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The gaming business is booming in lockdown. Verizon is doubling down with FaZe Clan.

The sponsorship is focused on Verizon's 5G wireless services.

Fortnite on a gaming computer

Partnering with FaZe Clan associates Verizon with FaZe Clan's more than 80 online influencers and FaZe's professional teams in games, including Fortnite.

Photo: Vlad Gorshkov/Unsplash

With COVID-19 cutting into revenue from wireless and advertising, Verizon is doubling down on one sector of the tech industry that's booming during quarantine: video games.

Verizon plans to announce Tuesday that it has become a lead sponsor of FaZe Clan, one of the world's most popular and influential video gaming organizations. The move comes just a month after Verizon announced a long-term partnership with the professional North American league for League of Legends, the world's most popular esport, which is owned by Riot Games (which is, in turn, controlled by Tencent).

Partnering with FaZe Clan, which recently surpassed 1 billion views on its YouTube channel, associates Verizon with the group's more than 80 online influencers and FaZe's professional teams in games including Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The sponsorship is focused on Verizon's 5G wireless services.

"If Verizon were to pick any two organizations to associate with in esports, FaZe and League of Legends are pretty much the best-case scenario," said Rod "Slasher" Breslau, a leading esports analyst. "Having a company the size of Verizon commit to this space is extremely important to show how video games and esports are one of the few bright spots in terms of reaching the audiences these companies want."

FaZe Clan is building a competitive roster for Valorant, Riot's hot new shooter. People close to the deal said FaZe will soon put Verizon's (undisclosed amount of) money to work as it expands into Valorant, including as prize money for a new Valorant tournament to be announced as soon as Tuesday. The new tournament, part of Valorant's Ignition Series, would be an element of FaZe's expansion from recorded into live gaming content.

"Gaming and esports are already at a critical mass, and this relationship with FaZe is about how to take it to the next level, both from a B-to-B standpoint but also from a consumer and player perspective," said John Nitti, Verizon's chief media officer.

Jeffrey Pabst, FaZe's chief revenue officer, said: "People look for a technology partner on the esports side, but we're also a content company turning out huge amounts of content on our phones and other devices. Verizon, especially with their 5G infrastructure, is going to take what we're doing and put it on steroids."

Protocol | Enterprise

Alphabet goes deep into industrial robotic software with Intrinsic

If it succeeds, the gambit could help support Google Cloud's lofty ambitions in the manufacturing sector.

Alphabet is aiming to make advanced robotic technology affordable to customers.

Photo: Getty Images

Alphabet launched a new division Friday called Intrinsic, which will focus on building software for industrial robots, per a blog post. The move plunges the tech giant deeper into a sector that's in the midst of a major wave of digitization.

The goal of Intrinsic is to "give industrial robots the ability to sense, learn, and automatically make adjustments as they're completing tasks, so they work in a wider range of settings and applications," CEO Wendy Tan White wrote in the post.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@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.

As President of Alibaba Group, I am often asked, "What is Alibaba doing in the U.S.?"

In fact, most people are not aware we have a business in the U.S. because we are not a U.S. consumer-facing service that people use every day – nor do we want to be. Our consumers – nearly 900 million of them – are located in China.

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J. Michael Evans
Michael Evans leads and executes Alibaba Group's international strategy for globalizing the company and expanding its businesses outside of China.
People

To combat disinformation, centralize moderation

There's more to content moderation than deplatforming.

In addition to interplatform collaboration, big tech companies would also benefit from greater collaborations with academic researchers, government agencies or other private entities, the authors argue.

Image: Twitter

Yonatan Lupu is an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. Nicolás Velasquez Hernandez is a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs and a postdoctoral researcher at GW's Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' signing of a bill that penalizes social media companies for deplatforming politicians was yet another salvo in an escalating struggle over the growth and spread of digital disinformation, malicious content and extremist ideology. While Big Tech, world leaders and policymakers — along with many of us in the research community — all recognize the importance of mitigating online and offline harm, agreement on how best to do that is few and far between.

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Protocol | Fintech

Marqeta turns to a fintech outsider

Randy Kern, a Salesforce and Microsoft veteran, is taking a plunge into the payments world.

Randy Kern is joining Marqeta after decades at Microsoft and Salesforce.

Photo: Marqeta

Marqeta has just named a new chief technology officer. And it's an eyebrow-raising choice for a critical post as the payments powerhouse faces new challenges as a public company.

Randy Kern, who joined Marqeta last month, is a tech veteran with decades of engineering and leadership experience, mainly in enterprise software. He worked on Microsoft's Azure and Bing technologies, and then went on to Salesforce where he last served as chief customer technology officer.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers 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 Signal at (510)731-8429.

Protocol | Policy

What can’t Jonathan Kanter do?

Biden's nominee to lead the DOJ's antitrust section may face calls to remove himself from issues as weighty as cracking down on Google and Apple.

DOJ antitrust nominee Jonathan Kanter's work as a corporate lawyer may require him to recuse himself from certain cases.

Photo: New America/Flickr

Jonathan Kanter, President Joe Biden's nominee to run the Justice Department's antitrust division, has been a favorite of progressives, competitors to Big Tech companies and even some Republicans due to his longtime criticism of companies like Google.

But his prior work as a corporate lawyer going after tech giants may require him to recuse himself from some of the DOJ's marquee investigations and cases, including those involving Google and Apple.

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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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