01/17/17: Report: Snapchat co-founders look to largely retain control of company, even after IPO


Good morning. It’s Tuesday January 17, 2017 and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

Be sure to check out Watcheroo, Cynopsis Digital’s tune-in guide for upcoming digital media programming. Below, see the Watcheroo Premieres and Tune-in Alerts for today, January 17, through Sunday, January 22.
People Now at People.com, Monday-Friday at 8:30a ET and 11:30a ET. Guests include actors Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard (TWC-Dimension’s Gold), country musician William Michael Morgan, and Olympic gymnast-turned author Laurie Hernandez (HarperCollinsI Got This: To Gold And Beyond)
Netflix: Neal Brennan: 3 Mics, a new comedy special, debuts today, January 17
Netflix: Canadian drama series Frontier (exclusive to Netflix in the U.S.) debuts Friday, January 20
Netflix: Original comedy movie Take the 10 debuts Friday, January 20
Netflix: Animated kids’ series Voltron: Legendary Defender makes its second season debut Friday, January 20


Host-initiated: In online media and digital advertising, the phrase host-initiated refers to any activity that is auto-initiated, as opposed to user-initiated.


Let this be a lesson: A couple of Wall Street analysts can move markets. Last week, Deutsche Banks’s Bryan Kraft upgraded his rating of Netflix from “Sell” to “Hold.” And like Kraft, Cowen & Co.’s John Blackledge upped his estimates for the streaming giant’s 2017 subscriber growth, both overseas and in the U.S. The company’s stock rose 3.5% after the forecasts were issued.
By all accounts, Snapchat parent Snap Inc. is headed for an IPO, perhaps as early as March. But according to a new Wall Street Journal report, company co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy (Snap’s, CEO and CTO, respectively) are out to retain more control of the company than is usual. According to the Journal’s sources, Spiegel and Murphy aren’t planning to give investors much voting power along with the shares they purchase. To be precise, the two co-founders plan to hold onto 70% of the company’s voting power, despite the fact that they’ll own about 45% of the company. That’ll leave major decisions, such as the makeup of Snap’s board, largely up to Spiegel and Murphy.


As first reported by GeekWire, digital advertising platform AudienceScience will be laying off about 50 employees – roughly 25% of its 200 workers. It’s not clear yet which of AudienceScience’s departments will be hit the hardest. The company is known as Procter & Gamble’s favored demand-side platform. And not surprisingly, the layoffs come soon after P&G shifted its media account to Hearts & Science, an Omnicom-owned agency. “The latest changes at the company reflect our increasing shift towards better serving the agency side of the advertising business alongside our roster of global advertiser clients,” said AudienceScience in a statement.


Spaces just got a hefty cash infusion. The startup, which specializes in virtual and mixed reality, has raised $6.5 million in a new funding round. Chinese theme park company Songcheng Performance Development led the round, with contributions from Comcast Ventures, Boost VC and others. Spaces and Songcheng have an established relationship; last year, the two partnered on a $30 million joint venture to bring VR and MR experiences to Songcheng’s Chinese theme parks. “Through our Spaces Parks & Attractions division, we’re fundamentally re-imagining the theme park experience with stunning advances in VR technology,” says said Spaces Co-Founder and CEO Shiraz Akmal in a statement.
The Chinese search giant Baidu announced that it’s opening a new augmented reality lab. The lab will geared toward better integrating AR experiences into people’s devices. The move isn’t exactly a surprise: Last year, Baidu announced a $200 million venture fund for AR and artificial intelligence. The company also launched DuSee, a platform that’s worked to create AR experiences for companies such as Mercedes Benz and Lancôme.


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It seems that one of Alphabet’s drone projects was disbanded last year. The Google parent confirmed that the Titan drone project has been shut down. (The news was first reported by 9to5 Google.) The Titan project was established in order to create solar-powered drones, with the goal of bringing internet access to parts of the world with low connectivity. The unit was housed within Alphebet’s X company, sometimes referred to as the “Moonshot Factory.” The 50-person Titan team has reportedly been instructed to search for other jobs within Alphabet. Some of them, for instance, have reportedly joined Project Loon, a similar initiative designed to distribute internet using high altitude balloons.


Gunpowder & Sky means business. The digital content studio, which is backed by the Chernin Group/AT&T joint venture Otter Media, has acquired full control of production startup Supergravity Pictures. (G&P was already a minority investor.) Gunpowder & Sky, co-founded by Van Toffler and Floris Bauer in 2015, is no stranger to acquisitions. Last year, the company acquired content distributor FilmBuff, now called Gunpowder & Sky Distribution. From production to distribution, then, it seems that G&S is out to control every step of the process.


SHAREABLEE SOCIAL TV RATINGS: Top U.S. Streaming Shows Overall by Engagement for the week of January 9-January 15, 2017
Program, Total Actions (000), Total Content, Actions per Post (000), Fans/Followers (000)
1. Daredevil (Netflix) 129, 8, 16, 3656
2. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) 128, 3, 42, 10174
3. Trailer Park Boys (Netflix) 78, 10, 8, 1968
4. Degrassi: Next Class (Netflix) 72, 21, 3, 266
5. Gilmore Girls (Netflix) 72, 2, 36, 3449
6. Sense8 (Netflix) 49, 5, 10, 1675
7. VeggieTales (Netflix) 47, 27, 2, 675
8. Stranger Things (Netflix) 34, 2, 17, 3991
9. The Man In the High Castle (Amazon) 30, 22, 1, 451
10. Chelsea (Netflix) 24, 20, 1, 391
Source: Shareablee Inc. The total actions metric includes the total volume of post-level likes, shares, favorites, retweets and comments. Total content includes all posts, tweets and media posted by each TV property across all platforms. Actions per post metric notes the average e number of actions garnered by each property. Total fans/followers includes Facebook and Twitter and Instagram followers.


Who co-created the Netflix series Sense8 along with the Wachowskis? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and state.)        


Our Last Trivia Question: The Duffer Brothers are best known for creating Netflix series Stranger Things. They also wrote and directed a movie, which was released by Warner Bros. in 2015. What was it called? Answer: Hidden. Kudos to Andy Pittman-TAMU/TX, Stephanie Arnot-Screenvision Media/NY, Louis Lewow-Lewow Media Group/GA, Mathew Tombers-Intermant, Inc./NY, David Westberg-Sag-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/CA, and Lorrie Shilling/CA



The deadline for our third annual Top Women in Digital Awards is TODAY at 11:59PM. Don’t miss the chance to recognize your colleagues… or feel free to submit yourself!

Complete your nomination here: http://www.cynopsis.com/event/2017-top-women-awards/.



TechCrunch recently caught up with Nintendo Senior Manager Kit Ellis, who talked about the new Nintendo Switch game console. Check it out here.

See you tomorrow,
David Teich

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JOB OPENING: MARKETING MGR/UPTV/ATL: 3+ creative media exp. at cable network. Exp. dev. mkting strategies & creative briefs. Exp. working w/creative agencies and executing campaigns. Must have budget mgt exp. Exp. managing media trafficking for off channel. Send res: [email protected] (1/20)

JOB OPENING: SALES SERVICE REP/Weather Channel/Chicago: Sales service rep looking to grow career and knowledge supporting Account Exec and Dir of Chicago Office. Must have 1+ yrs. current Cable TV media experience to be considered. Go to https://careers.weathergroup.com/ to apply (1/20)

JOB OPENING: DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER/CSI Sports/NYC: Manage digital asset distribution. Be integrally involved with expansion of digital products and social media initiatives on global scale. Passion for sports. Strong writing skills. 7+ yrs exp req’d. APP and CMS skills required. cvr/res to Rose: [email protected] (1/20)
SUPERVISING PRODUCER & DIRECTOR with 15 yrs exp in build/process, talk, hosted, and docu-soap exp as well as branded and sponsored content for television as well as digital specific content. Available now. Located in Los Angeles, CA. Willing to travel. Phn. 310-465-7715 / [email protected] (1/21)

SITUATION WANTED: VIDEO CONTENT CREATOR: 10+ yrs exp. multimedia professional specializing in high production value entertainment-related visual projects ranging from custom branded content and commercials to music videos and broadcast series. – [email protected] (1/19)

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