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Facebook Loses Top Executives, Including Chris Cox

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Two of Facebook’s top executives — one regarded as the company’s No. 3, and the other the head of its WhatsApp messaging service — are leaving after disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, over the social network’s future direction.

The differences stemmed from Mr. Zuckerberg’s asserting control over his company and its apps — Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — by rolling out a plan to integrate the services into a single privacy-focused platform, according to six people involved in the situation.

The change is a substantial shift for Facebook, which has traditionally encouraged people to publicly share posts, videos and photos. Executives at Facebook who had run the various services were concerned that knitting together the apps would take a toll on the popularity and growth of their individual products, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. And with Mr. Zuckerberg exerting more control, the executives were also fearful of losing autonomy and power, they said.

Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer and a member of Mr. Zuckerberg’s inner circle, is one of the two executives leaving. He alluded to the disagreements on Thursday in a public post about his departure. “As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction,” wrote Mr. Cox, 36. “This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”

The other executive who is exiting is Chris Daniels, 43, who runs WhatsApp. Neither one responded to requests for comment.
Facebook is undergoing a tricky transition as it tries to recover from two years of scandals over data privacy and disinformation. Those issues have buffeted the Silicon Valley giant, causing internal turmoil as its leaders have tried to find a way to adjust. Mr. Zuckerberg has made several attempts to rid Facebook of toxic content, false news and other problems, with limited success.

Now, Mr. Zuckerberg is barreling ahead with his shift to focus Facebook on private messaging and away from public broadcasting, even if it means shedding some of his top lieutenants.

Mr. Cox has worked with Mr. Zuckerberg for 13 years and joined Facebook as one of its first 15 software engineers. Mr. Cox also was instrumental in building the News Feed, the stream of posts that people see when they log into the service, and which more recently has been under scrutiny for being a hive of misinformation. Among some in Silicon Valley, he had been mentioned as a possible successor to Mr. Zuckerberg.

“Embarking on this new vision represents the start of a new chapter for us,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in a note to staff on Thursday. “While it is sad to lose such great people, this also creates opportunities for more great leaders who are energized about the path ahead to take on new and bigger roles.”

The departures add to the executive turnover at Facebook, which for years had been stable in its top ranks. Mr. Zuckerberg kept close many key executives, including his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, as well as Mr. Cox and others.

But that bench has undergone numerous changes more recently as Facebook has grappled with its lapses and tried to reorient itself. Last year, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, left the company after clashing with Mr. Zuckerberg over the future of the photo-sharing network. Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the co-founders of WhatsApp, also left after similar disagreements with Mr. Zuckerberg. Other executives, including Facebook’s head of communications and policy and its security chief, have also departed.

Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, said on Twitter that Mr. Zuckerberg’s new direction for Facebook was controversial because it was such a cultural departure for what had been an open and public social network. But he said Mr. Zuckerberg appeared committed to privacy by plowing ahead with the changes even “in the face of extremely strong dissent.”

“So much so, that he is willing to lose outstanding executives who disagree with this direction,” Mr. Horowitz said. (Mr. Horowitz is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz with Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist who sits on Facebook’s board.)

Inside Facebook, frustration over Mr. Zuckerberg’s planned changes have been mounting for months, said the people involved in the situation. Combining Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger will be a companywide effort that will take years of infrastructure work and deep changes to some of its products, they said.

Mr. Daniels, who previously ran Facebook’s business development team and had other roles, was appointed head of WhatsApp last May. He disagreed with some of the choices that were being made to connect the apps, said people familiar with his thinking. He was also concerned that Mr. Zuckerberg’s plan would harm the success of WhatsApp, which is particularly popular outside the United States.

Because of those changes, Mr. Daniels handed in his resignation months ago, said two of the people, though the decision did not become public until Thursday.

Mr. Cox has also been frustrated with Mr. Zuckerberg’s decisions in recent months, some of the people said. Less than a year ago, Mr. Cox shifted into one of the most powerful positions at Facebook as chief product officer, responsible for overseeing Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook itself.

Almost immediately, Mr. Cox ran into difficulties, the people said. Employees said he disagreed with some of Mr. Zuckerberg’s product ideas and changes, including the “unified messaging” project intended to connect the apps.

But Mr. Zuckerberg had already made his decision. Mr. Cox informed Facebook of his decision to leave on Monday, according to a company filing.

“For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: Social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral,” Mr. Cox said in his post. “As its builders we must endeavor to understand its impact — all the good, and all the bad — and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive, and towards the good.”

Mr. Zuckerberg has promoted others to take the place of those who have left. Adam Mosseri, a longtime Facebook employee, was promoted to head of Instagram last year. On Thursday, Mr. Zuckerberg said Will Cathcart, another Facebook employee, would run WhatsApp, and Fidji Simo would lead Facebook’s main app.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/technology/facebook-chris-cox.html

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Woodstock 2019: Lineup, tickets announced for 50th anniversary concert festival

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The lineup for Woodstock 50 is officially here.

Jay-Z, The Killers, Chance the Rapper, The Black Keys, Halsey, Robert Plant, Miley Cyrus, Common, Janelle Monae, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile, and Jack White’s The Raconteurs are among the big-name artists scheduled to perform at the official 50th anniversary concert festival on Aug. 16-18, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

According to Rolling Stone, original Woodstock performers Santana, John Fogerty (of Creedence Clearwater Revival), Dead and Company (featuring John Mayer and The Grateful Dead members), John Sebastian, Country Joe McDonald, Canned Heat and Hot Tuna will also be on hand to celebrate the 1969 festival.

Tickets go on sale April 22, according to woodstock.com. Prices have not been announced. Camping packages are expected to be offered.

Watkins Glen is located in the Finger Lakes, about 80 miles southwest of Syracuse and 150 miles northwest of the original Woodstock site in Bethel, N.Y.

Woodstock organizer Michael Lang previously said the festival will be centered around The Glen racetrack with three main stages on the 1,000-acre lot. The site was previously used for Summer Jam in 1973, drawing 600,000 but Lang said the 2019 Woodstock concert will have about 100,000 tickets to prevent traffic and other issues.

According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, Lang — who organized the original Woodstock concert — announced the golden anniversary lineup Tuesday night in a secret session with Fogerty and Common.

Woodstock 50 Lineup

Day 1 (Friday, Aug. 16):

The Killers, Miley Cyrus, Santana, The Lumineers, The Raconteurs, Robert Plant, John Fogerty, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Run the Jewels, The Head and the Heart, Maggie Rogers, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Anderson East, Princess Nokia, John Sebastian

Day 2 (Saturday, Aug. 17):

Dead and Company, Chance the Rapper, Black Keys, Sturgill Simpson, Greta Van Fleet, Portugal. The Man, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Dawes, Margo Price, Country Joe and the Fish, Rival Sons, Emily King, Soccer Mommy, Taylor Bennett

Day 3 (Sunday, Aug. 18):

Jay-Z, Imagine Dragons, Halsey, Cage The Elephant, Brandi Carlile, Janelle Monae, Young The Giant, Courtney Barnett, Common, Vince Staples, Judah and the Lion, Earl Sweatshirt, Boygenius, the Zombies, Canned Heat, Hot Tuna, Pussy Riot, Cherry Glazerr

A competing event at the original Woodstock site on the same weekend, dubbed the “Bethel Woods Music and Culture Festival,” was scrapped last month and replaced with three smaller concerts at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Performers include Ringo Starr and Santana.

An estimated 400,000 people attended the first Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, held Aug. 15-18, 1969, at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm near White Lake in the Catskill Mountains. Performers included Richie Havens, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Arlo Guthrie, Santana, Joe Cocker, the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The iconic concert was revisited in 1994 with a modern lineup of artists like Nine Inch Nails, Sheryl Crow, Metallica, Cypress Hill and Red Hot Chili Peppers in Saugerties, but Woodstock ’99 — held at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y. — ended the fun with riots, fires and allegations of sexual assault.

Source: https://www.syracuse.com/entertainment/2019/03/woodstock-2019-lineup-tickets-announced-for-50th-anniversary-concert-festival.html

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4 ‘Toy Story’ Tropes That I Hope ‘Toy Story 4’ Avoids

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Toy Story 3 was an ideal end to a perfect trilogy, a rare beast among massive movie franchises with obscenely large marketing potential.

But the trailer for Toy Story 4 feels alarmingly underwhelming; overly familiar, full of ideas that were previously explored in the franchise, some very thoroughly indeed. For example …
A false paradise

The previous three films saw Buzz seduced by fictional space adventures, Woody by the allure of celebrity, and the entire gang by the promise of a relaxing life at daycare. These all turned out to be unobtainable fantasies, with the real paradise dwelling in the imagination of a child.

Are we going through the motions with the carnival we see in the trailer? It’s a traveling playground, after all, a potentially perfect place for a toy to retire. If there’s some crazy dark secret hiding under the surface, it’s going to ring a little hollow.
Which brings me to ….

A secret villain

Disney movies have recently adopted an increasingly predictable twist, in which a nice person offering an opportunity reveals themselves to be a villain in the final act. This is fine, but it’s getting to be somewhat overused; I’m starting to miss openly evil villains, one-dimensional as they may be.

There is no antagonist to be seen in the trailer (other than the creepy doll and her gang of ventriloquist dummies, who look to be a secondary threat). If Bo Peep turns out to be secretly unhinged due to her abandonment issues or whatever, it’s going to be pretty disappointing.

We’ve already been there with both Stinky Pete and Lotso, and Lotso was really pushing it.

A toy’s purpose

Woody’s having another “mid-life crisis?” Really? He already had one when Andy ripped his arm, forcing him to acknowledge his age and making the idea of immortality behind a glass case seem very attractive, until Buzz reminded him that toys only exist to make children happy.

And again in Toy Story 3, when Andy went to college and Woody had trouble letting go, even wanting to follow his former playmate. Presumably, he’d be gathering dust on a dorm room shelf, helplessly watching as Andy masturbates and experiments with drugs.

And Toy Story 4 looks to be recycling this concept, with Woody seemingly thinking about adopting Bo Peep’s care-free, independent lifestyle. Like parents that are done raising their kids, and spend the rest of their days getting drunk on cruise ships, Woody might be done with children for good. Or is he?

Probably not.

Separating Buzz and Woody

It’s a bit disappointing that we’ve never seen Buzz and Woody spend much time together since the first film. Since they dealt with their massive conflict, the two are almost always separated by convenient plot devices, with one invariably going on a rescue mission to fetch the other. Again, this looks to be the case with Toy Story 4.

It might just be that the dynamic between the two toys isn’t interesting anymore, now that they’ve worked out their drama. Perhaps a bit of ideological conflict will allow the two to share more than a couple of scenes in this film.

Regardless of how tepid and cliché-ridden this trailer looks, I do have faith that the creative team at Pixar will deliver another animated masterpiece. The studio has been a little shaky recently, but hopefully Toy Story 4 will be closer to Coco than The Good Dinosaur.

I’m going to cry during the credits, regardless.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danidiplacido/2019/03/19/4-toy-story-tropes-that-i-hope-toy-story-4-avoids/#59ec82057eab

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Times Square is about to get a new 46-story tower that is basically a giant LED billboard on one side

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Contractors have started work on a project that will light up New York’s Times Square even more.

TSX Broadway, as it is known, will be a “branded beacon,” 46 floors of retail, entertainment and accommodation. The building, on the corner of 47th Street at Broadway and Seventh Avenue, currently houses a DoubleTree Hilton hotel and the landmark Palace Theatre, which will be restored and lifted 30 feet to accommodate an experiential retail outlet.

Upper floors will have a performance stage over Times Square, a restaurant with large terrace and a hotel with more than 600 rooms.

According to David Orowitz, a senior vice-president at developer L&L Holding Company, the entire building will be like a giant advertisement for one of the most-visited places in the world, with around 380,000 pedestrians walking through it each day.

“The whole building is essentially (an advertising) sign, and the side that is facing Times Square is a single sign comprised of LEDs into the building itself that runs up the entire 46-story building,” he said in an email to CNBC.

Now that preparation for the demolition of the hotel is under way, executives are at work finding an advertiser that will help it recoup some of the $2.5 billion it has raised for the new building, set to open in early 2022. And it has hired Andrew Essex, a former ad exec and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival, to negotiate a deal with a single customer to advertise on the behemoth, including the naming rights to the building, the retail and entertainment spaces and the billboards.

“It’s part Super Bowl, part experiential mega arena, part center of commerce, part social network,” Essex told CNBC by phone, adding that he expects to have a deal signed this year.

It would have to be a brand that has the right entertainment value, Essex added. “Events must become more eventful, otherwise people stay home and watch Netflix, ” he said. “So what does it take to get people out of the house today?”

Project mock-ups show a retail space with multiple floors, one of which shows an Apple-like store, though Essex would not comment on discussions.

The company isn’t disclosing the value of any deal, but naming rights alone tend to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. The rights to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and host of this year’s Super Bowl, are reported to have cost the auto maker $324 million over 28 years, for example.

Naming rights
Naming rights for venues are nothing new, but this deal is different because it likely includes retail and performance spaces, Essex said. “The entire superstructure, the retail space is fungible. So could one have an esports arena? Can the stage be indoor (and) outdoor? Can you broadcast or stream directly? There’s quite literally no limit to what’s possible, because nothing is already purpose-built,” he said.

Marketing veteran and CNBC contributor Mike Jackson said his approach would be to look for several partners. “I could see them trying to get partners like Apple or Amazon or one of the telecoms to really maintain a huge presence … as things like 5G (high-speed mobile communications) come on board to deliver that integration of the retail space with the advertising platform, as well as the ability to use that broadcast venue in the theater, ” he told CNBC by phone.

“If I’m … Apple, I don’t want to just buy signage or sponsorship. I literally have to think long term, because I’ve got to believe that that building is going to have a huge innovative presence for the next 20 to 25 years,” said Jackson, principal of consulting firm 2050 Marketing and CEO of vehicle services company Motus One.

Data and 5G
Data will be an important part of the tower, and with 5G integration, more complex ways of advertising become possible. Location-tracking technology that serves ads to people after they’ve left a store is already used by retailers.

For Dave Etherington, chief commercial officer at Place Exchange, a programmatic exchange that automates the buying and selling of digital outdoor media, it’s a move forward for hitting people with advertising when they’re outside their homes.

“Traditional out-of-home media companies (are) now playing a much more … active role in thinking about physical spaces in the way that they work with venues and cities (and) in the way that brands can help fund experiences,” he told CNBC by phone. “It’s not unusual to see the Facebooks, the Googles, the Spotifys using out-of-home as the main channel for their branding.”

Retail experience
Retailers want to entice them to shop in the brick-and-mortar world. Makeup brand Cover Girl, for instance, opened a flagship Times Square store on Black Friday 2018, with the goal of creating “the ultimate shared beauty experience,” according to an online release.

But with many people abandoning malls to shop online, Jackson is concerned about whether TSX will be able to attract a high-end retailer. “The thing that scratches my head is … obviously the foundation of that is going to be to fill the retail space with the high-quality brands that would also have the wherewithal, both from a financial standpoint as well as from a creative standpoint, to do something innovative in retail.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/18/times-square-is-about-to-get-a-giant-new-billboard-called-tsx-broadway.html

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