November 20, 2022

Snippet: Was This $100 Billion Deal the Worst Merger Ever? ☍

James B. Stewart for The New York Times:

Less than four years after the merger, AT&T abandoned its grand initiative. It spun off its Warner Media assets and ceded management control to Discovery. The new company, Warner Bros. Discovery, took on $43 billion of AT&T’s debt, and AT&T shareholders kept 71 percent of the company, a stake worth less than $20 billion. That amounts to a loss of about $47 billion for AT&T shareholders, based on AT&T’s $109 billion valuation of the deal at the time it was announced.

An AT&T spokesman, Fletcher Cook, took issue with that calculation. He said that the value of the deal at closing was $100.3 billion, and that The Times’s analysis failed to account for the sale of Warner assets and cash flows generated while AT&T owned Warner Media. “Under any informed measure, our ownership of Warner Media was accretive,” he said.

Say what you will about the current state of Twitter being a dumpster fire that will probably be studied in business courses for years to come, but AT&T’s 2010s are filled with more hubris and poor decision-making and it just kept going.

November 10, 2022

Snippet: Slingboxes Shut Down Yesterday ☍

Kevin Purdy for Ars Technica:

Slingbox, the device and service that was into streaming digital television long before the world was ready for it, will die a cloud-based server death Wednesday, November 9. The service was nearly 17 years old.

Sling Media announced two years ago that the Slingbox would be discontinued, noting that “all Slingbox devices and services will become inoperable.” The reason given was decreased demand. Being able to watch the video that would normally be on your television on a non-television screen was a novel—and legally contentious—thing back when Sling started in 2005. Today, there is more content than you can possibly watch in a lifetime, available on devices that can connect from almost anywhere, willingly offered by every major media company and sports league.

Sling was born out of two rich fields: General Magic, the Apple spinoff company where founder Blake Krikorian worked in the early 1990s, and San Francisco Giants baseball in 2002. Krikorian and his brother, Jason, traveled frequently back then while building their own consulting firm. The Giants were headed to the World Series that year, and the Krikorian brothers wanted to watch, or at least listen. They found that they were either blacked out by local broadcast agreements or asked to pay additional fees to stream the games on top of the cable and Internet they already paid for at home.

I remember the Slingbox coming onto the scene and so many media properties not knowing how to react to it. While usage was probably small towards the end, it still plays an important part in the history of streaming video.

Snippet: Apple Limits AirDrop in China After Its Use in Protests ☍

Jess Weatherbed for The Verge:

Apple has placed time restrictions on AirDrop wireless file-sharing across iPhones in China after the feature was used by protesters to share images opposing the Chinese government, Bloomberg reports.

The “Everyone” option in Airdrop is now limited to a ten-minute window for users in China. After the ten minutes have passed, AirDrop’s device-to-device sharing will switch back to “Contacts Only,” making it harder to distribute content to strangers en masse. These new time restrictions have been introduced by Apple just weeks after the service was used to spread posters opposing president Xi Jinping.

I have conflicting feelings about this change—this is one of those instances where Apple is kowtowing to the Chinese government, but also seems like a feature change I’d enjoy. How about having the following choices for everyone: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, Everyone for 10 Minutes, and Everyone? Apple says it will be will be made available to global users ‘in the coming year,’ but why not roll it out all at once?

November 5, 2022

Snippet: Musk Blames ‘Activist Groups’ for Major Advertisers Pausing Spending on Twitter ☍

Kyle Wiggers for TechCrunch:

As mass layoffs begin at Twitter, major advertisers are pausing their campaigns on the social network — a move that’s gotten the attention of newly minted CEO Elon Musk. In a tweet this morning, Musk blamed a “massive drop” in Twitter revenue on “activist groups pressuring advertisers,” likely referring to an open letter sent Tuesday by civil society organizations urging Twitter advertisers to suspend their ads if Musk didn’t commit to enforcing safety standards and community guidelines.

I really don’t want to focus too much on the drama that is going on with Twitter, but it was my favorite social network despite many flaws and frustrations over the years and it seems that things are already trending in a negative direction, only a week after Musk took over. I don’t think advertisers hitting pause has much to do with “free speech” or which way politics are leaning, but rather the simple notion that Musk is a polarizing character, making a lot of changes in a short amount of time, and there’s the big question mark if the whole site is going to devolve into a hate-mongering cesspool (well more than it is already.) GM and Audi bailing makes sense because New Twitter Guy is also Tesla Guy, so why advertise there?

Meanwhile, the Twitter app for iOS received an update this afternoon and it looks like the pay-for-verification thing is happening really soon. Call me pessimistic, but I don’t think this is going to get much interest among “regular” users.

November 1, 2022

Snippet: Mark Zuckerberg Is Going To Kill His Company ☍

Ed Zitron:

I am not saying that Facebook or Instagram will die, but I believe they will become significantly more painful products to use as Zuckerberg gets more desperate. He wants to beat TikTok, but lacks the understanding that TikTok works in part due to an extremely aggressive algorithm, but also because it’s a quick and easy content creation tool that anybody can use, unlike Facebook and Instagram, which are clunky and annoying. They will likely become unpopular, forgotten products – unimaginable even a year ago – that are so desperate to try and trick you into consuming content that they’ve forgotten that real people even use the app.