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The thing that frustrates us is why haven’t we been successful in India, says Netflix’s Reed Hastings



On January 20, the Netflix stock fell to $404.5 apiece in after-market trade on NASDAQ. This was a correction of over 21.5 percent—or $111.36 apiece—compared to the January 19 close of $515.86 apiece.

The fall also led to a decline of $45 billion in Netflix’s market value, and the reason for the dip is the streaming major’s forecast of 2.5 million subscribers in the current (January-March) quarter of 2022 (Q1 2022).

This is a substantial decline compared to 4.0 million subscribers Netflixadded in Q1 2021. For the record, Netflix closed 2021 with 222 million paid subscribers, of which 8.3 million were added in Q4 2021 — the actual addition was slightly lower than the 8.5 million it has forecasted for the period.

The share price reaction indicates that the market participants could be think that Netflix’s COVID-catalysed growth ride is fading.

“While retention and engagement remain healthy, acquisition growth has not yet re-accelerated to pre-COVID-19 levels,” Netflix said in its earnings release.

“We think this may be due to several factors including the ongoing COVID-19 overhang and macro-economic hardship in several parts of the world like LATAM (Latin America),” the release added.

In the post-result webcast where Netflix CXO’s discussed the financial performance, India – where Netflix had lowered its subscription prices across all its plans on December 13 last year – was a subject of a longer discussion.

Netflix’s release said that India is fairly unique because pay TV pricing is very low. “We believe these new prices will make Netflix more accessible to a broader swath of the population – strengthening our value perception,” it added. “Our goal is to maximise long term revenue in each of our markets.”

However, during the webcast, when the management was asked as to what is Netlfix trying to achieve with the price change in India, Greg Peters, COO and Chief Product Officer, Netflix said that the price change follows a whole set of activities that Netflix has been doing in India over the years of its operations, and learning more about the Indian consumer’s taste, and that’s broadening the offering of service across many different dimensions.

At the core is the content and programming, and seeking to expand that would provide an increased variety and range of products that appeals as attractive to more people in India, said Greg.

Looking at sum total of all the activities, it was the right time to decrease our prices there to increase the accessibility of the content to more Indian consumers,” said Greg.

He further added that Netflix wanted to reduce prices, not just with mobile which is a lower entry point, but do it across the range of plans it had under the theory that some of the features that members watch on TV with the basic plan unlocks more value in the service and therefore creates more retention, more attractiveness to those plan types for the Indian consumers.

“We were doing with the lens of what’s the long-term of revenue maximisation,” said Greg, adding that the leadership anticipated that as Netflix decreases the ARM (average revenue per membership), it would make it up in more subscriber additions.

“Its still very early in looking at India, as retention takes a couple of months to get a clean read on,” said Greg. “But, the early data that we are seeing supports the positive read on that lens of revenue maximisation.”

Reed Hastings, Founder and Co-CEO of Netflix, took no time to chip in at this point, and he highlighted that what is unique about India is cable, which is about is $3 per month, per household.

“So there, we are differently pricing then rest of the world, which does impact consumer expectations,” said Reed.

Fast-forward six months, or 12 months, from now, if this (reduced price) approach doesn’t give the desired results, would Netflix then consider right-sizing its content spend, or consider an ad-supported model?

Reeds said that it’s still a long time before Netflix adjust materially. “Because our experience in Brazil was brutal for the first couple of years,” said Reeds.

Netflix’s experience in Japan, though a very different market in terms of affluence, was not never positive in the beginning. It took Netflix quite a while to unlock all the components – product-market fit and getting the right content.  

“But once you get the fly-wheel spinning, it’s (Japan) been a tremendous market for us in terms of growth of membership and revenue,” said Greg.

“The great news is that in every single major market we’ve got the fly-wheel spinning,” said Reeds. “The thing that frustrates us is why haven’t we been successful in India,” he added with a wide smile. “But we are definitely leading in there”.

“We are quite bullish that India isn’t fundamentally different in some way that we can’t figure out how to tailor our service offering to be attractive to Indian consumers who love entertainment,” Greg added.

Clearly, India, and last month’s 16-80 percent price slashing across subscription plans here, seem to be Netflix’s big bet at the time when the bumper growth propelled by the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be fading.

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Down rounds are still rare by historical standards • TechCrunch



If you thought that the recent venture capital market was tough, let me tell you about 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

With the first week of December under our belts, we’re not too far away from the end of the year. And that means that 2022’s venture capital story has largely been written. It’s not a single narrative; instead, this year started on a high, with momentum from the monstrous 2021 funding period persisting into the new year. From that point, we’ve seen a slowdown accelerate into what some consider a downturn.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.

Startups raised lots of capital this year. Less, yes, than last year, but more than in nearly any year in recent memory. It’s still a good time to build a tech upstart.

Does that perspective feel too sunny when we hear so much doom and gloom on Twitter regarding startup prospects in a more conservative investing climate?

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Howie Mandel gets a digital twin from DeepBrain AI



Howie Mandel is stepping into the metaverse. DeepBrain AI has created a pretty realistic AI version of comedian and actor Mandel.

Deepbrain AI, based in South Korea and Palo Alto, California, calls its creation “AI Howie,” and it’s an interactive virtual human and digital twin for immersive and personalized fan experiences. AI Howie mentions VentureBeat and talks to me in the attached videos.

Unlike the “deepfakes” of Tom Cruise and other actors, the real Howie Mandel cooperated with DeepBrain AI to create the virtual human AI replica of the famous comedian, actor, host, and technology enthusiast. We used “virtual Paris” AI character at our recent MetaBeat event in San Francisco.

“I am equally thrilled, excited, and terrified to finally have the ability of showing up and doing things without going anywhere or doing anything,” said Mandel, in a statement. “Thank you, DeepBrain.”

DeepBrain AI applies deep learning technology to create hyper-realistic virtual humans through its AI Studios and the AI Human platforms. These virtual humans are digital twins of the real person, with the same appearance, voice, gestures, and subtle mannerisms. The AI Studios platform enables script-to-video software that synthesizes dynamic video content in seconds, producing the quickest and most
realistic AI-generated videos. The script-to-video editor makes it easy for customers to select a model and then make it say something based on a script. Within a minute or so the video is made.

This is a powerful communication and marketing tool for celebrities, professional athletes, news anchors, and even politicians. Before working with Howie Mandel, the DeepBrain AI team created digital twins of Premier League soccer superstar Son Heung-Min, multiple news anchors across Asia, and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol.

Joe Murphy, business development manager for DeepBrain AI, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the virtual Howie is a conversational model that you pepper with questions. DeepBrain AI designs and develops these virtual humans for the purpose of creating digital twins (like Howie Mandel), digital people, and avatars.

It takes about four weeks of machine learning work to create a Howie Mandel digital twin.

“We create models of real people,” Murphy said. “We also have completely synthetic virtual humans. That is what we’ll call digital people. And then avatars are just the basic Roblox type of avatars. But where our technology comes in with the digital twins is we go through a deep learning process to clone the person’s voice, their mannerisms, their face, the way their eyes move, the way their lips move.”

He added, “So we create what we call the digital twin of the real person with all the uniqueness of that person. Our mission is to use this technology that we’ve developed throughout Asia and bring it to America.”

In addition to the script-to-video capabilities, the company provides fully conversational experiences with its AI Human software. The AI Human solution enables fans to interact and engage with AI Howie by simply asking questions. For example, when asked, “What was your favorite act on AGT this season?” the AI Howie model responds in real-time to support interactive, fun, and engaging fan experiences.

AI Humans are available within mobile apps, web browsers, or voice-activated kiosks.

“Our vision is to humanize digital experiences and empower creative teams to generate immersive content at scale,” said Eric Jang, DeepBrain AI CEO. “Working with Howie Mandel was a fun experience, and we are excited to see how the AI Howie collaboration will connect with his fans worldwide.”

DeepBrain AI, (formerly Moneybrain), a conversational AI startup based in Seoul, South Korea, has raised $44 million in a series B round led by Korea Development Bank at a post-money valuation of $180 million. The company started in 2016 and it has raised $54 million to date. The company has 130 employees.

The AI is being used for AI news anchors in South Korea and China at four different television networks. The networks flag that the anchor is an AI avatar so that no one gets confused.

The real Howie Mandel spent about a day shooting video with DeepBrain AI.

While multiple companies are working on virtual humans, DeepBrain AI’s avatars are hyperrealistic. One of Asia’s largest insurance companies is also using it, as is a “brand ambassador” for a soccer team.

“When we worked with Howie Mandel, we went down to his studio in Los Angeles, we provided a script, and fed our training data into our neural network,” Murphy said.

It took about a day to do a video shoot with Mandel and about three to four weeks of machine learning time on the computers to generate the first AI model.

Back in January, DeepBrain AI opened its office in Palo Alto, California, and it is talking to partners in Silicon Valley and the rest of the U.S. Over time, Murphy said that the hope is to create AI avatars in realistic 3D for the metaverse. In South Korea, kiosks are appearing in places like banks with both 2D avatars and 3D avatars.

Over time, Murphy said the avatars have gotten better at mannerisms, lip sync, and subtle gestures. The speed of real-time responses in conversations has also gotten faster. The company is talking about doing more with game companies and major brands.

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This Doggy DNA Test Ships Free for the Holidays



Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every pet owner wants the best for their animal sidekick. They want to spend as much time as possible with them, even at the office. But being the best dog owner you can be isn’t all about just being present. It helps to understand your dog on a genotypic as well as phenotypic level. That’s one reason why doggy DNA tests have become so popular.

DNA My Dog

If you’re wondering what to get for your pooch this holiday season, look no further than the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test. If you order by December 8, you’ll get free shipping, but that date is coming up fast so don’t delay.

This simple, painless kit requires just a swab of your dog’s cheek to get a detailed report delivered in two weeks or less. That report includes a custom photo certificate of the breed breakdown found in your dog’s genetic breed composition, a percentage breakdown of the levels found in your dog’s DNA, and a report on the dominant breeds, personality traits, and health concerns that your dog may be genetically predisposed to. All of that information will help you be a better friend to your dog, making smarter decisions about food, training, and healthcare.

The DNA My Dog Kit was awarded at the 2020 GHO Biotechnology Awards and user Bonnie H. writes, “I loved this experience!!! The kit came immediately with great instructions. The results came exactly when promised. When I couldn’t open the attachment with the results, I emailed my concern and got instant help! To find out his DNA has been the coolest experience!”

Lock in free shipping on a unique gift for your dog by December 8. Grab the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test on sale for 24% off $79 at just $59.99 now.

Prices subject to change.

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