China’s Tencent invests in Reddit, sparking protests | Digital

Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments and Sequoia Capital were among the other investors in the round. Reddit is ranked among the most visited …

Reddit, the social network that bills itself as “the front page of the Internet”, continued a recent growth spurt by raising $300 million in new funding from investors including China’s Tencent.

In the following days, users posted links to Reddit depicting imagery banned by Chinese censors.

The TechCrunch website reported about the funding round last week, but that information was unconfirmed until now.

Winnie the Pooh’s image is banned in China because users have mocked the character’s resemblance to China’s President Xi Jinping.

“We are the only company at our scale that is still a private company, so we have had a lot of investor attention in the previous year”, Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman told CNBC.

Founded in 2005, Reddit has consistently drawn an avid, young core user base, with 50% of its 330 million monthly active users between ages 18-24.

Reddit users were quick to question the move as the site is now blocked in China due to the country’s notorious censorship laws.

Reddit’s CEO, Steve Huffman, told CNBC on Monday that values the privately held company at $3 billion. Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments and Sequoia Capital were among the other investors in the round. Reddit is ranked among the most visited USA websites, and has more than 138,000 “communities” for discussions on various topics.

The free speech campaign by Reddit users may ensure that remains the case for some time.

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Reddit Now Worth $3 Billion Thanks to Chinese Tech Giant Tencent

Reddit raised the other $150 million from a number of other high-profile investors, including Fidelity, Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, and Snoop Dogg.
reddit-worth-$3-billion-thanks-to-tencent

Reddit aka “the front page of the internet” is now worth a whopping $3 billion following a recent investment round that saw its value increase by $300 million. Half of that amount came from none other than Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, a company that seems to have a finger in every pie these days. Reddit raised the other $150 million from a number of other high-profile investors, including Fidelity, Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, and Snoop Dogg.

The fact that Tencent decided to invest in another major company isn’t really newsworthy in and of itself. However, what makes this particular investment so odd is that Reddit has been banned in China for some time. Things get even stranger when you consider that Tencent owes a lot of its huge success as a company to the infamous Great Wall of China. This is the very same censorship system that prevents Chinese users from accessing websites like Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, and Skype, among many others.

Tiananmen Square Massacre and Winnie the Pooh

Reddit has always been a place where users could freely share any information they wanted as long as they abided by some very basic rules, which tend to differ from thread to thread. Unsurprisingly, Tencent’s recent move caused a lot of backlash among redditors, many of whom fear that their beloved platform may soon be subject to extreme censorship. Although that’s not very likely to happen as long as Reddit continues to be based in the US, their fears are not entirely unjustified.

The Chinese government is infamous for banning any sort of content that might challenge the status quo. This includes pictures of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, which were violently suppressed by the government and lead to the deaths of around 10,000 civilians. Needless to say, images of the Tiananmen Square Massacre can land you in hot water in China even today. As expected, however, those exact images were shared by tens of thousands of Reddit users these past few days.

Another thing that can get you in trouble in China is sharing pictures of Winne the Pooh. As strange as that may seem, the lovable cartoon bear was banned in the country in 2017. Winnie sort of resembles the Chinese president Xi Jinping and the government was apparently fed up with all the people who were comparing the two on social media. Similar to the Tiananmen Square pictures, images of Winnie the Pooh blew up on Reddit ever since news broke that Tencent is investing in the platform.

Tencent is Bigger Than You May Think

$150 million seems like a lot of money to invest in a platform that you can’t even access from your own country, but that’s virtually just pocket change for Tencent. The Chinese tech giant is worth well over $500 billion and constantly growing thanks to its subsidiaries across a large variety of industries. The company has a hand in everything ranging from web services and entertainment to artificial intelligence and gaming. In total, Tencent owns stakes in hundreds of different companies, including a few well-known US-based ones like Snapchat, Tesla Motors, Activision Blizzard, and Epic Games.

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Recode Daily: Reddit users are posting Winnie the Pooh memes to protest a $150 million …

Food-delivery startup DoorDash is raising about $500 million at a valuation of more than $6 billion; that would be four to five times what DoorDash was …

Reddit has received a $150 million investment from Tencent, the Chinese tech giant behind WeChat and League of Legends, sparking fears of censorship from Reddit users. After rumors of the investment appeared last week, some Reddit users posted images and memes banned in China in protest of Tencent’s involvement: Winnie the Pooh’s likeness is banned in China because users have mocked its resemblance to President Xi Jinping; images of the iconic Tank Man from the Tiananmen Square massacre are censored in China because of state rules aimed at keeping internet users from opposing the government. Meanwhile, China continues to block US-based services it wishes to censor, including Twitch, Google, and Facebook; Reddit has been blocked in China since August. [Shannon Liao / The Verge]

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President Trump signed an executive order meant to spur the development and regulation of artificial intelligence — technology that many experts believe will define the future of everything from consumer products to health care to warfare. AI experts across industry, academia, and government have long called on the Trump administration to make the development of artificial intelligence a major priority. Aimed at better educating workers in the field, improving access to the cloud computing services and data needed to build AI systems and promote cooperation with foreign powers, the “American AI Initiative” — which does not dedicate funding for AI research and development — comes amid concerns that China’s advanced technology development will surpass that of the United States. [Cade Metz / The New York Times]

Warning that the US will lose billions if the DACA program ends, a coalition of more than 100 business leaders and tech executives, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, signed a letter demanding that Congress find a solution to protect people who grew up in the US after entering the country illegally as children with their parents. The Coalition for the American Dream organized the letter, which was published as full-page ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. [Marrian Zhou / CNET]

Food-delivery startup DoorDash is raising about $500 million at a valuation of more than $6 billion; that would be four to five times what DoorDash was valued at in a financing round less than a year ago. Founded in 2013 by Stanford University students, including CEO Tony Xu, DoorDash already has raised close to $1 billion. DoorDash grew faster than any other competitor in the US in the first half of 2018 and held a market share of nearly 18 percent, but it was still behind Uber Eats and Grubhub by market share; Grubhub remained the leader with about 34 percent of total revenue in the US online food delivery market, which was about $17 billion in 2018. [Yuliya Chernova / The Wall Street Journal]

Here’s a look inside — well, around — Apple’s “black site” located a few miles from its glamorous, spaceship-like HQ in Cupertino. Inside the blank-looking building, former workers — most of them employed by Apple contractors who are hired and managed by a firm called Apex Systems — say they came to expect the vending machines to be understocked and to have to wait in line to use the men’s bathrooms. Apex is one tiny part of a sprawling global network of staffing firms working with Apple; it is not even the only firm staffing this facility at Hammerwood Avenue. Places like Hammerwood undermine the mythology of Silicon Valley as a kind of industrial utopia where talented people work themselves to the bone in exchange for outsize salaries and stock options. [Joshua Brustein / Bloomberg]

Luxury department store chain Barneys is taking an unlikely, or perhaps inevitable, detour into cannabis, with its own head shop called the High End. The store-within-a-store is scheduled to open at the Beverly Hills location in March, with other locations in California to follow. The company may also open the pop-up shop in other states, including New York if recreational cannabis becomes legal there. Along with posh paraphernalia like a $950 bong and a $1,475 sterling silver weed grinder, cannabis products will be available by delivery from Beboe, which has been called the “Hermes of marijuana” and is a partner in the venture. [Alex Williams / The New York Times]


Recode presents …

Tune in to Twitter today for a live-tweeted conversation between Recode Editor-at-Large Kara Swisher and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The 90-minute interview begins at 5 pm ET / 2 pm PT at the hashtag #KaraJack. Follow Kara and Recode on Twitter for updates, and tweet your questions for Jack to #KaraJack.


Top stories from Recode

The alternative to your dying local paper is written by one person, a robot, and you.Now profitable, Patch is reemerging as local newspapers decline. [Peter Kafka]

Venture capitalist Roger McNamee was an early investor in Facebook, but now he’s speaking out against the social giant.On the latest episode of Recode Decode, McNamee talks about his new book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe. [Kara Swisher]

This is cool

Who’s a good dog? All of them.

Cats, the movie, will be even more bizarre than the musical.

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Tencent’s $150 Million Investment in Reddit Sparks Censorship Worry

… Rs. 2,100 crores) at a $3 billion (roughly Rs. 21,000 crores) valuation, with investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity, Sequoia, and Tencent, …

Reddit confirmed Monday a new funding round that included a $150 million investment by Chinese technology behemoth Tencent, prompting concerns that “the front page of the internet” might wind up censored.

San Francisco-based Reddit raised a total of $300 million (roughly Rs. 2,100 crores) at a $3 billion (roughly Rs. 21,000 crores) valuation, with investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity, Sequoia, and Tencent, the company’s CEO told CNBC.

The TechCrunch website reported about the funding round last week, but that information was unconfirmed until now.

Reddit said it planned to use the money for international expansion and to enhance its digital ad platform to better compete in a market where Facebook and Google currently take in most of the revenue.

“We are the only company at our scale that is still a private company, so we have had a lot of investor attention in the last year,” Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman told CNBC.

News of Tencent buying into the popular social news website, which is banned in China, prompted concerns by some users that the platform could be vulnerable to the kind of online censorship that takes place in that country.

Reddit users protested, some posting pictures known to be banned in China, such as cartoon character “Winnie the Pooh.”

A “Pooh” picture voted to near the top of the Reddit home page bore the caption: “Since Reddit took a $150 million investment from Chinese Censorship company Tencent, please welcome our leader President Xi.”

Images of the storybook bear were reportedly banned online in China after bloggers used them to represent President Xi Jinping in posts.

Reddit was co-founded by Alexis Ohanian, husband of tennis superstar Serena Williams. Reddit is ranked among the most visited US websites, and has more than 138,000 “communities” for discussions on various topics.

The site boasts that, on average, more than 330 million people use it each month, contending that half of those users range in age from 18 to 24 years old.

Reddit is also known for ask-me-anything (AMA) sessions with well-known people such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former US president Barack Obama.

Tencent has invested in a broad array of companies, including Tesla, Snapchat-parent Snap, and Epic Games – the maker of popular video game Fortnite.

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Summer to feature plenty of family-friendly films

As usual, most of the blockbuster films destined to hit movie theaters this …. For more information on Regal Theaters, visit www.regmovies.com.

As usual, most of the blockbuster films destined to hit movie theaters this summer aren’t really suitable for the youngest members of the family.

Never fear – Hollywood didn’t forget there was money to be made at the box office with family-friendly films this summer.

Following is a list of this year’s most anticipated summer family films.

‘Incredibles 2’

  • Release date: June 15
  • Genre: Action, animation, adventure and family
  • Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Huckleberry “Huck” Milner, Brad Bird, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Jonathan Banks, Sophia Bush and Isabella Rossellini
  • Rated: PG

They’re back!

It’s been 14 years since Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures introduced this superhero family to the world. That means “The Incredibles” hit theaters five years before Disney purchased Marvel Studios and began its domination of the superhero genre.

In “Incredibles 2,” Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack – whose super powers are about to be discovered.

Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.

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SL-familymovies2018-4-transylvania.tif

Vlad (Mel Brooks), Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key), Invisible Man (David Spade), Dracula (Adam Sandler), Mavis (Selena Gomez), Frank (Kevin James) and Eunice (Fran Drescher) take a cruise in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.”

Photo courtesy of SONY PICTURES

‘Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation’

  • Release date: July 13
  • Genre: Animation and family
  • Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key and Mel Brooks
  • Rated: PG

In Sony Pictures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” everyone’s favorite monster family embarks on a vacation, taking a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can enjoy a summer break from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel.

It’s smooth sailing for Drac’s Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.

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From left, Starfire (voiced by Hynden Walch), Robin (voiced by Scott Menville), Cyborg (voiced by Khary Payton), Beast Boy (voiced by Greg Cipes), and Raven (voiced by Tara Strong) are hoping to make it big on the big screen in “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Photo courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES

‘Teen Titans GO! to the Movies’

  • Release date: July 27
  • Genre: Animation and adventure
  • Cast: Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Lil Yachty and Nicolas Cage
  • Rated: PG

“Teen Titans GO! to the Movies” finds these egocentric, wildly satirical superheroes in their first feature film extravaganza – a fresh, gleefully clever, kid-appropriately crass and tongue-in-cheek play on the superhero genre, complete with musical numbers.

It seems to the Teens that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies – everyone but the Teen Titans, that is! But de facto leader Robin is determined to remedy the situation, and be seen as a star instead of a sidekick. If only they could get the hottest Hollywood film director to notice them.

With a few madcap ideas and a song in their heart, the Teen Titans head to Tinsel Town, certain to pull off their dream. But when the group is radically misdirected by a seriously Super-Villain and his maniacal plan to take over the Earth, things really go awry. The team finds their friendship and their fighting spirit failing, putting the very fate of the Teen Titans themselves on the line.

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SL-familymovies2018-2-christopher.jpg

Ewan McGregor plays Christopher Robin opposite his longtime friend Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s live-action adventure “Christopher Robin.”

Courtesy of Disney

‘Christopher Robin’

  • Release date: Aug. 3
  • Genre: Family
  • Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Jim Cummings, Chris O’Dowd, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi and Sophie Okonedo
  • Not yet rated

Winnie-the-Pooh has been a favorite of children since his debut in English author A. A. Milne’s first collection of tales in 1926.

The adorable bear and his fellow Hundred Acre Wood inhabitants became inexorably linked to Walt Disney Productions in 1966 with the release of the animated featurette “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.” More Disney featurettes – and eventually feature films – would follow.

Now, Disney will offer audiences a new take on the Milne’s with a heartwarming live action adventure. In Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.

‘Animal Crackers’

  • Release date: Aug. 10
  • Genre: Comedy, animation and family
  • Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Ian McKellen, Danny DeVito, Sylvester Stallone, Raven-Symone and Patrick Warburton
  • Rated: NA

“Animal Crackers” has had difficulty finding distribution and prior release dates have been rescheduled. Currently, it appears that the Aug. 10 date is relatively firm.

Owen Huntington’s life is one continuous loop of work, eat, and sleep – a loop that sadly keeps him from ever seeing his wife Zoe, or his 3-year-old daughter MacKenzie.

One day, Buffalo Bob, Owen’s long-lost uncle, passes away and leaves his circus to Owen. Owen learns the circus is broke, the animals are all gone and most of the crew are too old to be of any use. However, Owen soon discovers Buffalo Bob’s secret: a box of Animal Crackers that gives the bearer the ability to become any animal in the box.

Just when things are looking up, Buffalo Bob’s brother shows up to try and take everything away from Owen.

  • ‘Duck Duck Goose’

  • Release date: Aug. 24
  • Genre: Comedy, animation and family
  • Cast: Jim Gaffigan, Zendaya Coleman, Lance Lim, Greg Proops, Natasha Leggero, Reggie Watts, Diedrich Bader, Jennifer Grey, Rick Overton, Craig Ferguson, Stephen Fry and Carl Reiner
  • Rated: PG

After he’s grounded by an injury, a high-flying bachelor is saddled with two wide-eyed orphans as they come face-to-face with the dangers and beauty of the outside world in this funny and touching animated feature.

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FERDINAND

Ferdinand (voiced by John Cena) stops and smells the flowers Juan (voiced by Latin music star Juanes) is holding in “Ferdinand.”

Photo courtesy of TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Box office bargains

Several area movie theaters are offering free or discounted kids’ movies this summer.

Studio Movie Grill will offer its Children’s Summer Series at SMG Seminole, 7718 113th St. N., Seminole.

The series offers a budget-friendly entertainment option for families, summer camps and weekday programs and features $1 screenings of recent children films. Films are shown Monday through Friday at 10 a.m.

Following is the SMG Children’s Summer Series schedule:

• May 28-June 1 – “Flushed Away”

• June 4-8 – “The Book of Life”

• June 11-15 – “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

• June 18-22 – “Ferdinand”

• June 25-29 – “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”

• July 2-6 – “The Boss Baby”

• July 9-13 – “Horton Hears a Who”

• July 16-20 – “The Peanuts Movie”

• July 23-27 – “The Croods”

• July 30-Aug. 3 – “The Prince of Egypt”

• Aug. 6-10 – “Megamind”

For information, visit www.studiomoviegrill.com.

The 2018 Summer Movie Express will launch Tuesday, June 5, and will run for 11 weeks at participating Regal Cinema locations. Admission to these films during the Summer Movie Express is $1 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Will Rogers Institute.

The following Tampa Bay area theaters will participate in the 2016 Summer Movie Express:

• Regal Largo Mall 8, 10500 Ulmerton Road E., Largo

• Regal Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19, Pinellas Park

• Regal Citrus Park Stadium 20, 7999 Citrus Park Town Center Mall, Tampa (the series will end Aug. 1 at this location)

Each location will screen two titles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Movies start at 10 a.m. at most locations. Check location for exact show times. All movies are rated either G or PG.

Following is the 2018 Summer Movie Express schedule:

• June 5-6 – “The Iron Giant” and “Curious George”

• June 12-13 – “Despicable Me” and “Ice Age: Collision Course”

• June 19-20 – “Storks” and “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

• June 26-27 – “Despicable Me 2” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

• July 3-4 – “The Lego Movie” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks”

• July 10-11 – “Sing” and “The Peanuts Movie”

• July 17-18 – “The Lego Ninjago Movie” and “Ferdinand”

• July 24-25 – “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”

• July 31-Aug. 1 – “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Trolls”

• Aug. 7-8 – “Minions” and “The Boss Baby”

• Aug. 14-15 – “Paddington 2” and “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”

For more information on Regal Theaters, visit www.regmovies.com.

Cobb Theatres will host the Kids Summer Movie Escape series at Countryside 12, 27001 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater; and at Cobb Tyrone Luxury 10, at Tyrone Square Mall, 6901 22nd Ave. N., St. Petersburg.

The films will be shown Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m., beginning Tuesday, June 12. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. Admission is free. All films are rated either G or PG.

Following is the Cobb Theatres schedule:

• June 12-14 – “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Angry Birds”

• June 19-21 – “Alvin: Road Chip” and “The Lego Batman Movie”

• June 26-28 – “Sing” and “Secret Life of Pets”

• July 3-5 – “Storks” and “The Lorax Movie”

• July 10-12 – “The Peanuts Movie” and “Trolls”

• July 17-19 – “Despicable Me 3” and “Ferdinand”

• July 24-26 – “Emoji Movie” and “The Boss Baby”

• July 31-Aug. 2 – “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”

For more information on Cobb Theatres, visit www.cobbtheatres.com.

Summer Movie Camp will be presented Wednesdays, 10 a.m., at AMC Classic Palm Harbor, 37912 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor. The series runs June 6 through Aug. 1.

Admission is $4 plus tax which includes a KidsPack. The KidsPack includes popcorn, drink and FrootiTooti fruit snacks.

Following is the 2018 Summer Movie Camp schedule:

• June 6 – “The Boss Baby”

• June 13 – “Paddington 2”

• June 20 – “The Lego Batman Movie”

• June 27 – “Ferdinand”

• July 11 – “Trolls”

• July 18 – “Despicable Me 3”

• July 25 – “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”

• Aug. 1 – “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”