Apple CEO Dismisses Shareholder Lawsuit As ‘Sideshow’

Apple CEO Tim Cook says that company is considering David Einhorn’s proposal to return more cash to investors, though he called the investor’s lawsuit a “silly sideshow.” Cook says the board is in “very active discussions” on how to dole out more of its $137 billion hoard of cash and marketable securities.

“This is a waste of shareholder money and a distraction, and not a seminal issue for Apple. That said, I support Prop 2,” said Cook over the proposal that would eliminate the company’s ability to issue preferred stock at its discretion. “I am personally going to vote for it.”

“If Apple thinks the lawsuit is a waste of resources, it could simply end the matter by complying with existing law and filing a new proxy that unbundles the proposed changes to the charter, so that shareholders can express their views on each matter separately,” a Greenlight Capital spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Still, Apple is living with the reality that its stock has lost roughly a third of its value since September 2012. “The only thing that would substantially move the stock would be him saying they were returning cash to shareholders or hinting at a new product,” said a manager from a mid-size Dallas hedge fund that owns Apple shares. “There was a small chance of that happening.”

Apple says that it could use the capital and flexibility to do a major acquisition, though none passed its internal test. “We have the management talent and depth to do it,” said Cook. “We don’t feel the pressure to go out and acquire revenue.”

Cook also disputed at the event that the smartphone market in developed markets may be saturated. “On a longer-term basis, all phones will be smartphones and there’s a lot more people in the world than 1.4 billion, and people love to upgrade their phones very regularly,” he said.

On a lighter note, Cook said that when he is down, he just visits an Apple retail store. “It’s like Prozac. It’s a feeling like no other,” he said.

Source: Reuters

PlayScreen’s William Volk Reflects On Gaming’s History Of Violence

William Volk (interviewed here by [a]list) has perspective most people don’t in the gaming industry, having worked on games in some capacity for over 30 years. In talking about violence from things like Berserk and Death Race 2000 to more modern shooters, he puts it all in context with this: “If people were influenced by video games, a majority of Facebook users would be farmers by now.”

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Evolution Of PlayStation

While the PlayStation 4 (or whatever it will be called) will no doubt be revealed in the coming days, Sony has chosen to hype up its fans by releasing three retrospectives, looking back at their three previous home consoles. These videos show just how far the gaming industry has come in the past two decades and is a crafty way to get gamers to reminisce about the good memories they have with the PlayStation brand (most probably have at least a few) before the next PlayStation drops.

Hoax Hacking For PR

Soon after Burger King’s Twitter was hacked earlier this week, Jeep experienced the same on its feed. Now the trend has taken on another facet – the orchestrated hoax hack.

Looking to capitalize on PR around hacked Twitter accounts, Viacom properties MTV and BET went in cahoots, pretending their Twitter accounts were hack and parading as one another. To be clear about their involvement, they created the hashtag #MTVHacking.

The attempted punking may have proved that not all publicity is good publicity. Twitter’s community didn’t appreciate the hacking, with many turned off by the shenanigans.

If either brand was hoping to generate a following, it may not work to their liking.  Socialbakers reported that Burger King netted 60,000 Twitter followers after their hacking went public.  A day after experiencing the same Twitter woes, Jeep didn’t see the same spike.

Twitter has spoken up about MTV and BET’s effort too, saying it’s no laughing matter.  The social net reminded everyone that the fact that hackers compromised 250,000 accounts on February 1, which may be related to what Burger King and Jeep have experienced, is serious business.

“This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident,” Twitter said in a statement. “The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked.”

In retrospect, the events seem to prove the importance of agile marketing and the “always on” approach brands need to take with their social media presence.  Scott Monty, Ford social media director, summed it up while sympathizing with Burger King’s plight.

“It’s not about being always on during the work week anymore. It’s about always being on no matter what day it is,” said Monty.

Exclusive: Not Clowning Around

By Meelad Sadat

If your kids liked the quirky, comedic cut scenes in the original Skylanders, you should know Brain Zoo Studios is behind them.  The studio has a knack for creating memorable pieces of animation, whether it’s cinematics for a game, a trailer or an opening sequence.  A few years ago it nabbed an Emmy for work on the TV show Sport Science, where it created CG animation sequences showing athletes in motion.  Now after building its pedigree on projects for other properties, Brain Zoo is ready to birth one of its own.

The studio turned to Kickstarter earlier this month, hoping to get backing for an original series called Pepe & Lucas. The series is based on an animated short that Brain Zoo says was considered for an Academy Award, making last year’s long list.


The IP mixes old and new, using silent movie presentation and a visual style reminiscent of old cartoons to tell the story of two down on their luck street performers.  The storyline, while modern in setting and based on how the fallout from a failing economy can affect anyone, is influenced by the Great Depression era.  The characters hark from the same period.  A quick look and it’s apparent exactly who the bumbling Pepe the clown mimics.  He’s Charlie Chaplin.  Even in brief glimpses the property comes across as thoughtful and funny, qualities that mirror the personality of Brain Zoo founder Mo Davoudian.

We spoke with Davoudian on the inspiration behind Pepe & Lucas and why he chose Kickstarter.

[a]list: What made you decide to move into IP creation, is it a new development or a longtime passion now taking shape?

Davoudian: We are very passionate about our work and providing our clients with high quality content.  Producing our own IP allows us to push the technology and expand our pipeline allowing us to better serve our current and future clients.

[a]list: Why did you decide on doing this as a Kickstarter?

Davoudian: We produced the eight minute Pepe & Lucas CG animated short film out of our own pocket internally here at Brain Zoo last year.  After it made the long list for Academy Award consideration, we decided to give Kickstarter a try in hopes of growing the franchise, funded by like minded people.  We felt that this would allow us to maintain control of the property rather than using outside investors.  We understand that the film animation category might be a tougher nut to crack, but we also feel that people might love the opportunity to be part of developing a property for a wider audience, enjoyable for both kids and their parents.

[a]list: Games and music Kickstarters rely on using the product to get backers.  Do you think that’s a challenge with getting backing for an animated series, and if so, how are you getting around it to entice backers?

Davoudian: We see the eight minute Pepe & Lucas short film as our product which we want to develop into a 22 minute television pilot.  We feel that [payoff] is good wholesome entertainment for the entire family.  The message of the story is based on good values and working together for a common goal.

[a]list: Do you have any plans to reveal stretch goals?

Davoudian: Our stretch goal for the campaign is to consider developing Pepe & Lucas into a mobile game which would also be included as a reward to potential Kickstarter backers.

[a]list: What sort of updates can backers look forward to?

Davoudian: Our backers can expect added concept drawings and designs in the coming days.  We will also post updates on features, personal messages from our creative team and status updates.

[a]list: Outside of the Kickstarter, what has Brain Zoo been working on?

Davoudian: In addition to Pepe & Lucas, we have also been producing our second IP short film which will be unveiled later this year.  So it’s been a very busy and productive year for us.

Another passion of ours is our goal to try to keep animation jobs here in the U.S.  Pepe & Lucas… as well as all of our projects during the past 17 years have all been produced in our studio… here in Los Angeles.  We feel very strongly about supporting local talent rather than outsourcing our work.  As we are watching U.S. based animation studios and visual effects companies closing their doors, we hope to rally the support of our clients, studios, networks and publishers to hire U.S. talent rather than outsourcing to help strengthen our economy.  We also need to offer better U.S. tax incentives to boost our industry’s health.

[a]list: Thanks!



BlizzCon Returns For 2013

Blizzard Entertainment has announced that BlizzCon will return in 2013, taking place Friday, November 8 and Saturday, November 9 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The seventh BlizzCon will have plenty of panels, eSports events, play time with games, community contests and more.

“BlizzCon gives us a chance to connect with our players and share our latest projects in a very personal way,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Members from all of our gaming communities have helped make this event bigger and better every time, and we look forward to meeting up and celebrating with them in November.”

Further details about BlizzCon 2013, including ticket availability and pricing, will be announced on the official BlizzCon website.

Anodyne Developers Reap Rewards From Pirate Bay Promotion

Developers of Anodyne announced success for their $7 advert on the Pirate Bay and subsequent sale. The image on the Pirate Bay’s front page directed people to the Anodyne website where there was a sale that allowed them to pay $1 (or more) for the game, where they sold 4511 copies on the Humble Store, 450 through Fastspring, 30 from Desura during the 72 hours of the promotion, while around 100 copies of the soundtrack were purchased by fans.

“Does the promo work? Yes! I think everything is much better off now – revenue, people playing, fans, etc, than we were before the promo,” said Anodyne developer Sean Hogan. “I definitely encourage trying something similar with The Promo Bay if you’re able to.”

“The Promo Bay far exceeded what our sales cycle would have been if we just went on as normal – sales were dying down around the start of the promo. We made twice as much revenue as we did in the past 10 days (plus the pre-orders), many more visitors, votes, etc.” he continued. “Our take was about $12k for the promo, split between Jon and I evenly. A nice amount for the work we’ve put into Anodyne. We also have a lot more publicity and fans now (go look around YouTube! Many many Let’s Plays). So things are looking up!”


Agawi Reveals ‘True Cloud’ Platform

Agawi has announced that it will be demonstrating its True Cloud reference platform at this week’s Cloud Gaming Europe conference on February 21 and 22 in London. The cloud gaming firm has worked with Nvidia, Blue Box, Peer 1, and XO Communications to make cloud gaming accessible for content publishers.

“The previous iterations of cloud gaming have relied on piecemeal efforts and proprietary designs,” said Agawi co-founder Rajat Gupta. “And in today’s infinite-device landscape, developers that don’t create numerous versions of their games have been struggling to get maximum distribution and reach. Agawi True Cloud requires only one version of a game to ever be written in the cloud, and we can make it accessible on any post-PC era device-meaning that one game can reach an exponentially larger audience on tablets, phablets, TVs and next generation game devices like Project Shield.”

“By incorporating Grid servers, Agawi’s True Cloud is realizing the dream of gaming on any device, anywhere,” said Phil Eisler, general manager of Nvidia Grid cloud gaming at Nvidia. “The 12 GPUs found inside Grid K340 servers are designed to enable the smooth, seamless interactive experience of a high-performance gaming PC on mobile devices and unlock the cloud as the universal vehicle for fast and economical gaming.”

Draw Something Hits 100 Million Downloads

Zynga has reported that Draw Something has been downloaded over 100 million times. The company also released an infographic to celebrate the milestone.

“Thanks to our players, we’ve hit some impressive milestones, we have 190 countries playing together in 13 languages, Little Monsters have racked up a library of over 11 million Lady Gaga drawings and if you added up the total time played across all of our players it’s equivalent to spending 28,000 years drawing,” said Zynga in a blog post. “Thanks to all of our players for drawing, guessing and doing it all over again. Check out the below infographic with other mind bending stats below. ”