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The next big thing: Why NY investors are pouring money into e-sports

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gino gigante

Gino Gigante’s father, Louis, was a community organizer who built a lot of affordable housing in the Bronx. His uncle Vincent, better known as Vinny the Chin, was one of the nation’s most powerful—and dangerous—Mafia bosses.

Gino has pulled off the delicate feat of pursuing a career that would make both men proud.

His father approves because about two years ago Gino opened the Lower East Side’s Waypoint Café, which has become the hub of New York’s community of video-gamers. His uncle would recognize the café’s murder and mayhem, although it happens only on computers rented by customers for $5 per hour. Indeed, parents leave their kids to play Fortnite while they run errands, trusting Gigante to keep an eye on them.

“I won’t let anyone buy a Red Bull here until they’re 16,” said the 28-year-old Gigante, who majored in digital anthropology at the City University of New York and comes to work dressed in a black baseball cap and a PlayStation T-shirt.

His café pulls in about $50,000 in monthly revenue, and he plans to open a second one in upstate Troy, a hot spot for gaming studios such as EA and Warner Brothers. But the Waypoint is more than a spot for people to play video games. It is the city’s prime gathering place for people to watch other people play video games professionally: e-sports.

Almost every week, a group calling itself the 5 Deadly Venoms comes to see the New York Excelsior play Overwatch, a six-on-six-player game filled with blasts and booms that also features “supporters,” who defend teammates from enemy fire, and “healers,” who help them recover from injuries. It might look like chaos to the untrained eye, but there is strategy, and dramatic comebacks are possible—which makes Overwatch one of the most popular games. About 40 million people play it worldwide.

The Excelsior, or NYXL, are part of a league launched last year by Overwatch publisher Activision Blizzard. The team is owned by the Sterling.VC venture-capital fund, run by the family that owns the Mets. The idea is to transform e-sports from a traveling circus that occasionally comes to town into something resembling a major sport, with leagues and teams that have regular home games, road trips, season-ticket holders, corporate sponsors and lucrative media rights.

For now, the nine-player Excelsior squad is New York in name only. It actually plays in a Burbank, Calif., studio. But next year the plan is to play in the city, perhaps at Hammerstein Ballroom, Terminal 5 or the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m confident we’ll land at one of those,” said Ben Nichol, NYXL’s head of events and business development, who lives in an apartment above the Waypoint.

E-sports arose about a decade ago, when a promoter in Korea began offering top StarCraft players contracts and coaching. Since then the movement has been on a relentless crusade of global conquest. The Overwatch League has 20 teams spanning from Chengou, China, to London to Los Angeles. Top players earn millions of dollars. The biggest e-sports star, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, has 18 million followers on Instagram and Twitter. That is three times more than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has.

Pro gaming is a small part of the video-game business, on which U.S. consumers spent $43 billion last year, four times more than on movies. Still, the fledgling world of e-sports is expected to generate $1.1 billion in revenue this year, according to research firm Newzoo, a 27% increase over 2018. Goldman Sachs predicts revenue will nearly triple by 2022 as viewership approaches 300 million—on par with the NFL.

That has caught the attention of the owners of the Mets, the Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, who have invested a reported $20 million each in Overwatch franchises.

“We see e-sports as a huge opportunity,” said Sterling.VC co-founder Scott Wilpon, a cousin of the Mets’ chief operating officer, Jeff Wilpon. “It’s by far the fastest- growing space in sports, and it’s on a global scale.”

Sterling.VC doubled down last month, paying an undisclosed sum to acquire a team in a newly created Call of Duty league.

For the Wilpons, e-sports represent an opportunity to win the hearts, minds and wallets of young people who are not the least bit interested in the Mets.

“I don’t like watching sports at all,” said Tiffany Chang, a foreign- currency analyst who heads the 5 Deadly Venoms and in addition to Overwatch likes playing StarCraft II, Cadence of Hyrule, Super Mario Odyssey and Smash Ultimate. “I game in a wide range.”

One recent evening in Midtown, the Paley Center for Media was transformed into an arcade for the Overwatch League all-stars viewing party. Many of the 200 20-somethings who paid $15 to attend got into the mood by doing the e-sports version of tailgating: playing video games on the first floor. Downstairs in the auditorium, fans who’d dressed as their favorite game heroes trickled in to watch the undercard, a couple of guys playing Super Smash Bros. The loser, a fellow named Gabe, had his beard shaved onstage while his mother waved from the audience. “There she is!” announced Nichol, the master of ceremonies, channeling the spirit of wrestling impresario Vince McMahon.

Then it was time for a little trash-talking from the Overwatch all-stars, most of whom are Korean teenagers.

“I truly believe the Pacific team is far better than the Atlantic team,” one player was translated as saying, “so I didn’t prep anything.”

“You shut your mouth!” someone in the crowd shouted.

Next came the main event, on the big screen. Most sports have broadcasters describing the play-by-play; e-sports has “shoutcasters,” whose job is to call the action and rev up the crowd, which hooted and hollered with great brio.

“It was a good small event,” said Nichol, who is putting on watch parties and other events several times a month to help build a fan base for NYXL.

Many others are chasing the same audience. They include Microsoft, which promotes its Xbox game console and software by regularly holding e-sports events at its retail outlet on Fifth Avenue, where four of the seven floors are devoted to gaming. On Tuesday nights players of fight-themed games are invited. There are also Fortnite Fridays. Saturdays are for another blockbuster game: League of Legends. Lucky players and fans get access to a state-of-the-art studio filled with computers, consoles, cameras, teleprompters and even a green room.

Andres Cardona, a Microsoft gaming-community development specialist, said most top gamers play professionally for about six years before their fingers lose the requisite twitchiness. He estimated it takes 1,000 hours to get proficient at a game, though most gamers practice several times as much.

“Some games are so intense,” Cardona said, “that you play another game afterward to ease your mind.”

There’s no doubt that the audience for e-sports is big. The question is How much money can be made, given that many of its fans have little disposable income?

“The truth is, most are poor college students,” said Gigante, who likens the industry to a rubber band stretched thin by investors pouring in so much money.

Some owners reportedly have paid upward of $30 million for their e-sports franchise—in the same ballpark as the price of a top minor- league baseball team. But like the music industry, video games are a hit-driven business where popular titles disappear quickly. Nearly three years after its release, there are signs that interest in Overwatch is dimming. Last month Activision reported a drop in the game’s monthly average users due to “increased choice in the team-based category,” although officials insist the league is thriving.

“If you look at the top five e-sports now, will it be the same in five years? It’s fairly obvious it won’t be,” said Brandon Ross, a media analyst at brokerage firm BTIG. “A couple of years ago, the big thing was PUBG, then it was Fortnite, and this year it’s Apex Legends. There are no signs of real stability yet.”

Nor does the arrival of e-sports teams with deep-pocketed owners, plus sponsors such as Intel and Coca-Cola, sit well with some gaming fans.

“My fear is the community will go to the parties the e-sports teams are putting on, but they’ll find it too corporate, too paid off, and we’ll lose the grass roots,” Gigante said.

Richard Ng, who founded the 5 Deadly Venoms early last year, agrees that rooting for an e-sports team controlled by a big software company can be a challenge.

“The sport isn’t public domain—which means you have to buy it and consume it and love it in only the way the company says you can,” Ng said. “That is antithetical to human behavior.”

Still, he said, the arrival of organized e-sports brings undeniable benefits. It offers gamers a chance to rise from their lair, put on some clothes and hang out.

“Technology promises connection but makes us live separately,” he said. “I believe one of the challenges facing young people is they’re disconnected from peers and from one’s self.”

This past weekend some 5 Deadly Venoms members met in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to catch some sun. They also have gotten together at the movies, attended conventions and held potluck dinners.

“My friend brought 30 items from Taco Bell,” Chang said.

Last year the group found a photographer who took head shots of gamers for a $10 donation. The proceeds went to University Settlement, a nonprofit. That has Gigante thinking about how he might entice other groups to the Waypoint Café.

“Last year we focused the fundraiser on the e-sports community,” he said. “This year we might target the nerd community.”

Source: https://www.crainsnewyork.com/features/next-big-thing-why-ny-investors-are-pouring-money-e-sports

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Worldwide Car Rental Market Size & Share Estimated to Reach USD 124.56 Billion by 2022

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Zion Market Research has published a new report titled “Car Rental Market by Car Type (Luxury Cars, Executive Cars, Economy Cars, SUV Cars and MUV Cars) for Local Usage, Airport Transport, Outstation, and Others: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, and Forecast, 2016–2022”.

According to the report, the global car rental market was valued at approximately USD 58.26 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 124.56 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 13.55% between 2017 and 2022.

Car rental is a service which provides car and automobiles on rent for short periods of time. This time period generally ranges from few hours to weeks. Car rental service is primarily located near airports, tourist places or city etc. There are many conditions on car rental service which may vary by specific country. The majority of car rental companies use a credit card to take additional fees or deposit amount before giving car on rent. Some companies request to carry identity documents while hiring car on rent.

The car rental market is primarily driven by rising tourism industry. Healthy economic growth and rising disposable income in developing countries are expected to propel the market growth during the year to come. Furthermore, high demand of the internet and smart technology helps to drive this market at the fast pace. However, some restraints like the rise in crude oil prices and lack of proper marketing may hinder the growth of the market. Moreover, use of the green vehicle is the most cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions is likely to open up new opportunities in evolving consumer preference.

In terms of car type, global car rental market is segmented intoMUV cars, SUV cars, economy cars, executive cars, luxury cars. Economy cars dominated the car rental market and accounted for significant share of the market. Economy cars are expected have a faster growth in the future due to the emergence of new companies in the market.

Based on end-users, the car rental market has been segmented into local usage, airport transport, outstation and others. Car rental for airport transport was leading end-user segment in car rental market and accounted for the largest market share in 2016. Growing demand for car rental due to green initiatives was taken by Government and increasing awareness about pollution is expected to drive the car rental market over the forecast period. One of the leading vendors in car rental market i.e. ‘Hertz’ New Zealand offers its customers a carbon calculator to allow potential renters to determine their carbon footprint for various car models.

North America was followed by Europe and Asia Pacific in 2016. North America and Europe together recognized over 47.80% market share in 2016. The affordability of car hiring or car on rent and its awareness among users is expected to drive this regional car rental industry in the coming years. Car rental market in Europe is expected to have significant growth during the years to come owing to the presence of well-known car service providers like Sixt Rent-A-Car, Europcar in region.

Asia Pacific is one of the fastest growing regional markets for car rental within the forecast period due to the increasing population coupled with transportation issues in the region. Car rental service is very useful in Asian countries like India, Australia, Cambodia, Japan, China etc. There are many islands in Indonesia region which are the most attractive tourist destination. This helps to grow the car rental market in Asia Pacific. Eco Rent A Car, Carzonrent , Al-Futtaim Group are some leading car rental service providers in Asia Pacific.

Source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/worldwide-car-rental-market-size-114337505.html

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Carnage At Deutsche Bank

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Deutsche Bank didn’t waste any time getting to work with the hatchet. On Sunday, July 7, it announced 18,000 job losses worldwide, the complete closure of its equities trading division and significant cuts to fixed income and rates businesses. On Monday, July 8, the cuts began. As London and New York slept, blissfully unaware of what was to come, the bank was already sacking entire teams in Sydney and Hong Kong.

The carnage continued throughout the day. In London, people arrived at work only to be handed documents formally notifying them that they are “at risk” of redundancy and sent home. A stream of workers left Deutsche Bank’s London office carrying bags and boxes containing personal effects from their desks. Others headed for the pub to drown their sorrows. Some were tearful, others shocked and confused. Some workers didn’t bother to turn up for work at all, correctly concluding that there was little point after hearing the announcement the previous day.

In New York, staff were summoned to meetings in which they were dismissed en masse. By mid-morning, according to Business Insider, there was a constant stream of people leaving the office.
The outlook for many of the terminated staff is grim, particularly in the U.K. where Brexit uncertainty is casting a considerable shadow. Not that anyone outside the finance industry cares, much. The British haven’t forgotten the financial crisis of 2008. The business that Deutsche Bank is closing down is bigger than Nissan’s automobile manufacturing plant in Sunderland, the uncertain future of which has hit headlines and led to questions in the U.K. Parliament. But no-one is going to lose any sleep over unemployed investment bankers – even if there are more of them than there are workers at the Sunderland plant. The silence from British politicians about the prospect of up to 8,000 British workers losing their jobs is deafening.

But the woes of terminated staff don’t concern Deutsche Bank’s Chief Executive, Christian Sewing. He has a bank to rescue, and investors to placate. His letter to staff had a distinctly ruthless tone:

I am very much aware that in rebuilding our bank, we are making deep cuts. I personally greatly regret the impact this will have on some of you. In the long-term interests of our bank, however, we have no choice other than to approach this transformation decisively.

“I weep for you, I really do…” while dishing out the redundancy notices. Sewing has all the personnel skills of a crocodile.

Just how little concern Sewing has for the feelings of the staff he is letting go became apparent at 9.30 am London time. While hundreds of staff in the London office were being sacked, executive management held a conference call – from the London office. During that call, the Chief Executive, Christian Sewing, announced that the bank still plans to maintain a large presence in London. In fact it is intending to move into shiny new offices on Moorgate. It is not hard to imagine how the sacked staff felt about this. It amounted to rubbing their noses in it.

Despite their scale and suddenness, today’s sackings should not have caught anyone by surprise. There was a clear signal at the AGM that large-scale job cuts were on their way, including compulsory redundancies. Any decent HR professional will tell you that doing these up front is by far the best way. People who suspect that they are on the list for redundancy but haven’t yet been told don’t do productive work. They look for jobs. This might keep redundancy costs down, but it is extremely bad for morale and you might end up losing staff you wanted to keep. Better to wield the ax early so people know where they stand.

That said, the restructuring announced on Sunday is far more radical than most people anticipated. Few expected Deutsche Bank to exit completely from equities trading and sales, and the internal “bad bank” will be quite a bit bigger than expected, at €74bn ($83.15bn) of risk weighted assets. There was also an unexpected, and welcome, announcement of €13bn ($14.61bn) investment in IT systems and digital technology, though it is as yet unclear where this money will come from, if shareholders are not to be tapped for any more capital.

There has also been a significant organisational shakeup, in which three executive board members have lost their jobs, along with a sizable number of more junior managers. Garth Ritchie, head of the investment bank, resigned last week, clearing the way for radical restructuring of the investment bank including closure of his own personal baby, the equities trading division. Frank Strauss, head of the retail bank, was a surprise departure: a PostBank veteran, he apparently left because he disagreed with the integration strategy for Postbank and Deutsche Bank’s retail division. And Sylvie Matherat, Chief Regulatory Officer, took the fall for Deutsche Bank’s many lawsuits, fines, censures and regulatory investigations. This might seem a trifle unfair, since Matherat had been trying to clean the place up; but taking the blame for other people’s failures is an occupational hazard for regulatory officers.

Most importantly, for the first time in a decade, the bank now has a clear strategy. A new Corporate division will be at the heart of the reformed institution. Deutsche Bank is to become primarily a corporate bank serving German and European businesses from small to large: what remains of the investment bank will be refocused on serving the needs of corporations. Deutsche Bank has finally admitted that its dream of competing successfully against the American investment banking giants is shattered beyond repair. Global universal banking is for the birds.

Initially, investors responded positively to the news of a significantly more brutal round of field surgery than any previous CEO had attempted. The share price rose in early trading.

But as the sun rose in New York, the penny dropped. Sewing’s comment that the bank will need less capital in future has nothing to do with the unwinding of its expensive legacy assets, and everything to do with its smaller, poorer outlook. The share price tanked, closing down over 5%, as investors realized that a Europe-focused corporate bank is unlikely to give them the returns they had hoped for. Even the 8% ROTE target announced on Sunday suddenly looks a stretch. Two more years of losses, and a suspended dividend – for what?

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2019/07/08/carnage-at-deutsche-bank/#249928e37c60

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Linking Chinese B2B companies with new global customer bases

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With an increasing number of Chinese enterprises and startups seeking to go global and get closer to new customer bases, LinkedIn, the California-based online social network for professionals, plans to partner with more local firms in the business-to-business or B2B space.

LinkedIn will help its Chinese partners find new customers for their products and services via digital networking technologies.

LinkedIn will provide market content and business solutions to help domestic companies transform from original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, into independent brand owners or popular sellers.

Vianne Cai, general manager of marketing solutions at LinkedIn China, said that for long Chinese companies in traditional sectors like manufacturing, energy, infrastructure and services sought to build global sales networks. Now, they are joined in this pursuit by new-age businesses in sectors like high-tech, education, and digital economy. All of them are eyeing the world, especially economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.

As the digital economy has significantly improved businesses across industries, Chinese companies are considering multiple options to brighten their brand image and increase their visibility.

No longer are they content with just inserting advertisements on the giant video screens at the Times Square in New York City, or participating in large-scale exhibitions. They are looking at more and unconventional solutions, she said.

“Chinese B2B companies today care more about their reputation and sustainable connection with partners and consumers in overseas markets. They are keen to transform their products into brands,” said Cai, adding digital marketing methods are key to restoring their earning ability in a smart way.

So, LinkedIn published a China B2B Brand Globalization White Paper in Shanghai on June 21 to urge more domestic companies to adopt digital technologies to accurately reach their overseas clients. Use of the digital medium will also help Chinese players in understanding foreign market environment and tackle challenges like insufficient brand-building ability and inadequate localization strategies, the white paper said.

The study collected opinions from 2,646 corporate decision-makers from 18 markets now active in the B2B business. It found that Southeast Asia is the first choice for many Chinese companies to expand their businesses, because they share similar culture, and the region’s consumer group has a large number of overseas Chinese and younger generation, promising fast GDP growth.

Even though it found that up to 81 percent of overseas business executives were interested in cooperating with Chinese companies thanks to the country’s industrial upgrade, about 40 percent of them chose to purchase Chinese products and only 5 percent of them said they will continue to buy the goods supplied by Chinese companies. They attributed this to lack of trust and brand loyalty in Made in China products.

“Therefore, brand-building is critical for Chinese B2B companies in the process of going global,” said Zhou Xiaodan, head of marketing in the marketing solutions department at LinkedIn China. “Combining traditional methods and digital means can help them to build their brands while taking into account business. It is a two-way solution.”

China’s B2B enterprises have the advantage of high efficiency, having completed the upstream and downstream chains. They have the right product strategy too, she said.

However, Zhou said there are some gaps between them and B2B companies in Europe and the United States. Companies in developed markets are proficient at conducting brand promotion campaigns, creative packaging, high-end product design.

“We are now seeing that many Chinese companies have become fast learners in these fields and begun to deploy more resources to offset their previous weakness,” she said.

Attracted by China’s favorable business policies and new growth momentum generated by the Belt and Road Initiative and e-commerce boom, LinkedIn will deploy more resources and add engineers to support their B2B clients’ need to put their revenue growth on a firmer footing in overseas markets.

Supported by over 14,000 employees, LinkedIn had 630 million registered members in over 200 countries and regions by the end of the first quarter of this year.

“Digitalization is changing commerce in a number of ways. We are seeing some businesses disappear or evolve over time, but at the same time the creation of new brands and types of operational modes are eliminating some traditional roles,” said Sun Fuquan, a researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development.

“For example, if you look at the manufacturing sector today and compare it with the roles five years or a decade ago, they are fairly different. Chinese companies should continue to adapt this trend and embrace some new technologies to enrich their operations at both home and overseas,” he said.

Source: http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201907/01/WS5d196883a3103dbf1432b280.html

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