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Founded Year



Series C | Alive

Total Raised




Last Raised

$100M | 1 yr ago



Mosaic Score

+10 points in the past 30 days

What is a Mosaic Score?
The Mosaic Score is an algorithm that measures the overall financial health and market potential of private companies.

About Cameo

Cameo provides an online platform for fans to purchase personalized video shoutouts from their favorite athletes, celebrities and social media influencers. It also offers a B2B feature where celebrities are connected with firms for advertising opportunities.

Cameo Headquarter Location

2045 West Grand Avenue Suite B

Chicago, Illinois, 60612,

United States


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Research containing Cameo

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CB Insights Intelligence Analysts have mentioned Cameo in 3 CB Insights research briefs, most recently on Jan 24, 2022.

Expert Collections containing Cameo

Expert Collections are analyst-curated lists that highlight the companies you need to know in the most important technology spaces.

Cameo is included in 4 Expert Collections, including Unicorns- Billion Dollar Startups.


Unicorns- Billion Dollar Startups

1,112 items


Influencer & Content Creator Tech

546 items

These companies offer tech-enabled solutions to connect influencers with advertisers, facilitate the creation and management of influencer campaigns, as well as provide tools and services to the influencer community.


Future Unicorns 2019

50 items


A16Z Marketplace 100 (2021)

100 items

The a16z Marketplace 100 is a ranking of the largest consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies created by venture firm, Andreessen Horowitz.

Latest Cameo News

Microsoft hopes to plug the security talent gap with three new services

May 9, 2022

PROTOCOL SOURCE CODE Want your finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in tech? Sign up to get Protocol's daily newsletter. Email Address Source Code Thank you for signing up. Please check your inbox to verify your email. Email me an authentication link A login link has been emailed to you - please check your inbox. We've reached the point where flat-out climate denial is being stamped out. Newspapers have largely stopped quoting it and social networks and search engines have throttled its spread online. But the fossil fuel industry and its allies have found a new way to achieve the same ends of inaction: touting "energy independence." Protocol got an exclusive first look at an analysis by Media Matters showing how the meme based on a false premise propagates across Facebook with little or no oversight. The analysis looked at the top 100 Facebook posts by interactions from September 2021 to April 2022 that spread climate and energy misinformation. A large portion of those posts focused on the idea of "energy independence" as a justification to drill for more oil and gas, yet only two of those were labeled for spreading misinformation. The idea that the U.S. is woefully dependent on foreign oil and gas is, if we're being blunt, not true. The U.S. is a net exporter of liquid natural gas and oil (though the latter may shift this year). The concept that "energy independence" is tied to producing more oil and gas is also misinformation. To avoid heating the planet more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a key climate guardrail, the International Energy Agency found last year the world needs to stop new fossil fuel exploration by the end of this year. You wouldn't know any of this from the posts Media Matters identified, though. The drumbeat for more oil and gas extraction has kicked into high gear over the past few months as gas prices have spiked (this despite the fact that you can't just magically flip the oil switch and flood the market with cheap fossil fuels). In a March 10 post highlighted in the report, Mike Rowe (yes, that guy— it's kind of his thing ) said, "One minute, America was a net exporter of oil and natural gas. The next minute, we’re back to buying oil from despots and sheiks, with gas prices at an all-time high." Literally nothing has changed in the mythical "one minute" Rowe references. "Honest question," Rowe continues, "Why would we allow energy independence to slip through our fingers?” (We're not.) The post has no fact-checking label and contains more misinformation and hand waving. But we're not going to spend all day talking about Mike Rowe here because there are other, even more egregious examples out there. A post by Media Research Center TV, a right-wing media watchdog, does have a fact-checking label for falsely claiming, "American energy independence has been lost under Joe Biden and the policies of the left." But it was still shared 29,000 times, reflecting the reality that even with moderation, misinformation is still pinging across Facebook. "We have to have shared language around how we're defining misinformation, disinformation and malinformation," Allison Fisher, the director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters, told Protocol. "The wider definition that we're using includes anything that's trying to erode climate science or efforts to act on climate as misinformation. All of these achieve the same thing, though the intent can be a little bit different." That intent is to delay action on addressing climate change by ending the use of fossil fuels. The longer misinformation about energy independence propagates, the greater the risk of it being treated as a political issue across the spectrum of left to right rather than a scientific one. That points for the need for more stringent fact-checking guidelines and even enforcement. “This research and content illustrate that the policies that have been in place to address climate misinformation are inadequate,” Fisher said. “They’re just not working, either because they’re not being enforced, or they’re just inadequate to begin with.” Keep ReadingShow less Several workers at Mural , a startup that creates online collaboration tools, were laid off earlier this week, according to LinkedIn posts from affected employees. Current and former employees posted on Twitter and LinkedIn over the past few days informing their networks of the layoffs. At least nine Mural employees have posted about being laid off in departments including HR and recruiting, engineering and marketing. One former employee’s LinkedIn profile stated she had been laid off due to “company restructuring.” It's unclear how many total workers were let go. Leah Taylor, a spokesperson for Mural, confirmed the layoffs, but did not clarify how many employees were affected. CEO Mariano Suarez-Battan said while the decision wasn't easy, it was necessary for the company's "long-term success." "Mural has made certain staffing reductions, focused on redundancies while scaling back projections on headcount increases for 2022," Taylor wrote. Mural is not the only startup experiencing layoffs over the past several weeks. Pandemic darling Cameo laid off almost 90 workers, including a handful of senior execs, earlier this week (although that didn't stop it from throwing an NFT party ). Thrasio, which works with Amazon sellers, terminated some workers and named a new CEO. MainStreet and On Deck also cut their staff. Mural is valued at more than $2 billion. The digital collaboration software provider raised $50 million in funding last summer and is one of several startups that gained traction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital whiteboards became particularly useful as a way for workers to collaborate and share content remotely. Figma and Miro are among Mural’s top competitors. Keep ReadingShow less There's been a lot of ink spilled about climate projects like Harvard's research into dimming the sun and big-name tech donors like Bill Gates. But for all the public interest in high-tech climate solutions, the majority of research dollars are going to decidedly more on-the-ground climate fixes. A new study from researchers at the University of Sussex Business School examined research funding for climate and energy research from 1990 to 2020. The study analyzed 153,202 projects across 17 countries and did a deep analysis of 1,000 representative projects with a total budget of $2.3 billion. The research found that 36% of funding has gone toward climate adaptation over that period, while another 28% went to studying how to clean up the energy system. Transport and mobility (13%), geoengineering (12%) and industrial decarbonization (11%) each represented significant shares as well. The bulk of the funding has gone to researchers in wealthy, Western countries, which are less likely to suffer the first and worst effects of climate change. In fact, four-fifths of the funding has gone to the U.K., European Union and U.S.; other major emitters like China and India have received lower amounts, and countries in both Latin America and Africa have received just a small sliver of the research dollars despite being on the front lines of climate change. This asymmetry raised alarm bells for the researchers, even accounting for the fact that the dataset “overrepresents research projects in the Anglo-Saxon world that can afford to publish research data in English,” Benjamin Sovacool, one of the study's authors, said in a press release . “It is clear this is a significant failing to support a truly global response to the world’s greatest challenge.” The researchers also found that fledgling climate technologies — specifically those that involve solar geoengineering , which aim to control how much of the sun’s energy reaches the planet’s surface — have the potential to be transformative but are “hugely underfunded.” These include stratospheric aerosol injection, which received less than 1% of all research funding. “Although they may sound like science fiction, [stratospheric aerosol injection] techniques are actually technically feasible today and could enable near-term reduction of global warming,” the authors write. Roughly a year ago, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the time has come to at least study these technologies . Along with Gates, Amazon has also shown some interest in ensuring this type of research is being done and widely available, albeit using computer models and not in the real world. Dimming the sun may well cool the planet, but it comes with great risks, including unintended consequences like crop failure in certain regions of the world and lulling the world into a false sense of complacency about the need to dramatically cut emissions. The paper notably looked at public research funding. Silicon Valley and private dollars have been flowing to companies focused on speculative climate solutions and the industrial sector. That includes notable commitments to buy carbon dioxide removal services . Venture capitalist John Doerr also recently donated $1.1 billion to Stanford's new School of Sustainability, which will focus on an array of solutions as well. Putting money into adaptation and energy emissions mitigation research could well put the world on a more sustainable pathway. The recent United Nations report on turning the climate tide found that in terms of deployment, building out renewable energy systems offers the most bang for the buck right now. Keep ReadingShow less Mere days after laying off 87 employees, Cameo’s remaining executives are heading to Miami to party: The company is going forward with its plans to host an F1 NFT party in Miami Beach, Protocol has learned. The party coincides with the Miami Beach Race Weekend, and Cameo has invited some of its celebrity talent pool as well as owners of its Cameo Pass NFTs to attend. Cameo CEO Steven Galanis told Protocol that the party was part of the company's Cameo Pass program, which launched in February. "We sold 6,000 Cameo Pass NFTs with the promise to use the proceeds to invest in these types of unique and authentic experiences. […] We are grateful to our loyal customers who are part of this community, and our participation is independent of our decision to right-size our business,” Galanis said in a statement emailed to Protocol following the publication of this story. The party is scheduled to be held Saturday at a rented mansion on Star Island, a manmade island that houses an exclusive gated private community. Some of the more notable Star Island residents reportedly include Gloria Estefan and Russian billionaire Vladislav Doronin. Cameo laid off 87 staffers on Wednesday , including the company’s CTO, CPO, chief people officer and a senior marketing executive. Cameo CEO Steven Galanis called the layoffs "right-sizing," and said they would help “balance our costs with our cash reserves” in a statement shared with Protocol. Galanis also called the layoffs a “brutal day at the office” on Twitter. This prompted a response from TechCrunch writer Lucas Matney, who noted that Galanis’ Bored Ape profile picture may have cost as much as the salaries of five of the affected employees. Update: 2:09 p.m. PT: This story was updated with a statement from Cameo CEO Steven Galanis. Keep ReadingShow less Tesla offers to cover the travel costs of employees seeking medical care outside of their home state, including abortions. In the company's 2021 Impact Report , it announced an "expanded Safety Net program" that includes reimbursing travel and lodging for employees who need to "seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state." Tesla has offered this benefit since last year. A score of other tech companies have announced or highlighted similar policies in recent weeks, including Yelp , Citigroup, Apple and Match Group. Most recently, Amazon announced it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses for procedures including abortions. Hours after Amazon's announcement, POLITICO leaked a Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that the court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade come June. A Roe reversal could trigger outright abortion bans in 26 states , with tech companies calling many of those states home . Texas is a major one, as several companies, including Tesla , moved their headquarters to the state throughout the pandemic. Elon Musk has not weighed in on abortion significantly, but tweeted in September 2021 that "in general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics." Big tech companies are uniquely able to help relocate employees who wish to leave restrictive states, as many corporate tech jobs have flexible locations. They also have the money and resources to cover abortion-related travel, despite the legal risks they might face : Any such company could be sued due to the “aiding and abetting” clause in Texas’ abortion law. After Citigroup announced its policy of covering out-of-state medical care, a Texas lawmaker threatened legislation preventing the bank from underwriting municipal bonds in the state. Keep ReadingShow less The company fired several senior managers at the 8,000-person facility, including some with more than six years of experience, according to the Times report. Amazon was stunned by an upset loss in the union vote in late March and has since challenged the results, protesting the conduct of both the Amazon Labor Union organizers and the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body responsible for administering the election. A second union election at a smaller Staten Island facility (also spearheaded by the nationally unaffiliated Amazon Labor Union) went in favor of Amazon earlier this week. Out of about 1,500 eligible workers, 380 voted in favor of the union and 618 against, with two ballots void. The Staten Island warehouse that voted against the union has a much smaller ALU presence and represented mostly part-time workers, compared to the larger facility's more full-time staff. "Part of our culture at Amazon is to continually improve, and we believe it’s important to take time to review whether or not we’re doing the best we could be for our team. Over the last several weeks, we’ve spent time evaluating aspects of the operations and leadership at JFK8 and, as a result, have made some management changes," Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, wrote in a statement to Protocol. Keep ReadingShow less Labeling the trustworthiness of news sites may convince the heaviest readers of unreliable content to shift what they consume, but new research finds it doesn't make much of a dent in most people's habits. The study , led by NYU researchers, suggests that the average person's news diet may actually consist primarily of reliable sites. It also found that tools such as browser extension NewsGuard, which assigns icons of various colors according to sites' reliability, can only serve as one part of efforts to combat the effect of misinformation users do consume. Top politicians and social scientists worldwide have zeroed in on online misinformation and "fake news" as drivers of increased partisanship and even violence, particularly as poor-quality content spreads rapidly on the web and through social media. Nudging people toward higher-quality content, while also respecting free expression, has proven difficult. Fact-checking, broadly speaking, does appear to have some effect on people's beliefs or engagement, but the effects can be dependent on how the information is presented. Meanwhile, purveyors of misinformation increasingly dismiss the efforts of fact-checkers and moves by platforms like Facebook and Twitter to limit engagement with shoddy claims as "bias" and "censorship." Many right-wing figures in particular frequently agitate for less moderation on social platforms — and they appear poised to get their wish as Elon Musk inches ever closer to acquiring Twitter. In that environment, the researchers studied whether installing NewsGuard would get people to improve their journalistic diets and help them distinguish between fact and fiction when presented with statements about the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19. Approximately two-thirds of study participants visited news sites that met NewsGuard's standards for reliability during the study period, but on average, the plug-in's icons didn't push general readers toward more reliable sources. The tool only shifted the 10% of users who consumed the most junk toward more reliable sites. The research is being published in the journal Science Advances. Keep ReadingShow less The Securities and Exchange Commission settled with Nvidia over charges that the company downplayed the impact of cryptocurrency mining on its gaming business, according to a release Friday. Nvidia agreed to pay $5.5 million in penalties. The SEC found that in fiscal year 2018, Nvidia failed to disclose that crypto mining played a big role in the material revenue growth of its gaming business. The company agreed to pay the $5.5 million penalty "without admitting or denying the SEC's finding." “Nvidia's disclosure failures deprived investors of critical information to evaluate the company’s business in a key market,” Kristina Littman, the head of the SEC Enforcement Division’s newly formed Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit, said in a statement. “All issuers, including those that pursue opportunities involving emerging technology, must ensure that their disclosures are timely, complete and accurate.” The commission said Nvidia reported material revenue growth in its gaming unit that fiscal year, but it left out information about how crypto mining drove that growth, creating the impression that its gaming business wasn't largely affected by purchases of processors for mining rigs. Such sales to the crypto sector helped boost Nvidia's gaming-GPU sales. Those GPUs have historically been in high demand among miners, because the computational abilities of the cards happen to suit the requirements for the proof-of-work exercises used by some cryptocurrencies. "As demand for and interest in crypto rose in 2017, NVIDIA customers increasingly used its gaming GPUs for crypto mining," the release states. The settlement may end up being a historical marker of the crypto boom, however. In 2021, Nvidia introduced a specialized CMP, or Cryptocurrency Mining Processor, and made changes to its GeForce gaming processor to make it less desirable for use by miners. And though bitcoin still relies on proof of work, the Ethereum blockchain is shifting to proof of stake, a less computationally intense method of verifying transactions. Many new currencies and blockchains also use proof-of-stake methods. A representative for Nvidia declined to comment. Update, May 6: This story has been updated to reflect Nvidia not offering comment. Keep ReadingShow less Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tina Smith of Minnesota wrote an open letter to Fidelity Wednesday questioning why the firm was permitting customers to put bitcoin in their 401(k)s. Fidelity announced last week that it would allow people to devote as much as 20% of their retirement plan to bitcoin towards the end of the year. “Investing in cryptocurrencies is a risky and speculative gamble, and we are concerned that Fidelity would take these risks with millions of Americans’ retirement savings,” the letter reads. “Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency your company has deemed sound enough for your customers’ retirement savings accounts, has a particularly volatile history.” The world’s most popular cryptocurrency dropped 8% just on Thursday alone and some experts believe that the industry has entered a “crypto winter,” with bitcoin facing a prolonged downturn after an all-time high in November last year. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith are concerned that Fidelity is using naive investors to juice the price of bitcoin, saying that they fear Fidelity is acting on a conflict of interest after admitting that they were mining crypto in 2017 . In the past five years, Fidelity has made several moves to support the crypto market, adding Coinbase links to retail customer accounts and opening a crypto and digital payments ETF . The Senators think that by allowing investors to choose bitcoin for their retirement portfolios, the firm is only acting more suspicious — especially after finding that just 2% of employers using Fidelity are interested in adding the bitcoin option. The Massachusetts Senator has been outspoken against crypto, arguing that price fluctuations make bitcoin dangerous for consumers, high energy usage makes bitcoin bad for the environment and decentralization makes the market ripe for fraud. In March Warren introduced a bill to punish crypto exchanges that perform transactions for peoples and businesses on the US sanctions list, arguing that crypto was being used by Russian oligarchs to evade punishment as a result of the war in Ukraine. She’s developed a reputation for strongly-worded and well-sourced letters laying out her complaints about crypto, some of which have been sent to SEC chair Gary Gensler. Senator Tina Smith has made fewer waves, though she has also been a consistent critic. Last summer she said most of DeFi violates US commodities law , and she voiced her opposition to Facebook managing its own cryptocurrency in October . Both Tina Smith and Elizabeth Warren sit on the Senate Banking Committee. “We look forward to continuing our respectful dialogue with policy makers to responsibly provide access with all appropriate consumer protections and educational guidance for plan sponsors as they consider offering this innovative product,” Fidelity told the Wall Street Journal in an emailed statement . Keep ReadingShow less Block missed earnings and revenue expectations driven in part by a drop in bitcoin revenue amid a general downdraft in the cryptocurrency market . Shares were up 5% after hours, with the regular session down 10.5% during a broader market meltdown on Wall Street. Earnings came in at 18 cents per share compared to analysts' expectations of 20 cents per share. Revenue was $3.96 billion, down 22% from a year ago. Block's bitcoin revenue was $1.73 billion in the first quarter of 2022, a drop of 51% from the year-ago quarter. Bitcoin gross profit was $43 million — about 3% of bitcoin revenue. Jack Dorsey has pushed the company heavily toward bitcoin as a business. Square, the merchant seller unit, had $661 million in gross profit, which was up 41% from a year ago, while Cash App had $624 million of gross profit, up 26%. One bright spot: subscription revenue, which decreases the company's need to rely on transaction volume alone. Square subscription revenue was $231 million in the first quarter of 2022, excluding PPP loan forgiveness revenue, up from $112 million a year ago. In addition, the company booked $54 million in Afterpay subscription revenue for Square. Cash App generated $622 million in subscription and services revenue, which was up 43% from a year ago. Keep ReadingShow less Soon, you'll need to remember one less password. Google, Apple and Microsoft are expanding passwordless sign-in capabilities across phones, desktops and browsers, the companies announced in a joint blog post on Thursday. The companies committed to implementing passwordless authentication across devices in the coming year, supporting a standard created by the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium. In a separate blog post , Google said users would unlock their phones to sign into websites or apps. The FIDO Alliance, an industry organization that promotes the use of authentication over passwords, said in its announcement of the new efforts that password-only authentication is "one of the biggest security problems on the web," leading to data breaches, account takeovers and stolen identities. “Working with the industry to establish new, more secure sign-in methods that offer better protection and eliminate the vulnerabilities of passwords is central to our commitment to building products that offer maximum security and a transparent user experience — all with the goal of keeping users’ personal information safe," Kurt Knight, Apple’s senior director of Platform Product Marketing, said in a statement. FIDO's standards are based on public key cryptography, or systems using pairs of keys to gain access to accounts or devices. Passwordless access can include the use of a security key, fingerprinting or voice or facial recognition for multifactor authentication. According to the organization, passwords are the root of more than 80% of data breaches, because people reuse their passwords. Though several applications already use FIDO standards, many require an initial sign-in that leaves users vulnerable to security breaches. But Google told The Verge that new procedures will eliminate the need for a password. “For Google, it represents nearly a decade of work we’ve done alongside FIDO, as part of our continued innovation towards a passwordless future," Mark Risher, senior director of Product Management at Google, said in a statement. "We look forward to making FIDO-based technology available across Chrome, ChromeOS, Android and other platforms, and encourage app and website developers to adopt it, so people around the world can safely move away from the risk and hassle of passwords.” Keep ReadingShow less Haun Ventures is leading a $50 million round in the NFT marketplace Zora, the firm announced Thursday. The investment is the first funding led by Katie Haun’s new venture capital firm after a much-anticipated launch in March , and brings Zora’s valuation to $600 million. It also raises questions about an investment Haun made before her firm even had a name. “Haun Ventures is dedicated to backing teams building a better internet,” partner Sam Rosenblum wrote in a blog post. “As Web3 expands and NFT use cases along with it, we believe Zora is well-positioned to grow into one of the most important projects in the Web3 ecosystem.” In Zora, Haun, who co-founded a16z’s crypto fund, is choosing to support a project that arguably adheres more closely to Web3’s decentralized ideals than others in the NFT space, including OpenSea, a company Haun backed in January before her then-formative firm had even settled on a name. Zora’s marketplace operates entirely on the Ethereum blockchain, allowing creators to build directly on the protocol. Because of this, Zora NFTs can easily be traded on other marketplaces and sites. This contrasts with marketplaces like OpenSea, which has blocked some NFTs from sale. As the smaller startup put it in a press release: “OpenSea is to Amazon as Zora is to Shopify.” “Zora began its journey with the shared belief that creativity should never be gatekept by the suits, corps, and institutions,” Zora co-founder Jacob Horne wrote in a separate blog post. Haun has a notable record in the industry, getting her start in crypto as a prosecutor for the Department of Justice investigating cybersecurity and fraud issues. She was Andreessen Horowitz’s first female general partner hire, and together with Chris Dixon was responsible for profitable investments like Coinbase. Haun Ventures started out with $1.5 billion, the largest solo fundraise by a female VC firm founder to date. Notable hires include Rosenblum and Rachael Horwitz, both Coinbase alums, as well as Airbnb policy strategist Chris Lehane and several a16z colleagues, including Nick Pacilio and Tomicah Tillemann. Keep ReadingShow less Heroku disclosed on Thursday that customer passwords were stolen during a cyberattack that took place a month ago, acknowledging that an incident that also involved code repository GitHub was worse than initially indicated. Heroku initially revealed on April 15 that a threat actor had likely accessed Heroku's GitHub account using a stolen authorization token, or OAuth token, and downloaded certain private Heroku repositories on April 9. The download included "some" Heroku source code, according to the disclosure. In an update posted Wednesday evening, Heroku said the attacker actually gained access to a Heroku database on April 7, and downloaded GitHub integration OAuth tokens belonging to customers at the time. Heroku, owned by Salesforce, is a widely used platform for building, running and operating applications, and touts on its website that it has been used to develop 13 million apps. "Access to the environment was gained by leveraging a compromised token for a Heroku machine account," Heroku said in the update. Most concerning for customers: Heroku said the investigation into the incident found that the compromised token was used by the attacker to steal hashed and salted passwords for user accounts belonging to customers. "For this reason, Salesforce is ensuring all Heroku user passwords are reset and potentially affected credentials are refreshed. We have rotated internal Heroku credentials and put additional detections in place," Heroku said. The update did not specify how many customers or user accounts may have been impacted, or explain why details about stolen customer passwords are only being disclosed now. "Nothing is more important to us than the security of customer data. We value transparency and, without compromising our ongoing investigation, we shared the additional details on the status page that may facilitate a deeper understanding for our customers of this issue. We continue to work diligently in response to this incident and have no further comment at this time," Salesforce said in a statement. This week, Heroku began resetting user passwords , but did not provide customers with the reason beyond citing that the action was related to last month's security incident. On Wednesday, GitHub announced that it will require developers who contribute code to the repository to use two-factor authentication by the end of 2023, and enterprise customers will also be able to require the use of two-factor authentication to access their repositories. Two-factor authentication helps protect customers and users against password breaches. This story was updated to include a statement from Salesforce. Keep ReadingShow less Since Fortnite was banned almost two years ago from both Apple and Google's app stores, Epic has waged a bitter antitrust fight against both companies, resulting in an explosive lawsuit against Apple that went to trial one year ago. The resulting outcome was not favorable to Epic, but it did apply significant pressure to Apple, and the case is now caught up in a web of appeals as Apple attempts to avoid making court-ordered changes to its software business. Meanwhile, regulatory pressure in the U.S. and overseas scrutinizing Apple and Google's treatment of developers and the companies' 30% commission on digital goods has forced both tech giants to compromise in various ways, while momentum has also been building for unprecedented app store legislation like the EU's Digital Markets Act and the U.S.'s Open App Markets Act . Now, while Epic may not have a way to return to the App Store and Play Store on its own terms as it once hoped, the game-maker does have browser-based cloud services it can rely on while it continues its legal fights. The Google antitrust case has yet to go to trial, though Fortnite can be downloaded on Android phones directly from Epic's website. This isn't the first time a cloud gaming service has been used to circumvent Apple and Google's app store bans on Fortnite. Epic and Nvidia teamed up last year to release a cloud-based version of Fortnite, which launched back in January , on the chipmaker's GeForce Now platform. That version of the game required you sign up for the platform and use either a restricted free tier or one of Nvidia's paid plans, but it nonetheless was a fully fledged version of the battle royale hit streaming from a remote server. Monumental news everyone! Fortnite is now available to play FOR FREE streaming to web browsers on iPhone, iPad, and Android via Xbox Cloud. No subscription required, no 30% Apple tax.\u00a0\u2026 — Tim Sweeney (@Tim Sweeney) 1651767438 Microsoft says its new partnership with Epic won't involve any restrictions whatsoever. You need only a Microsoft account and an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or a Windows PC with internet access. You won't need to sign up for Xbox Game Pass and you won't need any recurring subscription or membership to any Microsoft product. The game will live at , and it will support controller play or native touch controls if you're playing on a smartphone or tablet. "It’s an important step to add a free-to-play title to the cloud gaming catalog as we continue our cloud journey. We’re starting with Fortnite and will look to bring more free-to-play games people love in the future," Gluckstei explained. "At Xbox we want to make gaming accessible to the 3 billion players around the world, and cloud has an important role in that mission. Quite simply we want you to have more choice in both the games you play and the way you choose to play them." Keep ReadingShow less Shopify is the latest ecommerce company to take a post-pandemic hit, which isn't surprising given that not even Amazon was immune to the changing tide of online shopping. Shopify reported underwhelming earnings of 20 cents per share, far below analyst expectations of 63 cents per share. The company also announced its acquisition of Deliverr, a fulfillment tech provider that provides services for Amazon and other marketplaces, for $2.1 billion in cash and stock. “While we’ve experienced massive macro shifts since the start of the pandemic, the one mainstay has been that Shopify is the commerce platform of choice for merchants in any environment, with the ability to support commerce on any surface,” Shopify President Harley Finkelstein said in a release . "This has earned Shopify significant merchant trust and the ability to help them with more parts of their business, which is why we are eager to bring Deliverr’s team and technology to our merchants." The company's revenue increased year-over-year to $1.2 billion but still fell below expectations of $1.24 billion. The company said it expects growth to be lower in the first half of 2022 as the pandemic tapers off. Its shares dropped more than 16% on the news of its earnings. Deliverr is Shopify's biggest purchase to date. The company ships more than a million orders per month. "We are confident Deliverr’s ability to simplify the process, and arm merchants with visibility and control from the display of a delivery promise across multiple channels through its completion, will be a huge benefit to our merchants," Shopify CFO Amy Shapero said in a statement. Shopify isn't the only ecommerce company to report slower growth. EBay's second-quarter outlook also fell below expectations, which the company blamed on inflation, the war in Ukraine and changing online consumer habits. Etsy also expects to take a hit this year as people return to stores for shopping. Keep ReadingShow less The mobile gaming industry is on track to surpass $100 billion in revenue this year, according to the latest market research data from Newzoo. Mobile already accounts for more than half of all spending on gaming worldwide, and Newzoo's latest report indicates that the segment continues to account for the largest chunk of the industry. The mobile segment including both smartphone and tablet gaming is on track to grow roughly 5% this year to $103.5 billion, Newzoo says. Newzoo does note that mobile's market share of global revenue is expected to drop by one percentage point, from 52% to 51%, as the growth on mobile has slowed since the explosion in spending and engagement of the early pandemic, while console and PC gaming has begun to grow again. "From the emergence of mobile to the dawn of cloud gaming, pundits and analysts have long been predicting 'the death of console.' As things stand, console is still very much alive and kicking — as we have always said," Newzoo writes. The console segment is expected to grow 8.4% in 2022 to $58.6 billion. PC gaming, meanwhile, will grow a more modest 1.9% to $41 billion. Newzoo cites a number of factors contributing to console's growth. Among them include a number of high-profile releases like Elden Ring, Pokémon Legends Arceus and the upcoming God of War Ragnarok; the sustained relevance of live service games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone; and the growth of next-gen install bases and subscription platforms like Sony's new PlayStation Plus. The report also notes that 2022 will be the first year the U.S. is slated to overtake China in gaming revenues, due primarily to the Chinese government's ongoing scrutiny and restrictions. The U.S. will account for $50.5 billion, while China will account for $50.2 billion. Together, the two markets account for close to half of all spending worldwide. "The overtake makes sense, as the Chinese government has been cracking down on gaming in China, limiting new game releases and young people’s gaming time in the country. The market is beginning to show the impact of these regulatory pressures," Newzoo writes. "Nevertheless, Asia-Pacific remains the biggest region by revenues by a massive margin. And emerging regions are the only places to show double-digit growth. However, the more mature regions of Europe and North America are also showing strong growth, thanks to the performance of PC in the former market and console in the latter." Keep ReadingShow less Elon Musk gets by with a little help from his friends. He now has several big-name investors on board with his Twitter purchase, including Larry Ellison, Binance, a16z and Sequoia Capital. A total of 19 investors helped secure $7.14 billion in new funding for Musk's $44 billion buy, according to an SEC filing Thursday. Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has for years backed Twitter and was initially hesitant to support Musk, also pledged to invest in Musk's purchase vehicle. The prince agreed to roll over his $1.9 billion investment in the company, which reduces the amount Musk has to raise for his purchase. "I believe you will be an excellent leader for Twitter to propel & maximise its great potential," Alwaleed tweeted Thursday. Great to connect with you my "new" friend @elonmusk\n\nI believe you will be an excellent leader for @Twitter to propel & maximise its great potential\n\n@Kingdom_KHC & I look forward to roll our ~$1.9bn in the \u201cnew\u201d @Twitter and join you on this exciting journey — \u0627\u0644\u0648\u0644\u064a\u062f \u0628\u0646 \u0637\u0644\u0627\u0644 (@\u0627\u0644\u0648\u0644\u064a\u062f \u0628\u0646 \u0637\u0644\u0627\u0644) 1651748974 Musk named Strauss Capital, Brookfield, Baron Capital's Bamco and others as investors in the filing. Ellison, who is on Tesla's board and a friend of Musk, chipped in $1 billion. VyCapital and Sequoia Capital, which dropped $700 million and $800 million apiece, have invested in Musk's Boring Company. Binance, which shares Musk's love of crypto, committed $500 million. Musk isn't done bringing in new investors, either. He's holding more conversations with current Twitter shareholders like Jack Dorsey to contribute to his purchase, according to the filing. The new investments helped cut Musk's $12.5 billion margin loan against his Tesla stake to $6.25 billion, the filing states. The Tesla CEO's borrowing plans had rattled the automaker's investors, sending shares plunging. Another potential concern for Tesla shareholders: CNBC's David Faber reports Musk plans to serve temporarily as Twitter's CEO after the deal closes. Musk also recently told potential investors that he wants to take Twitter public again after a few years, sources told the Wall Street Journal. Twitter officials have said the deal is expected to close later this year, pending shareholder and regulatory approval. Keep ReadingShow less Meta is pulling back on hiring in order to control its spending, Insider reported Wednesday. The Facebook parent is working to cut costs as its revenue grows more slowly than expected. Insider cites an internal memo from CFO David Wehner that pointed to Apple’s data privacy changes on iOS devices, a downturn across the industry and the war in Ukraine as reasons for the hiring freeze. Meta’s stock price has dropped by more than one-third in the last six months. The hiring cutbacks will hit “almost every team across the company" and will last for the rest of the year, according to internal memos cited by Insider. It's a far cry from the "Why hiring is so hard right now" memo that was leaked in 2021 as part of The Facebook Papers. The memo described the struggle and subsequent failure to meet recruiting goals . Hiring has been especially expensive in the last couple of years, and backing off the competition for tech talent is certainly one way to save money. Meta has already grown its workforce by 28% since last year, Insider pointed out, with a headcount of more than 78,000. And Meta isn’t alone in this cutback: Insider pointed to similar moves at DoorDash and Google Cloud. For now the company seems to be avoiding mass layoffs, unlike some startups that thrived during the pandemic. Keep ReadingShow less Cameo, the celebrity video greetings startup, laid off 87 of staffers Wednesday, a move that CEO Steven Galanis described as “right-sizing.” The layoffs also affected some of Cameo’s most senior executives, Protocol has learned. Leadership departures included Cameo CTO Rob Post, top marketing executive Emily Boschwitz, CPO Nundu Janakiram and Chief People Officer Melanie Steinbach, according to a source close to the company. The team in charge of music partnerships saw big cuts, according to a LinkedIn post first reported by The Information . Also affected by the layoffs were the company’s international operations, including much of its London office, as well as a number of employees in sales and marketing, the source told Protocol. Galanis is said to have announced the layoffs in a staff meeting, during which he told staff that the company was forced to cut costs because it hadn’t met revenue projections. In a statement to press, Galanis pointed to pandemic-fueled hiring as a reason for the cuts. “We hired a lot of people quickly, and market conditions have rapidly changed since then,” he said. “Accordingly, we have right-sized the business to best reflect the new realities.” Galanis went on to call the layoffs “a painful but necessary course correction.” Cameo has raised a total of $165 million in funding to date. Keep ReadingShow less Brandon Silverman is a big part of why anyone knows anything about what's happening on Meta's platforms: As the co-founder and former CEO of CrowdTangle, he created what was, for a while at least, the most robust real-time look at what's happening on social media's biggest platforms at any given time. Now, that tool is quietly dying, and in his testimony during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Silverman explained why. "There were a lot of challenges inside Facebook, but one of them was certainly the question of: Are we putting ourselves out on a limb when others aren't?" Silverman told the panel of lawmakers. "These companies can do very little, and it doesn't matter." Of the Big Tech giants, Meta has arguably done the most to reveal what's happening under the hood both through CrowdTangle and through its transparency reports. But far from generating praise, that has often only made the company the subject of more scrutiny. "No matter how much transparency you do," Silverman said, "you're rarely going to get credit for it in the public eye." Silverman spoke about the challenges of running a product that mostly exists to get its parent company in trouble. "It can be incredibly uncomfortable when your work and the work of your team are constantly fueling criticism — some fair and some not — of the company where you work," he said. "Those moments take a toll on your team. But they also make it harder to get resources. They make it more difficult to launch new features and add more data. And ultimately, they provide constant ammunition to executives who are skeptical about doing transparency." Silverman left the company last fall, and has since been careful in his criticism of his former employer. But his testimony was clear about the end result of all of this tension inside the company. "CrowdTangle is still available, but it's in maintenance mode," he said. "Facebook has stopped onboarding new partners. No new features or major updates have been released in two years, and a global partnerships team that used to run it no longer exists." That, Silverman argued, should serve as proof that tech companies can't be trusted to be sufficiently transparent all on their own. "It's too hard to make progress on these issues at the scale and breadth we need from inside a company," he said. "And as a result, we've seen is that the industry as a whole has simply not made enough progress equal to the responsibilities they have." Silverman called on lawmakers to pass the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, which he said would be an "important step in the right direction." That bipartisan bill would require platforms to provide access to certain data to pre-vetted researchers. Europe's Digital Services Act includes a similar provision. But both Silverman and experts on the panel pointed out that transparency must be balanced with user privacy — an easier task to achieve in Europe, which, unlike the U.S., has enshrined privacy rights under the GDPR. "It gives them a baseline to start with in how privacy is supposed to work that then you can build transparency on top of," Stanford Cyber Policy director Daphne Keller told the senators. "You are in a much more difficult position." Keep ReadingShow less Visa and Mastercard officials who spoke at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday said credit card issuers are in competition with new financial services. That may be news to the many neobanks and other fintechs that feast on interchange fees: the money merchants pay for every tap, dip or swipe of a credit or debit card. Many startups are in on the card game, taking a piece of the proceeds. Mastercard and Visa set these fees after consulting with banks, and some antitrust experts argue that behavior is a sign of a duopoly. “In addition to cash, checks and traditional U.S. payment networks, we also compete today with digital wallets, 'buy now, pay later' solutions, fintech and Big Tech, real-time payment systems and cryptocurrency,” said Bill Sheedy, a senior adviser to Visa CEO Al Kelly, at the hearing. “Regulatory interventions focused exclusively on card networks would shift consumer spending away from networks like Visa, and toward more expensive payment methods with more risk, less reliability and fewer protections and security.” The hearing convened to question executives from credit card companies, banks and retailers, along with consumer advocates, about the potential impacts of regulating credit card interchange fees. Visa and Mastercard have been planning an increase in the fees since 2020, a move delayed by the pandemic and protests from merchants. The Durbin Amendment , passed in 2011, caps debit card interchange fees at 22 cents plus 0.05% of the transaction fee. However, there are no regulations on credit card interchange fees in the United States. Some Judiciary Committee members were concerned about the impact of high fees, on top of inflation, on everyday consumers and small businesses, while others were wary that limiting what credit card companies can charge for interchange fees may actually decrease competition and consumer options in the market. There was no clear consensus at the end of the hearing on how or whether Congress should cap interchange fees. However, the question-and-answer session helped illuminate how Congress might regulate a source of revenue critical to an emergent industry. Most of the senators on the Committee were quick to dismiss Visa and Mastercard’s frequently repeated claims about increased competition from fintech, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal calling it “apples and oranges.” But some of Visa and Mastercard’s other arguments appear to have carried more weight. Executives said that the fees were reasonable, given the fraud protection, rewards, convenience and increased purchasing power they offer consumers. Fees increased appropriately as cybersecurity risk increased during the pandemic, for example, after issuers said they had to devote more resources to fraud protection. Visa and Mastercard executives also repeatedly referenced a report from the Government Accountability Office which said the Durbin Amendment lowered the availability of financial services for the unbanked, which appears to have caused some senators concern. Yet consumer advocates and merchants energetically rejected these claims. The GAO study was a flawed “survey” with misleading questions, said Doug Kantor , general counsel for the National Association of Convenience Stores. Laura Shapira Karet, CEO of the grocery store chain Giant Eagle, pointed out that Visa and Mastercard control over 80% of the market and engage in what “walks like” and “talks like” a duopoly by setting blanket interchange fees. Ed Mierzwinski, senior director of the Federal Consumer Program at US-PIRG, quoted Visa’s chief financial officer in a recent earnings call saying that inflation is a “net-net win” for the company, as interchange fees are charged as a portion of total gross receipts. The most obvious regulatory step would be for Congress to write something akin to the Durbin Amendment for credit card transactions, enacting a cap on transaction fees. But senators made other suggestions, too. Sen. Mazie Hirono, for example, asked whether doing away with the so-called “honor all cards” rule would increase competition. The rule is a part of many credit card issuers’ contracts with merchants, and requires merchants to accept every credit card an issuer offers. That includes premium rewards card with higher fees, on which companies like Visa and Mastercard encourage well-heeled consumers to spend more, to the ultimate benefit of retailers. Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked if better antitrust enforcement could fix the issue. Consumer advocates said it would help, but that there were also large loopholes with existing legislation. “This is an area where the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice has been active over time, as has the Federal Trade Commission, but there’s a lot more to be done,” said Kantor. “Very good,” Klobuchar replied. Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Ed Mierzwinski's name and one instance of the Durbin Amendment. This story was updated on May 4, 2022. Keep ReadingShow less Google is cutting back on its rigorous, twice-annual performance reviews after almost half of employees came out against them in surveys, The Information reported Wednesday. Only 53% of Google employees said they considered the twice-annual reviews “time well spent” in surveys, CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly told employees on Wednesday. Starting in May, reviews will now only take place once a year, but promotions will still be possible twice a year. Google’s performance reviews have historically required an extensive amount of work from employees and managers, including assessments and self-assessments on traits like problem-solving, thought leadership and “Googleyness,” as well as 360-degree feedback from peers. The new reviews system, which Google is calling Googler Reviews and Development, or GRAD, won’t require as much preparation. Instead, employees will be graded within a new five-point rating system ranging from “transformative impact” to “not enough impact,” with most employees ranking in the middle at “significant impact,” The Information reported. A blog post from Google says that GRAD is meant to “reflect the fact that most Googlers deliver significant impact every day.” As tech companies worry about hiring and retention , it’s clear that tech workers have more sway than ever — even when it comes to how often their performance is reviewed. And it’s not just Google: Meta also decided last year to cut back to one annual review, The Information pointed out. Not everyone agrees that it’s better to limit reviews to once per year. Annual reviews can be corrupted by recency bias , ChartHop CEO Ian White told Protocol in September. Some HR experts even recommend holding reviews once per quarter. But employees call the shots now, and — at least at Google — they want fewer reviews. Keep ReadingShow less The European Commission proposed banning Russian oil and petroleum imports in a move that aims to punish the Kremlin for the invasion of Ukraine. The ban will phase in over the next six months, and take full effect by the end of the year. “Putin must pay a price, a high price, for his brutal aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said of the proposal. Representatives of the European Union’s 27 member-states will meet on Wednesday to discuss ratifying the proposal, which will require unanimous agreement. Both Hungary and Slovakia — which are heavily dependent on Russian imports — have been offered 20 months to phase out imports in a concession that speaks to the delicacy of the negotiations. The proposal also makes no mention of Russian gas, even though Moscow stopped the flow of gas to both Poland and Bulgaria last week, and threatened to do so for other European countries as well. Hungary, for its part, expressed skepticism on Wednesday. Zoltan Kovacs, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Viktor Orban, told CNN that the 20-month wind-down "simply cannot be done as they require," and that the country needs at least three years. Officials are reportedly pushing for a final decision by the end of the week. Europe is a major market for Russia, and the ban could cause the country real pain. While Russia has the option of selling more oil and coal to China and India, doing so will come at a cost. Western sanctions have made it costly to insure Russian tankers, and the steep costs of doing business with the country make importing its fuel relatively unattractive for countries in Asia unless Russia slashes prices . In fact, China’s independent refiners have already begun buying Russian oil at steep discounts, according to the Financial Times . Germany was particularly vocal in its support of banning Russian oil. “The transition period is sufficiently long that we can take all precautions to create alternatives to Russian oil in Germany,” said economy minister Robert Habeck . If this happens, it could have major ripple effects, especially throughout a continent that has long relied on its neighbor to the east for energy supplies. Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine has been a salient example of the risks of relying on foreign sources of fossil fuels for energy. The proposal represents the latest evidence that the war in Ukraine has the potential to reshape energy markets. How European countries respond if they indeed cut off Russian oil could chart a course to a more sustainable future, particularly if they turn to renewables. But replacing Russian oil with oil from elsewhere could keep the world on the path to climate danger. The proposal comes alongside the announcement of sanctions on high-ranking Russian military officials, as well as proposals to kneecap several major Russian banks by taking them off the SWIFT financial-messaging system . Keep ReadingShow less Billionaire venture capitalist John Doerr is funding a new school at Stanford University focused specifically on climate change, calling sustainability the "computer science of our time" in an interview with The New York Times . The $1.1 billion gift from Doerr and his wife Ann is the largest to fund a new school in Stanford's history. The new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability aims to increase impact of climate research amid the "scale and urgency of climate change and other planetary challenges," the university announced Wednesday . Along with establishing new academic departments, the donation will support new interdisciplinary institutes, a Sustainability Accelerator aimed at "developing near-term policy and technology solutions" and a facility called the Sustainability Commons, located on the west side of Stanford's campus. “The school will absolutely focus on policy issues and on asking what would it take to move the world toward more sustainable practices and better behaviors,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne told the Times. Doerr is a longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist, currently serving as the chairman of VC firm Kleiner Perkins. At the firm, Doerr has backed tech giants like Amazon, Google and Slack, and has also been investing in clean tech companies since 2006. Ann Doerr is the chair of Khan Academy, and a former board member and current advisory board member of the Environmental Defense Fund. “This is what the young people want to work on with their lives, for all the right reasons," John Doerr told the Times. The couple join the ranks of several billionaires who have made investments in climate change solutions. In 2020, Jeff Bezos announced plans to donate $10 billion to an initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund, and Elon Musk put $100 million toward carbon removal technology. Bill and Melinda Gates have long donated millions to environmental causes, including a $315 million pledge last November towards global agriculture research amid climate threats. Keep ReadingShow less TikTok is rolling out a new advertising program that lets brands put ads next to the top 4% of videos on the platform — and for once, creators get a cut, too. The short-form video app launched TikTok Pulse on Wednesday . The feature also allows creators with at least 100,000 followers to participate in a revenue-share program, the first ad product of its kind to do so, though it's unclear how many creators it will approve for the program in its initial stages, TechCrunch reported. To start, only advertisers that have been invited to the program will have access to it, according to TechCrunch, though TikTok plans to roll it out to more brands after launch. TikTok Pulse gives brands the option to place their ads in 12 different categories of content, including topics like beauty and fashion, cooking and gaming. The program will launch in the U.S. in June, and will open to more markets in the fall. "TikTok Pulse is designed to give brands the tools and controls to be a part of these everyday moments and trends that engage the community," the company said in its announcement. TikTok Pulse is the latest of several monetization features that the app has created. In early December, TikTok announced the Creator Next program, which allows viewers to send gifts and tips to their favorite creators. The app also has its Creator Fund, which pays users who meet minimum follower and view thresholds. However, this fund doesn't provide too high of a payout for creators, as most make their living from sponsored content. TikTok Pulse could be a signal that the app recognizes that its full-time creators make most of their cash from brand deals — and it wants a piece. "We're focused on developing monetization solutions and available markets so that creators feel valued and rewarded on TikTok," the company said in its announcement. "From the very beginning, we've committed to working with our community to bring new features that enrich the TikTok experience." Keep ReadingShow less

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