Axios Closer

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February 16, 2024

Friday ✅.

  • 📆 We're off Monday for Presidents Day — we'll be back in your inbox on Tuesday!

🚨 Situational awareness: A New York judge ordered former President Trump, his companies and fellow defendants to pay nearly $364 million total in the civil fraud trial over his business practices.

Today's newsletter is 670 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 0.5%.

  • Biggest gainer? Applied Materials (+6.3%), the semiconductor equipment company, delivered better-than-expected quarterly results and rosy guidance.
  • Biggest decliner? Digital Realty Trust (-8.3%), the data center REIT, disappointed investors with its Q4 results.

1 big thing: The emerging fight for "real"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Federal regulators are poised to ban the impersonation of anyone, aiming to thwart scams in an AI-driven world, Nathan writes.

Why it matters: An imminent onslaught of deepfake video and audio is creating a sense of urgency to protect consumers.

Driving the news: The FTC announced yesterday that it's proposing to modify a rule that already prevents the impersonation of government and businesses to include the impersonation of individuals.

  • "Emerging technology — including AI-generated deepfakes — threatens to turbocharge this scourge [of impersonation scams]," the commission said in a statement.

Between the lines: The FTC's proposed rule could specifically make it illegal to use AI platforms to foster impersonation, such as "voice cloning" and falsified video.

  • The Federal Communications Commission earlier this month declared the use of AI-generated voices in scam robocalls to be illegal.

Threat level: Americans have a hard enough time deciphering fact from fiction when only text stories are involved.

  • Imagine how dangerous it will be when scammers can easily impersonate someone's trusted friend, family member, work colleague or celebrity.

What they're saying: "I think that it will not be too long before we are generating all sorts of media that is indistinguishable from reality," AI expert Jeff Clune told Nathan for his book, "After the Fact."

  • That book was published in 2018.

💭 Thought bubble, via Axios AI+ co-author Ryan Heath: "The FTC's move is consistent with both Lina Khan's expansive view of its role in regulating markets and the Biden administration prioritizing enforcing existing laws and using existing agencies to set AI guardrails, rather than waiting for comprehensive AI legislation or creating a federal AI agency."

The bottom line: We're seeing the beginnings of AI regulation.

2. Charted: Race gaps in home values

Difference in the typical value of homes owned by Black and white people, by metro area
Data: Zillow; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The typical value of U.S. homes with Black owners ($291,000) is 18% less than those with white owners ($354,000), per Zillow data exclusively shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Homeownership remains the biggest driver of the wealth gap, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Axios' Brianna Crane writes.

Charted: This value gap is widest in Birmingham, Alabama; Detroit; St. Louis; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Buffalo, New York.

  • McAllen, Texas, is the only metro where the typical value of homes with Black owners is higher than that of homes with white owners.

What they're saying: Black owners seeing their homes appraising for less than those of their white counterparts isn't new. "It's no longer a myth or legend that this happens," HUD chief of staff Julienne Joseph tells Axios.

Go deeper

3. What's happening

📺 Paramount Global and Comcast have discussed a partnership between Paramount+ and Peacock. (WSJ)

🪙 Coinbase shares surged after the crypto exchange delivered its first quarterly profit in two years. (Axios)

🎬 Former CNN boss Jeff Zucker's RedBird IMI is acquiring film and TV producer All3Media, known for "Fleabag," "Undercover Boss" and "Squid Game: The Challenge." (Axios)

4. DraftKings makes bet of its own

Photo: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

DraftKings yesterday plunked down a $750 million bet that a lottery app will help it win the fierce battle for customers in its own core business, Axios' Pete Gannon writes.

Catch up fast: The sports-betting giant said yesterday it would buy Jackpocket, a company that allows users to buy state lottery tickets from their phones.

In one sense the rationale is simple — DraftKings can branch into the massive U.S. lottery industry.

  • But "more importantly" (its words), the deal is about acquiring customers cheaply, who will drive increased value on DraftKings' sportsbook and iGaming business.

What they're saying: "It's a very efficient way to acquire customers in mass," DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said on a conference call about the deal. "And we know from overlap analysis that those customers will cross-sell very effectively" to higher spend on DraftKings' core businesses.

Zoom in: Customer lifetime value is an important metric in the online gaming industry, as is the cost of winning new customers.

  • By increasing the first metric and lowering the second, DraftKings believes it's made a very good bet.

5. What they're saying

"Housing is becoming a luxury good."
— Columbia University economist Christopher Mayer to USA Today, on the effects of surging home prices.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

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