Posts tagged with "Bloomberg"

‘SmartLess’ podcast by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes’ is going to SiriusXM for $100M

January 31, 2024

Actors/comedians Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes are ditching Amazon and taking their popular podcast SmartLess to SiriusXM, the satellite radio network said on Monday, January 29. The three-year deal is valued at $100 million, a source confirmed to CNN.

SiriusXM gained exclusive rights to the hit podcast as part of a larger deal with SmartLess Media, according to an announcement on Monday. Sirius will hold the advertising and distribution rights, as well as content and events for the podcast and other select shows.

The $100 million payment represents a staggering amount for the podcast, which launched in July 2020. Bloomberg first reported the huge price tag. But SmartLess has fetched multimillions before: In 2021, Amazon had acquired the exclusive rights in a deal valued between $60 million and $80 million, Bloomberg reported.

The deal keeps the podcast widely available, but brings perks to SiriusXM subscribers—and could possibly encourage more to join. SiriusXM subscribers will get early access to SmartLess and other podcasts such as Just Jack & Will, Bad Dates, and Owned. The majority of the SmartLess library only will be e on SiriusXM once the deal commences in the summer.

SiriusXM has about 34 million subscribers, according to its October 2023 earnings report. The network also exclusively distributes Conan O’Brien’s Conan Needs a Friend podcast and Crooked Media’s Pod Save America.

The podcasts, which remain free, even to non-SiriusXM subscribers, help create an alternate revenue stream for the satellite radio company.

The SmartLess podcast is among the top listened to in the country. Its notable guests have included President Joe Biden, Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Greta Gerwig, Idris Elba, Pedro Pascal, and Selena Gomez.

Over the past few years, SiriusXM has “doubled down on our commitment to podcasting,” Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer, SiriusXM said in a release. “With the addition of SmartLess, we are strengthening our leadership position in podcasting.”

Research contact: @CNN

Little Golden Book biography of Taylor Swift is a smash hit: Sells 1M copies in seven months

December 22, 2023

A biographical children’s book about Taylor Swift has created a new record for the Little Golden Book brand, Fox Business reports.

Random House Children’s Books, part of Penguin Random House, said in a press release last week that “Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography” has become “the fastest-selling Little Golden Book” since the line started over 80 years ago.

The feat was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

 he popular children’s biography, authored by Wendy Loggia, achieved that status after racking up over 1 million book sales in seven months. Its 24 pages contain illustrations by Elisa Chavarri.

“I’m incredibly touched by the reaction to the book, but I can’t say I’m surprised,” Loggia said in the press release. “Taylor’s fandom is unparalleled, and to see readers of all ages, from adults to mini Swifties, embrace the book has been, well, sweet like honey!”

“Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography” has garnered some attention on TikTok, with the hashtag  #taylorswiftlittlegoldenbook clocking 477,700 views; and a similar one, #taylor swiftgoldenbook, receiving 380,400 views.

The Swift-focused children’s book, which currently costs $5.99, became part of Little Golden Book and its lineup of gold spine books upon its debut in May. In the four-week span following the publication of “Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography,” people bought 170,000, The Wall Street Journal reported over the summer—citing publisher-provided data.

Swift, herself, has set some records this year. The global “Eras Tour”—which Swift kicked off in March with a trio of performances in Arizona—has produced a gross of $1.04 billion over the course of a 12-month period ending November 15, according to Pollstar. That estimate, the industry publication said, represented the first instance of a billion-dollar tour.

The 2023 Time Person of the Year also has been dubbed a billionaire by both Bloomberg and Forbes, and has seen major success on music streaming platforms.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

Colleges teach influencer courses as creators earn $100,000 a year

November 16, 2023

You may notice as you scroll through Instagram or TikTok that a young person is gushing about a cool new product that has made his or her life immeasurably better. Some of those people may be getting paid for that—and colleges are now offering courses to attract students interested in pursuing careers in the emerging field of social influencing, reports Newsweek.

The phenomenon is growing and attracting more entrants as it becomes more lucrative. In April, Goldman Sachs estimated that, over the next five years, the global “creator economy” would grow from $250 billion to $480 billion. The investment bank said that about 4% of creators worldwide earn a decent living, generating income upwards of $100,000 a year.

As more creators and influencers get in on the action, the competition for eyeballs is growing—and those who can build sizeable audiences will flock to places they can choose to work for platforms that can make them money.

“As a result, we expect some element of a ‘flight to quality,’ whereby creators will prioritize platforms with stability, scale, and monetization potential,” Eric Sheridan, Goldman’s senior equity research analyst, says.

Colleges are offering to train those interested in turning their social media presence into money-earning platforms.

UCLA Extension, for example, has a class for Fall 2023 that promises to teach students “how to establish credibility as an expert” and “build a genuine and significant” following using “methods of promoting that expertise through media and messages that match talents and markets” for a $525 for five weeks of classes.

Other colleges have begun to offer such courses—and even majors—focused on training potential influencers, pointing to an interest among students for such training.

Duke University in North Carolina has had a course “Building Global Audiences”, that, according to Bloomberg, taught students how to build up their presence online. Natalia Hauser, who attended the class, told the outlet that she can make thousands from partnerships with brands and found the class helpful in becoming a better business person when dealing with companies.

“I don’t think people understand how much money is in this industry,” Hauser said. “It involves a lot of negotiation and business.”

Professor Aaron Dinin, who taught the class at Duke, believes this is where the world has evolved to as more and more people are glued to their phones and look for information via social media platforms.

“There’s a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity and a lot of reach,” he told Bloomberg.

Similar courses can be found at campuses around the country, such as at the

Robert Kozinets—who teaches “Influencer Relations” at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California—told ABC‘s Good Morning America in September that his classes look at influencers as a phenomenon and do not give specific instructions on how to be one.

“I don’t think you can teach someone to have that ‘je ne sais quoi’ charisma, and that stage presence,” Kozinets said. “I think what you can teach is the mechanics of some persuasion, understanding contracts, understanding the nuts and bolts of the industry, understanding how all those pieces fit together.”

Success in such an industry comes from the ability of influencers to strike deals with brands, with getting a piece of advertising share or the creation of their own brands for sales as being other avenues for revenue.

YouTube, one of the platforms popular with influencers, generated $35 billion last year for America’s economy through its “creative ecosystem”, according to Oxford Economics.

“YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported more than 390,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the US,” they said. Other platforms that tend to proliferate with influencers include video-friendly platforms, such as Meta‘s Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Goldman Sachs believes that “incumbent platforms” are more popular for creators.

“Goldman Sachs Research sees more creators moving to these platforms as competition heats up for their content and audiences—particularly as macroeconomic uncertainty impacts brand spending and as rising interest rates pressure funding for emerging platforms,” the investment bank said.

Research contact: @Newsweek

Thousands of people are reportedly lining up to have one of Elon Musk’s brain chips implanted

November 8, 2023

Thousands of people have expressed interest in receiving one of Neuralink‘s brain implants, according to a recent Bloomberg report from one of Elon Musk‘s biographers, Ashlee Vance, reveals Business Insider.

Neuralink, which Musk co-founded in 2016, has yet to implant its device in a human—but aims to operate on 11 people next year and over 22,000 by 2030; according to Vance, who said he visited the company’s facilities ten times over the course of three years.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Neuralink approval to launch human trials of its device, which Musk has described as a “Fitbit in your skull.”

The FDA previously had rejected Neuralink’s bid for human testing in March, Reuters reported, citing safety concerns, including that the wires connected to the brain chip could move around within a subject’s head or that the chip could potentially overheat.

In September, the company began recruiting for its very first human trial. Neuralink said in a blog post that it was looking for people who had paralysis in all four limbs due to a spinal cord injury or ALS. The company eventually hopes to make a device that would create a sort of symbiosis between humans and machines; and would allow people to send messages or play games, using only their thoughts. But, first the company aims to help people with neurological disorders.

 Vance, who authored the 2015 biography “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” said in his report that despite “an outpouring of interest from thousands of prospective patients,” the company is still looking for its first volunteer or “someone willing to have a chunk of their skull removed by a surgeon so a large robot can insert a series of electrodes and superthin wires into their brain.”

Musk’s biographer said it takes a “couple of hours” for a surgeon to perform the craniectomy and then about 25 minutes for the robot to insert the device, along with its ultra-thin array of about 64 different threads. The device will replace the portion of skull that had been removed. Vance said the threads are so thin they’re about 1/14 the width of a single strand of human hair.

Neuralink has done 155 implantation surgeries using the robot on a variety of animal test subjects, including pigs and monkeys, Vance wrote. But, in typical Musk fashion, the billionaire has continued to push for the robot to move faster, as well as for the surgery to be performed without human help.

A spokesperson for Neuralink did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.

The biographer said Musk has pointed to the need to combat competition from other brain-computer startups like Synchron and Onward, which already have begun human trials.

“They are currently kicking our ass,” Musk said after Synchron implanted its first device in a U.S. patient in July 2022. (In December 2021, one of the Synchron’s patients in Australia was the first person to send a tweet using only his thoughts.)

The billionaire also has warned that Neuralink needs to pick up its pace “like the world is ending” to keep up with AI and the possibility of an AI being that wouldn’t be friendly to humans, Vance wrote.

Yet while Musk’s “maniacal sense of urgency” might work at Tesla or SpaceX—where he has initiated sprints and slept on the factory floor to meet deadlines—at least one Neuralink executive has taken a note of caution.

“We can’t blow up the first three. That’s not an option here,” Shivon Zilis, Neuralink’s director of Special Projects and the mother of two of Musk’s children, told Vance in a reference to SpaceX’s first three rockets, which exploded.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

Threats to employees prompt Target to pull some LGBTQ-themed goods from the shelves

May 25, 2023

Target is removing some LGBTQ-themed merchandise from the shelves after threatening behavior by some customers ahead of Pride Month in June, which honors lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, reports Bloomberg.

“For more than a decade, Target has offered an assortment of products aimed at celebrating Pride Month,” the company said in a statement released on Wednesday, May 24. “Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work.”

The threats and the company’s reaction are thrusting Target into U.S. culture wars around same-sex relationships and transgender people, which have roiled social media websites and corporate boardrooms. Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s Bud Light brand lost sales after engaging with a transgender influencer to promote the beer.

What’s more, Walt Disney is locked in a feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) after opposing legislation barring discussion of sexual identity in the state’s schools.

Target didn’t say which items it will remove. One product that generated criticism on social media was a “tuck-friendly” swimsuit with “extra crotch coverage” that could be used by transgender people, the Associated Press reported. While some posts on social media said the bathing suit was for kids, Target said it’s only available in adult sizes, according to the AP.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Bluesky is Jack Dorsey’s attempt at a Twitter redo and it’s already growing fast

April 28, 2023

Since buying Twitter last year, Elon Musk has made a series of chaotic changes to the social media platform that have alienated legions of users, reports Fortune Magazine.

That’s been good news for Bluesky Social, an invite-only rival app that has quickly gained a following since debuting in February. So far, its app has been downloaded 360,000 times from Apple’s app store worldwide, consumer data group Data.ai recently told Fortune, and over a million more users are on the waitlist to join. Most  of the new users have been added this month, according to Bloomberg.

Bluesky was created by Jack Dorsey, who happens to also be Twitter’s original co-founder. In contrast to Twitter, he wanted to build a decentralized service, meaning its user data is stored in independent servers rather than in ones owned by one company—thereby giving users more autonomy in how they interact on the platform.

“We envision an open social media ecosystem where developers have more opportunity to build and innovate; and users have more choice and control over which services they use and their experience on social media as a whole,” Jay Graber, CEO of Bluesky, wrote in a blog post last year.

Dorsey has said that one of his regrets was commercializing Twitter. If he had a chance to do it over again, he’d make it more like an open source project.

“The biggest issue and my biggest regret is that it [Twitter] became a company,” Dorsey tweeted in August 2022, responding to a question about whether the platform turned out like he wanted it to.

Bluesky’s rise comes amid growing scrutiny over data security on social media sites, as well as complaints about Twitter under Musk’s leadership. Those include Twitter requiring users to pay for blue check marks that signal their identities have been verified (these check marks were previously free) and then deciding to give away blue check marks to certain high-profile people (in some cases, dead people). Some recipients of free check marks are angry because the marks falsely make it appear as if they paid.

The origin story of Bluesky is closely linked to Twitter. It received its initial funding in 2021 from Twitter—Dorsey was the CEO until November of that year (it’s unclear exactly when the funding was received). Dorsey is also on Bluesky’s board.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Startup backed by ‘Jurassic World’ producer to revive extinct dodo using complete genome

February 2, 2023

The flightless bird known as the dodo has been missing since the late 17th century, when humans hunted them into extinction—but that’s not stopping the biotech startup Colossal Biosciences from trying to bring it back from the dead, reports Futurism.

A self-branded “de-extinction” company, Colossal already has made headlines— vaunting its ambitious plans of reviving other animals, including the wooly mammoth and the tasmanian tiger.

Now, Bloomberg was first to report, Colossal is armed with a boatload of additional money, bagging another $150 million in investor backing, bringing the total to $225 million since 2021.

And even more tantalizingly, according to lead paleogeneticist Beth Shapiro, Colossal is now the sole possessor of a complete dodo genome, sequenced from a DNA sample that was extracted from preserved remains in Denmark.

Shapiro says that the company isn’t bringing the dodo back on a whim, of course, but to find methods to combat the ongoing extinction crisis that is, bluntly put, very, very grim.

“We’re clearly in the middle of an extinction crisis,” Shapiro said, as quoted by CNN. “And it’s our responsibility to bring stories and to bring excitement to people in [a] way that motivates them to think about the extinction crisis that’s going on right now.”

Actually resurrecting the dodo, even with a complete genome, will be extremely challenging, and some would argue impossible. At best, the result would be the closest possible proxy—a hybrid that’s slightly altered—and not a wholly original dodo.

And anyone that’s watched the blockbuster 1993 movie, Jurassic Park, could tell you that this might be a bad idea, or at least one that should be approached with extreme caution.

That isn’t deterring investor Thomas Tull, though, whose United States Innovative Technology Fund has been among Colossal’s biggest backers (in full disclosure, the managing partner of Futurism’s parent company, North Equity, is an investor in Colossal, although neither was involved in this story in any way.)

Strikingly, Tull also produced the sans-Spielberg 2015 sequel, Jurassic World, an installment in a franchise that warns that resurrecting long-extinct creatures is not a great idea.

Then again, dodos aren’t anywhere near as ferocious as velociraptors or the mighty T-Rex; but the impact of any creature introduced (or reintroduced) into a new ecosystem and food chain—no matter how feeble or fearsome—is difficult to foresee.

“When you’re doing big things like this, who knows what you’re going to discover along the way,” Tull said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Hopefully we won’t be discovering the hard way that, in Jeff Goldblum’s iconic words, “Life, uh, finds a way.”

Research contact: @futurism

Germany and Denmark plan to invest $9 billion in an island of wind parks to replace Russian gas

August 31, 2022

Germany and Denmark have agreed on a $9 billion deal to build an offshore wind power project in the Baltic Sea that authorities said would provide enough power for up to 4.5 million householdsout of a total of 40.1 million nationwide—by 2030, reports Business Insider.

Prior to the announcement, German residents had worried what would happen to them without Russian power for the grid during the coming winter. Both nations said the new project represents a step toward reducing the region’s reliance on Russian gas and oil.

Under the deal, announced on Monday, August 29,  Denmark will boost its planned wind power capacity on Bornholm Energy Island from 2 to 3 gigawatts, per State of Green, an energy and climate arm of the Danish government.

The deal also includes a 292-mile subsea cable that links Bornholm’s wind parks to the German grid.

Currently, Denmark and Germany have offshore wind power capabilities of 1.5 gigawatts and 1 gigawatts, respectively, in the Baltic Sea, accounting for more than 90% of the region’s wind energy, State of Green wrote in its statement.

The infrastructure to connect the wind parks will cost $3 billion, while $6 billion would be needed to bolster the wind parks, Bloomberg reportedciting the Danish government.

In State of Green’s Monday statement, Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s minister for climate, energy, and utilities, called the project a “landmark in energy history” at a time when “international cooperation is more urgent than ever before.”

Robert Habeck, Germany’s minister for economic affairs and climate action, said the “flagship project” would help Europe achieve “energy security and climate neutrality.”

On Friday, August 26, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbockv emphasized her nation’s desire to pursue the “enormous” potential of offshore wind energy in the Baltic Sea, which she said could generate up to 90 gigawatts of power.

“Wind energy from the Baltic Sea will help us fight the climate crisis. And it is an investment in our security: it will help make us less dependent on gas from Russia,” she said.

The world’s total wind power capacity—both onshore and offshor3 is now up to around 837 gigawatts, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. China holds the largest share in the world’s offshore wind market, having raised its offshore wind capacity to 27.7 gigawatts in 2021, per the GWEC.

The European Commission has set a target for increasing its nations’ total wind power capacity to 300 gigawatts by 2050, up from the 16 total gigawatts installed as of May.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

Ciao to U.S. chow: Domino’s Pizza quits Italy after locals shun American pies

August 10, 2022

Domino’s Pizza’s footprint in the Home of Pizza has proven to be short-lived—with Italians favoring local pies over the American version, reports Bloomberg.

After starting operations in Italy seven years ago, Domino’s now has closed all 29 branches nationwide. The company borrowed heavily on its plans to open 880 stores; but faced tough competition from local restaurants that expanded their delivery services during the pandemic. It finally sought protection from creditors after running out of cash and falling behind on its debt obligations.

The company already had reduced operations in the country from its peak in 2020 and stopped offering delivery from its website on July 29.

The U.S.-based chain entered Italy in 2015 through a franchising agreement with ePizza SpA and planned to distinguish itself by providing a structured national delivery service; along with American-style toppings, including pineapple.

“We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organized chains and ‘mom & pop’ restaurants delivering food, to service and restaurants reopening post-pandemic and consumers out and about with revenge spending,” ePizza said in a report to investors accompanying its fourth-quarter 2021 results.

Still, the closures came as a surprise to some of its customers, who turned to the chain’s Italian social-media channels—questioning why their calls and orders weren’t going through or why their local store had shut.

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Obamas to end exclusive deal with Spotify

April 22, 2022

Higher Ground, the media company started by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, is ending its exclusive podcast deal with Spotify and is shopping for other partners in the podcasting space, reports Variety.

The Obamas are exiting their exclusive pact with Spotify, originally inked in 2019, after being frustrated with the company’s exclusive terms: They want to have their podcast programming distributed as widely as possible, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Higher Ground also has disagreed with Spotify over how many of its shows would feature the former POTUS and FLOTUS, as first reported by reported by Bloomberg.

Higher Ground’s current deal with Spotify runs through October. According to one source, Spotify declined to make an offer to renew the agreement.

Podcasts that Higher Ground has produced for Spotify will continue to launch on the streaming platform through the fall, according to the Bloomberg report. But the company is currently in talks with other audio distribution companies, including Amazon-owned Audible and iHeartMedia, in hopes of reaching a nonexclusive deal for its podcast content.

Higher Ground’s first podcast for Spotify was “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” released in mid-2020, which at one point had ranked as the most-listened-to Spotify original to date. The company also produced “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a series of conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, released on Spotify last year.

In January, Higher Ground’s “The Big Hit Show,” focused on transformational moments of pop culture, premiered on Spotify. The company also released “Tell Them, I Am,” a podcast collection of universal stories from Muslim voices on the platform.

Spotify will retain certain distribution rights to “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and other Higher Ground shows in perpetuity. In addition, wherever the Obamas take their next podcast deal, it is likely that those new projects would be distributed on Spotify on a nonexclusive basis.

Separately, Higher Ground has a pact to produce films and TV shows exclusively for Netflix. The company’s first film, “American Factory,” won the 2019 Oscar for best documentary feature.

Reps for both Spotify and Higher Ground declined to comment.

Research contact: @Variety