Intel Inks Olympics Sponsorship Tech Deal

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Intel Corp. announced on Wednesday it would become a major sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, making the chipmaker the latest technology company to put marketing dollars behind the global sporting event.

Intel and the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday the chip maker will become a world-wide sponsor of the Olympic Games through 2024 in a partnership to bring technologies, such as 5G wireless technology, virtual reality, 360 videos and artificial intelligence to the Olympic viewing experience.

The efforts will start with the next Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, and go through to 2024.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but IOC sources have previously said that major sponsors pay about $100 million per four-year cycle, which includes one summer and one winter games. The IOC has been looking to increase the cost of those deals.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the partnership is part of the committee’s push for the Olympics to embrace and use new technologies to enhance viewers’ experience as well as the future of sports.

“We’ll allow people online to feel like they are there,” IOC chief executive officer Brian Krzanich said, speaking at a press conference in New York.

Intel’s announcement comes one week after McDonald’s Corp. announced it would be ending its Olympics partnership after the 2018 Winter Games, three years before the agreement was set to expire. The fast food giant, which has been an Olympics partner since 1976, expressed a desire to focus on other opportunities.

Intel joins about a dozen global Olympics sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Samsung and most recently, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, which signed on six months ago. The IOC has been trying to make the Olympics more technologically savvy and appeal to younger people through its internet-based TV network, the Olympic Channel.

The rise of digital networks and new media technologies have made up that opportunity exponentially, with more ways presenting those coverages, and more ways to reach more sports fans. Intel working on developing more of these services will directly feed into expanding that machine.

“Intel’s vision is that building a better world is our business. Our vision is building a better world through sport,” said Bach. “So bringing together these two visions will allow us to make great progress with regard to experience through games, as well as promoting the values we are sharing.”

Intel has made a number of moves in the arena of sports to ramp up its involvement in sports as a target vertical for the company’s efforts in emerging areas like VR. They have included acquisitions of Voke VR for immersive sports technology; Replay Technologies for 3D video tech; providing a March Madness experience in VR, and helping provide tech for the X-Games in Aspen and the NBA All-Star Weekend.

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Amazon To Buy Whole Foods Market For $13.7 Billion

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Amazon announced on Friday that it would buy Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion, and pay $42 a share for Texas-based grocery store chain in an all-cash deal that includes the group’s debt.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey will stay as the CEO of the grocery store chain after the deal closes, and the store, the organic grocer that was founded in 1978, will keep operating under the Whole Foods brand as the deal is expected to be done in the second half year.

“This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” Mackey said in a statement.

The deal sent a shocking reaction across both the online and brick-and-mortar industries, uniting two brands that weren’t seen as clear partners. But Whole Foods came under pressure to find a buyer this year after activist investor Jana Partners LLC acquired a stake and started pushing for a deal. Jana’s move annoyed Mackey, who has stated Whole Foods as his “baby.” With Amazon in the play, he gets to keep his job as CEO of the grocery chain.

In Whole Foods, it is acquiring a company that has recently come under pressure from investors for its lagging performance. Whole Foods, whose stores now numbers more than 430 locations, has struggled to appeal more mainstream consumers as Walmart and other large chains have stepped up their sales of natural and organic products.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Mackey said the he agreed to the deal because it is “an opportunity to maximize value” for the company’s shareholders.

Moreover, Amazon’s biggest acquisition so far came in 2014, when it agreed to buy video-game service Twitch Interactive Inc. for $970 million in cash. The Seattle-based company had about $21.5 billion of cash and equivalents at the end of March, the data show.

Whole Foods closed at $33.06 on Thursday. It opened at $34.85, with a session high of $34.97 and a session low of $32.97. Shares were halted in pre-market trading. Meanwhile, Amazon opened at $958.7 and closed at $964.17, with a session high of $965.73 and a session low of $950.86. Shares of Amazon rose 1.5% to $978.88 in pre-market trading.

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IBM Teams Up With Cisco To Fight Off Cybercrime

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International Business Machines Corp., or IBM and Cisco Systems Inc. announced on Wednesday they are working together to address and fight off the rising global threat of cybercrime as the two legacy tech giants will work closely together to improve security effectiveness for customers through technology integration, services and threat intelligence collaboration.

As part of a new deal, Cisco® security solutions will integrate with IBM’s QRadar to protect organizations across networks, endpoints and cloud. The apps will be available on IBM’s Security App Exchange, which had 92 third-party apps as of April, and work with Cisco’s security appliances and malware-prevention software and services to probe and respond to threats. Customers will also benefit from the scale of IBM Global Services support of Cisco products in their Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) offerings.

The San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco and Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM will also add product integrations to connect their portfolios over the course of 2018.The collaboration also establishes a new relationship between the IBM X-Force and Cisco Talos security research teams, who will start working together on threat intelligence research and coordinating on major cybersecurity incidents.

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While partnerships like this are common with smaller players in the cybersecurity space, the news is significant given that the two companies’ collective security businesses amounts to more than $4 billion. As Cybersecurity Ventures expects cybercrime to cost the world some $6 trillion by 2021, the companies stress the need for improved security for cloud-based services.

“Cybercrime is expected to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. This is why IBM has been a proponent of open collaboration and threat sharing in cybersecurity to change the economics for criminals,” said Marc van Zadelhoff, general manager, IBM Security.

“With Cisco joining our immune system of defense, joint customers will greatly expand their ability to enhance their use of cognitive technologies like IBM Watson for Cyber Security. Also, having our IBM X-Force and Cisco Talos teams collaborating is a tremendous advantage for the good guys in the fight against cybercrime.”

He also noted both companies have security businesses producing about $2 billion in annual revenue. Two weeks ago, Cisco reported its security revenue rose 9% annually in the April quarter to $529 million, and that its security deferred revenue balance, boosted by rising subscription software and services revenue,  grew 39%. And CEO Chuck Robbins suggested on the earnings call that Cisco is open to more security M&A. IBM reported its security revenue grew 9% in the first quarter, but didn’t provide a sales number.

Earlier this month, Cisco disappointed with weaker-than-expected current-quarter guidance, cutting 1,110 jobs, and promising to push ahead with its transformation through buyouts, partnerships and other strategic initiatives. As for IBM, the firm has also carried out numerous acquisitions in order to diversify and leverage its unique software and services assets as it faces cloud disruption and heightened competition from players such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., and Microsoft Corp.

The latest deal demonstrates the power of the multinational tech company’s specialized teams, as they seek to partner up with other global leaders across industries and to tap into high-growth markets.

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