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$2 Million For 30 Seconds in Grammys Broadcast

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ABC Television network is collecting about $2 million per 30-second ad spot in the 89th Academy Awards broadcast.

ABC announced Friday that it had sold all its commercial inventory for the Feb. 26 awards show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. CA. The program will be hosted by ABC comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

In 2016, ABC sold its ad inventory for an average of $1.72 million per 30 second spot, according to a survey of advertising buyers by Kantar Media, which tracks spending.

Snap Lowers Valuation Expectations in Highly Awaited IPO

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Snap Inc, owner of the popular messaging app Snapchat, set a lower-than-expected valuation range on Thursday, amid mounting investor concerns over its unproven business model, slowing growth and tight founder control.

The company, which filed for an initial public offering earlier this month, was widely expected to be valued at between $20 billion and $25 billion. However it said on Thursday it was targeting a valuation between $19.5 billion and $22.3 billion, ahead of an investor roadshow due to start on Monday in London.

The lower valuation range reflected initial investor feedback, as well as Snap’s aim to ensure there is sufficient demand for shares of the company that it trades up on its first day in public market.

Fuse Raises $12 Million For App Building Tool

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In 2015, Fuse began testing a service that it claimed would provide a better way for designers and developers to build mobile apps, eliminating the need to constantly compile code. Today the company announced it has hit a major milestone, raising a $12 million Series A round from returning investors Northzone and Alliance Ventures. With this new investment, Fuse said it’ll increase hiring while also pushing more into the enterprise and developer communities.

With Fuse’s tool, developers can build applications in a manner equivalent to how designers would work in Adobe Photoshop or After Effects. It uses a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editor with cross-platform controls featuring real-time updating so changes made to the app will appear instantaneously on test devices.

“Winning today’s app battles comes down to having killer UX,” explained company cofounder and chief executive Anders Lassen. “We hear the demand loud and clear for a faster, more effective way to build apps that deliver great user experience. The early response to our platform has been extremely validating to our mission, and the added excitement from the investor community is just fantastic.”

In an email interview, Fuse said it has received interest from not only developers, but also design agencies and studios, along with global brands in the enterprise and consumer space. The latest infusion of capital steers the company toward short-term goals, namely launching two more tools called Fuse Pro and Fuse Views.

Fuse Pro will be a visual design tool available through a monthly subscription that allows user experience markup to be edited visually, instead of through code. Fuse hopes it’ll facilitate the development of “groundbreaking new app experiences, including all those who don’t want to write markup code by hand.” From what we’re told, this mirrors what Fuse told VentureBeat in 2015. This tool is currently being tested internally, but a beta program is expected soon, with a public release in Q2.

Fuse Views lets developers enhance apps built in Apple’s Xcode platform or Android studio. “If you already have the core functionality of your app but want to create a beautiful onboarding screen, animated menus, or have the ability to tweak your app user interface in real time, you can include Fuse Views within your app,” the company said. “This enables designers to truly own the UI, animation, and user experience and not require lengthy & complex roundtrips between developers & designers.”

Additionally, there are plans to open-source the core Fuse platform.

The company said that it has “tens of thousands” of users and a “steady influx of new people discovering the platform,” but it declined to provide specifics.

As with most companies that hit Series A funding, Fuse will spend some of the money beefing up its team, which is expected to grow from 25 to around 50 people.

The company has raised more than $19 million in funding, to date.

Sprint Purchases 33% Stake in Tidal

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Sprint has acquired a 33% stake in Jay Z’s streaming service Tidal, the two companies announced today (Jan. 23). A source familiar with the matter tells Billboard that the purchase was for $200 million and that Jay and each of the company’s two dozen artist-owners will remain part owners.

As part of the deal, Tidal will become available to Sprint’s 45 million retail customers, while the companies will partner for exclusives from its artists, according to a press release. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure joins Tidal’s board of directors.

“Jay saw not only a business need, but a cultural one, and put his heart and grit into building TIDAL into a world-class music streaming platform that is unrivaled in quality and content,” Claure said in a statement. “The passion & dedication that these artist-owners bring to fans will enable Sprint to offer new and existing customers access to exclusive content & entertainment experiences in a way no other service can.”

Another aspect of the partnership includes the creation of a “dedicated marketing fund,” which a source says will have an annual budget of $75 million solely for the artist initiatives and exclusives. For those who already subscribe to Tidal, estimated to be around one million people, there will be no change in the existing service.

“Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” said Jay Z in a statement. “Marcelo understood our goal right away and together we are excited to bring Sprint’s 45 million customers an unmatched entertainment experience.”

Tidal’s and Sprint’s relationship dates back to the March 2015 U.S. launch of the company, when a report from the New York Post indicated that Sprint had acquired a stake in the company. At the time, Sprint walked back any formal deal, only alluding to negotiations “to determine how to best to make the service available to its customers… We are working together in partnership for the vision of the common cause of reestablishing the value of music, it is NOT a financial investment or exclusive partnership.”

Those discussions seem to have resulted in today’s announcement, which also comes days after Norwegian media outlet Dagens Næringsliv published a lengthy report claiming that Tidal had been inflating subscriber numbers, while rumors of an acquisition, possibly by Apple, have been growing for months. Jay Z bought Tidal from Swedish company Aspiro AB for $56 million in 2015.

Apple May Invest in $100 Billion SoftBank Fund

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Apple has held talks about investing in a $100 billion technology fund that SoftBank aims to launch next year, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Apple may contribute as much as $1 billion to the fund, which would give the company insight into up-and-coming technologies.

Apple invested $1 billion in May in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing. The deals would mark a shift in strategy for the iPhone maker, which has largely concentrated on acquiring startups valued at less than $1 billion.

A Self Driving Apple Car: A Potential Reality

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apple-carA letter sent last month to U.S. transportation officials offers some insight into Apple’s plans for the growing self-driving vehicle market.

The letter from Steve Kenner, director of product integrity at Apple, addresses the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy crafted by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA).

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” Kenner wrote in the letter of Apple’s ambitions.

Kenner said Apple supports a proposal that companies share “de-identified” data from crashes or near-misses to help improve self-driving technology, but warns the policy must take consumers’ privacy into account.

“Data sharing should not come at the cost of privacy,” said Kenner. “Apple believes that companies should invest the resources necessary to protect individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.”

Kenner says Apple also backs simulation methods to determine how vehicles would fare in a crash, and a variety of analytical processes to identify and fix any potential safety or cybersecurity issues early in development.

Apple has never confirmed it is working on autonomous software or a self-driving vehicle. The tech giant has long been rumored to be working on its own vehicle as part of an initiative dubbed Project Titan. In July, Bloomberg reported Apple was shifting its focus toward creating its own autonomous driving system. In September, a report from The New York Times claimed Apple has laid off employees of its automotive team.

Other companies have already confirmed plans to create their own self-driving vehicles. Two months ago, Tesla revealed it would create its own fully self-driving electric cars. Google and Ford also have plans for autonomous vehicles.

One of the primary concerns over self-driving cars is whether they’re safe enough to use. This year, some Tesla vehicle owners have claimed their cars crashed while the car’s Autopilot self-driving system was engaged.

Tesla is working on a next generation of Autopilot offering 360 degrees of visibility and updated sensors capable of detecting objects on the road more accurately.

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