social media

Kanye West To Acquire Right-Wing Social Media Platform Parler

Kanye West is acquiring the conservative social media platform Parler. The purchase comes on the heels of West being locked out of his Twitter account earlier this month after a series of anti-Semitic tweets.

The acquisition was announced on Monday and is slated to finalize in the fourth quarter of 2022. The platform will continue to get cloud support and technical services from Parlement Technologies, the parent business of the company, which was formed to give new internet infrastructure services to businesses that “are in danger” of being forced off the internet.

Parler’s CEO, George Farmer, praised West for making the offer to buy the social media platform.

“This deal will change the world and change the way the world thinks about free speech. Ye is making a groundbreaking move into the free speech media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again. Once again, Ye proves that he is one step ahead of the legacy media narrative. Parlement will be honored to help him achieve his goals.”

West, who legally changed his name to Ye, is the most recent celebrity to take over a social media network. Former President Donald Trump launched his Truth Social app, which is aimed to primarily serve conservative users, in February this year. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, stated earlier this month that he would proceed with his contentious takeover of Twitter. All three men are renowned for using incendiary language online and credit the motivations of their acquisitions as maintaining an arena for “free speech.” Ye issued a statement that echoed these views.

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“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves.”

As of Monday, Ye’s newly created account on the Parler platform had approximately 526 followers.

Ye recently made headlines for wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during his Paris pop-up fashion show. Several models in the runway show also wore shirts with the same slogan. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the statement is often used by white nationalists. The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, told CNN that Parler is a “haven” for hate.

After the show, Adidas, who has a partnership with Ye, said it was reviewing its relationship with the rapper.

Parler was founded in 2018 and quickly grew in popularity in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. According to market research firm Apptopia, the app had an average of 2.9 million daily users at the time thanks to being marketed as a “loosely controlled free-speech refuge.” Since then, the app’s popularity has waned, with Apptopia reporting that the platform’s daily users have dropped to roughly 40,000.

Sarah Mojarad, a professor at the University of Southern California’s engineering school and a misinformation and disinformation research fellow, spoke about why this deal may be attractive to both parties.

“Kanye sees that Elon Musk and Trump are both involved and getting their names out, and he’s looking for some of that attention as well. Parler is also looking for attention and free advertising, and that’s something the platform can gain from this whether or not the deal actually goes through.”

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Following the Jan. 6 insurgency, Parler was removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play for failing to effectively filter violent rhetoric on its platform. Documents obtained by the House committee investigating the riots revealed that the Secret Service was aware of posts on Parler urging for violence that day. Parler wrote to Congress in response, stating that the committee’s interest in the app’s role in the insurgency was an attempt to demonize the app.

Parler has been reinstated in both app stores following changes to its moderation policies. As of September, the platform had received $56 million in funding from investors.

Dan Wang, a strategy professor at Columbia Business School, said it is important to note that Parler is an “incredibly niche” player in the social media space.

“Kanye West is a wealthy person and has a lot of resources, but not on the scale of being able to buy actually influential social media platforms.”

Apple TV

TiVo and Xperi to Merge in $3 Billion Deal

TiVo made an announcement earlier in the year that they were preparing to “split itself into two,” becoming a product as well as an IP business. The sole aim for this change in business was to make the company more appealing to potential buyers. However, those plans have now been paused thanks to a $3 billion merger with technology licencor Xperi Corporation, creating “one of the largest licensing companies in the world.”

Both companies will see their product businesses alongside their IP licensing businesses unified together with the goal that they will be operated as two separate companies, allowing the potential of a sell off for one of the units in the future.

As a result of the merging of both TiVo and Xperi – a licensing company specializing in semiconductor technology as well as owning several A/V brands – the new company is to be named Xperi, operating in San Jose, California. They will keep the TiVo brand and continue to promote their entertainment services alongside Xperi’s HD Radio, IMAX Enhanced and DTS brands.

Once the deal has been completed the new company will see Jon Kirchner, Xperi’s current CEO, will become CEO of the parent company while Xperi’s Robert Anderson will continue in his role as CFO. However David Shull, TiVo’s CEO, will stay on as a strategic investor until the deal has been finalized. Kirchner will also be on the new company’s board alongside six other directors, 3 to be appointed by Xperi and 3 by TiVo.

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Following the news it was also announced that all stockholder shares from both companies will automatically be converted into shares in the new company, on the fixed ratio of 0.4555 Xperi share per existing TiVo share. Once completed, TiVo stockholders will own around 53.5% of the company while Xperi stockholders will own 45.5%.

Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of America will refinance the debt that each company currently has –totaling $1.1 billion between them – on a combined basis. The companies also announced that there is currently $1.09 billion in Xperi billings and TiVo revenue plus over $250 million in operating cash flow. These figures are for the twelve months ending 30 September 2019 and are on a pro forma basis.

The $3 billion sum is the total value of TiVo and Xperi with both companies viewing the deal as a merger, rather than a takeover. Yet according to reports TiVo has been valued at around $1.2 billion in this deal so the fully diluted equity value of the new company would be $2.4 billion, while the enterprise value is around $3 billion.

Rovi originally bought TiVo in 2016 for $1.1 billion – mainly for the vast amount of patents they hold – and kept the TiVo name once the deal was completed. Since then TiVo – who were once a leader in DVRs – has found it difficult to contain consumer interest thanks to market changes which has seen an increase in smart TVs as well as media players such as Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku.

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TiVo branded software and technologies have continued to be sold to cable operators Virgin Media, Suddenlink, Mediacom and many others, however TiVo started moving away from the sale of hardware, instead focusing more on providing software to third-party devices. They have also secured patent-licensing deals with several pay-TV operators – Sky, Cox, Charter, Altice USA, Verizon and AT&T to name a few – however they have also been tied to a legal dispute with Comcast.

Between them, the two separate companies have a patent portfolio of more than 10,000 patents as well as applications with “minimal overlap.”

On top of this, the new company are working on how they can grow TiVo’s content aggregation and discovery as well as their recommendation capabilities, making sure they include Xperi’s auto, home and mobile devices. Alongside these plans, TiVo are aiming to present their product news at this January’s CES, meaning more information will soon be available.

In a statement, Jon Kirchner confirms:

“This landmark combination brings together two highly complementary companies poised to set the industry standard for user experiences across the digital value chain. Together, we will be able to integrate TiVo’s leading content aggregation, metadata, discovery, and recommendation capabilities with our home, automotive, and mobile technology solutions to help our customers create experiences that excite and delight consumers.

Additionally, the combined company will continue to unlock the value of our strategic and sizable patent portfolios by bringing together our deep industry expertise and powerful innovation engines. Through greater scale and diversity, we will deliver attractive and sustainable long-term cash flow and shareholder value.”

TiVo’s Shull also highlighted the fact that Xperi’s annual licensing business has more than 100 million connected TV units benefiting from TiVo’s technology as well as relationships with CE manufacturers, automotive OEMs and content providers, all of whom are also benefiting from TiVo’s technology.