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Game World Star PewDiePie Signs Exclusive Deal With YouTube

AFP – Agence France Presse

Swedish video star Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, is seen in a 2015 photo

YouTube on Monday announced that streaming star PewDiePie will make the Google-owned video platform his exclusive online stage.

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has 104 million subscribers at YouTube, where his videos have racked up more than 25 billion views.

No details were disclosed regarding any financial incentives involved in his decision to go exclusive at Google-owned YouTube, which competes with rival platforms such as Amazon-owned Twitch and Microsoft Mixer.

“YouTube has been my home for over a decade now and live streaming on the platform feels like a natural fit as I continue to look for new ways to create content and interact with fans worldwide,” Kjellberg said in a release.

Kjellberg created a YouTube channel in 2010 and began uploading videos of “Minecraft” and “Amnesia” game play, according to the service.

His channel has evolved to include a range of comedy and reaction videos as well as popular videos about topics catching fire on various online platforms.

In August 2013, Kjellberg became the most-subscribed YouTube channel in the world in 2013, and six years later became the first individual YouTube creator to reach 100 million subscribers.

Kjellberg is going exclusive at YouTube as online gaming and video streaming has surged overall as people staying home due to the deadly pandemic turn to the internet for entertainment.

“YouTube is where the world comes together to connect and during these unprecedented times,” said head of gaming Ryan Wyatt.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to grow our roster of creators who are making our platform their exclusive live streaming home.”

The list of gaming-related content stars exclusive at YouTube include CouRage, Lachlan, LazarBeam, Muselk, Typical Gamer, and Valkyrae.

YouTube touts being the largest global gaming platform with more than 200 million gamers a day watching more than 50 billion hours of game play annually.

The 30-year-old Swede has stepped into controversy over the years.

In September 2017, he apologized for using a racial slur in an expletive-laden rant against an opponent during a live-streamed computer game.

Before that, he was shunned by YouTube and Disney over videos containing anti-Semitic insults or Nazi references.

In 2016, he was temporarily blocked from Twitter after joking he had joined the Islamic State group.

Kjellberg last year said he was “sickened” after hearing that the gunman behind a New Zealand mosque massacre had promoted his videos before opening fire.

gc/rlThis story was produced by AFP. For more information go to AFP.com.
© Agence France-Presse


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Amazon’s Pullback May Only Be Starting

Michael Kramer

Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) stock was trading lower on May 1, by roughly 8% after reporting better than expected revenue, but missing earnings estimates. Additionally, the company issued revenue guidance that was in line with forecasts but warned rising costs would suppress operating income. Expectations of these rising costs may have already been getting built into the stock in recent weeks, with the technical chart flashing bearish warning signs.

The company has never been one to shy away from spending a lot to build for the future. Amazon has been able to successfully do this in recent years, helped by the explosive growth from Amazon’s web services (AWS). However, it also means that earnings estimates for the stock will need to fall.

Technical Warnings Signs Emerge

Even when heading into results, the stock saw a substantial region of selling around the $2,440 level. Since the middle of April, the stock was battling to rise at that price level and failed despite multiple attempts. It suggests that there is a great deal of selling pressure that resides at that level. Since reporting results, it seems the sellers have moved lower, and if the stock break support at $2,285, it could result in the shares falling to around $2,090, a decline of about 9% from its price of $2,290 on May 1.

But more concerning is that the stock is forming a bearish divergence noted by the lower highs in the relative strength index, as the equity was making record highs. It would suggest that momentum in Amazon is now shifting from bullish to bearish and that shares could have even further to fall then the initial 9%.

Fundamentals Shift

The technical trends appear to reflect the changes in the fundamental story. In recent years the stock had been viewed as a revenue growth story. However, as earnings have climbed, the investment thesis shifted from revenue growth to earnings growth. But investors might need to revisit this thesis over the short-term as earnings estimates fall and valuation rises. It will put more focus on the company’s ability to grow its revenue fast enough to satisfy investors’ demands.

Analysts now see the company earning $24.45 per share in 2020, which is down from $27.38 on April 30. Meanwhile, earnings estimates for 2021 have declined to $38.23 per share from $39.16 per share. It leaves the stock trading for a one-year forward PE ratio of 58.6. This sounds high, but when adjusting for earnings growth in 2021 of 56.4%, it seems fairly reasonable. However, one must consider that earnings estimates may continue to decline, and that likely means that future growth rates contract and the PE ratios may rise.

AWS Drive Growth

The company reported revenue of $75.45 billion, which was about 1.8% higher than estimates for $74.15 billion. Meanwhile, earnings came in at $5.01 per share and missed estimates by about 19.8%. The company did see robust growth out of its AWS business unit, which rose by almost 33% to $10.2 billion while providing operating income of $3.075 billion. The AWS unit’s operating income accounted for nearly all of Amazon’s total operating income of $3.9 billion.

With the company back in spending mode, investors will need to recalibrate their expectations once again. It means refocusing emphasis on earnings growth to revenue growth and that a specific group of investors may decide to move on, rather than participate in a period of renewed spending.

Michael Kramer is a financial market strategist and the portfolio manager of the Mott Capital Thematic Growth Portfolio.

Mott Capital Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future


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Divorcing China: The West’s Return To Ideology And Its Impact On Global Business

Privacy, freedom of expression and transparency are becoming essential currencies in international business. These values are reshaping the global trade landscape into distinct ideological blocks that will dictate corporate behavior—as well as accelerate the West’s decoupling from China.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the tech-sector, where the tensions between socio-political values and the application of leading-edge technologies have become entangled.

This outcome has fueled a specific aspect of techno-nationalism, from a Western societal perspective, which seeks to prevent the use of technology to suppress people’s right to privacy and freedom of expression.  This has resulted in an increasing number of laws that block the sale of products and technology to autocratic governments, if these technologies would enhance their surveillance and censorship capabilities.

For international business, this cuts three ways: more backlash and barriers to transactions between Western and Chinese entities; more ideologically-driven standards in international frameworks; and, higher corporate governance standards regarding transparency.

On its 75th anniversary, the United Nations needed a global videoconferencing  platform to broadcast and capture millions of conversations for an initiative called “What the World Should Look Like in 25 Years.” The agency chose to partner with China’s Tencent, the digital giant that owns WeChat, the social media app with some 1 billion users.  

But this decision produced an immediate backlash from Western governments and human rights groups, on the grounds that the UN was effectively validating the Chinese Communist Party’s state surveillance and censorship apparatus.

Tencent has been a key player in Beijing’s digital surveillance systems. And like all Chinese tech companies, Tencent must turn over data to the central government under the country’s Cyber Security Law, if asked to do so.

Ironically, the UN chose the WeChat platform because it was the only one that would enable communication behind China’s internet firewall, which has kept Western companies like Facebook locked out because of the CCP’s strict censorship practices.

Facing intense ideological backlash from both state and non-state actors, the UN promptly backed out of its partnership with Tencent.

Another example of techno-ideological backlash involves Zoom, the American video-conferencing app, which has seen its value skyrocket during the coronavirus pandemic. It was revealed that Zoom had been transmitting the keys for encryption and decryption of data from its virtual meetings through its servers in China, where the company maintains an R&D operation of 700 people.

Unencrypted data sent to China came from, among others, global meetings involving NASA, SpaceX and the government of Taiwan, which subsequently banned the use of Zoom for all Taiwanese businesses. Many other organizations have since dropped Zoom as a service provider.

Technology and human rights

Ideological backlash in the form of public condemnation and shaming is one thing, but passing laws prohibiting technology transfer, based on human-rights criteria, is an entirely different matter.

In October of 2019, the United States placed 28 Chinese entities on a blacklist for enabling the surveillance and electronic monitoring of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China’s far West.

Chinese tech firms on the list included HikVision—42% owned by the Chinese state— and Dahua Technology, which are the world’s two largest makers of video surveillance and facial recognition technology. Also included were SenseTime and Megvii, two massive Chinese AI companies immersed in surveillance-tech.

U.S. technology restrictions, however, affect a much broader range of companies: HikVision’s suppliers of microchips and other core technology, for example, include U.S. companies such as Intel, Nvidia, Western Digital and Seagate, all of which must get special permission from the U.S. government to continue selling to restricted Chinese companies.

For Amazon, the American tech giant, these technology controls present a dilemma. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon desperately needed to temperature-screen its employees, but had no other alternative than to turn to Dahua Technology— which dominates the thermal imaging niche—and purchase $10 million worth of thermal imaging technology. Dahua, of course, is now a U.S. restricted entity.

Amazon’s predicament will serve to further galvanize political efforts in the U.S. to re-shore the manufacturing of strategic technologies—from civilian drones to pharma. Meanwhile, Chinese companies have already been de-Americanizing their supply chains and accelerating de-coupling to avoid exposure to further American export controls.

Ideological frameworks and corporate governance

Differing ideologies are shaping the emergence of global trade blocks with uniquely Western rules and standards. These are increasingly manifest in free trade agreements.

Various tones of the European Union’s privacy standards, for example, embodied in the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are baked into the EU’s free trade agreements with the likes of Singapore, Japan and Vietnam. Similarly, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), originally led by the U.S., was designed not only to protect data privacy but had transparency standards baked in to alienate the behavior of Chinese state-owned enterprises. 

All of this raises the bar for corporate governance. From a transparency angle, organizations will need to have much more sophisticated processes to be able to peer into extended value chains and assess the behavior of suppliers, customers and product end-users.

Are a company’s partners selling or buying technology that is enabling censorship and loss of privacy? The costs of ascertaining this will be high, but the reward will be come in the form of less uncertainty and a stamp of approval from partners adhering to these standards.

These questions will be playing out even as China and the West undergo a more fundamental and irreversible decoupling.

Alex Capri


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