Značka: Microsoft

Crypto Biz: Microsoft enters the metaverse, Jan. 14-20

This week’s Crypto Biz explores Microsoft’s Activision purchase, the new partnership between Coinbase and Mastercard and the latest funding news from the world of crypto. For a comprehensive breakdown of business developments over the last week, register for the full newsletter below.Microsoft enters the Metaverse with Activision purchaseIt’s no secret that Microsoft has been eyeing its entry into the Metaverse ever since Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook to Meta. The company found its perfect entry this week by acquiring gaming giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Satya Nadella, who has served as Microsoft’s CEO since 2014, described video games as playing a “key role in the development of metaverse platforms.” Activision is behind some of the world’s most iconic gaming franchises, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Together with @ATVI_AB, we will usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all. https://t.co/fF2Ig3gSfx— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) January 18, 2022Coinbase partners with Mastercard around NFT purchasesCrypto is nothing new for Mastercard. As Cointelegraph reported, the credit card giant launched crypto-linked credit cards across the Asia-Pacific region in November 2021. Now, the company is partnering with Coinbase to enable users to purchase nonfungible tokens using their credit cards. The partnership revolves around Coinbase’s forthcoming nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace and enables users to buy digital collectibles without having to set up a crypto wallet or hold Ether (ETH). Strengthening payment onramps to the crypto sector is considered vital for boosting mainstream adoption. Intel to reveal new energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASICSemiconductor giant Intel is planning to unveil a new energy-efficient Bitcoin (BTC) mining ASIC at the forthcoming IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in February. The new ASIC, which is referred to as the Bonanza Mine, is based on a patent submitted by Intel in November 2018. The technology behind the Bonanza Mine could reduce overall power consumption by approximately 15%. For reference: Intel is a Dow 30 company. Its potential foray into the Bitcoin mining industry could become one of the biggest stories of 2022. BREAKING – Intel says #Bitcoin mining market could grow by $2.8 BILLION in just 3 years pic.twitter.com/BaTo0hsRSf— Bitcoin Magazine (@BitcoinMagazine) January 20, 2022

Animoca Brands valued at $5B following $358M raiseThe biggest funding news of the week was centered around Animoca Brands, an NFT-focused venture capital and software gaming company that recently raised over $358 million. The funding round, which catapulted Animoca to a valuation of $5 billion, was backed by Liberty City Ventures, 10T Holdings, Gemini Frontier Fund, ParaFi Capital, Provident, Sequoia China and Winklevoss Capital, among others. Animoca said its ultimate vision is to protect users’ digital property rights in the Metaverse using NFTs.Related: Meta reportedly plans to integrate NFTs on Facebook and Instagram profilesCrypto IRA iTrustCapital valued at $1.3BSpeaking of major funding announcements, crypto-focused 401(k) provider iTrustCapital wrapped up a $125 million Series A growth round that was led by Left Lane Capital. The company said it planned to use the cash injection to expand existing product offerings as well as explore strategic acquisitions. The value proposition of iTrustCapital is it provides tax-advantaged exposure to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether through government-approved retirement accounts. That means you can invest in crypto while keeping Uncle Sam happy. There’s a new metaverse player in town. Microsoft, the world’s second-largest company by market capitalization, announced earlier this week that it had acquired Activision Blizzard for $95.00 a share in a deal that’s expected to conclude in fiscal 2023. Microsoft will utilize the gaming giant to pivot to the virtual worlds’ environment of the Metaverse.

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Microsoft's massive Metaverse move: Buying Activision for $69B

Microsoft Crop. is acquiring gaming giant Activision Blizzard Inc. for $69 billion as part of a move to ramp up its gaming and Metaverse plans. Activision Blizzard is home to a long list of iconic gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, Candy Crush, World of Warcraft and Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater. Following the deal, its games are set to be added to Microsoft Xbox’s Game Pass service that has 25 million subscribers. According to a Jan. 18 announcement from Microsoft, the firm will acquire Activision Blizzard for $95.00 per share at a valuation of $68.7 billion. The deal is set to close in the 2023 fiscal year, and it will see Microsoft become the third largest gaming company in terms of revenue behind Riot Games owner Tencent and Playstation developer Sony. Together with @ATVI_AB, we will usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all. https://t.co/fF2Ig3gSfx— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) January 18, 2022Microsoft outlined that the acquisition will support the growth of its services across mobile, PC, console and cloud gaming, and also notably stated that it will “provide building blocks for the Metaverse.” Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella said: “Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.” As part of the acquisition, Microsoft stated that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will remain at the helm until the deal closes, with the reins then being handed over to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. Spencer welcomed the deal via an Xbox blog post and emphasized the company is working to make cloud gaming accessible on as many devices as possible. He didn’t mention the Metaverse or NFTs however, sectors that have seen a backlash from some sections of the gaming community. “The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own,” Spencer wrote. Some sentiments I’ve heard from Activision Blizzard employees today:- Optimism about management changes and the positive culture at several Xbox-owned studios- Fury toward Microsoft for giving Bobby Kotick a big payday and soft exit- Determination to keep organizing— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 18, 2022

In November, Nadella first unveiled Microsoft’s Metaverse plans via an upgrade to its “Teams” service and a product called “Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.” The “Mesh” upgrade for Teams is set to introduce personalized digital avatars and immersive spaces to meet in the Metaverse later this year. Nadella also stated at the time that people can “absolutely expect” to see Microsoft integrate Metaverse features with the Xbox gaming consoles, but didn’t divulge any concrete plans or specific details. Related: NFT-focused Animoca Brands valued at $5B following $358M raiseIt is unclear if Microsoft’s Metaverse play for Xbox will include the introduction of NFTs, with Spencer  stating in November that he felt the experimentation happening in NFTs was more “exploitative than about entertainment.”Spencer noted that if the Xbox Store were to support NFTs, the company would actively weed out any nefarious behavior or content. Microsoft acquires another massive gaming company, the monopoly continues to grow as Sony scrambles to make their next power play, the console war is at an all time climaxMeanwhile, at Nintendo: pic.twitter.com/adJlrMQZLY— Colin (@IntroSpecktive) January 18, 2022

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that 100 employees from Microsoft’s augmented reality team have left the company over the past year to join metaverse competitor Meta (Facebook).

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Meta poaches staff from Microsoft and Apple for Metaverse plans

Employees from Microsoft and Apple are jumping ship to join Meta Platforms as the company sets its sights on creating the Metaverse. According to former employees of Microsoft quoted by the Wall Street Journal, around 100 people have ditched the tech giant’s augmented reality team over the past year to join Meta Platforms. They claim that Meta has been particularly focused on snapping up people who have worked on Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headsets. According to the WSJ, Linkedin profiles show that more than 70 people who were part of Microsoft’s HoloLens team have left the project over the past year, with more than 40 of them taking on new positions at Meta. Microsoft’s first mover advantage in the AR space makes its employees valuable assets to Meta. Microsoft announced its HoloLens project more than five years ago in 2016, with the technology developing into one of the world’s most advanced headsets. Apple is attempting to counteract an employee exodus to Meta by offering lucrative stock options and bonuses worth between $50,000 and $180,000, according to a report by Bloomberg. In late Dec 2021, the company offered the bonuses to a group of engineers in silicon design, hardware and some software operations workers. Facebook’s push to become MetaMeta Platforms was formerly known as Facebook until a major rebranding exercise in Oct 2021, signalling the company’s growing ambitions beyond social media. Its virtual reality hardware business “Reality Labs” has been hard at work in the months since, successfully creating a prototype of its virtual reality “haptic gloves” in mid-Nov 2021. Announcing @Meta — the Facebook company’s new name. Meta is helping to build the metaverse, a place where we’ll play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter of social connection. pic.twitter.com/ywSJPLsCoD— Meta (@Meta) October 28, 2021Despite these early successes, the centralized Meta’s attempts to dominate the Metaverse has led to no shortage of criticism in the wider community, which includes leaders in the crypto, NFT, blockchain and GameFi spaces. Some crypto leaders such as Hodl Asset’s Jenny Ta have suggested that Mark Zuckerberg shouldn’t be the one to lead Facebook into the Metaverse at all, given his history regarding data mining, privacy and content policies. “In order for him to have a clean slate for Meta, he must step down and he must have a new CEO to run it,” she said in a November interview with Cointelegraph.Both Microsoft and Apple have had their sights set on the Metaverse for quite some time. In early Nov. 2021, Microsoft announced a slew of Teams updates and upgrades to its Xbox gaming console, along with a new product called “Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.”The metaverse is here, and it’s not only transforming how we see the world but how we participate in it – from the factory floor to the meeting room. Take a look. pic.twitter.com/h5tsdYMXRD— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 2, 2021

“The Metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world and to embed the real world into computing,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the time. “What’s most important is that we are able to bring our humanity with us, and choose how we want to experience this world.”

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Microsoft leads startup Palm NFT Studio’s $27M series B round

Crypto startup Palm NFT Studio announced a Series B raise of $27 million on Thursday led by Microsoft’s venture fund M12. Palm NFT, cofounded by ConsenSys founder and Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin, provides strategic and technical services for creators to build NFT marketplaces. Other major backers include Griffin Gaming Partners, RRE, Third Kind Venture Capital, Sfermion, the LAO, Warner Bros., and SK Inc.According to the statement issued on their company blog, the raise will enable the team to scale the Palm NFT Studio’s technology platform and offer it to third parties looking to deploy NFT projects across movies, games, music and art with regulatory compliance and environmental sustainability. Dan Heyman, cofounder and CEO of Palm NFT Studio, believes that “within three years, most NFTs will be given away for free,” and added:“We envision programs that mint millions of NFTs with utility; social objects that connect communities, drive engagement and reward true fans. We’re grateful that incredible partners like M12 share that vision.” Palm NFT Studio co-created the Palm Network, an Ethereum sidechain that allows users to establish NFTs. Any NFTs made on the Palm Network or Ethereum mainnet can be bridged from the Ethereum mainnet to the Palm Network sidechain or vice versa, according to the company.As new board members, M12 also published a statement to welcome Palm NFT to their portfolio and point out its focus on sustainability:“The company and third parties have run tests that show the Palm Network requires magnitudes less computation and subsequent energy to execute transactions than proof-of-work chains. The Palm Network also has a carbon tax built into its bridge configuration, enforcing payment when mainnet resources are used.”Since its launch earlier this year, Palm NFT Studio has collaborated with DC Comics to release an NFT collection of tokenized comic book covers, and worked with Damien Hirst to drop The Currency collection.

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