Earlier this week at Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, I was accosted by Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, who lectured me on why Fortune needed to pay more attention to the gaming industry. This morning, I’m happy to oblige: Jonathan Vanian’s deeply-reported piece on the coming battle over cloud-based gaming, featured in the August edition of the magazine, is available online this morning.
Here’s the money line, which justifies Pincus’ case: “Today’s video game industry is a behemoth expected to generate $152 billion worldwide this year, according to market researcher Newzoo. That’s 57% more than the $97 billion generated by the global theatrical and home-movie market last year, and eight times the $19.1 billion generated by the global recorded music market.” We are not just talking games here.
Like the movie, TV and music industries, the gaming industry is now wrestling with the reality that consumers want great entertainment experiences on their smartphones. And with 5G streaming around the corner, the race is on to see who gets this piece right. Microsoft, Google and Amazon—the cloud giants—are all heavyweights in the fight, but a host of others will be battling as well: Activision, Apple, EA, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft.
You can read the story here. News below.
Tensions Rise in the Strait of Hormuz—Again
The U.S. military downed an Iranian drone in the Strait—the world’s most important oil chokepoint—yesterday, after officials said it came within 1,000 yards of a U.S. amphibious assault ship. That came just hours after Iran’s foreign minister had said at the UN that he was willing to talk about ways to deflate the tension mounting between the two countries. New York Times
Boeing faced a nearly $5 billion bill in the second quarter as the fall-out from the groundings of the 737 Max continues, the company said. Boeing said the after-tax charge was related to “potential concessions and other considerations” from the groundings, which followed two separate fatal accidents. The cost estimate did not include any potential litigation. CNN
To Cut or Not to Cut?
Stocks were rising Friday morning in Europe on cues that the Federal Reserve would cut rates at its next policy meeting, following comments from New York Fed president John Williams on Thursday, where he compared monetary easing to giving children a shot—better to do it early. That was despite the Federal Reserve Bank of New York taking steps to clarify the speech, with a spokeswoman cautioning that the speech was “academic” and not about potential policy actions at the next meeting. Reuters / FT
AB InBev Sells Foster’s
Fresh from a failed attempt to launch an IPO of its Asia unit, Anheuser-Busch InBev sold Australian beer assets—including Foster’s—for $11.3 billion. The brands were sold to Asahi Group Holdings less than a week after the IPO was suddenly pulled, but the sales also mean a fresh IPO is now more likely, as the company sheds a slow-growing part of its Asia-Pacific empire. Bloomberg
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
WeWork Founder Cashes Out Before IPO
Ahead of its IPO, WeWork founder Adam Neumann cashed out more than $700 million, selling out some of his stake in the company and borrowing against its assets—an unusual move for a founder, who usually at least wait until after the IPO. Neumann remains the largest shareholder, although it’s not clear how much of WeWork he actually owns. He has reportedly spent more than $80 million on homes, and has also invested in commercial real estate, stakes in startups, and given money away. WSJ
The Business of the Moon
Ahead of this weekend’s 50th anniversary of the first human Moon landing, the Financial Times has this run-down of the companies now vying for a spot in space: from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and others—like Astrobotic, which won a $79.5 million contract from Nasa in May. FT
The Quizmaster Battles
A showdown is occurring in pubs across England, as the one-man-band “quizmaster”, who brings arcane knowledge and reference books to the professional job of running trivia nights, faces competition from a new breed of companies who supply mass quizzes and aim to roll them out to pubs across the country. Businessweek
Can Uber Replace Public Transit?
A town in Ontario, Canada handed responsibility for its public transit system over to Uber, looking to avoid the cost of a bus system. The town set up a system where residents can book low-cost rides between “hubs”—libraries and recreation centers, for example—and it says the program has been a massive success. But the more popular the program has become, the more the town has paid, and the cost now exceeds what creating a bus program would have cost in the first place. Guardian