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98-375 HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals

Exam Title : Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) - HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals
Exam ID : 98-375
Exam Duration : 45 mins
Questions in test : 40-60
Passing Score : 700 / 1000
Official Training : 40375A: HTML5 application development fundamentals: MTA test 98-375 (three days)
40034A: Software development fundamentals with HTML5: Training 2-Pack for MTA Exams 98-361 and 98-375 (five days)
Exam Center : Pearson VUE
Real Questions : Microsoft HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals Real Questions
VCE practice questions : Microsoft 98-375 Certification VCE Practice Test

Topic Details Weights Manage the application life cycle Understand the platform fundamentals
- Packaging and the runtime environment: app package, app container, credentials/permission sets, host process, leverage existing HTML5 skills and content for slate/tablet applications Manage the state of an application
- Manage session state, app state, and persist state information; understand states of an application; understand the differences between local and session storage Debug and test an HTML5-based, touch-enabled application
- Touch gestures; understand which gestures you test on a device 20-25% Build the user interface (UI) by using HTML5 Choose and configure HTML5 tags to display text content Choose and configure HTML5 tags to display graphics
- When, why, and how to use Canvas; when, why, and how to use scalable vector graphics (SVG) Choose and configure HTML5 tags to play media
- Video and audio tags Choose and configure HTML5 tags to organize content and forms
- Tables, lists, sections; semantic HTML Choose and configure HTML5 tags for input and validation 25-30% Format the user interface by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Understand the core CSS concepts
- Separate presentation from content (create content with HTML and style content with CSS); manage content flow (inline versus block flow); manage positioning of individual elements( float versus absolute positioning); manage content overflow (scrolling, visible, and hidden); basic CSS styling Arrange UI content by using CSS
- Use flexible box and grid layouts to establish content alignment, direction, and orientation; proportional scaling and use of "free scale" for elements within a flexible box or grid; order and arrange content; concepts for using flex box for simple layouts and grid for complex layouts; grid content properties for rows and columns; use application templates Manage the flow of text content by using CSS
- Regions and using regions to flow text content between multiple sections (content source, content container, dynamic flow, flow-into, flow-from, msRegionUpdate, msRegionOverflow, msGetRegionContent); columns and hyphenation and using these CSS settings to optimize the readability of text; use "positioned floats" to create text flow around a floating object Manage the graphical interface by using CSS
- Graphics effects (rounded corners, shadows, transparency, background gradients, typography, and Web Open Font Format); two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) transformations (translate, scale, rotate, skew, and 3-D perspective transitions and animations); SVG filter effects; Canvas 20-25% Code by using JavaScript Manage and maintain JavaScript
- Create and use functions; jQuery and other third-party libraries Update the UI by using JavaScript
- Locate/access elements; listen and respond to events; show and hide elements; update the content of elements; add elements Code animations by using JavaScript
- Use animation; manipulate the canvas; work with images, shapes, and other graphics Access data access by using JavaScript
- Send and receive data; transmit complex objects and parsing; load and save files; App Cache; datatypes; forms; cookies; localStorage Respond to the touch interface
- Gestures, how to capture and respond to gestures Code additional HTML5 APIs
- GeoLocation, Web Workers, WebSocket; File API Access device and operating system resources
- In- memory resources, such as contact lists and calendar; hardware capabilities, such as GPS, accelerometer, and camera 30-35%
HTML5 Application Development Fundamentals
Microsoft Fundamentals reality
Killexams : Microsoft Fundamentals reality - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/98-375 Search results Killexams : Microsoft Fundamentals reality - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/98-375 https://killexams.com/exam_list/Microsoft Killexams : Poster boys of ‘new normal’ are facing reality check

Medha Deb Roy had just landed her first job when her father fell seriously ill in 2016. The world was not yet familiar with the term WFH, but she requested her employer to let her work from home so that she could care for him. “Luckily, the MNC I was working with was understanding, and did create the environment for me. My clients did not even realise I was working remotely,” she said.

You don’t get the ‘persona’ on a Microsoft Teams call! Personality is a very important factor in product, manufacturing and services industries. —Bhupindra Singh, managing director (north India), Colliers

Many companies have come to the realisation that when it comes to engagement and retention, the fundamentals of employee connect still haven’t changed. —Jeevant Kumar, senior director and head of HR at Lam Research

The main reason companies wanted people to come back is to control attrition. —Rishi Das, CEO and cofounder of the co-working space IndiQube

However, reality hit when she moved to an Indian company, which refused her request. “I sensed a lack of trust,” she said. “It is also a sense of control, I guess, as a boss does not know what the junior is up to while working in a completely remote environment.”

When the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown gobsmacked the world in the summer of 2020, it brought with it some dramatic new ways of living. WFH suddenly became the de facto standard, with office workers of the world meeting on video conferencing apps like Zoom and children attending virtual classrooms. E-commerce sites and food delivery aggregators replaced shopping and eating out, while OTT platforms became the go-to modes of entertainment.

Two years down the line, however, as the world moves slowly back to normalcy, the poster boys of the ‘new normal’ are facing their big reality check. Across the spectrum, the big push is to get things back to the physical, to ‘how it used to be’.

Rather surprising, considering the predictions that were made about the tectonic shift in the ways in which we will live, work and play. So what exactly did change?

“People tend to underestimate the impact of change in the long run, and overestimate the impact of change in the short run,” said Raman Kumar Singh, India CHRO of the multinational technology giant ABB. “I think a lot of companies went ahead of the change, moving to the WFH model completely. While that must have been the need of the hour, that’s where they overestimated how things will change in the short period.”

Take for instance, the edtech sector. With schools shut, the likes of Byju’s and Vedantu were touted as the future. Raghav Gupta, MD (India & Pacific) of the global edtech firm Coursera predicted then: “A significant part of learning will move online (and) transform the education system…forever.” Some Rs37,000 crore of funding flowed into the sector during this period; a lion’s chunk to the market leader Byju’s alone, which went on an expansion spree snapping up other companies. It became the second most valuable startup in the country, after Flipkart.

Then reality hit. As schools reopened and the funds from investors abroad dried up, edtech companies started facing choppy waters. The government took note of the numerous customer complaints against Byju’s. Vedantu has been buffeted by allegations of kickbacks. Some 10,000 employees have been laid off in the sector by the likes of Unacademy, Lido Learning, Toppr and WhiteHat Jr (the last two are subsidiaries of Byju’s).

The biggest irony, however, has been that after advocating for virtual learning model all the while, some of these companies have opened physical coaching centres. Byju’s is aiming for 500 such centres across the country. “You either die trying, or live long enough to become the very thing you went out to disrupt,” sniped startup professional Manan Agarwal on Twitter.

The wheel has turned full circle not just for the edtech sector—almost all areas that saw a boom during the lockdown are seeing the flip side now. The International Monetary Fund and Harvard Business School tracked Mastercard usage in 47 countries from 2018 to 2021 and found that while online shopping rose sharply when the lockdowns hit, it fell soon after. The share of e-commerce spending, though higher than pre-pandemic level, is just 0.6 per cent above the regular growth trend.

“One common narrative is that the pandemic accelerated digitalisation, forcing consumers to learn how to shop online, and that this learning was here to stay,” the IMF researchers noted. “While our results support the quick uptake of e-commerce, the persistence does not appear broad-based.”

The Swiggys and the Zomatos that urban India turned to make up for its lack of dining out options are facing the same crunch as Byju’s. With profits nowhere in sight and user growth slowing down, both have tried diversification into grocery and 10-minute deliveries.

Netflix, after being the unofficial entertainment partner to the pandemic, is now facing desertions owing to the return of pre-pandemic schedules and persistent global inflation. As subscribers have started thinking twice before renewing their subscriptions, it lost 10 lakh users in the April-June period and its share dropped 60 per cent in the first six months of the year.

It is a falling sensation the fellow pandemic poster boy Zoom is pretty familiar with. The app that the whole world turned to for meetings during the lockdown days has had its shares drop 41.3 per cent so far this year. It had grown a whopping 173 per cent during the two years of Covid-19.

While big companies seeing a correction is one thing, even more surprising has been the veering off course of the WFH bandwagon. The return to office has been near-complete across the Indian workplace. “In a typical Indian company, there is nothing called WFH pretty much anymore,” said Rishi Das, CEO and cofounder of the co-working space IndiQube. “The fact is that everybody is now expected to be back in office.”

It is quite a contrast to the initial months of the pandemic, when even biggies like Google predicted the death of the office as it was. Tata Consultancy Services announced plans to keep at least 75 per cent of its employees working remotely and its CEO, Rajesh Gopinathan, said it was their new operating model that represented “the future of work”. TCS is now talking of the reverse and is aiming to get at least 80 per cent of its six lakh staff back at office. The likes of Google and Microsoft are all snapping up more office space across Indian cities. Traffic data shows that workplace visits are now 21 per cent above what it was before the lockdown in March 2020.

What changed? “The main reason companies wanted people to come back is to control attrition,” said Rishi Das. As corporate India moved past the initial uncertainty over Covid and the opportunities of a brave new post-pandemic world became clear, so did career prospects. Many switched to better jobs with better pay as companies sensed future opportunities and started hiring big time. As a result attrition levels shot up to worrisome levels. TCS, for instance, had an attrition level of about 20 per cent in the last quarter, which is about one lakh employees leaving the organisation in just three months!

This, coupled with a ‘screen’ fatigue after about two years of working ‘distantly’, the worries over training new recruits and the concern over the trend of ‘moonlighting’ (many professionals working from home had taken up additional gigs), set alarm bells ringing and finally seem to have ended the ‘work-from-anywhere’ dream.

But the biggest factor is something abstract—forming a connection. “Many companies have come to the realisation that when it comes to engagement and retention, the fundamentals of employee connect still haven’t changed. You need to work with people, get to know them and care for them. A transactional relationship doesn’t have tenure,” said Jeevant Kumar, senior director and head of HR at Lam Research, a Fortune 500 semiconductor equipment company. “No water cooler moment (meant) our attrition was higher last year; it is harder to build connections while working remotely.”

“You don’t get the ‘persona’ on a Microsoft Teams call!” said Bhupindra Singh, managing director (north India) of Colliers, a multinational investment management company. “Personality is a very important factor in product, manufacturing and services industries.”

There was a feeling that while productivity did go up in the initial phase of the lockdown, too much of ‘screen time’, with professionals glued to their computer during working hours and to television and mobile phone after that, was leading to a fatigue. “It just became too much,” said Singh. “Market changes need deliberation, strategy and thinking. That is not possible through technology mediums alone.”

Training of new employees was another pesky lacuna. “Most companies have grown 50 to 100 per cent. When you hire such a large number of people, normally freshers through campus placements, you have to train them. And that is not possible remotely,” said Das.

However, the pandemic has definitely left its imprint of change, the biggest being hybrid working. A majority of Indian workplaces now have employees working between home and office. “A hybrid model has options and choices—it’s not a policy, but we are creating a framework. As long as the final service and product is delivered to the customer, we are allowing that choice to the employee and the manager as a unit,” said Singh of ABB.

With attrition levels still high, companies are treading carefully, being very flexible in timings, setting up branch offices and re-designing offices to offer perks. “Employees are now expecting everything—they want gyms, food courts, game areas,” said Das. “I have had even conservative Marwari business owners coming to me asking for office redesign to incorporate these new requirements.”

The office may have made a comeback, but in its post-Covid new avatar, it is no longer central to the scheme of things. “We go to work only when there is a client meeting or training,” said Eldho Skariah, a software architect with CSG International in Bengaluru, which offers flexi options to its employees. “Unless there are meetings, I go to the office just once in a week. The real work is all done while at home. The hybrid model is ideal as it helps us work creatively, as well as manage things on the personal front, too.”

Sat, 06 Aug 2022 17:54:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.theweek.in/theweek/business/2022/08/05/poster-boys-of-new-normal-are-facing-reality-check.html
Killexams : Augmented reality won't advance until its optical issues are solved

Augmented reality (AR) is the gateway to the most immersive phase in computing history. It promises to radically transform the way we work, but it will never realize its potential unless fundamental performance and usability issues are addressed. A recent report from specialist AR/ VR industry analysts Greenlight Insights has shown solving two fundamental optical issues would unlock an additional $10 billion in spending on enterprise AR applications by 2026.

Currently, all AR experiences suffer from vergence-accommodation conflict (VAC) and focal rivalry. These terms may be relatively unknown, but anyone who has worn an AR headset for any length of time will recognize them as eye fatigue, an inability to read text up close, and the struggle to complete precision tasks because virtual content is not well integrated with the real world. Greenlight’s analysts estimate that 95% of current enterprise AR applications would see an immediate benefit if these issues were solved.

What is vergence-accommodation conflict and focal rivalry?

VAC breaks the natural way our eyes focus. In the real world as an object gets closer our eyes turn inwards to triangulate on it, stimulating the eyes to focus at the right distance. This doesn’t happen in AR (or VR for that matter) because lenses in headsets are set at a fixed focal distance. Our eyes are simply not fooled by clever software manipulation of virtual content.

The other major challenge facing AR is focal rivalry, a phenomenon that occurs when we’re viewing real and the virtual content together. Our eyes cannot naturally integrate real and virtual content into a genuine mixed reality unless they are in the same focal plane. So if you want to place virtual content at different distances and interact with it in a natural way you have to deal with the issue.

Why is this a $10 billion issue for the augmented reality industry?

Microsoft’s Hololens is one of the most advanced AR headsets available today and it acknowledges the problem of VAC. The Hololens developers guide advises content developers to place virtual content beyond arm’s reach to avoid an uncomfortable experience. Microsoft suggests that designers should attempt to create content scenes that encourage users to interact one meter or farther away from the content. It also recommends to not require users to rapidly switch from near-focus to far-focus as this can cause visual discomfort and fatigue.

Meanwhile, a research team at the University of Pisa conducted a study exploring how focal rivalry affects people’s performance when using AR to complete precision tasks. It found that accomplishing an AR-assisted task where content is within two meters of the person and requires a high level of precision (such as AR-assisted surgery or repairs) may not be feasible with existing technology.

The inability to bring content convincingly within arm’s reach and realistically place content at any focal point is holding AR back. The eye fatigue and discomfort of VAC will limit the amount of time we can spend in AR, preventing it from being an all-day wearable. Meanwhile focal rivalry will limit its usefulness in enterprise applications that require any significant degree of hands on accuracy such as manufacturing, engineering, or surgery.

The optical interface is the key to unlocking the true potential of augmented reality

If we are to unlock the true potential of augmented reality, we will need to find a solution that is able to address both VAC and focal rivalry - not just one or the other. The solution lies in a dynamic optical interface that is able to re-engage the visual system to allow users to position virtual content convincingly anywhere in the 3D space and integrate real and virtual content without any visual limitations.

Both the HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap One promised to bring some form of multiplane focus that would address focal rivalry and VAC, but no solution has yet come to market. However, it is encouraging to see that in the VR space, Facebook’s Reality Labs Chief Scientist Michael Abrash announced that the company is exploring the use of a liquid crystal technology in a prototype for Half Dome – Facebook's VR headset that integrates mechanical varifocal displays.

There are several solutions that are currently being developed. These solutions range from visual pass-through (VPT) systems, to light field displays, to liquid crystal lenses, and adaptive lenses. The Greenlight Insights report reviews all the key dynamic focus solution technologies, comparing their relative performance and likely time to market. A detailed comparison concludes that adaptive lenses offer the best combination of addressing all the key issues, while also offering HMD display manufacturers a quicker time-to-market.

For us to advance augmented reality it is necessary that we integrate some form of dynamic optical interface. Once we do this, we will be able to drive a step change in both the experiences and applications that can be created.

John Kennedy is CEO of Adlens, the company pioneering the development of lenses that change focus like the human eye - enhancing vision in AR/XR, VR, and eyewear. Adlens believes that optical technologies will play a key role in helping to create a truly breakthrough mixed reality product that will have comparable consumer impact to the iPhone. An engineer by training, he’s built his experience in technology and fast-growth consumer businesses.

January 28-30: North America's largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!

Sun, 17 Jul 2022 11:59:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.designnews.com/design-hardware-software/augmented-reality-wont-advance-until-its-optical-issues-are-solved
Killexams : Artists Are Helping To Keep Humans At The Center In EY’s Metaverse

The metaverse is having its Wild West moment. Facebook has renamed itself Meta and is promising to create a virtual world for the masses. Microsoft is building Microsoft Mesh, its own version of that world for enterprise. The chipmaker Nvidia has its Omniverse, a platform for collaborative 3D design. And the virtual landscapes of Roblox and Epic Games are already the online home for hundreds of millions of gamers worldwide.

But it’s not just technology companies who want to define this alternate reality. For professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young Global Limited), knowing that their clients rely on them to understand what is changing about how people live and work means jumping into the metaverse themselves.

Since June of 2021, a team at EY called the Cognitive Human Enterprise has been building a virtual world with a motivation very different than the tech giants. Their aim is to apply the full diversity of human imagination to make that virtual world, called the EYVerse, as generous and welcoming as possible.

Must your avatar look like you?

One of the challenges facing every metaverse builder today, according to Domhnaill Hernon, engineer and Global Lead of the Cognitive Human Enterprise, is that we don’t yet have the technology to create fully naturalistic human avatars. Despite advances in skin and movement rendering, most avatars that strive for ultra-realism fall short of what feels natural. Instead, they find themselves in the dreaded “uncanny valley,” where real human beings are often unsettled by an almost-person who seems... not quite right.

The team at EY’s Cognitive Human Enterprise takes a different approach. They have launched an artist-in-residence program in partnership with the NEW INC incubator at the New Museum and made it a key part of their metaverse design practice.

“A lot of people develop technology without thinking about the human at all,” explained Hernon. “They think about the user and the consumer, but not about what it means to be human, how we see ourselves and how we see others. When we work with artists what we get is deep thinking about technology through the lens of the human condition. At EY, our language is ‘humans at the center.’ And artists, in my view, are the ones who take that to an extreme.”

Hernon’s strategy is to bring together artists and engineers—professionals with different backgrounds, different training, and different ways of thinking about problems—to explore some of the most confounding issues surrounding the metaverse and virtual worlds.

It’s not an entirely new approach. Before EY, Hernon was at Nokia Bell Labs, where he was responsible for resurrecting its storied Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) program. Started in 1966 by Bell Labs engineer Billy Klüver and the artist Robert Rauchenberg, E.A.T. brought together engineers and artists to create new works of art and explore the boundaries of tech and arts collaboration.

Though successful in its time—E.A.T. helped to inspire the modern multimedia arts movement—the formal program was abandoned in the 1980s. But in 2016, at celebrations of E.A.T.’s 50th anniversary, Hernon decided that those interdisciplinary collaborations were too valuable to stay dormant. He restarted E.A.T. at Bell Labs, called the Nokia Bell Labs E.A.T. initiative, but with a different focus—to humanize technology.

For five years Hernon steered the re-energized E.A.T. program in this new direction, inviting multimedia artists like Sougwen Chung and Lisa Park, composer Seth Cluett, and beatboxer Reeps One to partner with researchers at Nokia Bell Labs, all exploring new ways for human beings to communicate and connect.

Then, in June of last year, Edwina Fitzmaurice, EY Global Chief Customer Success Officer, recognized the value of these artist/engineer collaborations for a company getting into virtual worlds and recruited Hernon to EY. “What Domhnaill brings to the party is that we are trying to solve a human problem rather than a technology problem,” said Fitzmaurice.

An ancient tradition inspires a new idea

Josie Williams is a multimedia artist studying in the Studio Art MFA program at New York’s Stony Brook University and research assistant to artist and professor Stephanie Dinkins. As one of the resident artists with the Cognitive Human Enterprise she has been exploring alternatives to realistic human avatars for EY’s metaverse.

“My primary ethnicity is West African,” said Williams. “And it’s traditional in West African cultures at group gatherings or celebrations, that there are always people who wear masks to represent the ancestors. It’s like the ancestors are here with us. The mask itself isn’t the ancestor, but it’s a reminder that their words are still around.”

Inspired by a contemporary and ancient tradition, those West African masks show up as chatbot avatars in Williams’s residency project, Ancestral Archives. And that, in turn, has sparked new ideas for the Cognitive Human Enterprise team.

“We don’t need to build avatars that are humanoid in their expression. Talking with Josie about masks was something that unlocked this idea,” said Hernon. “The way she represents AI bots through masks opened our minds to issues of accessibility, representation and identity. How do you build solutions that operate on a spectrum—where you meet people where they are in the moment, in the virtual environment of their choosing? That’s why working with artists like Josie is so important for us.”

EY’s commitment to artists and the process of invention

Even though Williams and the Cognitive Human Enterprise team have been working together for more than half a year it’s just the start of their collaboration. This is by design.

“The way we work with artists is in two parts,” explained Hernon. “First is the residency phase. They come in and we talk about big topics, big themes—lots of open knowledge and collaborative sharing. But eventually there’s always one thing we’re coming back to in our conversations. Then we sit down together and say, ‘This is what we’re excited about. We see this as different and valuable. Let’s have a thesis and let’s experiment against that thesis to round out our thinking and check that we have something real.’”

“We ask the artist, ‘Can you propose to us a commissioned piece of work where we take this as experimentation and a proof of concept?’ And we actually build it out to solidify our thinking and share this new knowledge with the public. That’s phase two.”

It’s also a recognition that creativity takes time and attention. Both the artists and the team at EY’s Cognitive Human Enterprise make a commitment to work through their points of difference, find common ground, add context along the way, and then build something worthwhile. Hernon has developed this approach through years of guiding artist residencies, and he knows that to get value out of a collaboration, it can’t be rushed.

For Williams, letting her imagination run free within the structured process of the EY residency has given her a new confidence in her work. “I knew what I wanted, but they’re helping me figure out how to make it happen. The ideas we’re discussing aren’t linear but the production of it is very much like boom, boom, boom. They have the creative energy and spirit of, ‘Oh yeah, that’s going to get done.’”

Bringing touch and feeling to the metaverse

Kate Machtiger is an artist and designer, and, currently, Creative Director at Set Creative. She’s also autistic and credits her neurodivergence for giving her a unique approach to the challenge of shaping virtual worlds.

“Part of the collaboration [with EY] is about the ways my neurodivergent perspective influences their thinking and how that adds diversity of thought to the design,” said Machtiger. “Having a hyper-awareness of my environment allows me to pick up on things that other people might not, and also notice when they’re missing in a virtual space.”

Working as an artist-in-resident on the Cognitive Human Enterprise team, Machtiger has helped EY creative technologists Danielle McPhatter and Ethan Edwards explore solutions to the lack of a varied sensory experience in the metaverse.

“When we go from the physical world to the virtual, we lose out on so many senses,” explained McPhatter. “The visual is there—and we’re visual dominant—but we’re missing spatial audio, and how it affects our perception of ourselves. And touch is completely absent in those environments. Kate thinks about how to bring in elements of those experiences in ways we couldn’t even imagine.”

Picture an object covered in a fuzzy or furry material. We all know what it’s like to run our fingers through textures like that. Those tactile experiences, according to Machtiger, imprint themselves into our embodied memory. Then, later, with just a visual prompt of a texture, our brains can faithfully recreate that sensation. Using cues like that enhances our participation in the metaverse without relying on expensive, and still very limited, haptic technology.

“We’ll have an hour-long conversation with Kate and there’s two or three things she says that can open up a whole new perspective on our work,” said Edwards. “Abstract concepts that neither of us have fully articulated end up becoming concrete—the cornerstone for some of these virtual worlds. I think of Kate saying, ‘Not only do we need to work around this limitation, but we can use it in interesting ways that are not part of the standard pipeline, the standard rule book.’”

What’s the value of having an artist on your team?

Anyone who manages an artist-in-residence program in a corporate environment has to advocate for its worth. Skepticism from leaders and colleagues can be hostile, but more often it simply comes from not understanding the value of the program.

“When people hear art, they think we’re going to fund you and your team so that you can put up a painting in a gallery,” said Hernon, addressing a common misconception. “No, you’re going to fund our team so we will take all the insights and knowledge and lived experience of people who see the world totally differently. And then we’re going to build that into solutions that you’ll take to the world and add value.”

For Hernon’s colleague, Edwina Fitzmaurice, there’s another—maybe even more fundamental—reason for a company like EY to pursue these collaborations. “I often say when you speak the truth, it has a ring to it. Like the ting of a glass. People will listen carefully and engage. We’ve had that kind of reaction to this work, which is, it’s coming from a place that is authentic. You don’t have to agree with it, but it’s real and reality has a ring to it. People hear it. Sometimes that’s enough.”

Looking down the road

What’s in the future for the Cognitive Human Enterprise? As the program matures, Domhnaill Hernon wants more employees to have the opportunity to connect with artists and learn from them. Using the model developed in New York and London, Hernon is looking at similar artist/engineer collaborations for EY’s technology and innovation hubs in continental Europe and Asia.

And with that international growth he wants to broaden his team’s focus to explore how technology can enhance human capabilities and help people become more creative, not just make a faster process or cheaper product.

If tapping into the wisdom and imagination of artists to find value for business seems far-fetched it’s worth remembering that other once fringe ideas are now common, with their own metrics and a tangible return on investment.

“This is a movement,” observed Edwina Fitzmaurice. “It reminds me of the way CSR used to be off to the side of an organization—corporate social responsibility was considered to be for a specialist group only. Then it came to the center. Sustainability is the same, as is diversity, equity and inclusion. Those too came to the center. We’re now at a similar moment with the arts where we can bring that to the center. It’s also good for artists, who deserve to be recognized for the value they bring to the world. So when we put the arts in a business context, everyone wins. And we want to lead the way.”

Thu, 04 Aug 2022 07:57:00 -0500 Benjamin Wolff en text/html https://www.forbes.com/sites/benjaminwolff/2022/08/04/artists-are-helping-to-keep-humans-at-the-center-in-eys-metaverse/
Killexams : The Best University Courses To Learn Metaverse Skills

Everyone has heard by now that the metaverse is set to be a multi-trillion dollar business opportunity -widely seen by many brands and corporations as the next evolution of the internet.

But beyond it being a term for the digital, persistent, and highly immersive virtual worlds we will become used to, what it actually is – or will be – is up for debate!

This is simply because the idea and concepts are still emerging. Huge companies like Facebook and Microsoft are throwing vast sums of money at their attempts to build, and therefore define, the metaverse. Basically, if the metaverse is the new internet, then everyone wants to be the new Google - holding the keys to the huge amounts of money to be made from selling advertising there.

This means that there is undoubtedly a mountain of opportunities for the rest of us, too. Ultimately, the future of the metaverse will be defined by the people that create it. This means the coders, designers, artists, writers, and pioneers who do everything from building the fundamental structure to populating it with content that will attract users.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to stake your claim for a place in this new-age gold rush. Although it’s very new, many of the basic skills needed to take part relate to fields of technology, business, or design that are already well established. These include skills and knowledge that can be learned at colleges and universities all over the world. If you’re studying (or considering studying) one of these subjects, it’s possible that, although the course may not have the word “metaverse” in the title, course leaders will be very aware of their subjects’ relevance.

So, here’s a look at some of the courses that will be valuable if you’re interested in a career involving the metaverse and where you will get the chance to learn them in a formal educational environment.

Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Computer Science

At the most fundamental level, the metaverse will be built by software engineers. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in the subject is still likely to supply you the best all-round grounding in the skills and toolsets needed to get involved. A computer science degree will teach you programming, as well as the fundamentals of data and database management, how hardware works, and networking. Today, a computer science degree is also likely to be your best opportunity to learn newer metaverse-related technologies such as blockchain and web3 decentralized platforms in a formal educational environment, too. There are more glamorous subjects you could study that will be just as likely to land you a place creating the future of the metaverse, but if you are technically inclined, then this is possibly the option that will open the most doors. Starting salaries for metaverse roles that require computer science skills – such as software engineers, network engineers, or DevOps engineers – are great too. Good high school level or equivalent grades in mathematics and science subjects will be useful in securing a place in one of the best computer science undergraduate or graduate-level degree courses, such as those offered by Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S., Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, or Oxford University in the U.K.

Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in UX Design

This is a new field, and the relevant skills are often taught in more generalized degree programs such as design or computer science. However, a few degree programs specifically for people wanting to learn user experience design are starting to emerge. UX design focuses on creating computer programs that offer a great experience to the user. Generally speaking, this involves creating intuitive interfaces that allow users to quickly and easily achieve their goals while reducing friction that can be caused by bad design. It incorporates aspects of traditional disciplines, including design, communication studies, and even psychology. Some university courses that you might consider would be the Master of Human-Computer Interaction degree offered by Carnegie Mellon University or the M.S. in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, in the U.S., the Master of Interaction Design degree at the University of Queensland, Australia, the Postgraduate Diploma of Information and Interface Design at the National Institute of Design, Bangalore, India, or the MSc in Human Computer Interactions at UCL, London, UK.

BSc or M.A. in Game Design

The metaverse concept emerged from the world of computer and video gaming, which has been creating vast, interactive, multi-user environments for decades. Game development engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine were first created in order to make virtual worlds where we can compete in sports, puzzles, or just blow each other up with futuristic weapons. Many of the emergent metaverse experiences – such as Roblox, Fortnite, and The Sandbox – came about due to gaming and game-related technology. Gaming may be just one element of the broader vision of what the metaverse will eventually become. Today, however, it’s the creative and business field that perhaps gives us the best opportunity to develop experiences that tick all the metaverse boxes - persistent, avatar-driven, experiential, and multi-user. A game design-related degree is likely to supply you the opportunity to formally study graphic design, environment design, U.I. design, mixed reality (M.R.), elements of web3 such as decentralized and blockchain gaming, and the challenges around creating immersive multi-user experiences. Among the university courses considered to be the best in the world are the MFA in Interactive Media at the University of Southern California, U.S., B.A., BSc, and even Ph.D. courses at Michigan State University, U.S., or the BSc in Computer Games Design at Staffordshire University, U.K.

Degree in Virtual/ Augmented/ Extended Reality

Virtual reality (V.R.) and augmented reality (A.R.) – sometimes discussed together as extended reality (X.R.) or combined to create mixed reality (M.R.), are just some of the ways users will experience the 3D, immersive worlds of the metaverse. If you’re interested in a formal degree that will teach you to build these worlds, then it’s likely to be an option in many computer science or design-related degrees. If you study a computer science degree (B.S., MS, or Ph.D.) at the University of Washington in Seattle, US, for example, you can take advantage of the opportunity to learn at the U.W. Reality Lab, which undertakes advanced VR/AR research. Similarly, computer science students at MIT can take advantage of the faculties offered by the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality. However, as with other metaverse-aligned fields of study such as U.I. design, it's quickly becoming so popular that it's recognized as a discipline in its own right, with dedicated degree courses. The University of the Arts, London's College of Communication, offers a B.A. (Hons) course in virtual reality, while The University of West England has an M.A. course in Virtual and Extended Realities.

To stay on top of the latest on the metaverse and wider business and tech trends, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and have a look at my new book, Extended Reality in Practice, which just won the Business Book of the Year 2022 in the Specialist Book category.

You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. And don’t forget to check out my website.

Thu, 28 Jul 2022 20:00:00 -0500 Bernard Marr en text/html https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/07/29/the-best-university-courses-to-learn-metaverse-skills/
Killexams : The Downfall Of Netflix
Portrait of a family with one child watching television together

pixelfit

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) stock has struggled to find a bottom for the part of the year following its disastrous first-quarter earnings report, which shed light on several fundamental weaknesses with the streaming giant's business model. As both management and investors are forced to face reality, a renewed focus on fundamentals amid a bear market and a recession-headed economy has created multiple issues for the streaming giant.

The company has been forced to deal with the consequences of having no legacy cash flows to fall back upon as demand for its streaming service seems to be slowing down. In the end, unlike most competitors, it is forced to overspend on content, seeing that it lacks any major IP it can nurture and put to its advantage. After enjoying years of first-mover advantages in a pioneer market, tides are slowly changing for the streaming giant and the future looks more uncertain by the day.

Macroeconomics bringing fundamentals back

Reflecting the complacency that a thirteen-year-long bull market induces, investors became increasingly more comfortable relying on non-fundamentally related valuation metrics when analyzing the entertainment and streaming space over the course of the past couple of years. A very strong emphasis has been placed on metrics such as subscriber growth, show popularity, and others, pushing aside any meaningful discussion about cash flows generation and earnings potential.

Perhaps more troublesome in the case of Netflix, it was obviously an entertainment company from the get-go though often mislabeled by many as a "high growth tech" company, and was as such subsequently assigned premium valuations warranted by such tech companies. As an example, the company was included in the "FAANG" acronym, which is supposed to represent five prominent American technology companies, ahead of more deserving companies such as Microsoft (MSFT).

As to what exactly remains high-tech about the decade-old business of creating movies and TV shows to distribute to the masses, albeit through a direct-to-consumer approach, has escaped us. This allowed Netflix to get away with posting weak earnings and almost no positive cash flow for years, keeping investors solely focused on the growing popularity of its streaming platform and offerings by promising a strong financial potential "down the road."

The music slowed down on April 19th when the company released its first-quarter earnings report. It disclosed the loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2022, while the consensus analyst expectations had been for a gain. Revenue increased nearly 10% to $7.87 billion but fell short of expectations of $7.93 billion, while Netflix earned $3.53 per share, well above the $2.89 per share analysts had expected.

Entertainment Companies YTD Performance

Entertainment YTD Performance (Seeking Alpha)

Netflix's disastrous earnings release has ultimately spilled over into the entertainment space, especially those with high exposure to streaming, which subsequently caused a crash in the sector. Investor perceptions surrounding the profitability and the long-term sustainability of streaming in a rapidly more competitive sector have been shattered. As of today, since the beginning of the year, Comcast (CMCSA) is down 28.41%, Disney (DIS) is down 44.67%, Paramount (PARA) is down 38.50%, and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is down 50.11%. Netflix has obviously been the greatest loser here, with shares of the company being down 68.13% since the beginning of the year.

Author Spreadsheet Using Capital IQ Data

Valuation (Author Spreadsheet Using Capital IQ Data)

After the crash, we can see that Netflix is no longer the company commanding a significantly higher valuation as compared to its competitors, but is nowadays more in line with Disney's valuation. Even after declining 68% year-to-date, the company is still selling at 13.79x NTM EV/EBITDA and an astonishing 87.42x NTM P/FCF. The streaming giant still seems to command a significant premium as compared to the other companies in the sector, which remains largely unwarranted in our view.

Lack of legacy cash flows to ensure stability

The second issue we have to raise with the streaming company is the lack of any major legacy businesses that can produce cash flows to ensure stability and fund the expensive nature of the streaming wars. In other words, Netflix, unlike its other entertainment competitors, is a full-streaming company with no exposure to other ventures that can add back structural stability by ensuring legacy cash flows.

For a long time, being solely a streaming company was considered highly desirable as the full focus of the company was set on the streaming segment, with streaming obviously generating the most growth and catching the most headlines. Today, as competition is getting fierce and the macroeconomic indications are worsening by the day, its streaming service is bound to be hit by significant challenges.

This problem is best understood when analyzing competitors in the entertainment industry, which all in one way or another have legacy cash flows to fall back upon in troublesome times. Possibly the best example of a company that is in a good place to circumnavigate the costly nature of the streaming wars is Disney. The mouse company has multiple legacy businesses it can fall back upon in difficult times such as these.

Legacy business revenues

Disney Q4-FY21 Earnings (Investor Relations)

In its full-year 2021 report, even though it achieved a 55% growth rate in its direct-to-consumer offering, it only contributed roughly 24% of the $67 billion in total revenues the company generated. For example, a free-cash-flow machine like the Disney Parks generated $16 billion last year alone, which is almost half of Netflix's total revenues. Content licensing deals themselves added back another $7.34 billion.

Another good example that comes to mind is Warner Bros. Discovery. This is especially true after the merger got completed back in April with Discovery's legacy media empire joining up with Warner Media's already highly respectable legacy offering. Overall, this ensures that the company has stable and relatively predictable cash flows to fall back upon while it builds up its streaming offering, which seems to catch up rapidly.

Discovery Earnings

Discovery Q4 FY2021 Earnings (Investor Relations)

We will not have the privilege of knowing how the combined company will look on paper until the second-quarter results are released in August. However, on one hand we have Discovery with only a relatively new direct-to-consumer offering in the form of Discovery+, which was mostly focused on advertising and distribution, while Warner Media's direct-to-consumer offering made up only 43% of the revenues.

Warner Media Results as a segment of AT&T back in the day

Warner Media (AT&T) Q4 2021 FY Earnings (AT&T Investor Relations)

To recall, the combined two streaming platforms of HBOMax and Discovery+ currently have slightly more than 100 million subscribers, which is roughly half of the subscriber base that Netflix commands. They successfully added 5 million net subscribers in the first quarter, compared to the 200.000 subscribers lost by Netflix in the period.

Rivals such as Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) have only partially entered the streaming space with their Apple+ and Prime Video streaming services, respectively. Both companies have well-established and vastly successful businesses outside of the entertainment industry which results in time being on their side. We cannot help but arrive at the conclusion that other competitors in the space are much better established to weather the ongoing storm and as such represent safer investments.

Lack of influential IP to nurture and develop.

In the early years of Netflix's dominance, its rivals in the entertainment industry were willing to cooperate with Netflix on various licensing and distribution deals. Companies in the space saw it as an opportunity to generate additional sources of revenue with content they already owned. As a result, the platform was effectively considered by many a one-stop shop for almost anything streaming-related, being the streaming service that housed almost all of the content, no matter the studio or company behind it.

This has helped the company solidify its position as the undisputed market leader, which it held for years, fully utilizing the benefits of the first-mover advantage. With almost every major player in the entertainment industry either having established or being on its way to establishing a competing streaming solution, the company is finding it extremely difficult to keep quality IP on its streaming service. All streaming solutions have begun relying on original content to grow their subscribers. Slowly, as deals are running out, all the platforms are taking back their IPs one by one. This leaves the quality of Netflix's content offering heavily deteriorating as the years go by.

When discussing nurturing and exploring the IP an entertainment company owns, there are few success stories in history that can match what Disney has managed to accomplish with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney bought Marvel Entertainment back in 2009 for what seemed to be a hefty sum of $4 billion. Today, more than a decade later, their superhero cinematic universe flourished under Disney's rule, with the movie universe being successful in generating more than $22.5 billion at the global box office. This combined with the company acquiring Lucasfilm and Star Wars in 2012, led to a period of box office dominance.

Dominance of Disney in the last decade

Disney Box office market share US & Canada (Statista)

With David Zaclav taking over as the CEO of the new joint company in April, Warner Bros. Discovery has doubled down on attempting to explore its most valuable IP. We already have several rumors of new Harry Potter universe TV shows being in pre-production, with a renewed focus on J. K. Rowling's world of witchcraft and wizardry.

House of Dragons, the prequel series to the critically acclaimed Game of Thrones, has its first season ready to release in August and is going to end up competing with Amazon Prime's Rings of Power. We have also been fed teaspoons of information on the newly announced Jon Snow sequel that is currently in the making, which is only one of multiple projects Warner Bros. Discovery is exploring in the World of A Song of Ice and Fire. Furthermore, there are ongoing discussions on Warner Bros. wanting to reboot or at least significantly overhaul its entire DC cinematic universe, in an attempt to effectively mimic the success story of the MCU from Disney.

This causes multiple issues for Netflix and raises questions about the efficiency of its capital deployment toward programming. They have the occasional hit with shows like the "Squid Game," "La Casa de Papel," or "Stranger Things," but at large they find themselves in a position where they are throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick.

If offered the possibility to invest your personal wealth into one of the following series, which one would the average investor pick?

  • A new Star Wars project costing 100mm per season.
  • A different project with no fan base costing 100mm per season.

The answer here is rather obvious, with most investors and studios most likely heading towards the same decision. Star Wars could be easily substituted with any other well-established IP with an already existing fan base. This is exactly where the issue lies for Netflix.

Satisfaction Report On Streaming By Whip Media

Keep One Service? (Streaming Satisfaction Report, Whip Media)

The data clearly collaborates on this, with Netflix losing its influence over consumers and dominance over the market each year. A renewed focus on streaming by competition and industry consolidation are making this only worse. There is a very clear trend of HBOMax and Disney+ being on the rise, with Netflix slowly falling behind in all customer satisfaction categories.

Streaming Satisfaction Report by Whip Media 2022

Overall Satisfaction and Likelihood To Keep (Streaming Satisfaction Report, Whip Media)

The company is in a position where it is forced to outspend its competition in order to achieve the same cultural impact its rivals can achieve with much less. To make matters worse, for the first time in history, it is facing a significant backlash from its investors, who are desperate to finally see some financial prudence from the streaming giant. This makes for a horrible combination, more so in the upcoming period with a bearish market and a recession-headed economy.

Final thought and closing arguments

An entertainment company was disguised as a high-growth technology company for far too long, and now investors and management alike are forced to face the reality of owning and operating a business in the entertainment industry. The consequences of not running a profitable or cash flow-positive business model for years, as well as certain disadvantages associated with being a newly formed company with no legacy cash flows to fall back upon are starting slowly to sink in.

After enjoying years of first-movers advantage benefits in the streaming space, Netflix has been finding itself increasingly under pressure from the competition, which seem to be far better positioned to circumnavigate the spending wars and come out on top. At the same time, the market is still willing to assign a premium to the streaming giant, as it is currently being valued by the market at 13.79x EV/EBITDA, 17.98x P/E, as well as a particularly high 87.42x P/FCF.

In our view, this seems to be far from reasonable given the declining macroeconomic environment and the bear-headed market. As a result, even after Netflix has declined more than 68% year-to-date, shares of the formerly undisputed market leader still fail to look attractive enough to warrant an investment.

Tue, 19 Jul 2022 09:02:00 -0500 en text/html https://seekingalpha.com/article/4524219-the-downfall-of-netflix
Killexams : Surprise! The metaverse is going to suck for privacy No result found, try new keyword!More thought – or at least some thought – needs to be given to privacy protection in the promised metaverse of connected 3D virtual-reality worlds, experts have concluded. In a paper distributed via ... Thu, 28 Jul 2022 19:35:07 -0500 en-us text/html https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/surprise-the-metaverse-is-going-to-suck-for-privacy/ar-AA105tnB Killexams : The Metaverse Will Reshape Our Lives. Let’s Make Sure It’s for the Better
Day Two of Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2022
Angel Garcia—Bloomberg/Getty Images An attendee wearing a virtual reality headset takes part in a concert experience in the metaverse at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, March 1, 2022.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reports that in the first six months of 2022, the word metaverse appeared in regulatory filings more than 1,100 times. The previous year saw 260 mentions. The preceding two decades? Fewer than a dozen in total. It increasingly feels as though every corporate executive feels the need to mention the metaverse—and of course, how it naturally fits the capabilities of their company better than those of their competitors. Few seem to explain what it is or exactly what they’ll build. The executive class also appears to disagree over fundamental aspects of this new platform, including the criticality of virtual reality headsets, blockchains and crypto, as well as whether it’s here now, might be soon, or is decades in the future.

None of which has constrained investment. Much has been written of Facebook’s name change to “Meta” and the more than $10 billion it now loses each year on its metaverse initiatives. But another six of the largest public companies in the world—Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Tencent—have also been busy preparing for the metaverse. They are reorganizing internally, rewriting their job descriptions, reconstructing their product offerings, and prepping multi-billion-dollar product launches. In January, Microsoft announced the largest acquisition in Big Tech history, paying $75 billion for gaming giant Activision Blizzard, which would “provide building blocks for the metaverse.” In total, McKinsey & Company estimates that corporations, private equity companies, and venture capitalists made $120 billion in metaverse-related investments during the first five months of this year.

Nearly all of the aforementioned work has, thus far, remained invisible to the average person. Rather like the metaverse itself. There isn’t really a metaverse product we can go buy, nor “metaverse revenue” be found on an income statement. In fact, it might seem as though the metaverse, to the extent it ever existed, has already come and gone. Crypto has crashed. So too has Facebook’s market capitalization, which topped $900 billion when the company changed its name to Meta, but now sits around $445 billion. This year, the video gaming sales have fallen by nearly 10%, due in part to the end of the pandemic that forced many people inside.

Illustration by Micah Johnson for TIME

Buy a print of TIME‘s Into the Metaverse cover here

To many, it’s a good thing that the metaverse seems to be sputtering. The largest tech platforms have already established enormous influence over our lives, as well as the technologies and business models of the modern economy. It’s also clear that there are many problems with today’s internet; why not solve them before moving onto what Mark Zuckerberg calls “the successor” to it?

The answer is embedded in that very question. The metaverse, a 30-year-old term but nearly century-old idea, is forming around us. Every few decades, a platform shift occurs—such as that from mainframes to PCs and the internet, or the subsequent evolution to mobile and cloud computing. Once a new era has taken shape, it’s incredibly difficult to alter who leads it and how. But between eras, those very things usually do change. If we hope to build a better future, then we must be as aggressive about shaping it as are those who are investing to build it.

***

So what is this future? Think of the metaverse as a parallel virtual plane of existence that spans all digital technologies and will even come to control much of the physical world. This construct helps explain another common description of the metaverse as a 3D internet—and why establishing it is so hard, but also likely to be worthwhile.

The internet as we know it today spans nearly every country, 40,000 networks, millions of applications, over a hundred million servers, almost 2 billion websites, and tens of billions of devices. Each of these technologies can coherently, consistently exchange information, find one another “on the net,” share online account systems and files (a JPEG, an MP4, a paragraph of text), and even interconnect (think of how a news publisher links to another outlet’s report). Nearly 20% of the world economy is considered “digital,” with much of the remaining 80% running on it.

Though the Internet is resilient, wide-ranging, and powerful, it wasn’t built for live and interactive experiences involving a large number of participants—especially when it comes to 3-D imaging. Rather, the internet was designed primarily so that one static file (such as an email or spreadsheet) could be copied and sent from one device to another, such that it might be independently and asynchronously reviewed or modified. This is partly why, even in the age of the “Streaming Wars” and multi-trillion dollar big tech companies, simple two-person video calls can be so unreliable. (It’s a marvel that online multiplayer games work at all.) Furthermore, there’s no consensus on file formats or conventions for 3D information, no standard systems to exchange data in virtual worlds. We also lack the computing power to pull off the metaverse as we imagine it. And we will want many new devices to realize it—not just VR goggles, but gadgets like holographic displays, ultra-sonic force-field generators, and, spooky as it sounds, devices to capture electrical signals sent across muscles.

We cannot know in advance exactly how important a 3D internet might be to our global economy, just as we didn’t know the value of the internet. But we do have some view to the answer. As internet connectivity and computer processors have improved, we’ve shifted from colorless text to primitive webpages and web blogs, then online profiles (like a Facebook page) and video-based social networks, emojis, and filters. The volume of content we produce online has grown from a few message board posts, emails, or blog updates a week to a constant stream of multimedia content encapsulating our lives. The next evolution to this trend seems likely to be a persistent and “living” virtual world that is not a window into our life (such as Instagram) nor a place where we communicate it (such as Gmail) but one in which we also exist—and in 3D (hence the focus on immersive VR headsets and avatars).

Already, nearly a hundred million people a day log onto Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite Creative, platforms that operate tens of millions of interconnected worlds, which support a consistent virtual identity, virtual goods, communications suites, and can be accessed from most devices. Most time in these platforms is spent on leisure—playing games, attending concerts—but we are starting to see people go further.

metaverse concert
Businesswire/APThe Electric Daisy Carnival was the first music festival in Roblox held over several days in October 2021.

Education is a category we have long expected to be transformed by the digital era, but has thus far resisted it. Since 1983, the cost of higher education has grown over 1,200%; medical care and services, which ranks second for cost increases in the U.S. over that period, is up half as much. The challenge is the real thing requires no fewer resources than it did decades ago, and what is lost when shifting to a remote computer screen. Eye contact. Peers. Hands-on experimentation. Equipment. Zoomschool, YouTube videos, and digital multiple choice are no substitute for the real thing.

In the metaverse, the Magic School Bus becomes possible. For decades, students learned about gravity by watching their teacher drop a feather and a hammer, and then seeing a tape of Apollo 15 commander David Scott doing the same on the moon. (Spoiler: They fall at the same speed.) Such demonstrations need not go away, but they can be supplemented by the creation of elaborate virtual Rube Goldberg machines, which students can then test under Earth-like gravity, on Mars, and even under sulfuric rainfalls of the Venusian upper atmospheres. Instead of dissecting a frog, we can travel its circulatory systems not unlike the way we drive the Mushroom Kingdom in Mario Kart. And all of this is available irrespective of geographic location or resources of the local school board.

In 2021, neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins performed the hospital’s first-ever live patient surgery using an augmented-reality headset, thereby providing the surgeon with an interactive display of the patient’s internal anatomy. Dr. Timothy Witham, who performed the surgery and also directs the hospital’s Spinal Fusion Laboratory, likened it to having GPS. This frame of reference is important. We often think of the metaverse replacing something we do today—such as wearing a VR headset instead of using a smartphone or watching TV—but we don’t drive GPS instead of a car; we drive a car with GPS.

Earlier in 2021, Google unveiled its Project Starline device, which uses machine learning, computer vision, a dozen depth sensors and cameras and fabric-based multi-layered light field displays to create 3D “holographic video” without requiring the use of mixed reality goggles. In comparison to traditional “2D” video calling, Google says its Starline technology leads to 15% increases in eye-contact, 25-50% increases in non-verbal forms of communication (hand gestures, head nods, eyebrow movements) and 30% better memory recall of the conversation. Few of us enjoy Zoom; perhaps some of our displeasure can be alleviated by adding another dimension.

Infrastructure is another good example. The Hong Kong International Airport now operates a live “digital twin” of the facility, allowing airport operators to use a live 3D simulation to determine where passengers and planes should be directed. Multi-billion-dollar, multi-decade city projects are using these technologies to determine how a given building might affect traffic flows and emergency response times, or how its design will affect the temperature and sunlight of a local park on a specific day. These are mostly disconnected simulations. The next step is to bring them online—like shifting from offline Microsoft Word documents to cloud-based, collaborative ones—and turning the world into a digital development platform.

***

For society, however, exactly what the metaverse means is unclear. This gives understandable pause to some, who see billions invested in what feels like a game. But think of the metaverse as a fourth era of computing and networking—succeeding mainframes, which ran from the 1950s to 1970s; personal computers and the Internet of the 1980s to mid-2000s; and the mobile and cloud era we experience today. Each era changed who accessed computing and networking resources, when, where, why, and how. The results of these changes were profound. But they were also hard to specifically predict.

Even the biggest believers in the mobile internet once struggled to predict more than “more people, online more often, for more reasons.” Having a detailed technical understanding of digital networking didn’t illuminate the future, nor did deploying billions in R&D. Services such as Facebook, Netflix, or Amazon’s AWS cloud computing platform are obvious in hindsight, but nothing about them—their business models, technology, design principles—was at the time. In this regard, we should recognize that confusion, conflation, and uncertainty are prerequisites for disruption.

Still, there are specific issues that can be cleared up. The metaverse is often misdescribed as immersive virtual reality headsets, such as the Meta Quest (née Oculus VR), or augmented reality glasses, the most famous example of which to date is Google’s infamous Glass. VR and AR devices may become a preferred way to access the metaverse, but they are not it. Consider that smartphones are not the same thing as the mobile internet.The metaverse is also not Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, or any other game; these are virtual worlds or platforms that are likely to be part of the metaverse, just as Facebook and Google are part of the internet. For similar reasons, think of the metaverse as singular, just as we say “the internet” not “an internet.” (To the extent we identify different internets today, this largely reflects regional regulatory differences.) Another frequent conflation is that between the metaverse and Web3, crypto, and blockchains. This trio may become an important part of realizing the metaverse’s potential, but they are merely principles and technologies. In fact, many metaverse leaders doubt there is any future for crypto.

The metaverse should not be thought of as an overhaul to the Internet, nor something that will replace all mobile models, devices, or software. It will produce new technologies, and behaviors. But that doesn’t mean we leave what we prefer behind. I still write on a PC, and that’s likely to remain the best way to write long-form text. The majority of internet traffic today both originates and terminates on a mobile device, yet nearly all of it is transmitted on fixed-line cables and using the Internet Protocol Suite as it was designed in the 1980s.

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The metaverse is not yet here (even if some executives will claim it is, or at least imminent). At the same time, transformations don’t experience “switch flips.” We are in the mobile era today, but the first cellular network call was in 1973, the first wireless data network was in 1991, smartphone in 1992, and so on until the iPhone in 2007. While it’s impossible to say when the development of the metaverse began, it’s clearly underway. In mid 2021, only weeks before Facebook unveiled its metaverse intentions, Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Fortnite maker Epic Games, tweeted prerelease code from the company’s 1998 game Unreal, adding that players “could go into portals and travel among [different worlds]…with no combat and [would stand] in a circle chatting.” These experiences didn’t take off at the time for a number of reasons—there were too few people online, tools for world-creation were too difficult to use, the devices that could support them were too costly and heavy, etc. “We’ve had metaverse aspirations for a very, very long time…” he added a few minutes later, “but only in accurate years have a critical mass of working pieces started coming together rapidly.”

4th Annual NFT.NYC Conference
Noam Galai—Getty ImagesA billboard reads “unlock the metaverse” in Times Square during the 4th annual NFT.NYC conference on June 20, 2022 in New York City.

The metaverse is also not inherently dystopic. This a common misconception as the word “Metaverse” comes from a dystopic novel, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Snow Crash’s forebears, such as William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) and Philip K. Dick’s The Trouble With Bubbles (1953), similarly leave readers with the sense that the metaverse worsened the real world. Drama is at the root of most fiction; utopias are rarely the setting for popular stories. But since the 1970s, numerous “proto-metaverses” have emerged that have not been centered on subjugation or profiteering, but on collaboration and creativity. Each decade, the realism of these worlds improves, as does their functionality, value, and cultural impact.

***

The foundation of today’s internet was built over several decades through the work of government research labs, universities, and independent technologists and institutions. These mostly not-for-profit collectives typically focused on establishing open standards that would help them share information from one server to another, and in doing so make it easier to collaborate on future technologies, projects, and ideas. The benefits of this approach were far-ranging. Anyone could access or build on the internet, from any device, on any network, at low to no cost.

None of this prevented businesses from making a profit on the internet or building closed experiences through paywalls or proprietary tech. Rather, the “openness” of the internet enabled more companies to be built, reaching more users, and achieving greater profits, while also preventing pre-internet giants (and, crucially, telecom companies) from controlling it. Openness is also why the internet is considered to have democratized information, and why the majority of the most valuable public companies in the world today were founded (or were reborn) in the internet era.

It’s not difficult to imagine how different the internet would be if it had been created by multinational media conglomerates in order to sell widgets, serve ads or harvest user data for profits.

However, a “corporate internet” is the current expectation for the metaverse. When the internet was born, government labs and universities were effectively the only institutions with the computational talent, resources, and ambitions to build a “network of networks,” and few in the for-profit sector imagined its commercial potential. None of this is true when it comes to the metaverse. Instead, it is being pioneered and built by private businesses.

In 2016, long before the metaverse was seriously contemplated by the corporate executives worldwide, Epic Games’ Sweeney told VentureBeat that “If one central company gains control of [the metaverse], they will become more powerful than any government and be a god on Earth.” It’s easy to find such a claim hyperbolic. But according to Citi and KPMG, the metaverse could generate as much as $13 trillion in revenue per year by 2030. Morgan Stanley has estimated $8 trillion in both the U.S. and China, similar to Goldman Sachs global projection of between $2.5 and $12.5 trillion; McKinsey forecasts $5 trillion worldwide. Jensen Huang, the founder and CEO of Nvidia, which ranked as one of the ten largest public companies in the world for most of the year, believes the GDP of the metaverse will eventually exceed that of “the physical world.”

It is here that fears of a dystopia seem fair, rather than alarmist. The idea of the metaverse means an ever-growing share of our lives, labor, leisure, time, wealth, happiness, and relationships will be spent inside virtual worlds, rather than just aided through digital devices. It will be a parallel plane of existence that sits atop our digital and physical economies, and unites both. As a result, the companies that control these virtual worlds and their virtual atoms will be more dominant than those who lead in today’s digital economy.

The metaverse will thus render more acute many of the hard problems of digital existence today, such as data rights, data security, misinformation and radicalization, platform power, and user happiness. The philosophies, culture, and priorities of the companies that lead in the metaverse era, therefore, will help determine whether the future is better or worse than our current moment, rather than just more virtual or remunerative.

As the world’s largest corporations and most ambitious start-ups pursue the metaverse, it’s essential that we—users, developers, consumers, and voters—understand we still have agency over our future and the ability to reset the status quo, but only if we act now. Yes, the metaverse can seem daunting, if not outright scary, but this moment of change is our chance to bring people together, to transform industries that have resisted disruption, and to build a more equal global economy.

Much about the future is uncertain, just as the internet was in the 1990s and 2000s. But we can understand how the metaverse is likely to work and why; which experiences might be available when, why, and to whom; what might go wrong and what must go right. And we can use this information to shape the future, just as Big Tech is and will. There are trillions of dollars at stake, as executives are wont to remind us—and, more importantly, our lives.

Adapted from Matthew Ball’s new book The Metaverse: And How It Will Revolutionize Everything.Copyright © 2022 by Matthew Ball. With
permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thu, 28 Jul 2022 04:31:00 -0500 text/html https://time.com/magazine/south-pacific/6201603/august-8th-2022-vol-200-no-5-asia-europe-middle-east-and-africa-south-america-south-pacific/ Killexams : VR Metaverse Driving Innovation in Games, Shopping and More

The book and 2018 film Ready Player One depicted a world in the near future where people escape dreary real life by immersing themselves in a virtual reality world called The Oasis. Facebook’s accurate announcement of its rebranding as Meta and its planned creation of the Metaverse suggests that the equivalent of The Oasis is coming, leaving us to wonder how all of this will turn out.

With the shopping season upon us, industry analyst Brittain Ladd, who serves on the advisory board for George Mason University’s Center for Retail Transformation has some ideas for how shopping in an immersive virtual reality will look.

“I think websites are stone age,” Ladd said. “I am amazed today that we still have to go to a website to shop. In the VR world, you are entering a store. You are putting these products on a counter and checking out.”

This is important because such stores can be more engaging to shoppers than a flat 2-D web page. One of Brittain’s test subjects wanted to buy Italian food products, for example. “We wanted to supply the customer the ability to stand in a store in Italy because they were looking for Italian food,” he explained. “When they looked out the window, they literally saw Italy.”

And why should retailers pay the expense of developing an immersive virtual store that whisks shoppers to far-away countries? Because when they do that, the shoppers become motivated to spend more money in those stores, Brittain reports. “They not only shop for Italian products, but they wanted to buy even more.”

Conversely, if VR stores in the metaverse offer only the same old products that consumers can buy locally, then shoppers will visit a couple times for the novelty and then return to their usual physical stores, according to Brittain. “They only would want to do if they are not seeing anything other than the products they already see,” he said.

MetaEducation-2.png

Where better to find the best baklava than in Greece?

The Metaverse also provides a venue for seasonal holiday stores other than the vacant spots in the local mall. In this case, a Christmas store could not only offer seasonal products, but it could let visitors experience Santa’s workshop or meet St. Nick himself. “For Christmas, why not tell the story of Christmas and immerse people in the North Pole,” Brittain asked. “You could even let them meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. We have the ability to create lifelike people who are avatars.”

A potential obstacle to the adoption of VR and immersion is the clunkiness of wearing a VR headset. This is where engineering innovation is needed to lower the barrier to use by more people, Brittain said. “These headsets have to progress to the point that it is easier for the consumer to wear them or to not have to wear a headset. Multiple startups are working on new ways of providing a VR experience that doesn’t necessarily require a headset.”

One solution could be to use a combination of glasses and wireless earbuds, or potentially it could work using an iPad or Microsoft Surface while wearing 3D glasses. “One idea that is interesting is the concept of being able to use a TV. It would leverage television and wearing the glasses almost like the 3D glasses like people wore (in movie theaters) in the ‘50s.”

The industry would also need to ensure that prospective customers understand that while the images of the products on the virtual shelves are simulations, that the products they are buying are real physical objects that will be delivered to them. And those products will need to be delivered quickly if Metaverse stores want to compete with local stores. “The thing that will need to develop is the supply chain,” Brittain noted.

MetaFitness-3.png

Biking against opponents is more motivational when they are rendered as avatars.

As we find our way to the eventual Oasis, there will be stumbles and missteps. Think of the variety of failed MP3 players before Apple created the iTunes ecosystem in support of the iPod and iPhone. And the siloed dial-up services like Prodigy, CompuServe, and America Online that were crushed by the emergence of the internet from its background as a network for defense agencies and universities.

This likely foreshadows metaverse developments that will be spearheaded by national security agencies seeking digital high ground in this new frontier, according to Brittain. “All intelligence agencies are actively exploring how to they become experts in the metaverse and virtual reality,” he said. “ARPA created the internet. If anything, I think the DOD is going to form many more partnerships with more startups early. The Pentagon knows they can’t wait.”

In that respect, Ready Player One may have been even more prescient than we realize, considering that The Oasis VR gaming platform became the site of the decisive battle at the end of the film.

Thu, 07 Jul 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.designnews.com/electronics/vr-metaverse-driving-innovation-games-shopping-and-more
Killexams : WaterNSW lays the foundation for HR automation using robust technology

Using Dynamics 365, WaterNSW deployed a case management system that automates workflows and directs employee requests efficiently. For example, a generic enquiry is sent to a shared service centre for an HR adviser to address. Or, if an employee has a specific request regarding leave arrangements, they can submit a form straight to the payroll specialist. This level of automation has enabled faster and more accurate case resolution than using manual processes.

An agile approach to delivery

WaterNSW began developing its case management platform in December 2021. It gave back-office HR staff early access so they had time to recommend optimal changes, then released the platform to all employees in March 2022.

Sree says the switch from a project-based delivery model to an agile, sprint-based delivery model was key to deploying the platform swiftly.

“That staged approach gave us the ability to hear the real requirements through the course of the program, rather than shutting the doors at the start point and saying, ‘Here are your requirements and here is what you’ll get’,” she says.

“It was an effective way of trialling the new solutions and collaborating across our teams and functions, determining effectiveness and minimising risk – testing, learning and refining as we went. Successes could be scaled, and lessons learnt shared, driving continuous improvement and reinforcing learning.”

Creating a more human-centric workplace

The case management platform has resulted in several improvements to WaterNSW’s HR operations. These include better reporting functionality using a single source of data, and the ability to provide accurate information on demand to external parties, lawyers, auditors, and WaterNSW executives and managers.

It has also improved the organisation’s ability to adhere to employee relations, unified enterprise agreement and record management obligations. WaterNSW can now capture, categorise, report and store complete employee requests and relations more accurately and securely.

The Dynamics 365–powered platform has removed several manual processes, as well as those involving duplication across multiple systems. It has also created synergy between other people and culture modules such as performance management and record keeping.

Employees and managers are now able to create, track and escalate their own HR requests. Even better, WaterNSW can more accurately determine HR resourcing requirements.

Female employee sitting at her desk
The Dynamics 365 platform has helped improved WaterNSW’s ability to adhere to employee relations.

The system’s knowledge base feature provides a simple way to reduce the number of enquiries the HR team receives. According to Sree, this ‘tier zero’ support allows employees to help themselves to information they previously couldn’t access without contacting the HR department.

“For instance, if an employee searches for information regarding a pay advance, it made sense to not only return the pay advance policy, but also include a form where the employee could actually request the advance,” she says.

The organisation has also gained cost efficiencies by being able to streamline low-level functions and automate HR processes using Dynamics 365.

“We can comfortably say that we have laid down the foundational system that we can now build on as part of our HR automation journey,” Sree notes.

“There is certainly still a lot more to unpack. Analysing those factors helps us appreciate the unique dynamics that transformed into today’s reality. With that in mind, we are asking our new leaders for their fresh perspectives on what the future of HR technology means to them.”

WaterNSW wants to build an HR model that gives its leaders the tools they need to be more effective, and provides employees with a more fulfilling experience.

“We want to introduce more self-service capabilities by building artificial intelligence and embedding robotic process automation where possible,” Sree says.

Mon, 11 Jul 2022 14:25:00 -0500 en-AU text/html https://news.microsoft.com/en-au/features/waternsw-lays-the-foundation-for-hr-automation-using-robust-technology/
Killexams : Is Meta Platforms Stock A Buy During The Dip? If You Want To Buy The Next Apple, Then Yes
Hodl with young man

Melpomenem/iStock via Getty Images

Introduction

Being a Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:META) investor has been a very, very painful experience over the last nine months. In this period, META's valuation has dropped by ~$620B (or 57.4%). While long-term Meta investors are no strangers to large drawdowns, the sheer velocity and depth of this move is adequate to shake out most bulls from this counter.

YCharts

YCharts

In today's note, we will try to understand some of the factors driving the collapse of Meta's stock and evaluate its ability to recover. Next, we will run META through TQI's Quantamental Analysis methodology to determine if it is a good buy as a near-term, medium-term, and/or long-term investment. Lastly, I will share my fair value estimate and projected CAGR return for Meta.

But before we do all of that, I think we should discuss the idea of buying a stock amidst a crash or dip like what META is undergoing right now.

Is It A Good Idea To Buy Stocks During A Dip?

A very popular trading/investing adage goes something like this -

Don't try to catch a falling knife

In equity investing, a rapidly-declining stock is analogous to a falling knife, and an investor trying to catch [buy] it is likely to get hurt. Now, if you are a short-term trader, then being a contrarian (i.e., going against the herd) may not be a wise move. However, if you are a long-term investor, then you are better off buying stocks with broken technical charts (if the fundamental story, business model, and investment thesis are not broken). Having time on your side is an advantage over most market participants that operate with shorter time horizons on their investing mandates.

Back in April 2022, I showcased in one of my articles - how bad technicals can be a boon for long-term investors, and in that research note, I used Meta Platforms as an example.

Here's what I said at the time:

Well, if you are a short-term-oriented trader, don't bother buying Meta here. However, if you are a long-term-oriented investor, Meta offers a spectacular entry point. In its ten-year history as a public company, Meta's stock has pulled back by more than 15% from its highs on 12 separate occasions, with its 14-day RSI also hitting 30 (oversold territory), and every dip has proven to be a rewarding buy for investors.

Meta platforms

YCharts, Author

Meta price % off high April 2022

YCharts, Author

Meta's stock chart is filled with sharp drops and V-shaped rallies, and while Meta looks down in the dumps at this moment in time, it could stage a sharp reversal in the coming months and quarters as temporary headwinds subside, and price recalibrates to business fundamentals.

Source: Meta Platforms: Bad Technicals Are A Boon For Long-Term Investors

So far, my Meta buy from April is down ~8% (SPX is down ~9% in the same period). However, I took this position as a long-term investment with a 5+ year horizon, and being down ~8% is fine for me. I wouldn't be fine being down so much if I were a short-term trader.

In investing, taking a contrarian (non-consensus) bet can lead to outsized gains, but this can happen if and only if you are right.

Contrarian Investing

iq25

Legendary investor - Howard Marks - put this idea really well -

To achieve superior investment results, your insight into value has to be superior. Thus you must learn things others don’t, see things differently or do a better job of analyzing them – ideally all three.

History shows that buying stocks during dips is a rewarding exercise. However, in order to buy stocks during a dip, investors need to cultivate the right investment philosophy, be courageous, and have the stomach for near-term volatility. Nowadays, this phrase - "Buy and HODL (hold on for dear life)" - is pretty popular. The buy part is easy; HODLing (holding) is not [especially during vicious downdrafts]. We started with this question - "Is it a good idea to buy stocks during a dip?" - and my answer is that, if you are a long-term investor who's done adequate due diligence on a business, then yes, catching a falling knife is not an issue, i.e., buying stocks during a dip is a fine idea (as long as you are confident about being right).

Here's how I structure my due diligence on a stock that's experiencing a dip:

  1. Identify the factors or issues driving the downdraft.
  2. Analyze long-term business fundamentals and valuations to make sure the investment thesis is intact.
  3. Utilize quantitative and technical data analysis to limit near-term pain.

Now, some of you might say that why not wait for the bottom to buy. The idea of a bottom is fictitious, and nobody knows where the bottom is at any given point in time. A true bottom only becomes clear in hindsight. Hence, there is no point in trying to buy at the bottom; you are likely to miss it. I will discuss this idea in detail some other time.

If you are interested in studying my investment thesis for Meta in more detail, please feel free to read these research notes:

For now, let's begin our due diligence exercise on META.

Why Did Meta Stock Dip?

As you may know, Meta's business is facing several headwinds, including, but not limited to -

  • IDFA changes (from Apple (AAPL)) adversely affecting Facebook's targeting capabilities (lower ROI for advertisers)
  • Increased competition from rivals such as TikTok (ByteDance), Alphabet (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), and Snapchat (SNAP)
  • Lower Ad demand on the back of weak macro environment: multi-decade high inflation, rising interest rates, exploding commodity prices, and growing fears of recession (slowing economy).

While these factors (and probably some others) are the likely fundamental drivers behind Meta's bearish price action, I think the re-pricing in Meta's stock boils down to the rapid deceleration in its sales growth rates in the post-pandemic era. Within a few quarters, Meta's growth rate has fallen off a cliff from ~48% to ~6.6%. For 2022, Meta is expected to grow at just 6%, and if the economy worsens, we may see no growth at all.

YCharts

YCharts

As growth grinds to a halt, Mr. Market is re-rating Meta as a value stock, which it is (based on its new financial reality). However, I firmly believe that the market has overshot to the downside (trading Meta down to 12x P/FCF), and there's not an iota of doubt in my mind that Meta's ~8.5% FCF yield is a rare buying opportunity, but more on that later.

YCharts

YCharts

Let's discuss some of Meta's headwinds and the nature of these issues. If these issues are permanent, Meta may be a value trap. However, if these issues are just temporary setbacks, then Meta could be a killer investment at current levels.

1. Apple iOS policy changes

The impact of Apple's IDFA changes is pretty well documented at this point. We even saw these changes negatively affecting Meta's revenue last quarter. In simple terms, Apple's iOS policy changes around IDFA (ID For Advertisers) have resulted in reduced ROI for Meta's advertisers (due to severely limited targeted ad capabilities amid lesser data available to Meta). According to Meta's management, the company could need multiple quarters before its AI could work (produce similar ROI for advertisers) without this key identifier.

2. TikTok and other competition

The astronomical rise of short-form video, led by TikTok, has hurt Facebook's engagement metrics. Despite robust growth in the short-form video category via Reels, Meta is still chasing TikTok. Furthermore, Meta is facing competition from the likes of Amazon and Apple. With heightened competition, Facebook's revenues and margins could come under pressure. Luckily, digital advertising remains a secular growth trend, meaning Meta could continue to grow revenue while losing market share.

3. Economy is turning bad

A slowing economy is driving advertising budget cuts, and Meta is facing the heat. We have seen heightened turnover at the C-suite level, and Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently provided a very bleak outlook for the economy to employees:

If I had to bet, I’d say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in accurate history.

Source: Mark Zuckerberg, reported by Reuters.

He further warned employees -

The company needed to crack down and work harder than it had before, and that I am "turning up the heat" on internal goals and metrics used to rate employees' performance. I think some of you might decide that this place isn’t for you, and that self-selection is OK with me. Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.

These sharply worded comments reflect the degree of difficulty that Meta is facing with its business. Considering all these negatives together, I guess Meta's downdraft is not all that surprising as it is the perfect storm for the social media/advertising giant.

Can META Stock Recover?

In my view, all the major headwinds discussed in the previous section are solvable issues. Apple's IDFA changes are hurting everyone, and not just Meta; however, with Meta's scale and engineering talent, it is probably the likeliest "non-gatekeeper" tech company to find a workaround. According to Meta's management, the company is already building AI/ML-based solutions to provide better ROI for advertisers in the post-IDFA (and cookie-less world). Mark Zuckerberg believes that it could be a few quarters before Meta gets around Apple's IDFA changes; however, he expects Meta to emerge stronger on the other side.

While Meta can't really do much about Amazon and Apple taking market share in the digital advertising share, it can certainly stop TikTok in its tracks. According to a recent report from Truist, Meta's Reels are set to overtake TikTok in the short-video space within 18 months. A few years back, Meta had to grapple with Snapchat's (SNAP) Stories, and we know the outcome. Throughout its history, Meta has shown incredible agility in business, and I am pretty confident that Zuckerberg and Co. will come out with flying colors this time too.

And if Meta can't beat TikTok to the punch, US regulators could surely get it done. Brendan Carr, an FCC commissioner, recently asked Apple and Google to ban TikTok from their app stores for its "pattern of surreptitious data practices":

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance – an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese Law to comply with PRC’s surveillance demands.

TikTok’s pattern of conduct and misrepresentations regarding the unfettered access that persons in Beijing have to sensitive U.S. user data violated Apple’s and Google’s standards.

TikTok collects everything from search histories to "keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints, and voiceprints," as well as collecting location data, text, images and videos stored on the device's clipboard.

TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data."

While Apple and Google have not responded yet, I think TikTok will get banned in the US (sooner or later). My thinking is simple; if Meta is not allowed to operate in China, there is absolutely no reason why TikTok should be allowed in the US. I know we pride ourselves on free markets, but protecting the data privacy of our people from the CCP is more important as this relates to national security.

The last headwind, i.e., stagflation in the economy, is out of Meta's control. However, if I were asked to make a bet on the economy, I would always bet on the economic cycle to turn again (it always does). Due to decades of insane monetary and fiscal policies, we find ourselves in the midst of a vicious debt cycle that has rendered economic "booms and busts" a recurring theme. With our national debt at $30T, I am confident that this trend will continue for years and years to come.

In a nutshell, I can see some of Meta's major business headwinds waning in the next 12-24 months, and Meta could emerge as a stronger company on the other side of these tumultuous times. Now, let's do some number crunching.

Running META Through TQI's Quantamental Analysis Methodology

In the grand scheme of things, Meta's revenues are still growing; however, margins seem to be coming under significant pressure as the company makes massive investments into building the infrastructure for the Metaverse. Despite moderation in margin profile, Meta still commands robust gross and operating margins of 78.5% and 30.5%, respectively.

YCharts

YCharts

While Meta is investing (losing) ~$10B per year in Reality Labs, it continues to make tons of profits from its advertising business. In Q1, Meta generated $8.6B in free cash flow (30% FCF margin). However, the easily observable downward trend in operating margin is concerning. I understand that Meta is growing slower than management's expectations, which is causing significant pressure on margins.

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Meta's growth rates have been falling off a cliff in the post-pandemic world, with particular weakness in Europe and US & Canada - regions where growth is nearly zero right now.

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

While Meta is struggling for revenue growth, these struggles are directly related to user growth. In Q1, Meta surprised most people (including me) by reporting a gain in DAUs. While more users are great for Meta as the entire company is built on network effects, I think Meta's Family-of-apps are deeply integrated into humanity. Hence, Meta is not going anywhere anytime soon. For Q2, we can safely expect Meta to lose DAUs as the Russia ban takes effect. However, Meta could probably amass ~4-5B users on its platforms over the next couple of decades (we are still at ~3B).

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Interestingly, Meta's ARPP declined slightly in Q1 (from $7.75 to $7.72). This anomalous development at the company could be a direct result of greater competition and an increased number of under-monetized active users on Meta's platform (the former is more likely).

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

While several business headwinds are impacting Meta negatively at this given point in time, the company has still managed to produce massive amounts of free cash flow. As monetization from Reels and WhatsApp improves, I expect Meta's FCF (and FCF margin) to rise over the coming years. Despite reporting a ~$2.9B operating loss in the Reality Labs business segment (Metaverse) for Q1 2022, Meta still made $8.5B in free cash flow.

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

Meta Q1 2022 Earnings Presentation

A solid balance sheet can do no harm to a business, and Meta's balance sheet is as rock-solid as they come. With ~$44B of cash & short-term investments on its balance sheet (along with an additional $104B of long-term assets) and no financial debt, Meta is in a very strong financial position.

YCharts

YCharts

Despite facing several headwinds, Meta is still expected to grow revenues in 2022, albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace of 6%. Meta's management has been providing a weak outlook for the last two quarters, and the upcoming Q2 earnings report is projected to be the worst quarter for Meta throughout its history in terms of growth (flat revenues and a 25% y/y decline in EPS). With all of this being said, the medium and long-term outlook for Meta remains positive among analysts.

SA earnings estimates for Meta

Seeking Alpha

Seeking Alpha Estimates for Meta

Seeking Alpha

From a fundamental perspective, Meta looks like a fantastic mature stage company to own for Value and GARP investors with its 8.3% yield.

Furthermore, Seeking Alpha's Quant Rating system rates Meta at "Hold" with a score of 3.05 (up from April rating of 3.04). While Meta scores an A+ on profitability (due to its best-in-class gross and net profit margins), it has a D+ rating on growth (slowdown) and momentum (bearish price action). Additionally, Meta's Valuation and Earnings Revisions factor grades have improved to "C-" each (downward). Overall, quant factor ratings for META at '3.05' are neutral.

Seeking Alpha Quant Ratings

Seeking Alpha Quant Ratings

There is no space for indecision at TQI; however, Meta's technical charts tell me that the stock is currently trading in no-man's land. After sliding through its long-term bullish trendline (marked in a green arrow on the chart), Meta's stock is trying to bounce back up.

WeBull Desktop

WeBull Desktop

With this being said, Meta's technical chart is broken (the business is not), and it could easily test the $133 support zone, which also happens to be Meta's 200-EMA level. Hence, if you are looking for a near-term play, skip Meta. However, if you are looking for a long-term buy, Meta is a fantastic buy.

Is META Stock A Buy, Sell, or Hold?

There's only one way to find out: determining Meta's fair value and expected returns. To do so, we will use a simple discounted cash flow model with the following assumptions:

2022E revenue $125B
Forward 5-Yr Revenue Growth Rate (%) 10%
Terminal Growth Rate (%) 3%
Optimized FCF Margin (%) 27-35%
Discount Rate / Required IRR (%) 15%
Exit Multiple [P/FCF] (bear, base, and bull case scenarios) 10x,15x & 25x

Before we look at the results, I would like to clarify some of my assumptions. Meta Platforms is a broadly followed company, and we are unlikely to see significant surprises to consensus analyst estimates. However, I am opting for a lower CAGR revenue growth rate to implement a margin of safety in my model.

Meta revenue projections

Seeking Alpha

Furthermore, I am starting with an optimized FCF margin of 27%, lower than what the company is set to do (~30%) for 2022. Again, the goal is to implement a margin of safety (considering Mark Zuckerberg's repeated warnings on the economy and the effect of Apple and TikTok on Meta's business). All other assumptions are pretty straightforward, but if you have any questions, please share them in the comments section below.

Results:

META fair value and expected returns

TQI Valuation Model (Author)

As you can see above, META's fair value is ~$717B ($261 per share). With the stock trading at ~$168, it is currently trading at a discount of 55% to its fair value. According to TQI Valuation Model, META's stock appears to be massively undervalued. However, what sort of returns could one expect in the future by buying Meta at current levels?

After getting re-priced as a value stock, META is now trading at a P/FCF multiple of ~10-12x with 2022 expected revenue growth of 6-7%. While this may seem like a fair multiple based on current y/y growth numbers, I don't think Meta is getting enough credit for a potential re-acceleration in growth from Family of Apps (Reels and WhatsApp monetization), let alone the Metaverse. If Metaverse turns out to be the next-gen computing platform after mobile, Meta Platforms could emerge as a big winner considering its early leadership in this nascent market. We could have years and years of growth left in the tank at Meta, but let's skip the Metaverse piece for today - if it works, great; if it fails, fine. Meta is a tremendous business to own even without the Metaverse (Reality Labs); some might argue it's better without the Metaverse. However, I am with Mark Zuckerberg on this one - META needs to be a gatekeeper in the next generation of computing platforms.

After years of rapid growth, Meta is entering a period of slower sales growth (10-15% per year). Meta's margins could also come under pressure due to a poor macroeconomic backdrop, lower advertising ROI (Apple's iOS policy changes), and heightened competition (from TikTok, Amazon, Apple, and others). With this information in mind, let's figure out Meta's potential share price in 2026.

To find a reasonable range for an exit multiple, I looked at some of Meta's median P/FCF multiples and that of peers (i.e., big tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Google). Interestingly, all of them are trading below their 3-yr median P/FCF multiples.

YCharts

YCharts

Meta has a history of trading below its median P/FCF for extended periods; however, each time, it has successfully mean-reverted back up to the median. Will history repeat itself? I can't say for sure, but if it does, META's stock would be ~2.5x of current levels (just by multiple expansion).

In 2026, META would be growing at around 10-15% per year, with operating margins of ~35-40%. While the exact multiple is a function of risk-free rates, I believe that if the risk-free rate were at 3-3.5% (where it is today), META's FCF yield could be 4-5%, i.e., an exit P/FCF multiple of ~20-25x. In the case of a calamitous economic reset (higher interest rates: 6-8%), META's yield may need to stay at 8-10%, which would mean an exit P/FCF multiple of ~10x. In the model I shared above, I used an exit P/FCF multiple of 15x, which in my view, is very conservative and provides an ample margin of safety. Assuming an exit P/FCF multiple of ~15x, I see META's stock trading at $349 per share at the end of 2026, which implies a ~17.7% CAGR return over the next 4.5 years.

Now that we have valued Meta based on its future free cash flow stream and determined our base case return expectation for the stock, I think we are in the right frame of mind to think about the impact of Meta's capital allocation strategy on shareholder returns. As you may know, Meta has tons of cash ($43B), no debt, and it is producing massive amounts of free cash flow (despite the massive ~$10B per year spending on Reality Labs). And nearly all of this cash flow is being returned to shareholders via stock buybacks.

YCharts

YCharts

Over the last 12 months, META bought back $50B worth of its stock, and it will likely buy $20B more in H2 2022. By 2026, I expect META to buy back ~23% of its shares outstanding (spending $240B in 4.5 years). This ain't rocket science; asset prices are a function of demand and supply. If META reduces the supply of its stock by 23%, the stock price is very likely to go higher.

Let's visualize the impact of Meta's potential buyback program:

META stock buybacks

TQI Valuation Model (Author)

As we saw earlier, META investors could generate 17.7% CAGR returns (from current levels) till the end of 2026 (4.5 years). However, if we factor in an aggressive buyback program (along the lines of what META's management has been using over the last couple of years), then investors could end up generating significantly better returns (26.8% CAGR). This is the power of financial engineering that META's management could apply to boost shareholder returns.

Concluding Thoughts: Is Meta Platforms Stock A Good Long-term Pick?

Among its big-tech peers, Meta is an outlier with its FCF yield of 8.2%. At this point, the market is basically betting that Meta's free cash flow is set to fall by ~50%. With millions of businesses depending upon Meta's Family-of-Apps to connect with billions of users across these platforms, I don't think Meta's free cash flows can drop by 50% even in a bad economy. Furthermore, if you are following Zuckerberg's commentary, you would know that he is tightening up the belt at Meta, and the company is willing to prioritize short-term financial goals at the cost of some (non-essential) longer-term projects.

YCharts

META is an outlier (YCharts)

In my view, META is the perfect setup for alpha generation via financial engineering. We are likely to see a period of slower growth from the social media giant, i.e., depressed valuation (10-15x P/FCF) could stay around for some time. However, robust FCF generation and aggressive stock buybacks will drive EPS, FCF/share, and the stock price higher. We have seen this playbook result in outsized gains in Apple (AAPL) [+576%] and Microsoft (MSFT) [+789%] (over the last decade). And I think Meta has a very good chance of emulating the stellar performance of these aforementioned tech stocks over the next decade.

Comparing current day Meta to Apple from 2013:

Apple (Mar 2013) Meta (Mar 2022)
Low starting valuation 9-9.5x P/FCF 12.22x P/FCF
Net cash on balance sheet $39.14B $43.89B
Robust free cash flow $44B $39.81B
Sales Growth (%) 11%(was ~1% next Qtr) 6.64%

I am sure you see the similarities between Apple from Mar-2013 and Meta from Mar-2022. Apple is a tremendously innovative company that has transformed into a well-diversified conglomerate (of consumer hardware and software services) under the leadership of Tim Cook; however, a lot of the returns (~576% in the last ten years) generated by its stock have more to do with the financial engineering Cook and Co have applied at the Cupertino tech giant than to improvement in business fundamentals.

YCharts

YCharts

Over the last decade, Apple's free cash flows grew by ~155%; however, its stock went up by ~576%. Clearly, Apple's market multiple has expanded. Now, most bulls would point towards Apple's transformation into a services business as the major driver of this multiple expansion. I don't agree with this idea because Domino's Pizza (DPZ), a highly-commoditized business in a mature industry, has generated a 1200% return during the same period. The common factors between Apple and Domino's (in 2012) were low starting valuations, robust balance sheet and free cash flow generation, and massive stock buybacks. The outsized returns generated by these companies result from financial engineering employed by their respective management teams. As we can see on the chart above, Apple reduced its share count by ~38.2% (over the last ten years). A massive decline in share count and steady free cash flow growth is a recipe for tremendous share price appreciation.

Trading at just 10-12x P/FCF, Meta is a deeply undervalued value stock that reminds me of Apple from 2012-13. Considering Meta's robust balance sheet, free cash flow generation, humongous capital return program, and ability to grow sales (and free cash flow) at 10-15% CAGR, I can't see how the stock could be lower five years out than where it is today. There's nowhere to go but up. In my view, META is a no-brainer buy for Value and GARP investors with a long-term orientation (investment horizon of 3+ years).

Key Takeaway: I rate META a strong buy at $168

Housekeeping Note: I'll soon be launching a Marketplace service on Seeking Alpha focused on generating long-term outperformance through financial engineering. While "The Quantamental Investor" won't be live until early September, we are already building an exclusive (and free) community for retail investors at TQI Network. You can find more details in my profile bio. Stay tuned for more updates!

Mon, 11 Jul 2022 01:05:00 -0500 en text/html https://seekingalpha.com/article/4522434-is-meta-platforms-stock-buy-during-dip 98-375 exam dump and training guide direct download
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