In: Venture Capital

Yahoo announces plans to kill off Games, Livetext, Boss, and more regional sites
March 12, 2016

If you can’t sell them, kill them.
Yahoo today announced its Q1 2016 progress report, highlighting the closure of several products and regional sites. As shared in its last earnings call, the company wants to focus on just seven core consumer products: Mail, Search, Tumblr, News, Sports, Finance, and Lifestyle.
First off, the company is shutting down its Yahoo Games site (first launched in 1998!) and publishing channel on May 13, 2016. This impacts all territories: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.
Starting March 14, 2016, users will no longer be able to make in-game purchases on the Yahoo Games site. Yahoo says it has reached out to game publishers and asked them to develop a transition plan for players who have made in-game purchases.
Next, Yahoo Livetext is being shut down at the end of March 2016. The company launched the silent video chat app in July 2015 — we weren’t crazy about the app when we tried it out. As you might expect, Yahoo sa..

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Hitman’s creator wants you to assassinate throughout 2016
March 12, 2016

Are you ready for a world of assassination? Hitman debuts today as an episodic game where you can live out the fantasy of being Agent 47, a professional killer who goes to exotic places, dresses in tuxedos, drives fancy cars, and assassinates people without mercy.
But this is a different kind of Hitman, with seven episodes releasing over time in 2016. The first installment is a $15 set that includes a prologue (where you learn about Agent 47’s origins and learn how to take people out) and an open world in the city of Paris. With the assassinations, it’s sort of like the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day, where you have to do the same task over and over again, getting better each time.
In April, you’ll travel to Sapienza, Italy, to take out a virus hacker, and you go to Marrakesh in May to pursue a bad general. The disc version of all of the episodes isn’t coming out until January 2017. That’s a daring release strategy for publisher Square Enix and Danish developer IO Interactive. The st..

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Hearthstone’s Whispers of the Old Gods expansion is all about engagement in a $1.2B market
March 12, 2016

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is about to get an injection of new cards … and tentacles.
Lots of tentacles.
Whispers of the Old Gods is the collectible card game’s third expansion, Blizzard Entertainment revealed today, and players should get their dances with the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired devils toward the end of April or the beginning of May. It’s just one of a series of major updates coming to Hearthstone, the market leader in the $1.2 billion digital card game market (according to market research SuperData), as it prepares for the biggest changes in its two-year history: the launch of the new Standard and Wild formats — which are hitting at the same time as this 134-card expansion.
A patch next week adds more deck slots (doubling from 9 to 18) and Deck Recipes. Players have been asking for additional room to store decks throughout Hearthstone’s life, and the new Deck Recipes will help beginning players (or those that just need some guidance) build decks around either the base se..

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Survios’ Raw Data is a frenetic two-player co-op shooter for the HTC Vive VR headset
March 12, 2016

After playing two rounds of Survios‘ Raw Data virtual reality shooter on the HTC Vive, I was sweating. The two-player cooperative demo is one of the first to show that VR can be a multiplayer experience, which could be a critical component in helping this take off as a social experience.
VR is expected to be a $30 billion industry by 2020, according to Digi-Capital, and you can bet we’re going to see a ton of demos unveiled next week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Survios will show Raw Data at the Epic Games and SteamVR booths on the show floor.
I played this game at a Survios pad in San Francisco recently with a HTC Vive Pre headset, which is not yet the final VR hardware which launches in the first week of April. It is an experience where you can roam around on a “safe area” on the floor and shoot in a 360-degree arena.
Above: The androids are closing in.
Image Credit: Survios It is a visceral experience, like stepping into another world. The sci-fi arena is r..

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TurboTax dominates mobile tax filing — and it’s killing H&R Block
March 12, 2016

FEATURE:
For the people who take pride in doing their own taxes, and on time, it’s getting easier to file your taxes straight from your mobile phone.
For some of us, the thought of doing taxes on a phone can be intimidating. But if the process is made easy, it’s doable. Tax-filing apps like TurboTax simplify the task by letting you snap a photo of your W2 and uploading it immediately into your tax return, along with other simple steps.
Initial stats from the uptake of the TurboTax’s mobile app suggest that an increasing number of people are using the mobile app to do their taxes.

TurboTax earned $560,000 in a single day on Feb 1 — even though the tax season is just starting to heat up — according to the latest stats provide to VentureBeat by Sensor Tower, a company that provides mobile app store data.
Above: Credit: Sensor Tower
As you can see in the chart above, the revenue from the app has grown considerably since it was first released three years ago. And if the trend from la..

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Content Marketing: The 2016 version (webinar)
March 12, 2016

VB WEBINAR:
Content marketing is an undisputed must-have in every marketer’s toolbox — but how do you stand out and reap ROI when we live in a world saturated with content in every channel? Get the insights, tips and tricks you need to create a killer content marketing strategy that translates to real results.
Register here for free.
As consumers’ taste for content marketing evolves in 2016, marketers need to do everything they can to stay up to speed, or risk falling behind. 51 percent of business owners agree that content marketing is “very important” or “absolutely critical” to creating a cohesive customer journey. And yet we’re only seeing 73 percent of B2C marketers use content marketing, with 37 percent saying their strategy is successful. What are those 37 percent are marketers doing right with content marketing?
One thing to consider is that the traditional methods of content marketing has changed. It’s no longer about blogging once a day, or creating a bright, shiny infogr..

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Here’s how Fallout 4’s latest update affects Xbox One and PlayStation 4
March 12, 2016

Sometimes, as games grow older, they begin to change and grow hair in strange places … or I think that’s what my health teacher said — I wasn’t paying attention.
Fallout 4’s 1.4 update is live on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and you can download it by booting up your console right now, according to publisher Bethesda. This patch will introduce a plethora of new items and decorations for your settlements. These include storefront signs and warning labels. Fallout 4’s town-building tool was one of its standout features, and these additions give people the chance to express themselves even more. An update like this is also a good way for Bethesda to get some lapsed players back into the game just as it prepares to begin launching downloadable content. Maintaining an engaged audience is crucial for studios trying to maximize the lifetime value of their audience.
Fallout 4's 1.4 update is now live on Xbox One and PS4 https://t.co/PZSb56yitm pic.twitter.com/pCD9YPtiRi
— BethesdaGameSt..

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Obama: Don’t take an ‘absolutist view’ on national security vs. civil liberties
March 12, 2016

President Barack Obama believes that there should be some compromise when it comes to protecting the United States from terrorists and criminals while ensuring people’s privacy. When confronted about the issues around encryption and personal data with the government’s case against Apple, the 44th president believes that we shouldn’t take an “absolutist view.”
Speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, Obama spoke about how he wants to get the American people and the tech industry to help modernize the government. The Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith asked what the president’s view is on the case and although he couldn’t comment about the specifics, Obama believes the government can’t “willy-nilly” get into people’s smartphones.
“All of us value our privacy and this is a society that is built on a constitution, a Bill of Rights, and a healthy skepticism about overreaching government power. Before smartphones were invented, and to this day, if t..

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Microsoft plans to show critics how Windows is an open platform at Build
March 12, 2016

Microsoft is fending off criticisms of its plan to unify its products and to raise the profile of its Windows Store, and the company is now planning to take that debate into its annual gathering of developers later this month.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer responded to the ongoing criticism of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) today by reiterating that it is not a closed system. The Microsoft executive also promised to address concerns at the company’s Build conference for developers, which kicks off March 30 in San Francisco. Spencer is responding in part to an opinion piece GamesBeat published yesterday from Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney in which he meticulously argued that Microsoft is attempting to change the definition of an open software platform. The global gaming industry is worth $99.3 billion and general PC software is worth even more, but Epic doesn’t think developers in that market should have to share their revenues with Microsoft.
Sweeney has repeatedly said that the indus..

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Email marketing: How to stay out of the spam folder and increase open rates by 500% (webinar)
March 12, 2016

VB WEBINAR:
Consumers are more protective of their inboxes than ever, which goes hand in hand with the glut of email now. Join VB analyst Jon Cifuentes and guest panelist Realtor.com CMO Nate Johnson as they share how to how to break through instead of getting banished to email purgatory.
Register here for free.
With 43 percent year-over-year growth and up to 50 million unique visitors a month, Realtor.com is the fastest growing online real estate company in the category. For Nate Johnson, CMO of Realtor.com, email marketing is central to their user engagement strategy.
“Every web property, every mobile app, wants people to come to their site multiple times a day,” Johnson says. “But the reality is, there are a lot of other places out there for people to visit.”
Email actually allows you to reach out to users and re-enage those that might not necessarily be coming back naturally. “We don’t really think of it as marketing emails,” says Johnson. “We actually think of our email as an..

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