Facebook Acquires VR Game Studio, Germany’s Ecommerce Estimated to Hit Euro 68 Billion, Viacom Launches Branded Ecommerce Sites and more
Facebook Acquires VR Game Developer Studio; App-Based Bus Aggregator Shuttl Raises USD 36 Million; Germany’s Ecommerce Estimated to Hit Euro 68 Billion by 2019; Pinterest Launches Online Shopping Feature for Small Businesses; Musician Gene Simmons and IMG Ink Licensing Deal; Viacom Launches SpongeBob and MTV Branded Ecommerce Sites and more.
Facebook Acquires VR Game Developer Studio
Video game developer Beat Games, known for its popular virtual reality game Beat Saber, is being acquired by social media giant Facebook. Beat Games will now become part of Oculus Studios, Facebook’s virtual reality gaming group. According to Oculus, this move is to offer more development resources to Beat Games. Mike Verdu, the content director at Oculus, said that Beat Saber will continue to be released across all platforms and Facebook’s own Oculus headsets will not be prioritised in connection with the game. The game has received positive reviews and has benefitted from a thriving mod scene, where other gamers and developers can modify certain specific bits of the game which, however, primarily revolves around pirated music, something the developers, and now, Oculus, have tried to discourage without actually supressing the community.
App-Based Bus Aggregator Shuttl Raises USD 36 Million
Indian app-based bus aggregator service Shuttl announced that it has raised USD 36 million in its ongoing Series C financing round. Toyota Tsusho Corporate, SPARX Group, and some unnamed investors have joined Amazon among other investors in Shuttl, which has raised about USD 70 million to date. Shuttl manages around 2,000 buses that run over 100,000 rides every day across the six cities where the company currently operates. The new round of financing is meant for Shuttl to expand its operations in other cities. Passengers book their rides via an app and board the bus at designated bus stations.
Though its expansion has been slow, compared to other ride aggregators like Ola and Uber, cofounder and chief executive Amit Singh remains positive that Shuttl is inching towards reaching “escape velocity”, after which, it would be able to scale more rapidly. Shuttl has been experimenting with a host of features including emergency buttons that would stop the bus at the nearest bus station, live feeds passengers can transmit to family or friends, authentication and alcohol tests for drivers, and providing meals onboard. Shuttl’s safety features have made it popular among women, who make up 40% of its passengers, who use the service primarily to get to work. This is a promising figure because women only make up about 20% of India’s workforce.
Germany’s Ecommerce Estimated to Hit Euro 68 Billion by 2019
German market researcher IFH Köln estimates growth of almost 9 per cent for ecommerce in Germany in 2019. Though this would indicate a small drop from the 9.1 per cent growth last year, it would mean ecommerce in Germany grows from Euro 63 billion to Euro 68 billion at the end of 2019. These predictions are more optimistic than those from trade association Handelsverband Deutschland, which estimated the German online retail industry to end 2019 at around Euro 58.8 billion. IFH Köln, however, does say that while absolute growth remains relatively stable, online growth rates are declining. Growth drivers online are primarily fast-moving consumer goods, the DIY & garden sector, and the home & furniture goods, paired with growth weakness of the fashion and consumer electronics markets in the retail sector.
Pinterest Launches Online Shopping Feature for Small Businesses
American social media website Pinterest has launched a new section on its site called Pinterest Shop, where the profiles and products of small businesses are showcased. Currently consisting of 17 small businesses that make and sell unique goods, Shop is a natural extension of Pinterest’s native visual platform which acts as a discovery engine for users to generate ideas, and users can now view a pinned item and decide to make a purchase.
Social media platforms are increasingly looking into facilitating a shopping experience on their sites, banking on the interests of their users pertaining to unique products and curated collections. Instagram, for instance, showcased a curated collection of products, based on the top trends of the year on the app.
Musician Gene Simmons and IMG Ink Licensing Deal
Entrepreneur and co-founder of rock band KISS, Gene Simmons, has announced an exclusive global licensing deal with IMG. Lauding IMG as “the world’s leading licensing agency”, Simmons said that they aimed to create a “whole new range of products and to expand into areas of merchandising that are innovative and exciting to [him] and [his] fans”. Licensing plans will be created by IMG across multiple categories including apparel, homeware, automotive, travel accessories, gaming, and electronics, with these products expected to launch in early 2020. Moreover, IMG will also represent Simmons for promotions, commercial tie-ins, and brand endorsements.
Viacom Launches SpongeBob and MTV Branded Ecommerce Sites
Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products (VNCP), the merchandising and retail operations arm of multimedia entertainment company Viacom Inc., has announced the launch of branded ecommerce websites, SpongeBobShop.com and MTVshop.com. This is VNCP’s first venture into branded online shops, and this is slated to be the first of more. VNCP also plans to open brick-and-mortar pop-up shops dedicated to their brand and characters.
The first-ever Nickelodeon Holiday Shop opened in Los Angeles this year in November. The two sites feature a collection of exclusive items, limited-edition collaborations, and products from licensing partners. They will also include personalized and print-on-demand items that will not be available elsewhere.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar (Associate, BananaIP Counsels) and Param Gupta (Legal Intern)
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