Category Archives: Tech News

Spotify Acquires Online Music Game Heardle

The big-name streaming app Spotify has just acquired musical guessing game Heardle.

In a similar style to the popular Wordle game, players in Heardle try to guess the names of songs based on hearing the first note. After each guess, additional notes are played to help users identify the song, until the allotted six chances are up. Since the buyout, players can listen to the full song on Spotify once they’ve used all their guesses.

But, the deal has left some avid fans displeased. Many complain that their stat records have been wiped out. Others are frustrated they can’t play at all anymore, as the game is now available only in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

While acknowledging the slip-ups that have occurred in the initial days following the acquisition, Spotify also explained the company’s hopes and plans for the new deal. The app will remain free and the interface will not change. Heardle will continue to be further integrated into the Spotify platform, facilitating the opportunity for listeners to connect more with the artists they love and to interact with friends.

As with most new endeavors, there are some small bumps in the road and a whole lot of excitement and potential.

What Mohamed Amersi is saying about the Telia deal

Mohamed Amersi
Mohamed Amersi

Mohamed Amersi is generally unknown in Sweden, but in the 2010s he was a legendary dealmaker in the emerging markets of Eurasia. For several years, Telia hired Amersi and his company to facilitate the company’s investments in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, and Uzbekistan. 

As background, Amersi says “I have a long experience of doing M&A business in emerging markets. In Latin America for Telefonica, in the Middle East for Etisalat, Oredoo and Zain, in Africa for Etisalat, MTN and Zain, in Russia for Veon to name a few clients. In total, I have participated in transactions corresponding to approximately 1,000 billion Swedish Kronas.” Within these deals, Amersi provided both legal expertise and input from his corporate, finance, private equity, and venture capital experience.

“At the time of Telia’s business in Eurasia, the company had ambitions to become a global player in telecoms, primarily through acquisitions in emerging markets. To succeed in this,” Amersi explains,  “a successful acquisition strategy was required. At that time, the two merging companies – Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera – already had a presence in Eurasia through the operators Megafon, Turkcell, and Fintur. But the competence of the merged company needed to be strengthened to be able to continue to acquire and manage operators in Eurasia.” As Amersi attests, he is arguably the only person who could both handle the M&A directly, “and had insight into the local culture and could work both sustainably and profitably.”

Amersi reiterates that Telia Sonera was also interested in finding and acquiring operators in other emerging markets. That is why his company was hired for an ongoing role in advisement to merge Swedish-Finnish company. Ultimately, the merger was meant to bring Telia new operators outside of Eurasia, with expansions in emerging countries such as Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, and Ethiopia.

It was precisely Amersi’s cultural litheness and familiarity that allowed him to make valuable contributions to the Telia merger process. To Amersi, his role was “about general advice, resolving ownership disputes, understanding local regulatory issues and not least evaluating and concluding agreements with local partners.” These local partners, says Amersi, are often quite powerful and wealthy; their support is key to making any deal.

“But unlike what has been described in the press, it is not about bribes at all. It is crucial that the deal is started in the right way. It must be made clear to the responsible authorities, regulatory units and other authorities and parties that there will be no bribes.” 

Mohamed Amersi

Toward that end, Amersi adds that the collaboration with prominent local partners must be fully established and clarified from the very beginning. This allows for clearly described roles and responsibilities,” as well as clear payment flows. Amersi also says that local partners must be required to co-own the merged entity, giving them a financial stake (and risk) that come with the co-ownership. Amersi’s insistence on the local partners is in fact built on the principle that “value creation in the merged business that profits and dividends can be made. Not through bribes. It is in collaboration with a weak partner that corruption most often occurs.”

Furthermore, Amersi insists that a culture of giving back must be inherent in any merger process. “It is about creating local jobs, education and skills development locally, and not trying to minimize taxes, but paying full local tax.”

Mohamed Amersi

As for his involvement with Telia, Amersi clarifies “My role in this transaction was of a technical nature…I was asked as an advisor to make a check of the valuation made of Telia’s finance function and to be helpful in developing an optimal structure for the transaction. In addition to my assignment, Telia had hired world-leading lawyers with recognized good competence and experience in negotiating and drafting agreements, as well as conducting audits and due diligence.  I, therefore, did not participate in the negotiations themselves or directly in the implementation of the deal or in any part of the review and due diligence.”

Ultimately, it is clear from the investigations and a conversation with Amersi that not a single error was found, or any remark made.  Telia’s auditors also reviewed the relationship between the companies.  Amersi is a man of truth, integrity, and respect; these are his keywords for trust and transactions of all kinds.

Bitcoin 2022 Dazzles Miami

The Miami Beach Convention Center was hopping last week as participants swarmed to attend the Bitcoin 2022 Conference. With the pandemic dismissing any possible gathering the past two years, cryptocurrency fans made sure to take this opportunity to come out and make their presence known. Over 25,000 people were in attendance each day at the convention center, which was designed as a literal crypto universe. A giant moon hung from the ceiling, reminding attendees to always reach higher. A huge Mars replica couldn’t be missed just a little further away. A spreadsheet was passed around listing details about the many scheduled parties. Fog machines were activated and dance music blared. All the big names of the crypto world were in attendance, if not on stage speaking.

When Bitcoin was first released in 2009, conferences barely attracted more than a dozen attendees. There weren’t enough people willing to take Bitcoins that were being distributed for free. Now, the crypto coin and industry in general has multiplied immensely.

The excitement was clear and the fervor could be felt at the gathering in Miami. With the paramount hustle and bustle throughout the convention center, the energy was contagious. Through all the glitz, though, there was a clear focal point – a 40-foot volcano adorned with the Bitcoin 2022 logo, proudly displaying the ambitious future of crypto. Another impossible-to-miss site was a mechanical bull, again sending the message of a bright future. The lucky participant who rode it the longest was to be awarded a single Bitcoin.

Even before the convention ended, participants were already expressing anticipation for next year’s. Will future crypto gatherings outdo the glamour of Bitcoin 2022? We’ll have to wait to find out!

Honda and Sony Collaborate to Build EVs

In an exciting revelation, Honda and Sony have just announced plans to partner up and develop electric cars. The two Japanese companies have not yet announced the name of their upcoming entity. The vehicles will be manufactured in Honda’s facilities and Sony will provide the mobility service platform. Their goal is to team together this year and begin selling the first car in 2025.

While the joint venture is unique, the announcement is not entirely surprising, as there has been an international push for zero emission vehicles as well as systems that provide more advanced features. This gives tech companies like Sony an opportunity to enter the automobile market. Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida reiterated the vision, remarking: “In the joint venture, we would like to lead the mobility evolution by combining our technology and experience with Honda’s long experience in mobility development and vehicle body manufacturing technologies.” When asked about the possibility of others joining the partnership, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe responded, “In the future, we would like to expand our business with an open mindset,” while adding that the focus remains on building the electric car model for now.

Soc-Media Giants Looking for Clues From Biden Team

The US presidency may have shifted parties, but social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter are in a wait-and-see pattern vis-à-vis President Biden’s approach to the social media sector .

At home, all three platforms have come under fire in recent years for allegedly violating federal antitrust statutes. In December, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit for what the Commission called “a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.” That followed a trifecta of antitrust cases filed against Google.

The companies have also run into trouble in recent months on the socio-cultural stage, with social and political conservatives accusing the platforms of censoring conservative voices, and progressives arguing that the lack of oversight has facilitated the spread of disinformation and fake news.

Here, too, the battle is likely to play out in court: Parler, a Twitter-like platform favored by many conservatives that have been banned by Twitter,  sued Amazon after the latter’s Amazon Web Services announced it would cut service to Parler.

In the international arena, too, the social media giants are facing unprecedented scrutiny and legal challenges. In Brussels, the European Commission has opened an investigation into Google’s advertising practices, while in Australia the company is embroiled in a political fight with Canberra  over paying for news articles that appear in the company’s search results.