Entertainment

Battle various stars in MultiVersus, get lost in ‘Belle’, plus more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Battle various stars in MultiVersus, get lost in ‘Belle’, plus more weekend recs
Image: Toho; Warner Bros. Games; Bloomberg

This week we’re jumping into an overnight, free-to-play brawler; one of the best Japanese dubs we’ve heard in a while; and a look inside a fringe subculture of anarchists.

MultiVersus is a free-to-play brawler that’s an overnight hit

MultiVersus, the new fighting game from Warner Bros., has proven to be more than just a Smash Bros. clone. Developed by Player First Games, the free-to-play brawler, out now in beta, features a truly bizarre assortment of playable characters from across the Warner Bros. Discovery portfolio, including “Scooby Doo” favorites Shaggy and Velma, Finn and Jake from Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time,” LeBron James (from his “Space Jam” role) and Arya Stark from “Game of Thrones.” It shouldn't work as well as it does, but MultiVersus has miraculously become an overnight hit, rising on the Twitch charts and attracting the attention of the pro fighting game community.

‘Belle’: A tale as old as time, with a modern twist

The latest movie from Japanese animator Mamoru Hosoda is a visual feast of film, featuring gorgeous color work and animation alongside stunning set pieces and character design. The film is a take on the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” with a modern twist that helps the movie transmit relevant themes about the internet, social media and human connection in ways a more straightforward adaptation couldn’t.

The English voice cast, which includes lead actress and singer Kylie McNeill performing the film’s original songs, translated from Japanese, also makes the dub one of the best I’ve heard in years. “Belle” released this week on HBO Max, and it’s well worth the time of any Miyazaki fan or those who’ve been acquainted with recent fantasy hits like Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” and “Weathering With You.”

The pay-to-play of popular podcasts

The podcast industry has ballooned into a powerful pillar of the modern media industry, but a dark secret of the guest appearance circuit is the rampant pay-to-play. Some guests are forking over as much as $50,000 to appear on popular pods, according to a new report from Bloomberg, with hosts and guests rarely informing listeners of the deal. The story sheds light on what appears to be a widespread practice in podcast categories like wellness, cryptocurrency and business, undermining the integrity of shows that are effectively running advertising without disclosure.

How a fringe subculture is born

HBO’s new documentary series “The Anarchists” is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the stunning growth of a fringe subculture of anarchists who fled the U.S. to Acapulco, Mexico, to try to build their utopian world: no state authority, taxes or drug laws. The director, Todd Schramke, is deep within the community, having befriended many of its high-profile personalities over six years of filming. The series, which airs its fifth episode on Sunday, offers a profoundly intimate look at the personal lives of a sprawling anarchist community, its flagship conference in Acapulco and how the whole affair devolves into crime and tragedy.

A version of this story also appeared in today’s Entertainment newsletter; subscribe here.

Policy

Musk’s texts reveal what tech’s most powerful people really want

From Jack Dorsey to Joe Rogan, Musk’s texts are chock-full of überpowerful people, bending a knee to Twitter’s once and (still maybe?) future king.

“Maybe Oprah would be interested in joining the Twitter board if my bid succeeds,” one text reads.

Photo illustration: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images; Protocol

Elon Musk’s text inbox is a rarefied space. It’s a place where tech’s wealthiest casually commit to spending billions of dollars with little more than a thumbs-up emoji and trade tips on how to rewrite the rules for how hundreds of millions of people around the world communicate.

Now, Musk’s ongoing legal battle with Twitter is giving the rest of us a fleeting glimpse into that world. The collection of Musk’s private texts that was made public this week is chock-full of tech power brokers. While the messages are meant to reveal something about Musk’s motivations — and they do — they also say a lot about how things get done and deals get made among some of the most powerful people in the world.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

Circle’s CEO: This is not the time to ‘go crazy’

Jeremy Allaire is leading the stablecoin powerhouse in a time of heightened regulation.

“It’s a complex environment. So every CEO and every board has to be a little bit cautious, because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told Protocol at Converge22.

Photo: Circle

Sitting solo on a San Francisco stage, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire asked tennis superstar Serena Williams what it’s like to face “unrelenting skepticism.”

“What do you do when someone says you can’t do this?” Allaire asked the athlete turned VC, who was beaming into Circle’s Converge22 convention by video.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Enterprise

Is Salesforce still a growth company? Investors are skeptical

Salesforce is betting that customer data platform Genie and new Slack features can push the company to $50 billion in revenue by 2026. But investors are skeptical about the company’s ability to deliver.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salesforce has long been enterprise tech’s golden child. The company said everything customers wanted to hear and did everything investors wanted to see: It produced robust, consistent growth from groundbreaking products combined with an aggressive M&A strategy and a cherished culture, all operating under the helm of a bombastic, but respected, CEO and team of well-coiffed executives.

Dreamforce is the embodiment of that success. Every year, alongside frustrating San Francisco residents, the over-the-top celebration serves as a battle cry to the enterprise software industry, reminding everyone that Marc Benioff’s mighty fiefdom is poised to expand even deeper into your corporate IT stack.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a writer-at-large at Protocol. He previously covered enterprise software for Protocol, Bloomberg and Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JoeWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Policy

The US and EU are splitting on tech policy. That’s putting the web at risk.

A conversation with Cédric O, the former French minister of state for digital.

“With the difficulty of the U.S. in finding political agreement or political basis to legislate more, we are facing a risk of decoupling in the long term between the EU and the U.S.”

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cédric O, France’s former minister of state for digital, has been an advocate of Europe’s approach to tech and at the forefront of the continent’s relations with U.S. giants. Protocol caught up with O last week at a conference in New York focusing on social media’s negative effects on society and the possibilities of blockchain-based protocols for alternative networks.

O said watching the U.S. lag in tech policy — even as some states pass their own measures and federal bills gain momentum — has made him worry about the EU and U.S. decoupling. While not as drastic as a disentangling of economic fortunes between the West and China, such a divergence, as O describes it, could still make it functionally impossible for companies to serve users on both sides of the Atlantic with the same product.

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Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

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