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Recode Daily: Trump tweets a vow to help sanctioned Chinese phonemaker ZTE ‘get back into business, fast’

Plus, Jimmy Kimmel and Snoop Dogg preside over the broadcast TV “upfronts”; deep inside Fortnite, the world’s most popular video game; and happy Blockchain Week!

China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.
China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2017.
Nicolas Asfouri / AFP / Getty Images

President Trump wants to help Chinese phone maker ZTE, which had stopped operations after U.S. companies were banned from selling to it. Via Twitter, Trump commanded the U.S. Commerce Department to give ZTE “a way to get back into business, fast.” This would be a stark reversal of the punishment his administration handed out to ZTE for failing to properly reprimand the employees involved in selling U.S.-origin equipment to Iran. ZTE is the fourth-largest smartphone maker in the U.S. [Roger Cheng / CNET]

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The annual broadcast TV “upfronts” kick off this morning — will this be the year that TV advertisers finally catch up to TV viewers? At the New York upfronts (here’s a list of events and parties) the TV networks put on a week of glitzy showcases, followed by weeks of negotiating where advertisers commit to the bulk of the TV spending they’ll do for the next 12 months. Comcast’s internet revenue is catching up to TV: The cable giant’s internet business has grown to more than 26 million subscribers, while its number of pay TV users has declined to 22 million. [Rani Molla / Recode]

Here’s a detailed look at the potential impact of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s $100 billion Vision Fund, which has invested $30 billion in 24 companies since launching a year ago. [The Economist]

Venture deep inside the phenomenon of Fortnite Battle Royale, by many measures the most popular video game in the world. Fortnite has also become the most-viewed game on YouTube — by March, there were almost three billion views of the millions of sessions that players had uploaded — and the top game on the Twitch streaming platform. “In terms of fervor, compulsive behavior, and parental noncomprehension, the Fortnite craze has elements of Beatlemania, the opioid crisis, and the ingestion of Tide Pods.” [Nick Paumgarten / The New Yorker]

Happy Blockchain Week! In New York, thousands of cryptocurrency advocates are expected to descend on Consensus, a trade show/conference. Among the hundreds of scheduled speakers: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and FedEx CEO Frederick Smith; Snoop Dogg will headline a party hosted by payment firm Ripple. Consensus tickets range from $1,499 to $2,999; Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin tweeted that the hefty price tag is one of the reasons he’s boycotting the event. [Lily Katz / Bloomberg]

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