Oct 23, 2019

Axios Login

About that easy week I mentioned on Monday, yeah, that's not happening. Sorry.

Situational awareness: Google announced it had achieved "quantum supremacy" as researchers used a quantum computer to solve a problem today's technology can't tackle.

Today's Login is 1,382 words, a 5-minute read.

1 big thing: Disney's big bet on streaming

Courtesy: Disney

With Disney+ less than a month away from its U.S. launch, the company is making the case to consumers and investors that its streaming service will take off.

Why it matters: Disney has spent billions of dollars to add Fox, Marvel and the "Star Wars" universe to its content lineup, all of which should help it in the battle against Netflix, Apple and NBCUniversal, but it also means that Disney has a lot riding on its streaming service.

Driving the news: Disney was all over the media on Tuesday, with CEO Bob Iger speaking at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit and on CNBC. As Axios' Sara Fischer reports, the company ...

Disney's stock was up around 2% Tuesday after the slew of announcements.

What they're saying: Iger didn't seem to worried about mounting competition in streaming.

  • "We're very, very different than the other services out there. So, while we view the others as competition, we're not fixated on the competitive side of things here," he said in an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin Tuesday.

Disney has launched a beta version of the service in the Netherlands, albeit without the new original content. Iger didn't say how many people have signed up there, but said demand "has been robust." Disney has previously indicated that it aims to reach 60–90 million subscribers by 2024.

Be smart: Those numbers may be easier to reach now, thanks in part to the partnership that was announced with Verizon Tuesday morning.

  • According to Iger, the partnership is a wholesale deal, meaning that Disney+ will be paid by Verizon, although it's likely they'll receive less money than they would make if they sold the subscriptions to consumers directly.
  • Iger says he thinks the deal will "have a significant effect" in terms of jump-starting subscriptions, as Verizon will help Disney market the new service. Disney will gain roughly 50 million temporary subscribers from the deal, per Reuters.

The big picture: The Verizon partnership follows a similar playbook that's being used by other rival streaming services: Give out as many subscriptions for free to boost your numbers, and worry about up-selling them later. Cases in point:

  • Amazon offers video to subscribers for free as a part of its broader Amazon Prime subscription, which also includes free shipping and other benefits.
  • Comcast says it will provide its ad-supported new streaming service Peacock, set to launch in April, to its cable customers for free.
  • Apple will offer new iPhone buyers a year of its AppleTV+ subscription for free when it launches Nov. 1.
  • Netflix is included for some T-Mobile customers as part of their mobile subscription.

The bottom line: Disney has spent billions of dollars in recent years adding big-name franchises to its content empire, most notably through its $71 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox last year.

Our thought bubble: Disney's fledgling streaming business will be key to making those expensive content bets pay off.

2. Zuckerberg defends Libra to Congress

Mark Zuckerberg faces an uphill battle today as he looks to convince a skeptical Congress that the company's Libra cryptocurrency is the key to fixing financial inequality.

Why it matters: Zuckerberg is due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee. In prepared remarks, he made the case for Libra as well as touting Facebook's recent moves to lower the risk of housing and employment discrimination via advertising one its site.

"There are more than a billion people around the world who don’t have access to a bank account, but could through mobile phones if the right system existed," Zuckerberg said, adding that number includes 14 million people in the U.S.

"People pay far too high a cost—and have to wait far too long—to send money home to their families abroad. The current system is failing them. The financial industry is stagnant and there is no digital financial architecture to support the innovation we need. I believe this problem can be solved, and Libra can help."
— Mark Zuckerberg, in prepared testimony

Between the lines: Zuckerberg also trotted out competitive threats from China as a reason to allow Libra to proceed.

"While we debate these issues, the rest of the world isn't waiting," he said. "China is moving quickly to launch similar ideas in the coming months. ... If America doesn't innovate, our financial leadership is not guaranteed."

And, of course, Facebook is under scrutiny for more than just its cryptocurrency plans. As Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reported yesterday, 46 attorneys general have joined New York's AG in an antitrust probe of the social networking giant.

Meanwhile: It's Congress, so Facebook certainly faces scrutiny over Libra and the civil rights issues Zuckerberg addressed in his testimony. But House members could also focus on claims the platform is biased against conservatives, antitrust issues, or general distrust of BigTech. Even some Hill staffers say they don't know what to expect.

3. The best and worst states for online privacy

California, Delaware and Utah are the states that best protect users' online privacy in 2019, according to an annual ranking by privacy and cybersecurity research firm Comparitech, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.

Why it matters: States are taking the lead on online privacy protections in the U.S. as bipartisan efforts in Congress have yet to produce a federal privacy law.

Details: Comparitech ranks state privacy on a range of criteria, reviewing laws governing companies' use and disclosure of customer data and those aimed at protecting children.

  • California earned the top spot in part due to its Consumer Privacy Act, which goes into effect Jan. 1 and gives consumers the right to know what information companies have collected about them and the ability to demand that a company delete their personal data.
  • Delaware and Utah also ranked high for laws related to advertising to children and barring internet service providers from sharing customer data with third parties without consent.

Meanwhile, Wyoming was at the bottom of the list. Not only does it lack a shield law to protect journalists from exposing sources, it also lacks a court precedent for doing so.

  • Comparitech also gave the state low marks because companies aren't required to get rid of users' personal data after a set time period and employers aren't barred from forcing employees to share passwords to social media accounts.
4. Snapchat adds 7 million daily active users

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Snap Inc.'s stock whipsawed Tuesday in after-hours trading after the company reported positive earnings but offered weaker-than-expected revenue growth estimates for the next quarter, Sara reports.

The big picture: The company beat analyst expectations by adding 7 million daily active users, including 5 million users overseas. Snapchat struggled to add users internationally last year prior to its Android redesign.

Details: The company's user base grew for the third straight quarter to 210 million daily active users. This is a big comeback from 2018.

By the numbers, via CNBC:

  • Loss per share: $0.04 vs. $0.05 forecast by Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $446 million vs. $435.1 million forecast by Refinitiv.
  • Global daily active users: 210 million vs. 207 million forecast by FactSet.
  • Average revenue per user: $2.12 vs. $2.10 forecast by FactSet.

The bottom line: Investors were bullish ahead of earnings. The company's stock jumped about 8% Monday ahead of earnings off of a few optimistic forecasts from Wall Street. Snapchat's stock has been up 150% over the past year.

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • WSJ Tech Live, Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit and Fortune's Most Powerful Women conferences wrap up today, with Mobile World Congress LA and Gartner's IT Symposium both running through Thursday.
  • On the earnings front, Microsoft, PayPal and eBay are all slated to release results.

Trading Places

  • ServiceNow CEO (and former eBay head) John Donohoe is taking the top spot at Nike, with Bill McDermott — who recently stepped down as CEO of SAP — taking over for Donohoe.
  • Facebook advertising and pages VP Rob Goldman is leaving his post after seven years at the company.
  • Legal data firm Relativity added Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott and LinkedIn CMO Shannon Brayton to its board of directors. Relativity CEO Mike Gamson knows both from his decade-plus at LinkedIn.


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