Posts tagged with "LeBron James"

Contest: Meditation app Calm seeks TikTok story narrator with the ‘smoothest voice’

May 10, 2022

Calm, a meditation and wellness app, is looking for a voice that puts people to sleep, reports CNBC.

And it’s hoping to find that voice on TikTok. The company recently posted a video on the social media platform announcing its Next Voice of Calm Contest, which will select the entrant with the most soothing voice to record one of Calm’s upcoming 60-second Sleep Stories. The winner also will receive $5,000.

“We’re looking for TikTok’s smoothest voice,” Erik Braa, one of Calm’s current Sleep Story narrators, intones in the video.

To enter, interested participants need to post a 60-second or less TikTok stitched to Calm’s contest announcement video. In your minute-long entry, you can read aloud basically anything: “A grocery list, your last text or a made-up story,” Braa says. “As long as it’s original and oh-so-soothing.”

More than 350 million people have listened to Calm’s Sleep Stories, according to the company, making this a potentially huge opportunity for the winner. Other Sleep Stories on Calm’s platform have been narrated by celebrities like Harry Styles, Pink. and LeBron James.

Like many mental health apps, Calm experienced an influx of new users during the pandemic: It was the world’s most downloaded app in April 2020, with nearly 4 million downloads globally that month, according to intelligence firm Sensory Tower. Calm attained a $2 billion valuation in December 2020, following a $75 million fundraising round.

More recently, the global mental health app industry as a whole—which was valued at $4.2 billion last year, according to a Grand View Research report—has come under fire for not actually improving the mental wellbeing of most users. A January study published in PLOS Digital Health, a healthcare research platform, found there was no “convincing evidence in support of any mobile phone-based intervention.”

But according to Calm, its Sleep Stories might actually work. In an October 2021 study conducted by Jennifer Huberty, the company’s director of science, a majority of participants reported that “using Calm helped them fall asleep, stay asleep and get restful sleep.” Most of those participants struggled with sleep disturbances, and nearly half had a mental health diagnosis, according to the study.

Other mental health app critics have raised ethical concerns around how mental health and meditation apps share user information: One study, published in the journal Internet Interventions in 2019, found those less than 50% of apps targeting depression had any privacy policy.

The privacy policy on Calm’s website states that it collects personal user information from inside its app and third-party platforms. Calm did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

The Next Voice of Calm Contest closes on May 13, and the winner will be announced on June 7, with their Sleep Story anticipated to publish on Calm’s app this fall. Entrants are only allowed one submission each and must be at least 18 years old. They also must be legal residents and living in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Research contact: @CNBC

LeBron James’, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sports nutrition company sells to fitness platform Openfit

December 3, 2020

Los Angeles-based Ladder, a nutritional supplements company found by basketball icon LeBron James and weight lifter and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been sold to technology fitness platform, Openfit, the companies told CNBC.

Openfit CEO Jon Congdon said the Santa Monica-based tech company purchased Ladder—buying shares from investors, including investment firm Main Street Advisors. Terms of the deal were not made available.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Congdon said James and Schwarzenegger would stay on as minority shareholders and help with future promotional content.

“We looking to grow the brand,” said Congdon, adding that the company would integrate Ladder’s nutritional supplements in its own subscription offerings.

Openfit is a mobile application that monetizes private training and exercise classes through subscriptions. The packages range from roughly $40 for three months to $100 per year. The company says it has approximately 130,000 subscribers.

Congdon said the company is “profitable”  but didn’t divulge exact revenue. He said, “those numbers could be available in the not-so-distant future.”

Asked if that meant that Openfit is seeking an IPO, Congdon, the co-founder of the fitness company Beachbody (parent company of P90X in-home exercises), told CNBC that he couldn’t comment. He didn’t deny the notion, either, adding “all possibilities are open for us, and we’re considering all possibilities.”

With the acquisition of Ladder, which is on pace for $4 million in sales for 2020,  it will pair nutritional supplements with its “live and on-demand fitness programs, personalized nutrition plans and virtual access” to certified trainers.

“We looking at 300% too 400% growth at minimum next year and even more than that in the coming years,” Congdon said. “We’re hoping that they are a huge part of our revenue base moving forward.”

James and Schwarzenegger founded Ladder 2018, aiming to create nutritional products for athletes to combat cramping while in action. The idea stemmed from James’ severe cramping in Game One of the National Basketball Association’s Finals series in 2014.

“After pushing my body to its limits season after season, I needed a different level of supplements that I could trust to complement my workouts and aid in the recovery process,” said James in a statement. “With Ladder, we achieved that. We were able to work with experts to create an incredible line of certified, high caliber supplements for all athletes, but we always recognized that is just one part of the process.

“Now with the reach and resources of the Openfit platform, we’re excited about bringing this all together and creating a new level of training and nutrition that fits everyone’s individual needs,” James said.

“It’s in the right hands,” added Schwarzenegger in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, December 1. “It’s the right move to make.”

The former governor of California added he would be involved with future content creation and use his resources to solicit top trainers for Openfit’s platform.

“I will do everything for them to be successful, and I think LeBron will do everything for them to be successful,” Schwarzenegger said. “We’re all partners. We’re going to do this together; that’s our mission.”

Research contact: @CNBC

LeBron James, Maverick Carter’s SpringHill raises $100 million from investors

June 25, 2020

Baller LeBron James and his longtime business partner, Maverick Carter, have raised $100 million from backers—including global investment firm Guggenheim Partners; and the daughter of media titan Rupert Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch.

With the funding, James and Maverick are consolidating their trio of media companies into a single entity, SpringHill, which is aiming to serve as a multifaceted platform to empower Black creators and audiences, Variety reports.

The funding was led by Guggenheim; as well as  Sister, the production company founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone; the University of California’s UC Investments; and Jason Stein’s SC Holdings.

The funding closed in March—on the same day the NBA announced the league was shutting down due to COVID-19—but was announced on Thursday, June 24,as first reported by Bloomberg.

James and Carter’s SpringHill Co. brings together their SpringHill Entertainment production firm, digital-media and consumer-products company Uninterrupted, and the Robot Co. marketing agency. SpringHill Entertainment is behind NBC’s “The Wall” game show; as well as the upcoming “Space Jam: A New Legacy” sequel, set to bow in July 2021. Uninterrunpted has partnered with WarnerMedia’s Bleacher Report and produced “The Shop” on HBO.

The new SpringHill Co. is led by James as chairman and Carter serving as CEO. Joining them on the board are Murdoch, Guggenheim CIO Scott Minerd, tennis ace Serena Williams, Apollo Global Management co-founder Marc Rowan, Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, and L.A. investment banker Paul Wachter.

“I’ve always wanted to use the platform of basketball to empower those around me. Now I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to build a company that empowers creators, consumers, and everything it touches,” James, the NBA superstar who is signed with the L.A. Lakers, said in a statement. “The SpringHill Company defines empowerment. You see it in the team we’ve built, the stories we tell, and the community our work will serve.”

Research contact: @Variety

Russian roulette: FaceApp has gone viral, but is it a new case of Russkie (and risky) skullduggery?

July 19, 2019

Maybe cheese and wine get better with age, but people? Not so much. The human face and body tend to sag, wrinkle, and discolor as the years go on—no matter how good the bone structure.

So why is everyone on social media so excited about a new smartphone app that allows users to upload selfies and see their future faces, replete with jowls and graying hair?

Celebrities such as Drake, LeBron James, and the Jonas Brothers all have used the instant aging app, much to fans’ delight.

In fact, according to a report by The Washington Post, FaceApp has altered photos for more than 80 million users since its 2017 release; and allows smartphone users to change a facial photo’s age, gender, or hairstyle—often with convincing results. The app uses artificial-intelligence software to automatically alter the photos in seconds, much like similar features offered by Instagram and Snapchat.

But there is one major catch, we are just finding out: On July 17, the  Democratic National Committee warned presidential campaigns against using the viral face-transforming FaceApp, citing the software’s Russian developers. It urged campaign staff to “delete the app immediately.”

 “This novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians,” DNC Security Chief Bob Lord wrote in the alert to campaigns, which was first reported by CNN. “It’s not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks.

Founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov told The Washington Post that FaceApp’s research-and-development team is based in Russia but that no user data is transferred into the country, and “most images” are deleted from company servers within 48 hours.

However, the app’s terms of service say users grant the company a “perpetual, irrevocable . . . [and] worldwide” license to use a user’s photos, name or likeness in practically any way it sees fit, the Post points out.

If a user deletes content from the app, FaceApp can still store and use it, the terms say. FaceApp also says it can’t guarantee that users’ data or information is secure and that the company can share user information with other companies and third-party advertisers, which aren’t disclosed in the privacy terms.

Goncharov said that users who want to remove their data from FaceApp can make the request through the app by clicking “Settings,” then “Support,” then “Report a bug” with “privacy” in the subject line. “Our support team is currently overloaded, but these requests have our priority,” a company statement read.

FaceApp’s terms of service say it can share information with a government agency if a subpoena, court order or search warrant is issued and the company has “a good faith belief that the law requires” it to do so. This information can also be shared with any country that FaceApp maintains facilities in, including Russia.

According to the Post, people who use the app also “consent to the processing, transfer and storage of information about you in and to the United States and other countries, where you may not have the same rights and protections as you do under local law.”

Kate O’Neill, a tech consultant, told the news outlet that FaceApp’s privacy terms are still murky, despite the company’s clarification. “People should be savvy about when apps and memes and games are encouraging everyone to engage in the same way,” she said. “It puts the data in a vulnerable state that becomes something that can train facial recognition and other kinds of systems that may not be intended the way people are using it.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

NBA fans would love to ‘pal around’ with LeBron James

February 19, 2018

As the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors prepared for the 67th NBA All-Star Game on February 18 at the Staples Center, findings of a poll released on February 15 by YouGov Omnibus showed that the Cavs’ all-time leading scorer, Forward-Guard LeBron James is the player whom fans nationwide“would like to hang out with most.”

And it is no shock that the Warriors’ Guard Stephen Curry came in number two, followed by his team’s Forward Kevin Durant and Guard Klay Thompson.

The All-Star players fans reported being least interested in hanging out with were Portland’s Damian Lillard, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, and Detroit’s Andre Drummond.

When it comes to predicting which team would win the big game—Team LeBron or Team Steph—fans were perfectly split down the middle at 32% each.

Meanwhile, both black and Hispanic fans were more likely to favor Team Steph over Team LeBron, while white fans were rooting for Team LeBron over Team Steph.

Additional data reveals that shooting is the one aspect of basketball that NBA fans enjoy the most (37%). Next come dunking (20%), passing (11%), and dribbling (8%).

Fans age 55 and over are far more likely to say shooting is their favorite aspect of the game (49%) than those aged 18-34 (26%). Meanwhile, young people interested in the NBA are more likely to prefer dunking (22%) than their older peers (14%).

As for the All-Star weekend itself, nearly one-third (31%) of all Americans indicated that they would watch at least some of the activities, whether that was attending in person or watching the highlights.

Research contact: paul.hiebert@yougov.com