Author: bp

Gimlet Media Raises $15 Million, Showing There is Money in Podcasts

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Laurene Powell Job’s Emerson Collective is back in the news. Two days after acquiring a majority stake in The Atlantic, the non-profit has participated in a funding round for Gimlet Media, a podcasting company. The $15 million round was led by the investment firm Stripes Group. Some of Gimlet’s shows include “StartUp,” about the funding of Gimlet, “Homecoming,” the company’s first fiction podcast, and my personal favorite “The Pitch,” a Shark Tank-esque investing podcast.

Emerson Collective and Graham Holdings, owners of rival podcast network Panoply, also joined in the round. “This investment is a gratifying validation that we are at the beginning of the second golden age of audio,” said Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, Gimlet Media’s co-founders.

There isn’t much money in podcasting, but Gimlet makes up roughly $15 million of an estimated $118 million industry. A PwC study, funded by Gimlet and other podcasting companies, estimates this number will jump 85% to $220 million this year.

Gimlet is looking at other ways to expand revenues as well. Gimlet’s very first podcast, “StartUp” is being turned into a single-camera sitcom on ABC called “Alex, Inc.” starring Zach Braff. “Homecoming,” about a secret government agency whose staff desperately wants to rejoin civilian life, has been given a two season order by Amazon Studios.

Milky Tea Raises Money from Tencent

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Tencent strikes again! Milky Tea Studios, a Liverpool-based game developer, has raised an undisclosed round from Tencent. The money is being used to hire more developers and to continue working on their upcoming game HyperBrawl Tournament, which is targeting PC and Switch.

Tencent has been making numerous moves in the gaming industry over the past three years. My comprehensive list can be found here, which will be updated for this latest bit of news.

Milky Tea had previously worked on Roller Rally, a mobile rollerskating game, but has turned their attention to consoles, the Switch in particular.

“This partnership marks a turning-point in Milky Tea’s history. The scale of it really hasn’t hit home just yet, but we are all really proud to be part of the Tencent family and we couldn’t ask for better partners,” said Milky Tea’s Founder and Managing Director, Jonathan Holmes.

“Everyone at Tencent has gone above and beyond our expectations to make this happen and from a personal point of view, it’s a dream come true.”

 

Hasbro Ends Talks to Acquire Lionsgate

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Today, a Hasbro source said they have ended their informal discussions to buy the Hollywood studio Lionsgate. This raises the question: Hasbro was in talks to acquire Lionsgate? The companies, through Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures, previously collaborated on My Little Pony: The Movie, the animated film starring Emily Blunt.

Apparently, the negotiations ended because of disagreements over price, a common deal killer. It’s not clear if any formal offer was made and discussions could always begin again. Hasbro has been in the market for a media company for awhile. The company previously made an offer for Dreamworks, before Disney intervened and killed the deal. Since, Hasbro has set up Allspark Pictures and acquired Boulder Media.

I am curious to see what company Hasbro might target next, but Lionsgate feels like a weird choice to me. After the success of Hunger Games and Twilight, recent fare such as Divergent has failed to make enough money for the studio. It just seems an odd combination to me. Add to the fact that Lionsgate owns Starz and I can’t see it fitting in with Hasbro’s family/kid friendly brands.

I feel a TV animation company such as DHX would be a better fit personally.

Emerson Collective Acquires The Atlantic

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Emerson Collective, the charitable organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, has announced a majority acquisition of The Atlantic. David G. Bradley, the current chairman and owner has said he’ll remain at the company for at least 3-5 years. Bradley will own a minority stake, which will most likely be assumed  by Emerson Collective when he retires.

“Against the odds, The Atlantic is prospering,” Bradley wrote in his memo. “While I will stay at the helm some years, the most consequential decision of my career now is behind me: Who next will take stewardship of this 160-year-old national treasure? To me, the answer, in the form of Laurene, feels incomparably right.”

The magazine, founded 4 years before the civil war, was picked up in 1999 by Bradley for only $10 million. Since then, the politics and arts rag has transformed into a powerful digital media company, now owning millennial-focused publications such as Quartz. However, Quartz and Atlantic Media’s other brands will remain solely owned by Bradley.

After realizing his sons weren’t interested in owning The Atlantic, Bradley compiled a list of over 600 potential suitors, but only ever reached out to Jobs. Laurene, the wife of the late apple founder Steve Jobs, founded the Emerson Collective to promote immigration and education reform. The organization aims to “bring about equality for all people; to illuminate and defend the American idea; to celebrate American culture and literature; and to cover our marvelous, and sometimes messy, democratic experiment.”

Because of this change in ownership and the challenges being faced by print media, Bradley finished his internal memo saying “What I loved about Laurene from the first is that her confidence was forged on a different coast. And, if anything, her ambition is greater than my own. Let’s make it our work to prove the wisdom of our era wrong. And when my time comes to leave, that would be a happy note on which to say ‘good-bye.’”

About Tencent – A Gaming Giant You May Not Know About

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Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company. But have you actually heard of them before now? Tencent is huge in China, but most of their fame in the west comes from owning various game studios built here, who often bring translated versions of Tencent’s games to the west under their own banner.

Tencent is described by Wikipedia as “a Chinese investment holding company whose subsidiaries provide media, entertainment, payment systems, internet and mobile phone value-added services and operate online advertising services.” So how did this company, established in 1998 and worth over $330 billion, become the largest gaming company in the world?

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Let’s go back to the year of 2009. This year brought a lot of changes for those in the west. This was the first year of Obama’s presidency, the middle of a really bad financial downturn the world over, and the beginning of a little game known as League of Legends. Riot Games was founded in 2006 and launched League of Legends, the beginning of the popular MOBA genre (originated by the Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients), in 2009. The game quickly become one of the most played games in the world, making roughly $1 billion a year through in-game purchases. This figure caught the eye of Tencent, who invested $231 million for a nearly 70% stake in Riot in 2011. By the end of 2015, Riot was wholly owned by Tencent.

Continue reading “About Tencent – A Gaming Giant You May Not Know About”

Kixeye Launches War Commander: Rogue Assault After Three Years of Development

Hardcore games on mobile may still live on after the Kabam buyout. Their oldest rival, Kixeye has finally launched what may be the best looking game on mobile devices now, War Commander: Rogue Assault. The game looks to offer a level of gameplay not yet achieved on smartphones and tablets.

To top this all off, the game’s creative director was none other than Louis Castle, the co-creator of Command & Conquer, meaning this game has some real pedigree behind it. The game has been in development for 3 years with 2 and a half years of soft launches to refine the experience.

Continue reading “Kixeye Launches War Commander: Rogue Assault After Three Years of Development”

Glu Acquires QuizUp Makers Plain Vanilla

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Everyone remembers QuizUp, right? The quiz app launched as a Trivial Pursuit-esque game where you could level up categories by correctly answering questions about them in battle with other players. Well, after Plain Vanilla’s contract with NBC for a QuizUp game show was canceled, the game has a new owner.

Earlier this year, Glu invested $7.5 million in the company, with the option to buy the entire business in the future. Now, the studio is willing to forgive that debt, and throw in $1.2 million, to own the company outright. It is not known how many employees will make the jump to Glu, as Plain Vanilla has laid off their staff before looking for a buyer.

The condition to the debt forgiveness was that QuizUp be published under the Glu banner before the end of March, but this event has already occurred in both the App Store and Google Play store. As part of the deal, Glu CEO Nick Earl has been appointed to Plain Vanilla’s board as a class II director and will work with the company’s Strategy Committee to plan for the future of Glu in Iceland.