Bottom Line: While Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) recently announced a plan to curtail deepfakes (videos created using AI to alter the filmed content), rival social platforms TikTok and Snapchat (NYSE: SNAP) seem to be wanting to proliferate them. Snapchat recently acquired a startup that let’s users insert their face into other videos and TikTok also reportedly has a similar unreleased feature. In addition, a report from the Washington Post outlines the increasing use of computer-generated faces in ads to “increase diversity” without the need to actually hire diverse actors or models. The risks of this ‘deepfakery’ are potentially significant especially as it pertains to misinformation and copyright infringement. People are going to be finding it increasingly difficult to separate truth from fiction and not just in in our digital lives but in the real world too!
Bottom Line: With Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), Disney (NYSE: DIS), and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) currently duking it out over people’s attention, a new startup helmed by two tech and media heavyweights is about to enter the fray as well. Quibi (short for quick bites), which recently raised $400 million on top of the $1 billion it had previously raised, is planning to launch it’s take on video streaming in April. Quibi is helmed by CEO Meg Whitman (former CEO of HP and eBay) as well as chairman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg (formerly of DreamWorks and Disney leadership).
The streaming service is unique in that it focuses on taking high-quality TV and movies and breaking it up into chapters of 10 min or less and is designed specifically to be viewed on mobile devices on the go. While Quibi is bringing some big name talent to their service such as Steven Spielberg, Chrissy Tiegen, Bill Murray, and Kevin Hart, their $1.4 billion in funding pales in comparison to the tens of billions of dollars the streaming heavyweights are spending each year. In the market where Netflix has proved that content is king, it’s unclear how Quibi can compete.
Bottom Line: Cloudflare (NYSE: NET) announced that it is buying S2 Systems for $39 million in a move that will help the internet security and performance company improve its enterprise security offering. S2 Systems technology focuses on isolating users from security threats by executing the code normally run by the users’ browser on cloud servers instead. Not only will technology like this help Cloudflare improve security for their users but by continuing to offload processing from users devices to cloud servers it provides Cloudflare a means for improving web load times and speed as well. As we covered in our in-depth guide when Cloudflare IPO’d in the fall last year, while the company is clearly providing great value and useful services for consumers, as an investment its stock has already priced in most, if not all of its upside.
Bottom Line: With Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) recently reporting Q4 2019 vehicle deliveries of 112,000, which were ahead of Wall Street estimates of 106,000 vehicles, the stock has continued its run and trading at all-time highs. Tesla investors were also bullish about the company’s prospects for its Shanghai-based factory which started delivering vehicles to Chinese customers late in December.
But investors in Tesla haven’t been the only ones to take advantage of the fast-growing electric vehicle market, as several upstart rivals are starting to take aim. Startup Rivian, backed by T Rowe Price, Blackrock, Amazon, and Ford among others, raised a reported $2.9 billion in funding last year alone and is aiming at delivering electric trucks and SUVs as well as all-electric delivery vans for Amazon. Meanwhile, Fisker, another electric vehicle startup, recently announced pricing of under $40,000 for its Ocean SUV that features a solar roof. The electric vehicle market is so hot right now even consumer electronics stalwart Sony (NYSE: SNE) is considering an entry as they surprisingly debuted a concept electric vehicle at CES this year. Tesla investors are hoping their headstart is enough to keep them ahead of increasing competition.
Bottom Line: The annual extravaganza that is CES (formerly Consumer Electronics Show) is the premier showcase for tech companies to highlight their latest and greatest gadgets and innovations. This year promises to be no different with trends like 5G and AI-in-everything, concept cars and micro-mobility devices among the highlights. The massive 100,000+ person conference is also the event where the latest models of TVs, laptops, and other consumer electronics are unveiled.
Tech Investing Chart of the Week
Internet advertising is pretty much a two-horse race these days between Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and that isn’t likely to change in the near future as very clearly demonstrated by the chart below.
This is a hell of a chart. Facebook and Google each grow $80B over the next 4 years.
"Rest of Online Ad Marketplace" shrinks over same period.
— Jonathan Mendez (@jonathanmendez) January 6, 2020