David Marcus goes to Washington; Jeffrey Katzenberg lands NBC News

Byers Market is a daily newsletter from NBC News senior media reporter Dylan Byers that takes you behind the scenes in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, New York and Washington.
Image: David Marcus, vice president of Messaging Products at Facebook, speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose.
David Marcus, vice president of Messaging Products at Facebook, speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose.Stephen Lam / Reuters file

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By Dylan Byers

Good morning. 📅 The Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit returns to the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills on October 21-23 with Bob Iger, Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Massenet, Jon Favreau, Brian Armstrong, John Foley, Hasan Minhaj and more.

M&A calendar: Shari Redstone has set August 8 as the internal deadline for the CBS-Viacom talks, per CNBC's Alex Sherman.

Join the Market.


David Marcus goes to D.C.

Moving the Market: Facebook blockchain chief David Marcus is on Capitol Hill this week to testify on the new Libra cryptocurrency and Calibra digital wallet, the first of many tests for Facebook as it seeks to launch what may become a major global utility.

The big picture: Marcus' testimony before the Senate Banking Committee (today) and House Financial Services Committee (tomorrow) will provide a first look at how Facebook aims to thread the needle with regulators.

• In his opening remarks, Marcus will highlight Libra's decentralized governance, its commitment to privacy ⁠and its compliance with anti-money-laundering regulations and know-your-customer practices.

• He will also explain that Calibra, the Facebook-controlled service operating on top of Libra, will benefit Facebook by encouraging businesses to transact more directly with users, thus yielding greater ad revenue for Facebook.

• Because control of Libra will rest with a membership organization and not with Facebook, Marcus can rebut charges that the company has an unfair advantage in running a platform and a service. (In fact, Calibra's advantage will come from the sheer scale and power of Facebook itself.)

The Libra pitch, from Marcus' prepared remarks: "Libra is about developing a safe, secure, and low-cost way for people to move money efficiently... built on a secure and stable open-source blockchain, backed by a reserve of real assets, and governed by an independent association."

• The Libra Association will be an independent organization where all members have equal power. It "has no intention of competing with any sovereign currencies" or interfering with monetary policy and "will be licensed, regulated, and subject to supervisory oversight."

The Calibra pitch: The Calibra digital wallet "will be available in Messenger, WhatsApp, and as a standalone app.... [and] will let users send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, similar to how they might send a text message, and at low-to-no cost."

The olive branch: Marcus will also stress that Libra is "designed to be an open process and subject to regulatory oversight and review," and that it will not launch "until we have fully addressed regulatory concerns."

One early concern, via Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, is that Libra will pose a "national security threat" because it "could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers" -- something Marcus will address in his remarks.

• Meanwhile, Rep. Maxine Waters, D.-Calif., has alreadydrafted legislation to block Facebook from operating Libra altogether.


Silicon Valley on the Hill

Big in the Bay, big in the Beltway: Executives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple will testify before the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee today as lawmakers ramp up efforts to crack down on the nation's tech giants.

• The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., says the hearing will "examine the impact of market power of online platforms on innovation and entrepreneurship."

• On deck: Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton; Apple compliance officer Kyle Andeer; Facebook global policy development chief Matt Perault and Google economic policy director Adam Cohen.

• Plus: Columbia Law School's Tim Wu; Yale's Fiona M. Scott Morton, former FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, etc.

The big picture: Washington is making a new show of force against Silicon Valley, with the Justice Department upping its scrutiny of Apple and Google and the FTC probing Amazon and Facebook.

• But, as I noted after the FTC's $5 billion Facebook fine, there's reason to doubt how effective Washington will actually be at reining in big tech.

Get breaking news and insider analysis on the rapidly changing world of media and technology right to your inbox.

🇺🇸 Talk of the Trail 🇺🇸

Strange bedfellows: Some tech executives donated heavily to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign in the second quarter of 2019,despite her proposals to break up the big tech giants, Politico's Michael Stratford reports.

• "Sonos founder John Macfarlane gave $2,500 ... Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy contributed $2,800 ... Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive who now runs Social Capital, kicked in $5,000."

Down in Hollywood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Shonda Rhimes and Rob Reiner were all among those who gave $2,800 to the Massachusetts Senator.


Katzenberg lands NBC News

Big in the Hills, talk of the Rock: Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman's Quibi will launch a twice-daily news show in partnership with NBC News, "part of a strategy to lure viewers to its short-form streaming service every day," WSJ's Ben Mullin reports.

• "The show, which is still unnamed, will appear on Quibi’s streaming service in two separate editions running less than six minutes every morning and evening."

• NBC News and Quibi confirmed the announcement in a press release.

• "NBC News is among the first companies to cut licensing deals to produce content for Quibi’s 'Daily Essentials' section, which will be populated with of-the-moment programming on topics such as news, sports and weather."

• "The pact with NBC News is a multiyear, eight-figure deal, according to people familiar with the matter."

The big picture: Quibi's Daily Essentials "are expected to keep users coming back to Quibi’s mobile app, Mr. Katzenberg said in an interview, after they have been hooked by the company’s big-ticket movies and shows."

What's next: "NBC News is putting significant muscle behind the effort." NBC News President Noah Oppenheim tells Mullin the network will likely assign at least two dozen employees to the show.


Market Links

Jack Dorsey faces pressure over Trump's latest tweets (CNN)

Susan Wojcicki girds for 'antitrust revenge' from rivals (Bloomberg)

Bernard Arnault buys a minority stake in Stella McCartney (WSJ)

David Goodman faces mutiny from within WGA ranks (NYT)

Andrea Mitchell wins the lifetime achievement Emmy (NBC)


Quentin Schaffer exits HBO

End of an era: Quentin Schaffer, the veteran HBO communications chief and longtime right-hand to Richard Plepler, is stepping down after 39 years at the premium cable network, he told friends and colleagues yesterday.

The big picture: Like many media comms chiefs, Schaffer was more instrumental to his company's success than his title would suggest, with a hand in everything from marketing to talent relations to corporate affairs.

• "HBO would not be HBO without Quentin's myriad contributions over these many years," Plepler tells me via email. "A huge talent who helped tell the HBO story with his inimitable voice and style. His is a career for the ages."

What's next: Kevin Brockman, who joined WarnerMedia from Disney earlier this year, will assume Schaffer's duties as part of his purview over HBO, Turner and the new HBO Max streaming service.


Gerwig, Baumbach join 'Barbie'

Talk of Tinseltown: "Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, known for critically adored, quirky dramas,are tackling 'Barbie,'" the Warner Bros. and Mattel film that will star Margot Robbie in the title role, THR's Borys Kit and Mia Galuppo report.

• "Gerwig and Baumbach will write the script, with Gerwig, who last helmed Lady Bird, eyeing the director's chair.

The big picture: Mattel's Ynon Kriez and Richard Dickson are already taking a risk by bringing Barbie, one of the world's most iconic brands, to the big screen in an era when global audiences have differing views on what the doll represents — and what she should represent.

• The selection of Gerwig and Baumbach would appear to up the ante as well as the potential for a smart and nuanced treatment.

• "Gerwig and Baumbach are outside-the-box choices for branded entertainment," Kit and Galuppo write, "but it shows that the studio and producers are committed to trying to make something with a unique voice in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace."


🎬 What next: Emmy nominations. The Television Academy will reveal this year's list at 8:30 a.m. PT. There should be a lot of love for "Game of Thrones," despite the finale.

See you tomorrow.