Walmart To Launch Amazon Prime Competitor; Sirius XM Scoops Up Stitcher

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On The Plus Side

Walmart resisted starting a membership program because it goes against its lowest-cost-for-all ethos. But that stance comes to an end this month with the planned launch of Walmart Plus, a $98 per year loyalty program, Vox reports. Walmart Plus was originally slated for a March or April release, but that was pushed back due to the pandemic. Walmart’s perks include free same-day grocery delivery from Walmart supercenters, fuel discounts at Walmart gas stations and exclusive product deals. It’s a weak brew compared to the raft of Prime benefits. But Walmart is playing defense – more than half of its top-spending families have Prime – because it needs to head off potential market share losses to Amazon in the critical grocery shopping category. (People tend to bundle general shopping with grocery trips).

Sirius About Podcasts

Sirius XM will buy Stitcher from E.W. Scripps Co. for $300 million as the satellite radio company expands its podcasting business, The Wall Street Journal reports. Stitcher is a podcast app that gives listeners the choice between a free, ad-supported option and a monthly ad-free $4.99 subscription. Stitcher also reps ad inventory for more than 250 shows. Scripps, which bought Stitcher for $4.5 million in 2016 and combined it with podcast ad sales network Midroll Media, is effectively getting out of the podcast business with the sale. Sirius XM, on the other hand, shelled out $3.5 billion for Pandora in 2018 to grow its footprint in podcasting and streaming audio. Sirius also signed an exclusive deal with Walt Disney Studios last year to create companion podcasts for the Marvel franchise.

Ba Da Ba Ba Ba … AppLovin It

AppLovin is all-in on mobile gaming, judging by its recent acquisition of Machine Zone, a top mobile game developer. On Tuesday AppLovin announced four new names on its leadership team (er, leaderboard? A little gaming joke, there) with a clear focus on mobile gaming. Newly minted legal chief Tory Valenzuela and CRO Deepak Gupta both joined AppLovin via Machine Zone, where they held similar roles. Keith Kawahata, AppLovin’s first head of games, was previously head of mobile at, and before that founded a mobile gaming studio services firm. AppLovin’s longtime VP of engineering, Basil Shikin, was promoted to CTO. AppLovin is (not-so) quietly one of the biggest players in mobile advertising, and with its strong push into gaming, the company has become the biggest competitor to Facebook (not counting Google, of course).

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