Big Head, Big Dreams, Big Mistake?

At least on paper, Episode 23 was a heartwarming story of new beginnings.  Sure, Richard was subjected to an excruciating limbo during which Laurie interviewed other people for “his” job as CEO.  But it turns out that was only for Richard’s own good—to make sure Richard would be seen as the best choice after a rigorous selection process—not as the guy who got his job back because he was hanging around the office.  There was a smallish hiccup when the indignity of Laurie’s process caused Richard to snap and air all his pent-up grievances to a Code/Rag reporter, who could have ruined everything for Richard by printing his tirade.  But fortunately, Big Head saved the day by providing the reporter an even bigger story about how Gavin Belson “scrubbed the internet” of negative references to Belson or Nucleus.  By the end of the episode, Richard is reinstated as CEO and Pied Piper is relaunching work on the platform with a brand new batch of cheap, foreign engineers.

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Weekly Web Wrap-Up: May 20, 2016

Welcome to Sheppard Mullin’s Weekly Web Wrap-Up, a quick list of the past week’s top news in the social media, gaming, and virtual goods and currencies industries curated by Social Media & Games Team.  Here are some of the stories that we’ve been reading:

Amazon Launches YouTube Competitor

As the streaming video war continues, Amazon has announced the launch of its own video platform, Amazon Video Direct.  Like YouTube, the platform will host video content of any kind, uploaded either by corporate partners or by individual content creators, with a variety of revenue-generating options built in.

SPACES Launches with 3 Million in Initial Funding

Led by Comcast Ventures, the independent company is already working with companies Microsoft, NBCUniversal, Big Blue Bubble and The Hettema Group, among others, to develop and produce a wide range of projects across all VR and MxR platforms and technologies.

The 10 Biggest Announcements from I/O 2016

At I/O this year, Google made some big announcements, including a much-anticipated mobile VR platform, a slew of new Google products, and improvements to Android.  Here’s your guide.

Twitch and Blizzard Team Up to Combat Harassment in Gaming

Blizzard Entertainment and Twitch are working together to develop a pilot program targeted at combating online harassment following an incident during a recent Hearthstone live stream.  Blizzard CEO: There’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community.’

Sony Finally Makes Move Into AI

The tech juggernaut announced it is joining the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google by diving into artificial intelligence.

Laurie & Monica Out-Action Jack…and Other Fiduciary Duties (Silicon Valley – Episode 22)

Episode 22 provides a decisive and satisfying showdown between Jack’s Box plan and Richard’s consumer platform option.  Richard’s not-so-secret skunkworks project is dead, and the team sets to work on the Box believing that as soon as they deliver a working prototype, they will be free to build the platform.  But when they deliver the Box, they find Jack is prepared to double-cross them.  As Jared explains, Jack has negotiated a contract “with ’90s-era tech dinosaur Maleant Data Solutions that **exclusively** licensed the Pied Piper algorithm to Maleant for five long years!”  Jack calls a meeting of Pied Piper’s board expecting it to approve the deal.

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Weekly Web Wrap-Up: May 17, 2016

Welcome to Sheppard Mullin’s Weekly Web Wrap-Up, a quick list of the past week’s top news in the social media, gaming, and virtual goods and currencies industries curated by Social Media & Games Team.  Here are some of the stories that we’ve been reading:

The Cheapest Way to Experience VR Heads to Europe

Google Cardboard—Google’s DIY VR Headset—is finally available to buy in the UK, France, Germany, and Canada.  You can pick one up for yourself from Google’s official store.

Congressional Hearing on Daily Fantasy Sports Raised More Questions Than Answers

This week, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held its first-ever hearing on daily fantasy sports.  The purpose of the informational session was to consider whether or not the federal government should have a role in regulating daily fantasy sports.  After lots of speculation, here are the takeaways.  You can also watch the hearing here.

DraftKings Enhances UK Payment Options with Paysafe

DraftKings customers in the UK will now be able to fund their accounts with debit and credit cards.  Paysafe will be the exclusive debit and credit card processor for DraftKings UK.

Activision Brings Live E-Sports to Facebook

Video-game giant Activision Blizzard is teaming up with Facebook to deliver live eSports tournament coverage on the social-media service worldwide.  The new eSports network will launch during the MLG Anaheim Open, a two-day “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” tournament that kicks off June 10, 2016.

Trade Secrets and Lies (Silicon Valley – Episode 21)

Episode 21 is a delightful maze of plots, plot twists and omens.  At Pied Piper, Richard fails in his attempt to go over CEO Action Jack’s head and have Laurie, the investor, force Jack to scrap his Box and build the consumer platform.  As a result of this failed coup, Jack warns Richard darkly, “if you’re going to shoot the king, you’ve got to be goddamn sure you kill him.”  Undeterred, the team opts for covert action:  they will build their consumer platform while pretending to build Jack’s box. They form a secret ‘startup within a startup,’ aptly/obviously codenamed “Skunkworks.” But before they can even get to work, Richard lets the Skunkworks plans fall into the enemy, sales team hands… and it seems like the entire scheme is blown! Continue Reading

Weekly Web Wrap-Up: May 6, 2016

Welcome to Sheppard Mullin’s Weekly Web Wrap-Up, a quick list of the past week’s top news in the social media, gaming, and virtual goods and currencies industries curated by Social Media & Games Team.  Here are some of the stories that we’ve been reading:

Vimeo’s Acquisition of VHX to Expand Subscription Video Platforms

Vimeo has announced its acquisition of OTT platform VHX, which enables video creators to sell directly to fans via subscription video channels.  As the video universe continues to unbundle, the evolution of mainstream subscriptions services to interest-based streaming channels is one to watch.

The Projected Expansion of the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) Market is Huge

According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research, the global BCI market is expected to reach a value of US $1.23 bn by 2024.  The demand is highest in healthcare and entertainment.

3DRudder: VR for Your Feet!

3DRudder announced that it has begun fulfilling pre-orders for the company’s VR peripheral.  3DRudder is a peripheral designed for use with VR applications that allows you to use your feet to control VR applications.

Australia Moves to Remove ‘Double Taxation’ on Digital Currency

Australia’s Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer announced the release of the Government’s response to the Senate Economics References Committee’s report on the Inquiry into Digital Currency – Digital currency — game changer or bit player.  The Government revealed plans to reduce the tax on Bitcoin transactions.  The Government also agreed with the committee to consider establishing a Digital Economy Taskforce to gather further information on the uses, opportunities and risks associated with digital currencies

How Gaming is Shaping the Future of Work

Video games drive much of the innovation in video, virtual reality, and collaboration technologies today—and businesses are paying attention.  Meetings in virtual space rendered in 3-D is just the beginning; progressive companies have begun to adapt the tried-and-true gamification and engagement strategies of video games to the workplace.

Jack’s Box (Silicon Valley – Episode 20)

Episode 20 of Silicon Valley explores numerous classic conflicts: consumer-oriented v. enterprise business model; engineers v. sales; revolutionary vs. safe; long-term goals v. short-term profits; Erlich v. Jian-Yang … Richard’s plan has been to transform the world by giving away the basic version of Pied Piper’s revolutionary compression technology, rapidly building a huge user base, and hoping to charge for premium features one day (the consumer, “freemium” business model). However, CEO “Action” Jack Barker and his new sales team—preoccupied with implementing his “Conjoined Triangles of Success”—want an immediate focus on revenue and insist that Pied Piper make enterprise software they can immediately sell to big business customers. Worried even that won’t be easy enough to sell, Jack’s team strips away every cool and revolutionary feature until they’ve transformed Pied Piper into a business-facing appliance company selling Pied Piper Boxes that Jared deems “rectangular, glorified thumb drives that resemble nothing so much as old Betamax machines. ” Richard is horrified and dismayed.

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Weekly Web Wrap-Up: April 27, 2016

Welcome to Sheppard Mullin’s Weekly Web Wrap-Up, a quick list of the past week’s top news in the social media, gaming, and virtual goods and currencies industries curated by Social Media & Games Team.  Here are some of the stories that we’ve been reading:

The Cayman Cup: E-Sports Racing Takes Off

CJ Wilson Racing partnered with Logitech and The Online Racing Association (TORA) to run the CJ Wilson Racing Cayman Cup—an e-racing championship.  The 10-race series got underway this week.

The World’s First Dedicated E-Sports TV Channel

ESL announced its launch of a dedicated eSports channel this week.  eSports TV will be a 24/7 eSports channel and is expected to launch in May.

A Canonical Question in Robot Law: When a Robot Kills, is it Murder or Product Liability?

An expert on robotics law responds to Paolo Bacigalupi’s short story “Mika Model.”

Amazon Posts Fourth Straight Profitable Quarter

It may come as a surprise, but despite its high visibility Amazon has only recently begun turning a profit.  The company has traditionally favored growth over profits, opting for investing in resource-heavy initiatives.  But this week, the online retailer posted the largest quarterly profit in its history.

SS7 Security: The Vulnerabilities of Mobile Networks

SS7 garnered significant public attention this week’s 60 Minutes piece, which showed two German researchers using SS7 to spy on US Congressman Ted Lieu, with his permission.  So what is SS7 and why is it so vulnerable?  Click here to find out.

Success Is Not Always Founder Friendly (Silicon Valley – Episode 19)

HBO’s Silicon Valley is back, but Richard is still out as Pied Piper’s CEO.  To recap how we got here:  in the closing moments of last season, the Pied Piper team triumphed by successfully livestreaming its condor cam video to 200,000 viewers—including Laurie, the head of Raviga Capital, one of Pied Piper’s two investors.  Laurie was so impressed with the technology that  Raviga Capital immediately bought out Pied Piper’s other investor, Russ Hanneman.  By doing so, Raviga Capital gained control of three of Pied Piper’s five board seats, and promptly used its majority control to remove Richard as CEO.

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Weekly Web Wrap-Up: April 22

Welcome to Sheppard Mullin’s Weekly Web Wrap-Up, a quick list of the past week’s top news in the social media, gaming, and virtual goods and currencies industries curated by Social Media & Games Team.  Here are some of the stories that we’ve been reading:

Watch the World’s First Mind-Controlled Drone Race

Sixteen students at the University of Florida took part in the competition, taking control of the drones using a brain-computer interface (BCI) device.  Billed as the next NASCAR, drone racing seems poised to fly into the world of mainstream sports and to bring BCI technology out of the lab and into your living room.

What to Expect From an Indie E3

With Activision, Disney, Bethesda, and EA all bowing out of E3 in an official capacity this year, the industry is abuzz with one question:  Can the biggest annual event for gamers survive its newfound independence?  June 12 is right around the corner, and the rumors have us cautiously optimistic.

How Prince Fought the Internet for Musicians

None can deny that Prince leaves behind a legacy.  But for young artists in the music industry, that legacy includes activism.  Placing blame on labels that sign lucrative content deals with streaming services but refused to share profits, Prince pulled his entire catalog from all major streaming services.  He was also at the forefront of the piracy fight, suing the infamous The Pirate Bay for rampant online piracy.

The Latest on Sony’s PS4.5

Sony is poised to drop a new console only three years after the launch of the PS4—the most powerful game console on the market today—to support 4K Ultra HD gaming and VR experiences.  Check out all the updates, rumors, and news on the update.

The XTech Conference Returns to San Francisco

The Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO), the leading neuroscience trade association, in conjunction with JAZZ Venture Partners return this year for the 2016 Experiential Technology and NeuroGaming Conference & Expo—or “XTech.”  The conference focuses on the convergence of emerging digital platforms—such as VR, AR, MR, deep learning, and robotics—and advances in neuroscience.  The event illuminates the impact of new experiential technologies on health, wellness, learning, training, sports and entertainment.