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  1. Nvidia's $40 Billion Arm Acquisition Is Under Scrutiny Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images) As expected, Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of Arm is nowhere near a done deal. The EU and UK are ready to start investigating the merger, reports The Irish Times. Sources familiar with the matter told the publication that the deal will be thoroughly investigated, and could either be passed unconditionally or with concessions. The investigation comes in response to concerns that the deal will give Nvidia monopolistic power over current Arm licensees. Sources say the investigation is just beginning, as paperwork has not been filed in Brussels yet. The UK Competition and Markets Authority is currently collecting statements from various companies about their views of the acquisition. In the past, Nvidia’s rivals have called for the deal to be blocked, so it seems likely those statements will contain the same or similar sentiments. Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser wrote in a letter last year to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee that allowing Nvidia to acquire ARM would “give Nvidia a dominant position in all processor segments and create another U.S. technology monopoly.” If the acquisition were to be approved, it would only further exacerbate Britain’s worries about tech giants like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon’s influence over the UK, said Hauser. Nvidia is one of 500 Arm licensees worldwide. Should Nvidia acquire Arm, it would become the licenser of those contracts. Nivida’s rivals have called for the deal to be blocked. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang had previously told the Financial Times that “Nvidia will maintain Arm’s open licensing model,” and that it has “no intention to ‘throttle’ or ‘deny’ Arm’s supply to any customer.” An Nvidia spokesperson told Fortune, “The regulatory process is proceeding as we had planned,” and that the company “fully understand[s] that the relevant governments and regulators will review this transaction in detail, as they should, given the significance of the deal.” Nvidia remains confident that it will receive the necessary regulatory approvals to complete the acquisition. Huang told the Financial Times that Nvidia would be happy to retain Arm’s open licensing model if that was a stipulation of the acquisition. But it’s understandable if you don’t quite buy that, because tech giants have in the past agreed to conditions as part of a merger, only to disregard them later. Facebook, for instance, said it would not match WhatsApp and Facebook user accounts when it acquired the messaging platform in 2014, but it later went back on its promise. The deal is also facing scrutiny in the U.S. and China, so it looks like Nvidia has a long road ahead. Source: Nvidia's $40 Billion Arm Acquisition Is Under Scrutiny
  2. Sony acquires fighting game tournament Evo Evo. Image Credit: Sony Sony announced today that it and a new venture called RTS have acquired Evo, the annual fighting game tournament. Evo started in 1996 and has become the most prolific annual fighting game tournament in the world. During that time, it had remained independent, although it attracted plenty of sponsors. Now, one of the biggest names in gaming owns Evo. Sony notes that Evo cofounders Tom and Tony Cannon “… will remain closely involved in an advisory role to ensure Evo continues to service the fighting game community and support its vibrant growth.” So … what does Sony need with a fighting game tournament? The company notes that fighting games are popular on its platforms, specifying that players have logged in more than 1.1 billion hours on fighting games on PlayStation consoles in 2020. But those are all third-party titles like Capcom’s Street Fighter V and Arc System Works’ Dragon Ball Fighterz. Sony hasn’t made a first-party fighting game since PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale in 2012, a title that I think only I liked. This is also an odd time to invest in esports. Due to the pandemic, in-person events have been cancelled. The shift has caused something of a lull in the growth of the sector, something that Activision Blizzard blamed this week for its decision to fire people from its esports team. Evo ran into problems last year. Aside from the pandemic, then-Evo CEO Joey Cuellar was named in multiple sexual abuse allegations. Evo’s board removed him, and many publishers pulled out of the event, causing the cancellation of the show. The situation may have given Evo’s owners a reason to want to sell and establish a new chapter for the event. Along with the announcement of the acquisition, Evo released a statement promising safer events. A message to our community. For more information visit https://t.co/6JHZCsJsXr pic.twitter.com/uj0NKRW30m — EVO (@EVO) March 18, 2021 The next Evo event will be online and will take place this August. So far, Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, and Guilty Gear Strive have been revealed as games for the event. Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series is usually a part of the show. We’ll have to see if a fighting game that you can’t play on PlayStation will be welcomed at the event this year (or if Nintendo is even interested). Source: Sony acquires fighting game tournament Evo
  3. Qualcomm Completes Acquisition of NUVIA: Immediate focus on Laptops Today Qualcomm is announcing that the company has completed the acquisition of NUVIA, a start-up company consisting of industry veterans who were behind the creation of Apple’s high-performance CPU cores, and who were aiming to disrupt the server market with a new high-performance core called “Phoenix”. The acquisition had been announced only several weeks ago in mid-January, so the whole process has been extremely speedy in terms of timeline. “Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has completed its acquisition of the world-class CPU and technology design company, NUVIA for $1.4 billion before working capital and other adjustments.” Today Qualcomm even went as far as put out a concrete roadmap for new SoCs using the newly acquired IP from Nuvia: “The first Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms to feature Qualcomm’s new internally designed CPUs are expected to sample in the second half of 2022 and will be designed for high performance ultraportable laptops. “ Sampling in late 2022 would require a tape-out in early 2022, and a design-in essentially as soon as possible following the acquisition today. The whole process seems extremely fast and aggressive in terms of timing, pointing out that Qualcomm is putting a lot of emphasis on the project. Qualcomm had shown a lot of positive reaction to Apple M1, I quote our interview with Alex Katouzian from back in December in terms of their reaction to the competitor design: “[…] the laptops these days are really moving towards mobile. The camera is super important. The audio is super important. The battery life is super important. Not having a fan is super important. Portability, thinness, connectivity, always-on always-connected, all those traits of mobile are moving to the PC. And people say, imitation is the best form of flattery. Look at look what happened with the [Apple] M1. Their product pitch is almost a duplicate of what we've been saying for the past two or three years.” NUVIA’s prompt acquisition and immediate disclosure of plans to tackle the high-performance ultraportable laptop market could be seen as Qualcomm’s direct response to the new Apple M1 powered laptops and to compete with their high-performance CPU cores. Article Update: We had the opportunity to have a call with Qualcomm’s Keith Kressin, SVP and GM, Edge Cloud and Computing, answering several questions as for company’s current plans for the NUVIA team. Qualcomm views the acquisition as an important strategic addition to the company’s design capabilities, filling a gap in IP design where the company for several years now had been relying on external IP such as Arm’s Cortex cores. Keith made important note of this ability to have total in-house design control over every IP block in an SoC, allowing the company better flexibility to respond to market demands and creating competitive products. The immediate goals for the NUVIA team will be implementing custom CPU cores into laptop-class Snapdragon SoCs running Windows, and enable the company to offer higher performance CPUs than would have been otherwise possible. When asked about plans for other product stacks and the possibility of using both in-house CPUs as well as continuing to use Arm Cortex CPU IP for lower segments, it was stated that Qualcomm will continue to evaluate every metric and choose the best fitting design that makes the most sense for that product category. We asked the team if Qualcomm would continue to invest into NUVIA’s original plans to enter the server and enterprise market, with a response that this wasn’t the main goal or motivation of the acquisition, that Qualcomm however would very much keep that as an open option for the future, and let the NUVIA team explore those possibilities. Keith here acknowledged that it’s tough market to crack, and that Qualcomm had made no definitive decisions yet in terms of long-term planning. Source: Qualcomm Completes Acquisition of NUVIA: Immediate focus on Laptops
  4. Microsoft buys rapid prototyping firm The Marsden Group Furthering its focus on vertical industries, Microsoft is buying The Marsden Group for an undisclosed amount. Credit: Microsoft Microsoft is continuing to make vertical industries a key focus with its latest acquisition, The Marsden Group. Microsoft announced intentions to purchase The Marsden Group for an undisclosed amount on March 16. The Marsden Group has been a Microsoft Gold Partner and is focused on rapid prototyping in key industries like manufacturing, automotive and logistics. Microsoft is positioning the acquisition as a way to help customers build more quickly vertical solutions using cloud, edge-computing and AI services, in particular. From Microsoft's blog post on today's acquisition: "We know that in asset-intensive industries, such as manufacturing, automotive or logistics, companies face unique challenges in adopting new technologies, for example connecting industrial equipment safely and securely to the cloud, overcoming data silos and supporting interoperability across modern and legacy systems. Through recent projects, I've seen firsthand what The Marsden Group and Microsoft can do, what's possible when we bring together our cloud, edge, IoT, digital twin and AI capabilities with The Marsden Group's speed, agility and technical creativity." The Marsden Group is a three year old, U.K.-based company. Source: Microsoft buys rapid prototyping firm The Marsden Group
  5. Epic Games is buying Fall Guys creator Mediatonic Epic is acquiring Mediatonic parent company Tonic Games Group Image: Devolver Digital Fortnite creator Epic Games is acquiring video game studio Mediatonic, the maker of smash hit Fall Guys, for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced on Tuesday. The deal marks one of Epic’s higher-profile acquisitions of late, following its 2019 purchases of social video app Houseparty and Rocket League developer Psyonix. According to the blog posts and FAQs detailing the announcement, Fall Guys will remain available on Steam for the time being, and the developer is still bringing the game to both the Xbox and Nintendo Switch platforms. Epic and Mediatonic say there are no plans right now to make the game (which currently costs $19.99) free-to-play, as Epic did with Rocket League. Epic later confirmed it plans to make the PC version of Fall Guys available on the Epic Game Store. Interestingly, Fall Guys is built using the Unity game engine, a rival to Epic’s Unreal platform. Despite that, the companies say they hope to bring Fortnite-style features like crossplay to Fall Guys in the future. The acquisition includes Mediatonic and Fortitude Games, both of which are owned by parent company Tonic Games Group, which announced the deal with Epic today. “It’s no secret that Epic is invested in building the Metaverse and Tonic Games shares this goal. As Epic works to build this virtual future, we need great creative talent who know how to build powerful games, content and experiences,” said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney in a statement. HUGE [email protected] are pleased to announce that we've joined the @EpicGames family! What does this mean? I'm glad you asked! FAQ:https://t.co/QpiEHemUca pic.twitter.com/ZcGaoooljz — Fall Guys 4041 SOON (@FallGuysGame) March 2, 2021 “At Tonic Games Group we often say that ‘everyone deserves a game that feels like it was made for them.’ With Epic, we feel like we have found a home that was made for us. They share our mission to build and support games that have a positive impact, empower others and stand the test of time and we couldn’t be more excited to be joining forces with their team,” said Dave Bailey, CEO and co-founder of Tonic Games Group, in a statement. Officially called Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, the platformer battle royale game released last August as a timed console exclusive for the PlayStation 4 and also on PC. It became a fast hit and, like the indie sensation Among Us, an instant part of the gaming zeitgeist for the ways it let friends craving social experiences during the pandemic team up and compete against both one another and lobbies full of strangers while they were stuck at home. Fall Guys draws inspiration from game shows like Takeshi’s Castle and Wipeout by making players compete in ludicrous mini-games that often result in slapstick failure for large swaths of the participants until only one player is left standing. Since the game’s release, Mediatonic has followed closely in Fortnite’s footsteps by releasing seasonal themed battle passes and also cutting deals with brands to bring trademarked designs and characters into the game as optional character skins, a business model Epic is quite familiar with and likely plans to continue. Source: Epic Games is buying Fall Guys creator Mediatonic
  6. HP is Acquiring HyperX for $425 Million In some unexpected news today, HP and HyperX (formerly a division of Kingston) have jointly released a statement that HP is to acquire HyperX gaming peripherals portfolio, and the brand, for $425 million USD. Kingston retains the DRAM, Flash, and SSD products (those that are branded HyperX will probably be renamed). Perhaps it is indicative that Kingston wants to remain focused on the memory and storage markets, and divest away from a variable commodity market, while at the same time HP is looking to boost its presence in the space alongside its HP OMEN branding. Pending regulatory review, the deal is expected to go close in Q2 2021, with the acquisition accretive on a non-GAAP to HP in the first full year. The HyperX peripheral line-up, which includes gaming headsets, microphones, keyboards, mouse pads, mice, power supplies, console accessories and apparel, is expected to be used by HP’s broader gaming ecosystem to expand potential add-ons for its OMEN series gaming desktops and laptops, as well as build that ecosystem for hardware, software, and services. HyperX as a brand has always been a distinct element somewhat separate from Kingston – over the last few years, every trade show we’ve attended we have made separate meetings for each company, whereas a decade ago we would cover both in the same room. This disaggregation of the business has obviously allowed Kingston to package it up should it ever need to offload, as it has now done with HP. Kingston still retains the gaming focused RGB-laden DRAM and SSD businesses, although these are likely to be sold either under Kingston or a separate new brand that we will learn about in due course. It is unclear whether HyperX sponsorships of eSports teams is also part of the deal, if those will transfer to HP, or they will remain with Kingston. In the press release, HP quotes that the PC hardware industry is set to have a $70 billion addressable market by 2023, with the global peripherals market (gaming and non-gaming) to grow to $12.4 billion by 2024. HP states that gaming peripherals will be a disproportionally large element of that year-on-year growth, and that HyperX’s brand recognition will help HP ‘advance its leadership in personal systems by modernizing compute experiences and expanding into valuable adjacencies’. In non-corporate speak, that just means that HP sees collective value in enabling its own systems with top-brand accessories to improve the overall experience. For a price, naturally, although there will no doubt be some synergies as HP can mothball some of its own HP OMEN peripherals that may not have had large distribution. With the deal expected to close in Q2, it will be interesting to see if HP does any brand reorganization with HyperX, such as ‘HyperX by HP’, or leave it as it is. If we get more information we will add to this news post. Source: https://press.hp.com/us/en/press-releases/2021/hp-inc-to-acquire-hyperx.html Source: HP is Acquiring HyperX for $425 Million
  7. EA has completed their Codemasters acquisition Electronic Arts have completed their acquisition of UK racing game specialist Codemasters, folding the Formula 1, DIRT, WRC, GRID and Project CARS racing game series into EA’s portfolio alongside the likes of Need for Speed, Real Racing and (if we’re lucky) Burnout. The deal saw EA pay $1.2 billion to buy Codemasters, outbidding Take Two in the process. We're excited to welcome @Codemasters to the EA family! 🚗💨 pic.twitter.com/y3yYB94vmF — Electronic Arts (@EA) February 18, 2021 Speaking of the deal, Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts said, “This is the beginning of an exciting new era for racing games and content as we bring together the talented teams at Electronic Arts and Codemasters. […] Our teams will be a global powerhouse in racing entertainment, with amazing games for players on every platform, and we can’t wait to get started.” Codemasters CEO Frank Sagnier called it “a landmark in Codemasters’ history, and an exciting day for our employees and players.” I’m not entirely sure Frank’s got his finger on the pulse with that one. Sure, he is expected to scoop up £20.5 million personally and other execs will share around £10 million in pay outs, EA are now in charge of the company’s future. They previously stated that they will conduct a year-long review of the company to see how they and Codemasters “can work most effectively and efficiently together.” They say this won’t lead to a “material” number of redundancies, but make no guarantees. Given the number of studios and overlapping racing game brands that Codemasters own, there’s a real fear that some parts of the company will suffer. And there’s also concerns for fans of Codemasters’ racing games that they will have to shift focus to meet EA’s particular goals and ambitions with regard to monetisation. With the F1 and upcoming WRC license, we could see some kind of Ultimate Team mode adapted for these real world motorsports and the addition of microtransactions in a more pervasive fashion. Gamers will certainly view such changes with trepidation, though the real impact is unlikely to be felt for a few years. This is just one of a few big money moves that EA are making as they look to broaden their portfolio and reach. EA also announced the acquisition of Glu Mobile, the developer behind such mobile game hits as Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, for $2.4 billion – two Codemasters, in other words. Source: press release Source: EA has completed their Codemasters acquisition
  8. Qualcomm objects to Nvidia’s $40 billion Arm acquisition KEY POINTS Qualcomm has told regulators around the world that it is against Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of British chip designer Arm, according to sources familiar with the matter. The company has told the Federal Trade Commission, the European Commission, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority and China’s State Administration for Market Regulation that it has concerns about the deal. The FTC’s investigation has moved to a “second phase” and the U.S. regulator has asked SoftBank, Nvidia and Arm to provide it with more information. The front of Qualcomm office in San Jose, California. Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm has told regulators around the world that it is against Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of British chip designer Arm, according to sources familiar with the matter. The company has told the Federal Trade Commission, the European Commission, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority and China’s State Administration for Market Regulation that it has concerns about Nvidia buying Arm, which is currently owned by Japanese tech giant SoftBank. The FTC’s investigation has moved to a “second phase” and the U.S. regulator has asked SoftBank, Nvidia and Arm to provide it with more information, according to two sources who are familiar with the deal but wished to remain anonymous due to the private nature of the discussions. Complying with the information request is likely to take many months as several large documents will need to be produced, the sources said. During the second phase, the FTC will also engage with other companies who may have relevant information that could help it to make a decision, they added. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, and the CMA declined to comment, while the FTC and the SAMR did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. Qualcomm, which declined to comment on this story, contacted the regulators because it thinks they will play a significant role in determining whether the deal gets completed or not, according to the sources. It has spoken to representatives who focus on antitrust law and mergers. Nvidia told CNBC it is confident regulators will see the benefits of the acquisition. Arm declined to comment and SoftBank did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment. “You’re looking at a very thorough, a very painful, and a very long investigation,” one of the sources told CNBC. The Arm wrestle Arm was spun out of an early computing company called Acorn Computers in 1990. The company’s energy-efficient chip architectures are used in 95% of the world’s smartphones and 95% of the chips designed in China. The company licenses its chip designs to more than 500 companies who use them to make their own chips. Qualcomm has opposed the Nvidia takeover because it thinks there’s a very high risk that Nvidia could become a gatekeeper of Arm’s technology and prevent other chipmakers from using Arm’s intellectual property, according to sources. It doesn’t think Nvidia will be able to fully capitalize on the acquisition without crossing certain lines that people are worried about, they said. When announcing the acquisition, Nvidia and Arm said the deal will create the world’s “premier computing company for the age of AI.” The duo have pledged to keep Arm headquartered in Cambridge, U.K., and invest heavily in the business. “This combination has tremendous benefits for both companies, our customers, and the industry,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang when the deal was announced. Source: Qualcomm objects to Nvidia’s $40 billion Arm acquisition
  9. Google has made a bid to buy Fitbit, one of the most well-known wearable manufacturers in the world, according to a report from Reuters. Though there's no sort of confirmation that a deal will be struck between the two companies, the move could help Google enter the smartwatch market with a device of its own, rather than relying exclusively on partner devices running Wear OS. The news comes as Fitbit seems to be looking for investors interested in buying the company. Despite maintaining overall growth, Fitbit's market share has been decreasing over the past year or so, with companies such as Samsung outpacing its growth. It's an interesting turn of events for Fitbit, which has absorbed a number of different companies throughout the years. In late 2016, it acquired rival company Pebble, and soon after, it also purchased Vector, another smartwatch maker. Additionally, it's also bought Coin, a credit card company, and most recently, Twine Health. To blame for Fitbit's disappointing results, apparently, is the Versa Lite, a cheaper version of its Versa smartwatch. It's only $40 cheaper than the much more feature-packed Versa 2, and it doesn't offer things such as internal storage for music, for example. Whether an acquisition by Google can reverse the downward trajectory of Fitbit is something that remains to be seen. The Mountain View giant has had some trouble getting its wearable platform going, and as recently as last month, it was reported that the company is no longer pursuing smartwatch development. Of course, there's always a chance that someone else will strike a deal with Fitbit. Source: Google is reportedly trying to buy Fitbit (via Neowin)
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