the country’s election infrastructure is vulnerable – this bill will take important steps to help secure it.”

While the bill isn’t a bipartisan proposal — yet, anyway — these same measures are widely supported by election security experts as well as the Department of Homeland Security and a Senate Intelligence Committee report offering recommendations for securing the vote from earlier this year.

The full text of the bill is embedded below.


Source: TechCrunch

Chowbotics raises $11 million to move its robot beyond salads

Creating a salad-making robot is pretty good, as far as tech company hooks go, but Chowbotics is looking to expand. The Bay Area company just raised $11 million in a “Series A-1” led by the Foundry Group and Techstars.

The big plan for the money largely involves extending the company’s selection of foodstuffs beyond leafy greens, where Sally the Salad Robot has made its mint. At the top of the list are grain bowls, breakfast bowls, poke bowls, açai bowls and yogurt bowls. If it’s food served in a bowl, Chowbotics seems interested.

Seems pretty straightforward, really. After all, at its core, Sally is a kind of vending machine, dropping different ingredients into the same bowl. Apparently it’s a bit more complicated than that, especially when you start mixing in things like yogurts and berry purees. “The major challenges are finding special technical solutions for dispensing different shapes and sizes of ingredients,” founder/CEO Deepak Sekar told TechCrunch.

The company is also using the funding to add a whole bunch of senior roles. Per the press release:

Warren Manzer, who was President of Foodservice at Clipper and Senior Vice President at Crown Brands, joined Chowbotics as Vice President of Foodservice Sales. Rory Bevins, who was Senior Vice President at La Bottega Americas and Global Vice President at Molton Brown, joined Chowbotics as Vice President of Hospitality. Lee Greer, who was Chief Marketing Officer at Jason’s Deli, joined Chowbotics as Vice President of its Off-Premise Kitchen Business Unit. Shelley Janes, who was Head of Partnerships at CarDash and CEO of SideDoor, joined Chowbotics as Director of Sales, responsible for the western region of the United States. Nolan Schachter, who was Director of Sales and Marketing at TeaBot, joined Chowbotics as Director of Sales, responsible for Canada.

The funding follows a $5 million Series A in March of last year.


Source: TechCrunch

Netflix is adding an interactive ‘Minecraft’ story to its lineup, denies entry into gaming

Netflix denies a report that it’s entering the gaming market, but says it is expanding its lineup to include a new game-related, “interactive” narrative series called “Minecraft: Story Mode.” The new series will be the latest addition to its growing collection of interactive stories, which include kid-friendly titles like “Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout,” “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale,” and “Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile.”

According to a recent report from TechRadar, Netflix is partnering with Telltale Games to bring game experiences to its TV service, starting with a Minecraft game.

Netflix is now clarifying that it’s not a “game,” exactly, it’s an interactive story.

The company announced a year ago it would begin experimenting with a new way to stream video, through “choose your own adventure”-style stories that allow viewers to pick what happens next. This allows for the same story to have multiple variations.

It’s the sort of thing that would have never been possible through traditional linear TV, but is enabled through an online platform like Netflix. The stories could also make for a selling point for families with younger children, in terms of being a differentiating feature for its service.

The company confirms that “Minecraft: Story Mode” is a licensed 5-episode interactive narrative series that will be coming to its service this fall, in partnership with Telltale. The gaming publisher Telltale Games already offers “Minecraft: Story Mode” across other platforms, including Steam, game consoles, Google Play and the App Store.

While Telltale and others consider “Minecraft: Story Mode” to be a type of game, Netflix does not. It’s a narrative you work your way through, similar to the others, it believes. (The story does take place in the Minecraft universe, however.)

“We don’t have any plans to get into gaming,” a Netflix spokesperson said, in response to TechRadar’s report. “There’s a broad spectrum of entertainment available today. Games have become increasingly cinematic, but we view this as interactive narrative storytelling on our service,” they explained.

Meanwhile, the other gaming project TechRadar had uncovered – a game related to the Netflix hit “Stranger Things” – is something that will launch in Telltale’s platform at a later date, Netflix says. It’s not a game coming to Netflix’s service, and is instead part of Netflix’s ongoing marketing and title promotion efforts.

The company already has a Stranger Things game today, and often promotes its shows in other ways on mobile. For example, it launched a standalone “Orange is the New Black” app back in 2014, and when it was promoting the new season of “Arrested Development,” it introduced a “FakeBlock” app.

“Stranger Things” lends itself more to a mobile gaming format, though. And Netflix does use video games to drive awareness of its brand and content.

As the company stated in a recent job posting for a Manager of Interactive Licensing:

We are pursuing video games because we believe it will drive meaningful show awareness/buzz and allow fans to “play” our most popular content. We want the interactive category to help promote our titles so they become part of the zeitgeist for longer periods of time and we want to use games as a marketing tactic to capture demand and delight our member community.

Of course, interactive stories do blur the line between games and narrative storytelling – something that’s a newer trend across online platforms these days. For example, one of Apple’s Design Award winners this year was a part-story, part-game called “Florence,” which involved both narrative elements and interactive features.

To what extent these work as well on Netflix’s platform as they do on smartphones still remains to be seen, given that the format is still new to streaming services. Time will tell if it’s worth the continued investment, of if Netflix’s experimentation will one day conclude.


Source: TechCrunch

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