June 4, 2020

(This was from today’s newsletter. Subscribe here.)

Hi everyone – I got a late start today, so pardon the nighttime newsletter.

I enjoyed this NYT profile of Zane Lowe, Apple Music’s Global Creative Director. He is one of the best interviewers in all of media, in my opinion. His long-form interviews make you feel like you’re a fly on the wall as two friends have a deep, honest conversation about how and why the artist crafted each song and where they are mentally in life right now.

Recommended Read: Supercell analysis
I came across this strong, detailed analysis of Supercell by the hosts of the Deconstructors of Fun podcast, outlining the mechanics of Supercell’s games, the company’s growth strategy, and their recommendations on how to gain new momentum since new releases over the last 3 years haven’t overcome declining popularity in the overall portfolio.

Supercell is the gold standard of mobile games studios. All 5 of its games — Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, Clash Royale, and Brawl Stars — rank among the highest grossing mobile games of all time.

The Helsinki-based, Tencent-owned company employs just 320 people with annual revenue of ~$1.6B and pre-tax profits of $600M. (Fun fact: 2016 data showed 7 of the 10 highest paid people in Finland were Supercell employees).

Read their post

Interesting Deals, Stats, & Product Updates

Digestible Media


  • Quibi is implementing 10% pay cuts for executives. It denies a WSJ report that its planning layoffs. (Read more)


  • DAZN Group, the company behind the sports-focused SVOD platform DAZN, is reportedly selling the soccer news website Goal.com to TPG for around $125M. (Read more)
    • DAZN has been in need of money with sports shut down, and given its hefty losses even before Covid-19 as it bought up streaming rights from sports leagues.
    • DAZN is owned by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, which yesterday cashed in $1.9B of its controlling stake in Warner Media via IPO.
  • Facebook announced it is prohibiting state-owned media companies from advertising on its platforms in the US. It will also label their posts as state media. (Read more)
    • It’s a positive step in helping users recognize propoganda, albeit a small dent in the much larger ecosystem of bots and unofficial state propoganda.
    • Defining which outlets count for this is a big grey area. Arguably any media outlet based in an authoritarian country that censors and threatens media is acting as an arm of the state even if they aren’t owned by the state.
  • Medium launched a Newsletters feature for those with publications on Medium. Potential subscribers have to create a Medium account in order to subscribe to your newsletter, however, and — based on my creation of a newsletter to test this — doesn’t seem to give you access to your subscribers’ email addresses. Avoid this feature. (Read more)


  • Edison Research released its annual Infinite Dial Canada report, with survey results tracking market growth and market shares in Canada for smart speakers, podcasting, music streaming, and radio. (Read more)

Interactive Media


  • Survey results: percent of kids age 4-14 in the US and UK who play Roblox (🇺🇸 54%, 🇬🇧 51%) and Minecraft (🇺🇸 31%, 🇬🇧 23%). (Read more)
  • Playrix, a Dublin-based mobile and PC studio behind Gardenscapes, is acquiring the Croatian point-and-click adventure PC games studio Cateia Games. Cateia’s 40-person team will rebrand as Playrix Croatia. (Read more)
  • Rovio acquired mobile studio Darkfire Games for an undisclosed price and is rebranding it Rovio Copenhagen. (Read more)
  • Unity Technologies, the most-used game engine in the world (and one of two that dominate the market, alongside Epic Games’ Unreal Engine), has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to prep an IPO for late this year. (Read more)
    • I spent a lot of time with Unity’s exec team and founders last year. Here’s my article about the rise of the company: How Unity built the world’s most popular game engine 
    • In Q1 2019 there were reports that Unity was targeting a Q1 2020 IPO. It raised more private funding instead, and may have been delayed by a sexual harassment lawsuit in the summer.
    • Unity dominates in mobile games and AR/VR, Unreal is more popular in console & PC. Both are expanding into 3D design use cases in architecture, engineering, auto design, and Hollywood virtual production.
  • Epic Games signed a deal with Sega and The Creative Assembly to release A Total War Saga: Troy exclusively through the Epic Games Store for the first year. (Read more)
    • A Total War Saga: Troy is the latest offshoot of the popular Total War franchise.
    • Unusual strategy: the game will be free for the first 24 hours, meaning anyone who downloads it then can keep it forever without paying.
  • Two shareholder advisory firms recommended pension funds vote against Activision Blizzard‘s proposed executive compensation scheme, criticizing CEO Bobby Kotick’s bonus structure and overall comp relative to performance. (Read more)


  • Amazon is reportedly in talks with Bharti Airtel, the 3rd largest telecom in India, about purchasing a 5% stake (for around $2B). (Read more)
    • It follows Facebook’s investment in Reliance Jio Platforms to challenge Amazon’s e-commerce efforts in India, and Google’s reported investment talks with Vodafone Idea (the 2nd largest telecom).
  • Twitter usage is soaring in the US during nationwide protests. (Read more)


  • Paradigm (the fourth largest Hollywood talent agency after WME-IMG, CAA, and UTA) took on additional investment from Crescent Drive Media, which is owned by Platinum Equity founder Tom Gores (aka brother of Paradigm CEO Sam Gores). (Read more)
    • All the agencies have been suffering serious financial losses due to the Covid-19 lockdown halting sports leagues, Hollywood productions, and concerts.
  • Forbes released its annual list of highest paid celebrities, although its lacking in methodology. It seems to go by top-line revenue for concerts etc. so the earnings of the celebrity as a brand not as an individual. (Here’s the list)