Viacom acquires Pluto TV streaming service for $340 million – The Verge

Viacom has acquiredought Pluto TV, the free ad-supported streaming service, for $340 million in cash. The service, which has around 12 million monthly active users, will operate as an independent subsidiary within the company, and will retain its existing CEO. Pluto TV currently offers around 100 ad-supported channels and a library of on-demand content, both of which can be viewed for free without a subscription.

For Viacom, the acquisition of Pluto TV is all about getting direct access to millions of consumers, many of whom will be younger than a typical pay-TV subscriber. As well as earning money from its existing back-catalogue through serving ads, Viacom is also hoping that Pluto TV will serve as a new way to promote and market its paid subscription products, which include Noggin and Comedy Central Now.

Pluto TV is currently available for free through apps on iOS and Android, on smart TV platforms from Samsung and Vizio, and also in VR with Oculus TV. Expect it to be available much more broadly after this acquisition, with Viacom teasing Spanish-language content in the near future. Let’s just hope it goes better than Viacom’s acquisition of AwesomenessTV, which saw almost 100 layoffs less than a month later.

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Shares of eBay surge as Elliott Management reveals $1.4 billion stake, recommends portfolio review – CNBC

Activist hedge fund Elliott Management announced a $1.4 billion stake in eBay in a letter to the e-commerce company’s board on Tuesday.

eBay surged 9.5 percent in trading from Friday’s close of $31 a share.

Elliott also said eBay should focus on “revitalizing Marketplace,” clean up “an inefficient organizational structure” and stabilize the company’s leadership, which “has suffered an alarming degree of turnover recently.”

The fund estimates that its “Enhancing eBay Plan” would nearly double eBay’s value to $55 a share by the end of next year, even without spinning off the StubHub and Classifieds businesses.

Elliot Management has about $34 billion in assets under management, according to the fund’s website.

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Stock Futures Drop; This Dow Jones Stock Gets Upgrade – Investor’s Business Daily

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Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, sees a ‘significant risk’ of a possible US recession in 2020 – CNBC

Ray Dalio, founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, warned on Tuesday of a “significant risk” of a U.S. recession in 2020.

“It’s going to be globally a slow up. It’s not just the United States; it’s Europe; and it’s China and Japan,” the billionaire investment titan said Tuesday in an interview on CNBC”s “Squawk Box.”

“Where we are in the later [economic] cycle and the inability of central banks to ease as much, that’s the cauldron that will define 2019 and 2020,” said Dalio, co-CIO and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates.

Bond yields are signaling the Federal Reserve should not increase interest rates anymore, Dalio said in the interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “If it rises faster than that, I think we’re going to have another problem.”

The Fed, after its fourth hike of 2018 in December, had signaled two more rate increases for 2019. However, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell earlier this month said central bankers will be “patient” given continued muted inflation.

The Federal Open Market Committee meets again next week. No move is expected from the current benchmark fed funds short-term rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent.

“I think there is the possibility that you extend the equilibrium in a certain way where you have an easier monetary policy … and you grow in a fairly slower way and that you don’t have a classic recession for a while,” Dalio said.

Dalio said earlier Tuesday during a Davos panel discussion that “the next downturn in the economy worries me the most.” He also said he’s concerned about “greater political and social antagonism” around the globe.

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Tesla reportedly reaches preliminary agreement with Gigafactory 3’s local battery supplier – Teslarati

The construction of Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 in China is moving in a rapid pace. Not long after the facility’s groundbreaking ceremony, the company’s 864,885-square meter plot of land in Shanghai’s Lingang Industrial Zone has become abuzz with activity. If recent reports are any indication, though, it appears that work is also underway to ensure that the company has all the partners it needs to produce batteries on the upcoming facility.

Citing individuals reportedly familiar with the proceedings, Reuters recently published a report suggesting that Tesla has reached a preliminary agreement with China-based battery provider Tianjin Lishen to supply batteries for Gigafactory 3. The publication’s sources have noted, though, that Tesla and Tianjin Lishen have reached no official, definitive deal as of date.

Among the details reportedly being worked out by Tesla and the battery supplier is the size of Tesla’s battery orders, as well as the specific size of the cells that would be produced in the Shanghai-based factory. Inasmuch as news of a possible battery supplier is compelling though, a Tesla spokesperson has denied that any official agreement between the electric car maker and the Chinese battery provider has been reached.

“Tesla previously received quotes from Lishen, but did not proceed further. We have not signed any agreement of any kind with them,” a Tesla spokesperson said.

Lishen, for its part, has noted that there is no agreement between itself and Tesla for Gigafactory 3’s batteries, at least for now.

The update suggested by Reuters’ sources point to Tesla tapping into the local Chinese market for a possible battery partner. So far, Tesla’s sole battery partner has been Panasonic, which has been producing the 18650 battery cells for the Model S and X in its Japan-based facilities, and the Model 3’s 2170 cells in Gigafactory 1 . Considering the size of the Chinese market, though, Panasonic’s resources would not be enough to meet the demand in the country. Elon Musk described this in a prior tweet.

While reports of Tesla’s preliminary agreement with Tianjin Lishen are undoubtedly interesting, some aspects of the information provided by Reuters’ sources were a tad bit strange. For one, Elon Musk has stated that the first vehicle set to be produced in Gigafactory 3 is the Model 3, an electric car powered by 2170 cells. Despite Gigafactory 3 only producing the affordable versions of the electric sedan, it doesn’t make much sense for Tianjin Lishen and Tesla to be still undecided about the types of battery cells that would be needed for the upcoming facility. 

If any, these recent reports of Tesla and it’s possible battery partner in China teases the accelerated pace of Gigafactory 3’s development and construction. The facility, after all, is currently following an incredibly ambitious timeline, with Tesla aiming to finish the initial construction of the factory by the end of summer. Tesla also aims to start producing the Model 3 before the end of 2019.

Perhaps the most notable factor in the construction of Gigafactory 3 though, is the apparent favor currently being extended to Tesla by the Chinese government. For one, Tesla was allowed to become the sole owner of Gigafactory 3 — a privilege not given to any other foreign carmaker operating in the country. Apart from this, Tesla was also granted low-interest loans from local Shanghai banks to fund part of the facility’s construction. China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co., Ltd, the company tasked with the facility’s buildout, is also a subsidiary of China Construction, a government-owned company. 

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