STLR Link Roundup – November 18, 2016

Following Election, Facebook Faces Fake News Problem

Following the conclusion of last week’s election, Facebook has faced significant media backlash regarding its role in facilitating the propagation of false information leading up to the election. What initially started as an internal conversation amongst senior executives of the firm quickly spread to various news outlets. The media outcry prompted an immediate response from Mark Zuckerberg, in which he claimed: “of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic.” Accordingly, Zuckerberg continues, “this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

However, Zuckerberg’s response has done little to quiet concerns regarding Facebook’s role in the election. Facebook, which has 1.8 billion monthly active users worldwide, is in a position to influence social thinking that most other media companies are not. Per a Pew Research Center study, 44% of U.S. Adults get their news from Facebook—and 66% of U.S. Facebook users consume news on the social media platform. This information, coupled with recent research indicating that viral fake election news outperformed real news on Facebook in the final months of the election, continues to drive the narrative that Facebook’s fake news contributed to the outcome of the election. There is no simple solution to this issue. However, Facebook will proceed carefully to stem the flow of fake news on its website. 

SpaceX Files with FCC to Host Global Satellite Internet Network

SpaceX formally applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the right to launch a global Internet service, powered by satellites placed in Earth’s orbit. According to the filing, SpaceX aims to provide this service through the operation of a “non-geostationary orbit satellite system in the Fixed-Satellite Service.” According to accompanying technical documents submitted with its application, SpaceX states that the system will consist “of 4,425 satellites (plus in-orbit spares) operating in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110km to 1,325 km), as well as associated ground control facilities, gateway earth stations and end user earth stations.”

SpaceX is not the first company to pursue a global satellite Internet network. Boeing also applied to the FCC for a license to launch and operate a network of 1,396-2,956 V-band satellites. Samsung has also considered this idea, but has not taken any affirmative steps of action to date.

The announcement marks a major step forward for the company following its September Falcon rocket explosion, which destroyed a satellite Facebook had acquired in support of its own efforts.

DraftKings and FanDuel Announce Merger

After significant speculation, DraftKings and FanDuel finally confirmed that the two companies had agreed to merge into one company. As it currently stands, the move is being considered a “merger of equals.” While the company has not released further information pertaining to the structure of the combined organization, DraftKings confirmed that its CEO, Jason Robins, will become CEO of the newly combined company, and FanDuel CEO, Nigel Eccles, will become Chairman of the board. The deal still faces significant regulatory hurdles prior to its closing, which is expected to occur in the second half 2017. Until then, both platforms will operate independently.

According to sources, the merger was one of necessity. Last year, both companies seemed to be enjoying vast amounts of success as pioneers in the daily fantasy sports industry. However, after a DraftKings employee won a major jackpot on FanDuel’s site in October 2015, Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation into possible predatory practices between the two companies. Significant litigation followed and resulted in Schneiderman temporarily shutting down the industry in New York. However, the two sides worked towards an understanding, which laid the groundwork for a deal in March that allowed the State Legislature to address the games’ legal status. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the corresponding bill that officially legalized daily fantasy sports in New York.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Prior to the merger, DraftKings had raised $600 million. FanDuel had raised $416 million.

Snapchat Files IPO

The IPO market received a much-needed jolt when investors learned that Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, Inc., filed to go public prior to the election. Pursuant to the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, Snapchat was able to file with the SEC confidentially because it currently earns less that $1 billion in annual revenue. This allows for the company to quietly test investor appetite while keeping its financials confidential. In the event Snapchat decides to further pursue its offering, the company must publicly disclose all of its offering documents at least fifteen days prior to commencing its “road show” for prospective investors.

Investors hope that the filing could help revive the market by encouraging other technology companies to go public. However, unlike other start-up “unicorns,” Uber, Airbnb, and SoFi, Snapchat’s messaging service does not face stringent regulatory standards. Various estimates value the company at $25 to $30 billion.

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