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Xiaomi is officially expanding to the United Kingdom




Xiaomi’s partnering with Three UK to sell its phones in the country and this launch in the UK marks the second European market that Xiaomi will be operating in (it began selling its phones in Spain last year).

Commenting on this announcement, Three UK Chief Digital Officer, Tom Malleschitz, said –

We have been watching Xiaomi’s success from afar and impressed with the huge range of connected devices that they currently offer. This partnership provides us with another leading brand in our smartphone range and also opens the door for innovative new connected products that we can provide to Three customers in the future.

It’s unclear which Xiaomi phones will be launching first on Three, but some of the top contenders could include the Mi Mix 2S and Mi 6X.

Malleschitz’s statement also hints that Three will eventually sell more than just smartphones from Xiaomi, and seeing as how the company creates everything from TVs to battery banks to fitness bands and air purifiers, there’s a lot of potential with this new partnership.

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Instagram Co-Founders Kevin Systrom And Mike Krieger Leaves Firm




The co-founders of photo-sharing giant Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, are both leaving the firm.

Mr Systrom, chief executive, said they were departing to “explore our curiosity and creativity again”.

Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for $1bn (£760m) in cash and stock and has more than one billion users.

There had been reports of tension between the pair and Facebook, and the departures add to what has been a troubling year for the parent company.

Mr Systrom, 34, the CEO, and Mr Krieger, 32, the chief technical officer, started the image sharing site in 2010, and continued to run the service after it was acquired by Facebook.

What have the pair said?
Not a great deal. They reportedly only told the Facebook leadership on Monday so the departure appears pretty sudden.

In a blog post, Mr Systrom said: “We’re now ready for our next chapter.

“Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.”

There was no animosity in the blog post. Mr Systrom said the pair both remained “excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook”.

How has Facebook responded?

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement that Instagram reflected the founders’ “combined creative talents”.

“I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

So what’s behind the departures?

There have been reports of tension with Facebook’s leadership. Instagram’s popularity has soared in a period where use of the core Facebook product has stagnated.

This has put increased pressure on Facebook to squeeze more and more money from its users by adding new features some felt went against the Instagram app’s original focus on simplicity.

The latest Instagram product, IGTV, which allows posting of longer videos, in part to compete with YouTube, has not had an auspicious start. It was criticised this month after sexually suggestive videos of children were recommended to its users.

Facebook has also been under intense pressure this year over the issues of safeguarding customer data and the misuse of its platforms by those wishing to spread fake news, including for political ends. In March, in the week Mr Zuckerberg apologised for the handling of a historic data breach, Facebook ended $58bn (£44bn) lower in value.

This, along with increased pressure from competitor platforms, appears to have led Mr Zuckerberg and his core executives to exert more control.

It ran counter to the business model the pair had become used to. Mr Systrom had earlier praised the “tremendous freedom” Mr Zuckerberg had allowed since the takeover.

So what will become of Instagram now?

Analysis by Dave Lee, BBC North America technology reporter

The firm was quite deliberately treated like a separate company owned by Facebook, rather than merely a department or division, because it was Instagram’s culture that made it such a valuable acquisition.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were responsible for that culture – the entire feel of an app that was in many respects the anti-Facebook. It lacked the clutter and noise that had made Facebook bloated in many people’s eyes.

But slowly, in recent years, the Instagram app started putting on that weight. Algorithmic ordering of the timeline… and ads, so many ads. If being mocked for brazenly stealing ideas from Snapchat wasn’t grating enough for Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger, the pressure to make Instagram more like Facebook has apparently pushed them to breaking point.

One of the names being touted as the next boss of Instagram is Adam Mosseri. He’s currently head of product, and has a CV that some of Instagram’s loyal users might find ominous – he was formerly in charge of Facebook’s Newsfeed.

They are not the first to jump ship

Indeed not. In fact it echoes what happened with WhatsApp.

Its chief executive and co-founder Jan Koum said in April he would quit the popular messaging service he co-founded in 2009 and sold to Facebook in 2014.

Oddly, Mr Koum’s departure statement is also a direct echo of Mr Systrom’s.

Analysts of that move also spoke of clashes with Facebook.

Mr Koum’s departure sparked an executive reshuffle that saw the tightening of Mr Zuckerberg’s control over operations.

The rise of Instagram

Mr Systrom and Mr Krieger met while studying at Stanford University.

The two were inspired to create the Instagram app – originally launched just for iPhones in 2010 – by old Polaroid pictures.

Instagram had around 30 million users in 2012, the year it was purchased by Facebook for what appeared to be an eye-watering $1bn.

It was also ad-free. That changed. But so did the number of users – now more than a billion.

The Forbes billionaires list estimates Kevin Systrom’s net worth at $1.4bn. Mike Krieger’s net worth is less. There are no definitive figures, ranging from $100m to $500m.

What has the social media chatter been?

One Twitter post highlighted the use of the word “again” in Mr Systrom’s “explore our curiosity and creativity again”. “Was it a slight dig from Systrom with the ‘again’? You be the judge (I judge yea),” wrote Kara Swisher.

NBC media reporter Dylan Byers wrote that the Instagram pair had saved Mark Zuckerberg.

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SiriusXM To Acquire Pandora In $3.5 Billion Deal




In a blockbuster deal sure to shake up car audio, SiriusXM announced on Monday that it will acquire Pandora in an all-stock transaction valued at $3.5 billion, creating an industry leading digital audio company with excess of $7 billion in expected pro-forma revenue this year. The companies said both popular services and brands — SiriusXM’s car-based satellite radio service and Pandora’s radio and music-streaming offerings — will remain in place following completion of the transaction.

The acquisition will, however, see large scale cross-promotion between SiriusXM’s base of 36 million subscribers and Pandora’s 70 million monthly active users, plus it is expected to leverage the satellite radio giant’s programming with Pandora’s various tiers to create special subscription packages. And on the heels of Toyota’s decision to remove Pandora (and some other apps) from its Entune infotainment audio system, SiriusXM’s close relationships with auto companies is seen as key to driving Pandora’s in-car distribution.

On an investor’s call to discuss the deal, SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer mentioned that while its free trial user base has been consistently strong, a large portion of users eventually opt out. A close integration with Pandora would give the satellite radio company a high-quality free radio alternative to offer to those trial users and keep them within its possible customer pool. “There is real money to be made in cross-promotion of these platforms,” he said.

In prepared comments, Meyer said, “We have long respected Pandora and their team for their popular consumer offering that has attracted a massive audience, and have been impressed by Pandora’s strategic progress and stronger execution. We believe there are significant opportunities to create value for both companies’ stockholders by combining our complementary businesses. The addition of Pandora diversifies SiriusXM’s revenue streams with the U.S.’s largest ad-supported audio offering, broadens our technical capabilities, and represents an exciting next step in our efforts to expand our reach out of the car even further.”

Meyer added, “Through targeted investments, we see significant opportunities to drive innovation that will accelerate growth beyond what would be available to the separate companies, and does so in a way that also benefits consumers, artists, and the broader content communities. Together, we will deliver even more of the best content on radio to our passionate and loyal listeners, and attract new listeners, across our two platforms.”

The transaction, which is subject to approval by Pandora stockholders, has already been given a unanimous thumbs-up by SiriusXM’s board of directors and Pandora’s independent directors and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019. The acquisition is also pending anti-trust approval, as well as other closing conditions.

Once agreed upon, Pandora shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 1.44 SiriusXM shares for each of their Pandora shares. Based on the 30-day volume-weighted average price of $7.04 per share of SiriusXM common stock, the implied price of Pandora common stock is $10.14 per share, representing a premium of 13.8 percent over a 30-day volume-weighted average price. The transaction is also expected to be tax-free for Pandora shareholders.

In June 2017, SiriusXM made a $480 million strategic cash investment in Pandora.

“We’ve made tremendous progress in our efforts to lead in digital audio,” commented Pandora CEO Roger Lynch. “Together with SiriusXM, we’re even better positioned to take advantage of the huge opportunities we see in audio entertainment, including growing our advertising business and expanding our subscription offerings. The powerful combination of SiriusXM’s content, position in the car, and premium subscription products, along with the biggest audio streaming service in the U.S., will create the world’s largest audio entertainment company. This transaction will deliver significant value to our stockholders and will allow them to participate in upside, given SiriusXM’s strong brand, financial resources and track record delivering results.”

It’s unclear what role if any Lynch and other Pandora executives will play following the completion of the deal. In the conference call, Meyer stated that he hopes Lynch “joins us going forward” but that “after the deal is closed we’ll take that on thoughtfully and carefully.”

SiriusXM, majority-owned by John Malone’s Liberty Media, is based in New York City while Pandora’s headquarters is located in Oakland, Calif.

This is a developing story.

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Cardi B Returns To Fashion Week In Style | PHOTOS



Cardi B

Weeks after being thrown out of a party at New York Fashion Week, Cardi B made a spectacular entry at Milan Fashion Week.

The rapper was clad in head-to-toe animal print by Dolce and Gabanna.

If you recall, Cardi B attacked Nicki Minaj with a shoe, prompting security to escort her out.

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