Kanye West asks Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page for $1 billion to fund his ‘ideas’

Kanye West acknowledges attendees before his Yeezy Season 3 Collection presentation and listening party for the "The Life of Pablo" album during New York Fashion Week February 11, 2016.

(Reuters) – Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West, who says he is $53 million in debt, has asked Facebook Inc’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion into his “ideas.”

West asked his Twitter followers to urge Zuckerberg to support him. “World, please tweet, FaceTime, Facebook, instagram, whatever you gotta do to get Mark to support me … West tweeted.

The rapper also asked Alphabet Inc CEO Larry Page to help him with his financial troubles.

West, who claimed he was “still 53 million dollars in personal debt,” said that people do not give money to “real artists” like him but rather open schools in Africa.

Neither Zuckerberg nor Page have verified accounts on Twitter, the microblogging website.

Some Twitter users have reached out to Zuckerberg via Facebook Messenger asking him to help the rapper out.

On Saturday night, prior to releasing his eighth studio album and performing on TV comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” the rapper revealed via Twitter that he was $53 million in debt.

“I write this to you my brothers while still 53 million dollars in personal debt,” he tweeted. “Please pray we overcome … This is my true heart.”

West, who’s married to reality TV star Kim Kardashian, has been putting tens of millions into his fashion label. According to the Business Insider website, his latest clothing line is selling high-end coats and jackets for as much as $3,000 to $4,000. The Kanye sweatpants alone cost $510.

In a 2015 interview with BET, the controversial rapper said he incurred $16 million in debt from his fashion business.

Via online streaming, more than 20 million viewers watched West debuted his new album, “The Life of Pablo” and clothing collection during a New York Fashion Week runway show last Thursday.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

 


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DICE Summit to highlight game gods Hideo Kojima, Todd Howard, and Sid Meier

Martin Rae of AIAS

Even though they let people like me into it, the DICE Summit is perhaps the most elite event in the game industry. It features talks from the superstars of games and an awards show that is akin to the Oscars of gaming. The Las Vegas event is coming around again for the 15th time this week, and I’ll be there to cover it.

Like other shows such as the Academy Awards, the DICE Summit and its DICE Awards events are more than just a gathering place for gaming’s leaders. It’s a place where they try to set the tone for the year and take stock of the cultural touchstones that gaming has created in our lives. It’s a bit of intellectual chaos, and the result is usually a good story or two (or ten).

Established in 2002 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), the DICE Summit and its accompanying DICE Awards highlight the very best in games. Aside from my own conferences (GamesBeat Summit and GamesBeat 2016), the DICE Summit is always one of my favorite conferences of the year.

“It’s an interesting mix of people, including creative minds from outside the gaming business,” said Martin Rae, president of the AIAS and organizer of the event. “Anytime you can put a creative mind who is successful outside of games in front of this audience, the result is good. They can look at creativity in a different way.”

Guillermo del Toro, director of films like Pacific Rim, will hit the DICE Summit stage with Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear Solid game series who recently parted ways with Konami and is now making a new game for Sony. Randy Pitchford, head of Gearbox Studios, maker of the Borderlands series, will appear on stage doing magic tricks with comedian Penn Jillette.

One of the more interesting speakers is Rhianna Pratchett, a narrative writer for video games and the writer behind strong female characters such as Nariko in Heavenly Sword, Faith in Mirror’s Edge, and the rebooted Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider. (See our in-depth interview with Pratchett). Her talk will be interesting because, as she noted in our interview, video games are way behind the diversity of their audiences.

“This industry grew up saying that mechanics and gameplay were more important than story,” Rae said. “Narrative was sidelined. I think people realize now that a great story makes for a great game. And she comes at it as a writer.”

In one of the zanier talks, Richard Hilleman, chief creative director at Electronic Arts, will moderate a session on games in automobiles (presumably not played by the driver).

“Cars are becoming a platform for so many things, including new user experiences,” Rae said.

DICE Summit speakers

Above: DICE Summit speakers

Image Credit: DICE Summit

Todd Howard, head of development at Bethesda Game Studios and creator of blockbuster games such as Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, will give a talk. And the legendary Sid Meier and fellow game designers Bruce Shelley, Brian Reynolds, and Soren Johnson will talk about the cultural impact of 25 years of Civilization games.

We’ll also hear talks from Tommy Francois, head of new intellectual property at Ubisoft; Niccolo De Masi, CEO of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood creator Glu Mobile; and Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association.

The entertainment will include a celebrity esports tournament on the FaceIt platform.

As for logistics, the show moved from the Hard Rock Hotel to the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center this year.

You will be able to view livestreams of the sessions starting on Wednesday morning, when the conference opens. Attendees will get a chance to check out demos on virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies.

The 19th Annual (yes, it’s older than the conference itself) DICE Awards event, preceded by red carpet arrivals, will be the highlight of the show on Thursday night, running from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time. The awards show host will be Pete Holmes, the comedian whose credits include the podcast You Made It WeirdThe Pete Holmes Show, and videos on FrontPage Films. The awards will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

“Pete did a nice job last year and we’re glad to have him back,” Rae said.

The DICE Summit major talks and the DICE Awards will also appear on livestreams starting Wednesday. They will be on HitBox, Twitch, and YouTube.










DICE Summit to highlight game gods Hideo Kojima, Todd Howard, and Sid Meier

Martin Rae of AIAS

Even though they let people like me into it, the DICE Summit is perhaps the most elite event in the game industry. It features talks from the superstars of games and an awards show that is akin to the Oscars of gaming. The Las Vegas event is coming around again for the 15th time this week, and I’ll be there to cover it.

Like other shows such as the Academy Awards, the DICE Summit and its DICE Awards events are more than just a gathering place for gaming’s leaders. It’s a place where they try to set the tone for the year and take stock of the cultural touchstones that gaming has created in our lives. It’s a bit of intellectual chaos, and the result is usually a good story or two (or ten).

Established in 2002 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), the DICE Summit and its accompanying DICE Awards highlight the very best in games. Aside from my own conferences (GamesBeat Summit and GamesBeat 2016), the DICE Summit is always one of my favorite conferences of the year.

“It’s an interesting mix of people, including creative minds from outside the gaming business,” said Martin Rae, president of the AIAS and organizer of the event. “Anytime you can put a creative mind who is successful outside of games in front of this audience, the result is good. They can look at creativity in a different way.”

Guillermo del Toro, director of films like Pacific Rim, will hit the DICE Summit stage with Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear Solid game series who recently parted ways with Konami and is now making a new game for Sony. Randy Pitchford, head of Gearbox Studios, maker of the Borderlands series, will appear on stage doing magic tricks with comedian Penn Jillette.

One of the more interesting speakers is Rhianna Pratchett, a narrative writer for video games and the writer behind strong female characters such as Nariko in Heavenly Sword, Faith in Mirror’s Edge, and the rebooted Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider. (See our in-depth interview with Pratchett). Her talk will be interesting because, as she noted in our interview, video games are way behind the diversity of their audiences.

“This industry grew up saying that mechanics and gameplay were more important than story,” Rae said. “Narrative was sidelined. I think people realize now that a great story makes for a great game. And she comes at it as a writer.”

In one of the zanier talks, Richard Hilleman, chief creative director at Electronic Arts, will moderate a session on games in automobiles (presumably not played by the driver).

“Cars are becoming a platform for so many things, including new user experiences,” Rae said.

DICE Summit speakers

Above: DICE Summit speakers

Image Credit: DICE Summit

Todd Howard, head of development at Bethesda Game Studios and creator of blockbuster games such as Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, will give a talk. And the legendary Sid Meier and fellow game designers Bruce Shelley, Brian Reynolds, and Soren Johnson will talk about the cultural impact of 25 years of Civilization games.

We’ll also hear talks from Tommy Francois, head of new intellectual property at Ubisoft; Niccolo De Masi, CEO of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood creator Glu Mobile; and Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association.

The entertainment will include a celebrity esports tournament on the FaceIt platform.

As for logistics, the show moved from the Hard Rock Hotel to the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center this year.

You will be able to view livestreams of the sessions starting on Wednesday morning, when the conference opens. Attendees will get a chance to check out demos on virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies.

The 19th Annual (yes, it’s older than the conference itself) DICE Awards event, preceded by red carpet arrivals, will be the highlight of the show on Thursday night, running from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time. The awards show host will be Pete Holmes, the comedian whose credits include the podcast You Made It WeirdThe Pete Holmes Show, and videos on FrontPage Films. The awards will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

“Pete did a nice job last year and we’re glad to have him back,” Rae said.

The DICE Summit major talks and the DICE Awards will also appear on livestreams starting Wednesday. They will be on HitBox, Twitch, and YouTube.










India’s Snapdeal raises $200 million to challenge Amazon and Flipkart

snapdeal_logo

The three-way battle for India’s ecommerce market has just intensified. Snapdeal announced yesterday a $200 million funding round as it ramps up competition against Amazon and Flipkart. The investment was led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, one of the world’s largest pension funds, and Singapore-based investment entity Brother Fortune Apparel, among others.

The new investment puts Snapdeal’s valuation in the $6.5-$7 billion range, making it the second most valuable startup in India, after Flipkart. The current figure represents a 35 percent jump from its previous valuation of $4.8 billion, and follows a $500 million investment almost a half-year ago. China’s Foxconn and Alibaba led that round, exhibiting their interest in backing a company to compete with Amazon in India.

Last month, Snapdeal’s corporate parent, Jasper Infotech, reported a loss of Rs. 1328 crore (almost $195 million) for the previous financial year. The company’s losses had increased five-fold in just 12 months, primarily as a result of spending heavily to maintain Snapdeal’s market share amidst growing competition from Amazon and Flipkart.

Snapdeal says that the capital raised will be used to further build out its technology platform, logistics, payments, and back-end infrastructure.

“We see these investments as a continuing endorsement of Snapdeal’s strategy to build India’s most reliable and frictionless commerce ecosystem,” said Anup Vikal, chief financial officer at Jasper Infotech, in a statement. “We continue to make targeted investments in building internal and external capabilities that will enable us to consistently deliver optimal experience for the millions of buyers and sellers who transact daily on Snapdeal.”

Since 2010, Jasper Infotech has raised more than $2 billion for Snapdeal from multiple investors, including PremjiInvest, Intel Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Ratan Tata, Japan’s SoftBank, China’s Alibaba Group, and Taiwan’s Foxconn. With India’s ecommerce race showing no signs of slowing, it’s likely that Jasper is already preparing to raise even more investment for Snapdeal.

Originally published on The Tech Portal, an India-based tech publication.


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Hulu launches universal Windows 10 app with Cortana support for smartphones, tablets, and PCs

Hulu

Hulu today launched a universal Windows 10 app for smartphones, tablets, and PCs with support for Cortana and Live Tiles. You can download the new version now from the Windows Store.

To be clear, Hulu was already available on Windows 10. There was a Windows 8.1 app for PCs and tablets that worked on Windows 10 computers as well as a Windows Phone 8 app that worked on Windows 10 Mobile. Today’s release is a single app that works across smartphones, tablets, and PCs. If you download Hulu from the Windows Store (or update to the latest version), you’ll get the same app, but it will adapt its user interface to your device. That said, the app is only available to U.S. residents (unlike Netflix’s massive reach, Hulu is limited to the U.S. and Japan).

The universal Windows platform (UWP) also stretches to the Xbox One, but Hulu didn’t include support for the console in this release, Greg Sullivan, Senior Manager of Windows, told VentureBeat. Hulu is already available for Xbox One, but since Cortana voice commands haven’t yet been extended to third-party apps on Microsoft’s console, there was no incentive to include Xbox One support today.

hulu_cortana

Within the Hulu app, you can navigate directly to a show or episode by typing in its name. Even if the Hulu app isn’t open, you can use Cortana to trigger specific sections of the app. For example, you can say “Hey Cortana” followed by:

  • “Hulu watch Family Guy”
  • “Hulu watch the latest episode of Family Guy”
  • “Hulu find Family Guy”
  • “Hulu search for Family Guy”
  • “Hulu add Family Guy to Favorite”
  • “Hulu add Family Guy to Queue”
  • “Hulu go to Movies”

The first command will probably be the most frequently used. If you haven’t watched the given show in Hulu yet, the app will launch and immediately begin playing the first episode. If it’s a series you’ve already started, the app will immediately begin playing that specific episode right where you left off, across any of the devices you have Hulu installed on.

hulu_live_tiles

Not only can you pin the Hulu app to your Start menu, you can also pin individual shows and documentaries. Live Tiles support means the app tile will display new shows and offer recommendations for what to watch.

Hulu timed the release of its new app with the premier of its new Hulu Original show titled “11.22.63.” Because the Xbox One app didn’t get an update, Hulu is throwing Xbox users a bone with the first part of 11.22.63, “The Rabbit Hole,” available for free to non-Hulu subscribers “this week only.”










Players who buy once are six times more likely to buy again in mobile games

Soomla says mobile game players are six times more likely to spend in a game, after they've already bought one thing.

Mobile gamers who make one purchase are six times more likely to make another one, according to analytics and in-app purchase company Soomla. That’s why it’s so important for game companies to entice players to make purchases, even if they are small ones.

Soomla’s Q1 2016 Mobile Gaming Insights report is particularly interesting since only 2 percent of consumers spend in mobile games. Even with that low percentage, in-app purchases are the vast majority of revenues in what has become a $34 billion industry, according to market researcher App Annie.

The report looks at spending habits by cross­-game behavior, virtual economy model and game genre. The new report reveals that users who completed an in­app purchase in one game are six times more likely to pay in another game, compared to any random user who hasn’t purchased.

It also says the likelihood of a user to pay in a second game increases by up to 40 percent based on the amount they spent in the first game.

Market purchase details based on Soomla's mobile game analytics.

Above: Market purchase details based on Soomla’s mobile game analytics.

Image Credit: Soomla

The report look at the behavior of 20 million players from more than 200 countries The findings emphasize the contribution of cross-­game purchase data to the ability to predict paying users.

Furthermore, knowing a user’s in­app purchase history by genres played, dollars spent and virtual items bought empowers game developers to tailor personalized offers at the user’s “comfort zone” price point.

Yaniv Nizan, Co­founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based Soomla, said in a statement, “Attracting payers to your game is like finding a needle in a haystack, but when crossing in­app purchase data from thousands of other games, our payer prediction technology reveals which user segments will eventually convert and what they’re likely to buy.”

The report said that quick payers, or those who buy in the first 24 hours after a game is installed, are nine times more likely to pay in another game. Over 40 percent of users who paid $25 or more in one game, will also pay in another game. Holiday season savvy developers achieve an average revenue per paying user (ARPPU) lift in December of 83 percent above the annual average.

And the report said that for each in­-game item users purchase with real currency, an average of 18 additional items are purchased with virtual currency. 65 percent  of all app revenue comes from “lifetime” goods (e.g. characters, level packs, remove ads), which cost $2.60 on average. And Soomla found that “single use” goods (e.g. “save me”, ammo, 30­-second boost) account for 71 percent of all in-game purchases.

Solomon Foshko, manager of strategic intelligence at Wargaming, said in a statement, “Soomla’s latest report provides a greater understanding of key trends in the mobile market and how best we can apply that insight for a competitive advantage within our product portfolio.”

Daily active users increase as much as 33 percent over weekends, and this occurs primarily on phones, although sessions on tablets are often longer. Usage patterns differ across game genres as well, with strategy games boasting the highest average session duration of 11 minutes, or­ 2.6 times more than other genres.

Soomla’s analytics allow it to detect when a highly likely paying user has installed your game. Soomla’s open-source software development kit (SDK) powers more than 7,000 games that reach 600 million devices.

Payment probabilities for payers.

Above: Payment probabilities for payers.

Image Credit: Soomla