Not a quiet summer Friday in the venture and tech startup world. Let’s get right to it…

Here’s our weekly pick of news items impacting the innovation ecosystem:

2017: It’s not the year of Unicorn M&A quite yet.

Last month, Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch wrote that tech’s top five (Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft) are worth $3.03 trillion when combined. He asks, “What does this mean? What are these companies going to do with their piles of cash?  Acquire some unicorns?”  Well, that doesn’t seem to be happening in 2017 with only one big unicorn M&A deal: Cisco’s $3.7 billion purchase of AppDynamics.  Joanna Glasner at Crunchbase speaks with investors and experts gathering commentary on what this means to the broader tech industry.

The takeaway: If M&A’s are few and far between even when the Big 5 are flush with cash and at peak valuation, what will happen if the markets do a little profit-taking and the value of the Big 5 drops by 10+ percent. Discouraging thought: things could get worse.

Facebook Joins the TV Arms Race

As Facebook continues to develop ways to drive ad revenue and engagement time on its platform, it has decided to join the original digital TV content arms race involving Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and iTunes. This week, Facebook launched Watch, a TV service featuring personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch, plus categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Mark Zuckerberg writes, “We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community — including watching video. Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.”

The takeaway: Will people “Facebook and chill” on a Friday night? As ad spend follows eyeballs from TV to the internet, Watch could give Facebook a way to nudge users to spend more time on their platform (which is already averaging 50 minutes per day). Investors will be tracking how this investment in TV content impacts the bottom line.

Video games may or may not shrink your brain

A study conducted by the University of Montreal, revealed the way you play a video game impacts the gray matter in your brain.  The study measured the gray matter after 90 hours of (non-consecutive) video game play. Quartz reported, “It found a reduction in gray matter in every participant who navigated games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor using memorized directions, or ‘non-spatial memory.’ In participants who navigated using landmark-based spatial memory, however, the researchers found an increase in gray matter.”

The takeaway: Did Ms. Pacman shrink my brain in the 80’s? But seriously, this research can certainly be helpful to video game developers, especially when marketing trumpets claims like “the game is good for you.”

Enjoy the weekend!

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