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Former Eidos president and frequent game startup adviser Keith Boesky passes away



Keith Boesky, former president of Tomb Raider publisher Eidos and a frequent adviser to game companies at Boesky & Co., has died from cancer, according to posts from his family and friends.

Boesky started in the game industry as an attorney at the law firm Cooley Godward in 1993, after he cold-called a game developer. By 1996, he had built one of the largest practices for game companies in the country. One of his clients was Eidos plc, ahead of its initial public offering. In writing that prospectus, Boesky theorized that games could be used as platforms for intellectual property.

In 1997, Boesky became the president of Eidos (a United Kingdom-based company that was later acquired by Square Enix), with the task of moving the newly launched Tomb Raider video game across all media. He moved to Los Angeles and set up a series of innovative game projects for “A list” talent and brands. In 2002, he joined the talent agency ICM, where he worked for two years. During that time, he brought games into film and TV, and he also took media clients into games, anime, and comic books.

“I loved Keith dearly,” said Jules Urbach, CEO of Otoy, in an email. “He was one of the kindest and most amazing human beings I have ever worked with, and also had the pleasure to call my friend. He was selfless and brilliant and believed in me more than anyone when I was just starting my career. I can’t believe he is gone.”

Above: Keith Boesky at GamesBeat 2015.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

In 2004, he set up Boesky & Co., working with game developers and intellectual property owners to take them across various media and to make the transition into mobile and cloud-based platforms. As a deal maker, he said that Boesky & Co. had closed more game and intellectual property deals than any agency in the world.

“Keith was a long time friend and advisor to Two Bit Circus. He agreed to help us really early, when Eric and I were just a couple of nerds in an empty warehouse with an idea about how entertainment could be different,” said Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus, in an email. “He didn’t hesitate and threw in with us without caring about the deal or what was in it for him. He made introductions, drove al the way downtown to coach us and was generally a big supporter. The past few few times I saw him, my favorite thing was how he would brag about his son! He always had a new story about the cool company that Kevin was working at or interesting project he was on. It seemed to be at the top of him mind all the time. I loved seeing that pride in him.”

I knew Boesky for a long time, and I was sad when he told me he could not attend our most recent GamesBeat Summit because he was battling cancer. Back in 2008, Boesky and I were talking about the thin crowds of the rebooted Electronic Entertainment Expo, at a time when the show had dwindled from tens of thousands of people to only a few thousand people attendees. He described the show as “post apocalyptic,” which was quite true.

He was comfortable moving among the movers and shakers of the game industry. At GamesBeat 2015, Boesky moderated a fireside chat with Emily Greer, former head of browser-based game company Kongregate. You can see from the video that he knew the games business thoroughly and was very sharp.

He served on the advisory board or was an adviser for Riot Games, Scopely, Improbable, Osterhout Design Group, Otoy, Two Bit Circus, Wonder, Futurefly, Instacator, Battlefy, Playdek, Spaces, and Amplify. He held an economics degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. He attended La Jolla High School near San Diego, California.

“Keith was a wonderful person. He loved games. He was always ready to help everyone,” said Andy Kleinman, CEO of Wonder, in an email. “What I loved about his style was that he would be honest and direct about his thoughts no matter what. He loved to push people to be better, to think harder, and to follow their intuition to make a better product, take chances, and defy the odds. It’s not a coincidence that he always picked hard companies to help, wether it was a small games studio with limited resources, or massive, difficult and ambitious endeavors such as Wonder, ODG and Improbable.”

Above: Keith Boesky

Image Credit: Shiraz Akmal

Kleinman added, “I learned a ton about the gaming and entertainment industries thanks to Keith. He’s also made many very valuable introductions over the years, and I know that many people took my ideas seriously because of his endorsement. Beyond business, I loved that I could talk with Keith about everything. We shared our love about not just games and movies, but also cars, science and innovation. The closer we became as friends, I learned a great deal about his love and relationship to his wife Sari and his son Kevin. That was very inspiring for me as I got married and had my first son.”


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Smartphone deals make it easy to overspend



Overspending at the holidays isn’t a new problem, but a modern culprit may now be to blame: their smartphones.

Mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay typically are free, and people can use them to quickly purchase an item in a store or online. Without any speed bumps to checking out, consumers tend to not only spend more but make more frequent purchases, according to research published last year from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, New York University and Nanjing University.

That can be doubly dangerous during the holidays, when checklists are long and stress levels high. Almost half of Americans say they experience intense personal stress around the holidays, while one in four expect to take on debt to finance their purchases, according to a recent survey from Credit Karma.

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“Everybody’s to-do list is a mile long, and we appreciate it when we don’t have to work that hard to take something off of that to-do list,” says Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at “That’s a lot of the appeal of these apps and these kinds of new mobile payments.”

But, he adds, “Much of the innovation that’s going on now, whether it’s contactless credit cards or apps or personal loans, is to separate folks from their money more easily and more quickly.”

Aside from mobile payment apps, merchants are also directly targeting consumers through ads on Instagram and other social media services. Mobile wallets and social media purchases are particularly popular with millennials and Gen Z consumers, according to new data from

Lastly, point-of-sale loans also encourage higher spending. These loans are offered by thousands of merchants including major retailers like Walmart, and through fintech firms such as Affirm and Afterpay when you check out.

Instead of paying upfront, these loans allow consumers to pay for a purchase over a number of weeks or months, or what Schulz describes as “layaway without the wait.” But they can spur consumers to spend more, with Affirm saying consumers boost their average order by about 90% when offered one of their loans.

Don’t ignore the little purchases

Consumers who use mobile wallets tend to spend 2.4% more on the typical transaction, according to the study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That might not seem like a lot, but consumers boosted the frequency of transactions by 24% when using mobile wallets. In other words, consumers end up spending more because they tend to buy more frequently when using mobile apps.

“Small, regular purchases add up and, if you’re not careful, this spending can have a negative impact on your overall financial health,” says Dana Marineau, vice president and financial advocate at Credit Karma.

Plan, plan, plan

Don’t start your holiday shopping without a budget, says Schulz. Aside from tracking your regular income and expenses, maintain a list of what you want to buy for friends and family members to avoid splurges or unplanned expenditures.

“For the average American this holiday season, a budget is absolutely crucial,” he says. “You can’t make great decisions about controlling your spending if you don’t know exactly how much you are spending and how much money you bring in.”

Research point-of-sale loans

Lastly, research point-of-sale loans before jumping into one, no matter how tempting it might be. Some loans charge interest, while others make money by charging late fees. Understanding the fine print will help you avoid an unwelcome surprise later on. And remember that these loans are another form of debt that are approved within seconds but lock you into months of repayments.

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“Debt is debt,” says Credit Karma’s Marineau. “The question is, can you take it on? This might seem obvious, but ask yourself if you can afford to take on more debt than you already have.” 

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Uber reports a sharp rise in government demands for user data – TechCrunch



Uber says the number of legal demands for riders’ data made by U.S. and Canadian authorities has risen sharply in the past year.

The ride-hailing company said the number of law enforcement demands for user data during 2018 are up 27% on the year earlier, according to its annual transparency report published Wednesday. Uber said the rise in demands was partly due to its business growing in size, but also a “rising interest” from governments to access data on its customers.

Uber said it received 3,825 demands for 21,913 user accounts from the U.S. government, with the company turning over some data in 72% of cases, during 2018.

That’s up from 2,940 demands for 17,181 user accounts a year earlier, with a slightly higher compliance rate of 73%.

Canadian authorities submitted 161 demands for data on 593 user accounts during 2018.

Uber said that the rise in demands for customer data presents a challenge for the ride-hailing company, previously valued at $82 billion, which went public in May. “Our responsibility to preserve consumer privacy while meeting regulatory and public safety obligations will become increasingly complex and challenging as we field a growing number of government requests for data every year,” said Uttara Sivaram, Uber’s global privacy and security public policy chief.

The company also said it disclosed ride information on 34 million users to U.S. regulators and 1.8 million users to Canadian regulators, such as local taxi and transport authorities. Uber said it is mandated to give over the information to regulators as part of the “bespoke legal and regulatory requirements to which we are subject,” which can include pickup and drop-off locations, fares, and other data that may “identify individual riders,” the company said.

Uber isn’t the only company fielding a record number of demands from governments. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have all reported a rise in government demands over the past year as their customer base continues to grow while governments become increasingly hungry for companies’ data.

But Uber’s figures only offer insight into only the largest portions of its businesses — its consumer and business ride-hailing services, food delivery, and electric scooters — and only covers the North America, despite operating in hundreds of cities around the world.

Despite the rise in overall law enforcement requests, Uber said it “has not received a national security request” to date.

Such disclosures are rare but not unheard of. Most national security demands, such as orders issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and FBI-issued subpoenas, are coupled with secrecy rules that prevent the companies from disclosing anything about the demand. By proactive posting these so-called “warrant canary” statements, companies can quietly reveal when they have received such orders by removing the statements from their websites.

Apple famously used a warrant canary in its first transparency report in the wake of the NSA surveillance scandal, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. In 2016, Reddit quietly removed its warrant canary suggesting it had received a classified order.

Although the First Amendment protects government-compelled speech, the legality of warrant canaries remain legally questionable.


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Using technology could help fans get closer: Mercedes F1 Team | East Tech West



Harry Wang, head of brand partnership, Greater China at Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula One Team discusses the use of technology to create an immersive experience.


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