Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter deal

Experts have said Musk can’t unilaterally place the deal on hold, although that hasn’t stopped him from acting as though he can. (AFP PHOTO / TED CONFERENCES / RYAN LASH)
Experts have said Musk can’t unilaterally place the deal on hold, although that hasn’t stopped him from acting as though he can. (AFP PHOTO / TED CONFERENCES / RYAN LASH)
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Updated 06 June 2022

Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter deal

Experts have said Musk can’t unilaterally place the deal on hold. (AFP PHOTO / TED CONFERENCES / RYAN LASH)
  • Musk threatens to walk away from his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, and accuses the company of withholding fake-account data

DETROIT: Elon Musk is threatening to walk away from his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot accounts.
Lawyers for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the threat in a letter to Twitter dated Monday. That letter was included in a filing from Twitter with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The letter says Musk has repeatedly asked for the information since May 9, about a month after his offer to buy the company, so he could evaluate how many of the company’s 229 million accounts are fake.
Shares of Twitter Inc. tumbled more than 5 percent at the opening bell Monday.
A message was left early Monday seeking comment from Twitter.
The lawyers say in the letter that Twitter has offered only to provide details about the company’s testing methods. But they contend that’s “tantamount to refusing Mr. Musk’s data requests.” Musk wants data so he can do his own verification of what he says are Twitter’s lax methodologies.
The lawyers say that based on Twitter’s latest correspondence, Musk believes the company is resisting and thwarting his information rights under the April merger agreement.
“This is a clear material breach of Twitter’s obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves all rights resulting therefrom, including his right not to consummate the transaction and his right to terminate the merger agreement,” the letter says.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has said the company has consistently estimated that fewer than 5 percent of Twitter accounts are fake. Twitter has disclosed its bot estimates to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for years, while also cautioning that its estimate might be too low.
The bot problem also reflects a longtime fixation for Musk, one of Twitter’s most active celebrity users, whose name and likeness are often mimicked by fake accounts promoting cryptocurrency scams. Musk appears to think such bots are also a problem for most other Twitter users, as well as advertisers who take out ads on the platform based on how many real people they expect to reach.
Experts have said Musk can’t unilaterally place the deal on hold, although that hasn’t stopped him from acting as though he can. If he walks away, he could be on the hook for a $1 billion breakup fee.
The Twitter sale agreement allows Musk to get out of the deal if there is a “material adverse effect” caused by the company. It defines that as a change that negatively affects Twitter’s business or financial conditions.
In the letter, Musk attorney Mike Ringler points to a spat over a June 1 letter from Twitter in which the company said its information obligations are limited to facilitating the closing of the sale. It says Twitter is obligated to provide data for any reasonable business purpose needed to complete the deal.
Twitter also has to cooperate with Musk’s effort to get the financing for the deal, including providing information that’s “reasonably requested” by Musk, the letter states.
The letter contends that Musk is not required to explain his rationale for requesting data or submit to “new conditions the company has attempted to impose on his contractual right to the requested data.”
It alleges that Musk is entitled to the data about the core of Twitter’s business model so he can prepare the transition to his ownership.


Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions

Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions
Updated 19 August 2022

Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions

Egypt-based Aswan film festival calls for submissions
  • Deadline to submit films is Nov. 30

DUBAI: The Aswan International Women Film Festival is welcoming submissions for its seventh edition, which will take place in March 2023.

The deadline to enter submissions is Nov. 30.

Each entry must be either written or directed by a woman. Although the stories can be based on any theme, AIWFF encourages films tackle subjects around womanhood and female empowerment.

Participating films can be entered in one of two categories: Long or feature films (more than 60 minutes) and short films (less than 60 minutes). The films can be animated, documentaries or fictional.

AIWFF aims to recognize female achievement in filmmaking, as well as guide and teach young women through workshops, seminars and screenings.

This year, for its sixth edition, AIWFF screened 34 short films and feature films. It also gave awards to Egyptian actress Sawsan Badr, director Inaam Mohamed Ali, award-winning French actress and director Marilyne Canto, and Somali political strategist Hibaaq Osman.


Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine

Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine
Updated 19 August 2022

Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine

Anwar Hadid to release a docufilm on Palestine
  • Referencing Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, the film underlines the importance of socially and politically engaged art

LONDON: A documentary film co-produced by Palestinian model Anwar Hadid will be shown next month at San Carlo auditorium in Albenga, Italy.

Other producers on the project are Kweku Mandela, grandson of former South African president Nelson, and Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters.

The film, “Walled Off,” is written and directed by Vin Arfuso, an American filmmaker of Palestinian and Italian descent.

Referencing the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, owned and designed by British artists Banksy, the film underlines the importance of socially and politically engaged art.

The film follows Hadid, brother of models Bella and Gigi, as he explores Banksy’s hotel’s site-specific installations and storied halls with its head manager, Wissam Salsa.

Later scenes feature five decades of archival footage, with the goal of combating the narrative of Palestinian struggle in Western media while also anchoring Arafat as a symbol of national identity.

Last week, Arfuso shared a teaser on Instagram.

“Artists working in this realm strive to provide a counterpoint to the prevailing images of power and also to the stereotypes that are fed to us by the media,” the teaser said.

The iconic British street artist opened the Walled Off hotel in Bethlehem in 2017. Nestled against Israel’s separation barrier, which encloses occupied Palestine and annexes part of its land, Banksy has claimed it has the “worst view of any hotel in the world.”

The pre-release screening of Walled Off will take place on Sept. 8, as part of European artist-activist Cake$’s debut solo exhibition “A Child Is Born In Bethlehem.”

The exhibition has been curated by British-Palestinian art dealer, curator, activist and journalist Zayna Al-Saleh, and Italian art collector and curator Lorenzo Sibilla.

 


Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest

Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest
Updated 19 August 2022

Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest

Russia’s watchdog imposes measures against TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord, Pinterest
  • Russia's watchdog Roskomnadzor fined the companies for failing to remove content that it had flagged as illegal

MOSCOW: Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said on Friday that it was taking punitive measures against a string of foreign IT companies, including TikTok, Telegram, Zoom, Discord and Pinterest.
In a statement, Roskomnadzor said that the measures were in response to the companies’ failure to remove content that it had flagged as illegal, and would remain in place until they complied. It did not specify what measures would be taken.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to fine sites — including Google, that violate harsh new laws criminalizing the spreading of “false information” about the Russian army.
On Tuesday, Russian courts fined US-based live streaming service Twitch 2 million roubles ($33,000) and messenger service Telegram 11 million roubles ($179,000) for violating military censorship laws.


Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services

Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services
Updated 19 August 2022

Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services

Subscribers fall out of love with streaming services
  • As the ‘Watch, cancel, go’ trend gains popularity, streaming platforms need to be smarter to retain customers

LONDON: A study released in July by the US-based subscriber-measurement firm Antenna revealed that streaming video services are finding it increasingly difficult to retain their customer base as users are switching between platforms in order to save money, changing subscriptions depending on which service hosts the shows or movies they want to watch at the time.

According to Antenna’s study, 19 percent of subscribers to premium services including Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV+, HBO Max and Disney+, canceled three or more subscriptions in the two years up to June 2022, up from 6 percent in the previous two years.

The study also found that streaming services need to allocate huge amounts of resources and capital to produce new shows to keep subscribers satisfied.

“You constantly need new content,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst for “independent research boutique” MoffettNathanson. “Streaming services not only have to build vast libraries of old shows and movies, they also need a couple of nice big theatrical movies every quarter to make (consumers) feel like it’s really valuable.”

When a highly anticipated show or movie is released, streaming-video providers see an increase in subscribers. However, many of these new consumers cancel their subscriptions after a short period of time.

This “Watch, cancel and go” trend poses a problem even for the largest companies in the sector, with experts claiming that attracting new customers is five times more expensive than retaining loyal subscribers.

“With new streaming services popping up every day and subscriber churn increasing, you must invest in subscriber retention and loyalty programs to survive and thrive,” said Alp Pekkocak, global head of industry solutions & strategy, media & entertainment at Salesforce. “It costs five times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. Yet most companies spend the majority of their marketing budget trying to acquire new customers.

“The old cliché ‘Content is king’ still holds true. No matter how good a personalized recommendation engine or user experience is, consumers won’t stick around if they don’t find content that speaks to them,” he added.

Despite the increasing customer-defection rate, the appetite for streaming platforms remains high. Over the next few years, the number of subscribers is projected to grow with global revenue from TV series and movies expected to reach $224 billion in 2027, up from $135 billion in 2021, a report by Digital TV Research revealed.

However, as market competition intensifies with more players entering an already-crowded sector, streaming services will be faced not only with the challenge of winning new subscribers’ hearts but will have to be smarter about how they retain and offer value to their existing customers.


Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams
Updated 20 August 2022

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams

Saudi’s Manga Productions fulfilling local artists’ dreams
  • High quality content created, says CEO Essam Bukhary
  • Future’s Folktales season two, and a mobile game coming soon

RIYADH: It all began with a dream and now Manga Productions boasts its first anime movie, “The Journey,” which premiered in 2021, and is working on Future’s Folktales season two, and a mobile game that should be released this year.

Speaking on The Mayman Show, Dr. Essam Bukhary, CEO of the company, a subsidiary of the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, or Misk, said he has fond memories of how it all started.

It was in 2017, the year the firm was founded, that the company decided to hold talks with a leading Japanese counterpart.

“So the first step was to negotiate with Toei Animation, convince them (of) the idea. They liked it. They accepted the offer. But we had one important condition in the contract. Which is providing opportunities for internship for Saudi talent,” explained Bukhary.

 

Initially a competition was held in the Arab world to determine which project to back.

The company met in Riyadh with Shimizu Shinji, a former board member of Toei Animation, who became the executive producer of “The Journey.”

After that meeting, Manga Productions started hiring the first group of artists from Saudi Arabia to work on the project.

The students were sent to become interns in Japan for two months. “After that, we hired them to start working hand in hand with our Japanese partners.

“In 2017, we signed the contract with Toei Animation during the Misk Global Forum to officially start the production of ‘The Journey’ movie,” said Bukhary.

 

Bukhary said the “high quality” film was made in Saudi and demonstrated the talent and commitment of the young artists.

He recalled how Manga Productions sent 1,300 retakes to Toei Animation, which led a board member to praise the team for producing such quality that “we don’t even think about in Japan.”

He said the movie was an amazing experience because it was a collaboration involving two companies with totally different cultures, languages, art styles, and even age. “Toei Animation’s experts were in their 50s and 60s where Manga Productions’ team were in their 20s and early 30s,” he explained.

 

The plot of the movie revolves around one man trying to defend his city, Makkah, against a huge army. The hero has a dark past but uses his skills to overcome his adversaries.

Manga Productions focuses on animation, video games, and comics. They have two offices, in Saudi Arabia and Japan.

Bukhary is also editor-in-chief for Manga Arabia and has a doctorate in technology and innovation management. He is also the co-chair of the executive committee of the Mohammed bin Salman Center for Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.