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Discord Would Give Microsoft a $10 Billion 'Place to Talk' – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp. and Discord Inc. hold a great deal of sway with video game fans. As they now hold talks for a potential $10 billion acquisition, a deal would join two companies in pursuit of audiences far beyond gamers.

Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy, programmers and entrepreneurs, founded San Francisco-based Discord in 2015 as a platform for people to chat while playing video games together. The free service offers voice, video and text as well as gamer-friendly features including the ability for users to broadcast the name of the game they are playing.

The app became popular a few years ago, rising alongside smash multiplayer hits like Epic Games Inc.’s Fortnite. It also has a more sinister side to its history, having being used as a gathering ground for White nationalists to organize the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Since then, the company has made efforts to clean up its site and make it more inclusive. Last year was a “pivotal” year for Discord, the new Chief Financial Officer Tomasz Marcinkowski said in a blog post earlier this month. During the pandemic, with people stuck at home and playing more video games than ever and also looking for ways to safely socialize, Discord became a hub for communities interested in the Black Lives Matter movement, homework help, book clubs and more, pitching itself as a “place to talk.”

Discord’s service has long attracted all manner of celebrity gamers and social media influencers. There was that time three years ago when Fortnite’s biggest player, Ninja, helped instruct hip-hop legend Drake to set up his Discord account. More recently there was WallStreetBets. The investor coalition notorious for boosting GameStop stock from its perch on Reddit also had a server on Discord and was banned earlier this year for not doing enough to stem hate speech.

The site now claims more than 140 million monthly users and brought in $100 million in revenue last year. Discord doubled its valuation last December to $7 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. It has raised a total of about $480 million, according to Crunchbase, from investors including Greenoaks Capital.

Read more: Gaming Services Like Twitch and Discord Are Booming Right Now

On Discord, anyone can create their own community, or server, which can range in size from under ten people to hundreds of thousands. The average user might belong to one private Discord server that they just use to hang out with their friends and other public servers dedicated to discussion of their favorite movie or sports team.

For Microsoft, these varied communities may be Discord’s biggest selling point. The software giant, which last year sought to buy social-media app TikTok and held talks to acquire Pinterest Inc., has been shopping for assets that would provide access to thriving communities of users, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking. The maker of the Xbox console has snapped up numerous video game companies recently, including the publisher ZeniMax Media Inc. last fall for $7.5 billion. Microsoft may seek to integrate Discord with Xbox Game Pass, its Netflix-like subscription service for video games.

One of the keys to Discord’s popularity is its lack of advertisements. Rather than populate channels with intrusive ads like other social media services such as Twitter Inc., Discord makes money with a subscription service called Nitro. For $10 a month, members can customize tags next to their user names, upload larger files, and stream at higher video quality.

Discord has also become a useful way for video game companies to directly promote products and foster communities. The company will verify servers based on popular video games, giving them a stamp of authenticity. Some game developers participate in their Discord channels, allowing fans to interact directly with the people behind their favorite titles.

The official Discord community for the hit game Among Us, for example, has more than 413,000 users. Among Us community director Victoria Tran described it as “pretty chaotic, but a lot of fun.” She said that people use the server not just to talk about the game and find people to play with, but to have broader conversations about their lives and interests.

The server “is a fun way to be directly connected with our players, even if it’s not necessarily related to the game itself,” Tran said. She added that the video game servers can also be a place for players to report bugs and offer suggestions directly to game makers. “Discord communities are just a great way to get feedback you might not have been able to get otherwise,” she said.

Discord can also be helpful for smaller games that may not have the reach of Among Us but still want to provide a place for fans to chat, game developers say.

“We really just wanted to build a low-key community that was nice to hang out in,” said Megan Fox, founder of the independent game development studio Glass Bottom Games. Its first game, Skatebird, is about birds on skateboards. It has a Discord community of about 900 users that Fox said mostly use the server to talk about “birds, or skateboarding.” She said the studio also has a channel solely intended for users to “share your attempt at a kickflip.” Many Discord servers lean on humor and inside jokes, which is part of the appeal.

The news of a potential deal has inspired mixed reactions in the gaming community. “If Discord is going to sell, Microsoft may actually be one of the safest places it can go without experiencing major changes,” said Rod Breslau, an esports and gaming consultant who works with companies such as Sony Music Entertainment. Microsoft has taken a hands-off approach with recent acquisitions, such as LinkedIn and GitHub, he said.

But not all gamers have been thrilled about the prospect. Twitter was full of people Tuesday begging Discord not to sell. Some Discord channels were also filled with negative reactions to the idea of further video game industry consolidation.

“Gamers especially have whiplash from a variety of past Microsoft grievances,” said Breslau, “and who really wants to see one of the big corporate overlords continue to swallow up parts of the industry?”

It may not come to that. Discord is more likely to go public than sell itself, one person familiar with the discussions said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.

Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”

Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.

Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.

Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.

Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.

Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.

Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.

“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.

Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.

Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.

They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.

Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.

‘SWEET SPOT’

The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.

“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”

Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.

“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”

Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.

“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.

Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.

Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.

France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.

Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.

“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”

($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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$600K donation to boost online mental health programming in Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia Health’s mental health and addictions program hopes to offer more online support to people across the province after receiving a significant donation this week.

The QEII Foundation announced that RBC is contributing $600,000 toward the province’s e-mental health programming.

“It’s particularly important for the current time under all the strains of COVID,” said Dr. Andrew Harris, a psychiatrist and the senior medical director for the program.

The plan for online programming has been in the works for years, he said, but the pandemic expedited the push. Last June, the department launched a number of applications that can be used to help those with anxiety, depression and addictions.

Since then, as many as 3,000 Nova Scotians have used the site to access mental health services.

“There’s a persistent difficulty in accessing services,” Harris said of traditional models in Nova Scotia. He said those who don’t need intensive therapy may find the support they need through the online programs.

He uses the example of someone who can’t take time off work to speak to a clinician.

“It’s better for them to be able to access a service after hours or on the weekend. So our e-mental health services are tailored a little bit to meet that need.”

Calls to crisis line increase

Harris said the province’s mental health crisis line continues to see a 30 per cent increase in calls for help, so he’s trying to raise awareness that services can be accessed immediately online.

“I think everyone is aware that for a lot of people it’s much easier to talk about a physical illness than a mental illness. So there’s an allowance there for privacy, for some anonymity but still making available things that can help the person who is struggling in the community.”

The online portal has a list of programs that people can use, covering things like reducing stress, solving problems and becoming mindful. It mirrors a site in Newfoundland and Labrador that Harris said is used to help people in remote areas.

Harris said the donation from RBC will be used to continue to evaluate more services, and pay for the licensing of the products that are mostly developed by other organizations.

He encourages anyone who is struggling to test out the site, and use it as an entry point into the mental health system.

“It’s important for people to acknowledge when they’re struggling. It happens to all of us through our lives in different times.”

Anyone in Nova Scotia looking to access the tools can visit: https://mha.nshealth.ca.

Source:- CBC.ca

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Samsung’s cheapest 5G Galaxy phones yet are launching this month

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Samsung

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

  • Samsung is launching five new phones in its Galaxy A series this month.
  • Three of them will support 5G connectivity, and the most expensive phone is just $500.
  • The cheapest phone of the five still has three cameras but lacks 5G and other features.
  • See more buying advice on the Insider Reviews homepage.

Samsung may be best known for its high-end Galaxy S phones that rival the iPhone. But the tech giant is proving that it can appeal to cost-conscious customers with the launch of five new smartphones in the United States, the priciest of which only costs $500.

Samsung’s new lineup of budget phones, which debuted in other markets before coming to the US, are all launching this month. Some of them will be released as soon as this week, while the least expensive model will debut on April 29. The launch comes as competitors like Apple and Google have also been focusing on cheaper smartphones to boost sales.

Three of these new Samsung devices also support 5G, another sign that shoppers no longer have to pay a premium to get access to next-generation wireless networks. All five of the new phones also have the traditional headphone jack for wired listening and run on an octa-core processor.

Here’s a look at the new Samsung Galaxy A series phones that will be launching soon.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Galaxy A52 5G_Awesome Black_Front_Back



Samsung

  • Release date: April 9
  • Price: $499.99

The Galaxy A52 5G is the most expensive smartphone of the bunch. It comes with a 6.5-inch FHD+ screen and a quad-camera system that includes some of the same features as Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy S phones. These include Single Take, which creates several different photos or video clips with different effects with a single press of the shutter button.

Its screen can also boost its refresh rate up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling and performance, a feature that has become common on pricier flagship phones but is rare on cheaper models. It’s also the only phone in this A-series lineup to include Samsung’s notch-free screen design.

Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Galaxy A42 5G_Prism Dot Black_Front_Back



Samsung

  • Release date: April 8
  • Price: $399.99

The less expensive Galaxy A42 5G has a slightly larger screen than the A52 5G, but scales back on certain features when it comes to the camera and screen refresh rate.

Still, it has a triple-lens camera with high-resolution sensors, and like its pricier sibling it also supports Single Take.

Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

GalaxyA32 5G_Awesome Black_Front



Samsung

Release date: April 9

Price: $279.99

The Galaxy A32 5G is Samsung’s cheapest 5G smartphone to date. It has a large 6.5-inch screen, but it’s made from an LCD panel instead of Super AMOLED. That means it will likely lack some of the contrast and boldness of Samsung’s other devices. But Samsung hasn’t skimped on the camera considering this model has a quad-lens main camera, which is rare if not unheard of at that price.

Samsung Galaxy A12

Galaxy A12_Black_Back



Samsung

Release date: April 9

Price: $179.99

Samsung’s Galaxy A12 doesn’t come with 5G support, but it still gives you a lot for the price. For less than $200, you’re getting a quad-lens camera and a large 6.5-inch LCD screen. But remember this phone only has 32GB of storage, so it’s best suited for those who don’t store a lot of photos and videos on their device.

Samsung Galaxy A02s

Galaxy A02s_Black_Front



Samsung

  • Release date: April 29
  • Price: $109.99

The Galaxy A02s is Samsung’s cheapest phone, offering a 6.5-inch LCD screen and three main cameras. It doesn’t have 5G support or as much computing power or camera prowess as Samsung’s other A-series phones, but that’s to be expected for a device at this price. This phone is truly for those who just need the basics and little else.

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Source:- Business Insider

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