GTA: Farm Edition [Moment via Getty Images]
Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar in 2016. Now he has his very own tree species. After the star’s climate activism helped save a critically endangered tree in Cameroon, scientists named it Uvariopsis dicaprio.
Tech stocks jumped today, even though Jerome Powell said at his confirmation hearing that the Fed is prepared to raise interest rates. Omicron is causing a nationwide “sickout,” leading to empty grocery shelves, more flight cancellations, and some closed retailers (even a Walmart). Meanwhile, Facebook-owner Meta is mandating Covid boosters for all office workers.
Grand Theft FarmVille... Instead of rolling in a sleek Zentorno, you're cruising on a goat. Take-Two Interactive agreed to buy mobile-gaming icon Zynga for $12.7B. Zynga makes hit apps like FarmVille, Words With Friends, and CSR Racing. Take-Two is known for computer and console franchises like GTA and NBA 2K — but has started snapping up smartphone games.
Billions in the palm... Wild stat: Consumers now spend more on mobile games than on console and PC games combined. Zynga makes $$ through its in-game buying biz (tokens, etc.), plus its smaller ad biz (accidentally clicked mid-game). The pandemic supercharged scrolly-tappy gaming: In the first quarter of 2021, users spent a record $1.7B per week in mobile games. Also: Children’s screen time soared during the pandemic, and parents and researchers are worried about kids developing gaming addictions.
Mobile can “maxim-eyes”... Maximize users while minimizing costs. We’re spending more time (and money) on our phones. Mobile now accounts for over half of the $180B gaming industry, and is the fastest-growing segment. While social-media games like FarmVille can cost less than $250K to make, GTA 5 cost $265M to develop and market (and took three years to create).
Upping the ante… NY legalized mobile sports betting this weekend, just in time for yesterday’s college-football championship and next week’s NFL playoffs. Before, New Yorkers had to enter New Jersey to bet on sports. Now they can gamble from their couches. Last year US gamblers spent $40B betting on sports — double from 2020.
What happens in Vegas… hasn’t stayed in Vegas. Since the federal sports-betting ban was lifted in 2018, 30 states and DC have legalized live sports betting, but only 18 have legalized mobile betting. NY is the largest state yet to go mobile, but NJ has the highest gambling revenue of any state, snagging one-fifth of the US’s gambling bucks.
The house always wins… but it doesn’t necessarily win big. As gambling is legalized more widely, betting companies’ revenue is expected to 5X by 2026. But new markets don’t guarantee bigger profits: NY’s 51% tax on gambling revenue — 4X as high as NJ’s — will eat into apps’ profits as they grow. Shares of DraftKings and PointsBet have fallen more than 60% over the past year as the companies splurged to compete for customers.
Airport icon Clear has bought Argentinian startup Whyline to help fight the inconvenience and germs of long lines — and not just at TSA checkpoints.
Tune in to hear why line-killing software is having a moment.
Authors of this Snacks own: Bitcoin and shares of Zynga, Clear and Pfizer.