Monthly Archives: February 2021
After almost a year, the world is still trying to get used to onboarding virtually and making new hires feel well trained and welcomed, even from miles away.
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Facebook unveils another experimental app, Atlassian acquires a data visualization startup and Newsela becomes a unicorn. This is your Daily Crunch for February 26, 2021.
The big story: Facebook launches rap app
The new BARS app was created by NPE Team (Facebook’s internal R&D group), allowing rappers to select from professionally created beats, and then create and share their own raps and videos. It includes autotune and will even suggest rhymes as you’re writing the lyrics.
This marks NPE Team’s second musical effort — the first was the music video app Collab. (It could also be seen as another attempt by Facebook to launch a TikTok competitor.) BARS is available in the iOS App Store in the U.S., with Facebook gradually admitting users off a waitlist.
The tech giants
Atlassian is acquiring Chartio to bring data visualization to the platform — Atlassian sees Chartio as a way to really take advantage of the data locked inside its products.
Yelp puts trust and safety in the spotlight — Yelp released its very first trust and safety report this week, with the goal of explaining the work that it does to crack down on fraudulent and otherwise inaccurate or unhelpful content.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Newsela, the replacement for textbooks, raises $ 100M and becomes a unicorn — If Newsela is doing its job right, its third-party content can replace textbooks within a classroom altogether, while helping teachers provide fresh, personalized material.
Tim Hortons marks two years in China with Tencent investment — The Canadian coffee and doughnut giant has raised a new round of funding for its Chinese venture.
Sources: Lightspeed is close to hiring a new London-based partner to put down further roots in Europe — According to multiple sources, Paul Murphy is being hired away from Northzone.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
In freemium marketing, product analytics are the difference between conversion and confusion — Considering that most freemium providers see fewer than 5% of free users move to paid plans, even a slight improvement in conversion can translate to significant revenue gains.
As BNPL startups raise, a look at Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay earnings — With buy-now-pay-later options, consumers turn a one-time purchase into a limited string of regular payments.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Jamaica’s JamCOVID pulled offline after third security lapse exposed travelers’ data — JamCOVID was set up last year to help the government process travelers arriving on the island.
AT&T is turning DirecTV into a standalone company — AT&T says it will own 70% of the new company, while private equity firm TPG will own 30%.
How to ace the 1-hour, and ever-elusive, pitch presentation at TC Early Stage — Norwest’s Lisa Wu has a message for founders: Think like a VC during your pitch presentation.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Plus: Firefox blocks more tracking, how to fight a robodog, and more of the week’s top security news.
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Wall Street investors can be fickle beasts. Take Salesforce as an example. The CRM giant announced a $ 5.82 billion quarter when it reported earnings yesterday. Revenue was up 20% year over year. The company also reported $ 21.25 billion in total revenue for the just-closed FY2021, up 24% YoY. If that wasn’t enough, it raised its FY2022 guidance (its upcoming fiscal year) to over $ 25 billion. What’s not to like?
You want higher quarterly revenue, Salesforce gave you higher revenue. You want high growth and solid projected revenue — check and check. In fact, it’s hard to find anything to complain about in the report. The company is performing and growing at a rate that is remarkable for an organization of its size and maturity — and it is expected to continue to perform and grow.
How did Wall Street react to this stellar report? It punished the stock with the price down over 6%, a pretty dismal day considering the company brought home such a promising report card.
So what is going on here? It could be that investors simply don’t believe the growth is sustainable or that the company overpaid when it bought Slack at the end of last year for over $ 27 billion. It could be it’s just people overreacting to a cooling market this week. But if investors are looking for a high-growth company, Salesforce is delivering that.
While Slack was expensive, it reported revenue over $ 250 million yesterday, pushing it over the $ 1 billion run rate with more than 100 customers paying over $ 1 million in ARR. Those numbers will eventually get added to Salesforce’s bottom line.
Canaccord Genuity analyst David Hynes Jr. wrote that he was baffled by investors’ reaction to this report. Like me, he saw a lot of positives. Yet Wall Street decided to focus on the negative, and see “the glass half empty,” as he put it in his note to investors.
“The stock is clearly in the show-me camp, which means it’s likely to take another couple of quarters for investors to buy into the idea that fundamentals are actually quite solid here, and that Slack was opportunistic (and yes, pricey), but not an attempt to mask suddenly deteriorating growth,” Hynes wrote.
During the call with analysts yesterday, Brad Zelnick from Credit Suisse asked how well the company could accelerate out of the pandemic-induced economic malaise, and Gavin Patterson, Salesforce’s president and chief revenue officer, says the company is ready whenever the world moves past the pandemic.
“And let me reassure you, we are building the capability in terms of the sales force. You’d be delighted to hear that we’re investing significantly in terms of our direct sales force to take advantage of that demand. And I’m very confident we’ll be able to meet it. So I think you’re hearing today a message from us all that the business is strong, the pipeline is strong and we’ve got confidence going into the year,” Patterson said.
While Salesforce execs were clearly pumped up yesterday with good reason, there’s still doubt out in investor land that manifested itself in the stock starting down and staying down all day. It will be, as Hynes suggested, up to Salesforce to keep proving them wrong. As long as they keep producing quarters like the one they had this week, they should be just fine, regardless of what the naysayers on Wall Street may be thinking today.
- Around one-fifth of all keywords trigger a featured snippet
- 99% of all featured snippets tend to appear within the first organic position and take over 50% of the screen on mobile devices, driving higher-than-average click-through rates (CTR)
- The key to featured snippet optimization lies in a few specific areas: long-tail- and question-like keyword strategy, date marked content that comes at the right length and format, and a succinct URL structure
Google has always been pretty hazy on any details about winning featured snippets. This was the case when they were first introduced, making them something businesses considered to be the cherry on top of their SEO efforts, which is still largely the case. Having first-hand knowledge about the value and power of featured snippets, Brado teamed up with Semrush to conduct the most comprehensive research around featured snippet optimization to uncover how they really work, and what you can do to win them.
Revealing the highlights from a Featured snippets study that analyzed over a million SERPs with featured snippets present, this post unwraps actionable suggestions on amping up your optimization strategy to finally win that Google prize.
General patterns across the featured snippet landscape
With billions of search queries run through the Google search box each day, our study found that around 19 percent of keywords trigger a featured snippet. Why does this even matter? Featured snippets are known to drive higher CTR – as another study uncovered, they are responsible for over 35 percent of all clicks.
Further proving the immense power of featured snippets, our study showed that they take up over 50 percent of the SERP’s real estate on mobile screens.
Combine this with our findings that 99 percent of the time featured snippets take over the first organic position, and that they are in most cases triggered by long-tail keywords (implying specific user intent), and you’ll get the reason behind incredibly high CTR numbers.
Are some industries more likely to trigger featured snippets?
In the study, we defined industries by keyword categories, discovering that, indeed, featured snippet volume is inconsistent across various segments.
The top industry, seeing a featured snippet in 62 percent of all cases, is Travel and Computer & Electronics, followed by Arts & Entertainment (59 percent), and Science (54 percent), while Real Estate keywords lag behind all the rest with only 11 percent of keywords triggering a featured snippet.
Yet on a domain level, the industry breakdown varies slightly, with Health and News sites having comparable featured snippet volumes.
You can discover the full industry breakdown within the study.
Featured snippets are all about earns, not wins
Just hoping your content will win you a featured snippet isn’t enough – as our study showed, it’s all about hard-earned content optimization results.
Throughout our in-depth featured snippet analysis, we pinpointed the following SEO best practices consistent across all featured snippets we’ve come across:
1. Optimize for long-tail keywords and questions
When it comes to optimization and keywords, employ ‘the more the better’ logic.
Our study found that 55.5 percent of featured snippets were triggered by 10-word keywords, while single-word ones only showed up 4.3 percent of the time.
One thing even better than long-tails is questions. In fact, 29 percent of keywords triggering a featured snippet begin with question words – “why” (78 percent), “can” (72 percent), “do” (67 percent), and in the fewest cases, “where” (19 percent).
2. Use the right content length and format
The SERPs we analyzed included four types of featured snippet: paragraphs, lists, tables, and videos:
- 70 percent of the results showed paragraphs, with an average of 42 words and 249 characters
- Lists came in as the second-most-frequent featured snippet (19 percent), with an average of 6 item counts and 44 words
- Tables (6 percent) typically featured five rows and two columns
- Videos, whose average duration stood at 6:39 mins, showed up in only 4.6 percent of all cases.
Of course, don’t blindly follow this data as the golden rule, rather see it as a good starting point for featured-snippet-minded content optimization.
Plus, keep in mind that content quality always prevails over quantity, so if you have a high-performing piece that features a 10-row table, Google will simply cut it down, showing the blue “More rows” link, which can even enhance your CTR.
3. Don’t overcomplicate your URL structure
As it turns out, URL length matters in Google’s choice of a site that deserves a featured snippet. Try to stick to neat site architecture, with 1-3 subfolders per URL, and you’ll be more likely to win.
Just for reference, here is an example of a URL with three subfolders:
4. Make frequent content updates
In the “to add or not to add a post date” dilemma, based on our featured snippet analysis, we’d suggest that you publish date marked content.
The majority of Google’s featured snippets include an article date, with the following breakdown: 47% of list-type featured snippets come from date-marked content, paragraphs – 44%, videos – 20%, and tables – 19% of the time.
While fresh-out-of-the-oven content can be favored by Google, 70% of all content making it into the featured snippet was anywhere from two to three years old (2018, 2019, 2020), meaning once again that content quality matters more than recency, so you shouldn’t worry that putting a date on it will work against you.
Take a deep-dive into the full Semrush study to learn more about featured snippets and discover the best way to create featured snippet hubs.
A.J. Ghergich is the CTO at Brado.
The post Data-backed insights on featured snippet optimization appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Opinion News in Top Stories Earlier this year, I wrote a post about news stories that are shown in carousels in Google Top Stories Are Chosen By Importance Scores The patent I wrote about in that post told us that Google may attempt to show opinion pieces related to topics that were being identified as … Read more
In the age of social media, internet users are shifting their attention to messengers. This provides a new horizon for ads targeting customers directly.
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Just ahead of its 2021 virtual investor day on Thursday, Twitter this morning announced its three long-term goals focused on user base and revenue growth, and a faster pace of shipping new features across its platform. The company said it aims to “at least” double its total annual revenue from $ 3.7 billion in 2020 to $ 7.5 billion or more in 2023. It also expects to reach at least 315 million mDAUs — that’s Twitter’s self-invented metric for “monetizable” daily active users — by the fourth quarter of 2023.
That would represent a roughly 20% compound annual growth rate from Twitter’s base of 152 million mDAUs reported in the fourth quarter of 2019, the company noted in a new SEC filing.
— Twitter Investor Relations (@TwitterIR) February 25, 2021
Active user growth has been difficult for Twitter — the growth tends to be slow or even flat, at times. Per Twitter’s most recent earnings, mDAUs in the fourth quarter 2020 had reached 192 million instead of the 193.5 million expected, for instance. Investors are used to Twitter under-delivering on this metric — or even inventing its own user base metric to hide that its monthly user growth sometimes declines.
In any event, Twitter’s longer-term plans indicate it believes it will finally be able to deliver on user growth — perhaps aided by its investment in new features.
In its filing, Twitter said it would “double development velocity by the end of 2023,” which means doubling the number of features shipped per employee that “directly drive either mDAU or revenue,” it said.
On this front, Twitter has been fairly active in recent months. Late last year, it launched its “stories” feature called Fleets to its global audience. It’s also now testing new features including a Clubhouse rival, Twitter Spaces, and a community-led misinformation debunking effort known as Birdwatch. And it acquired newsletter platform Revue, which is already now integrated on the Twitter website. The company has made smaller acquisitions, as well, to build out product teams, including with social app Squad, stories template maker Chroma Labs and podcasting app Breaker.
New features may help to attract increased Twitter usage, but revenue growth will also come from diversification beyond advertising. Twitter has spoken several times about its plans to build out a subscription product, which the company said would begin in 2021 but wouldn’t impact Twitter revenue in the near-term. The company has also said it may investigate other areas of monetization, like tipping and various paid consumer-facing features.
Today, Twitter said publicly it plans to reach the $ 7.5 billion or more target by “growing our audience and gaining advertising market share in both brand and direct response.” But the company did not speak to its plans for subscriptions.
Investors are already responding favorably to Twitter’s announcements this morning. Twitter stock is up by nearly 7% as of the time of writing.
Boating is a hobby steeped in history and tradition — and so is the industry and those that support it. With worldwide connectivity, electric boats, and other technological changes dragging the sector out of old habits, Orca aims to replace the outdated interfaces by which people navigate with a hardware-software combo as slick as any other modern consumer tech.
If you’re a boater, and I know at least some of you are, you’re probably familiar with two different ways of chart-plotting, or tracking your location and route: the one attached to your boat and the one in your pocket.
The one on your boat is clunky and old-fashioned, like the GPS interface on a years-old budget sedan. The one in your pocket is better and faster — but the phone isn’t exactly seaworthy and the app drains your battery with a quickness.
Orca is a Norwegian startup from veterans of the boating and chart-plotters that leapfrogs existing products with a built-from-scratch modern interface.
“The industry hasn’t changed in the last 20 years — you have three players who own 80 percent of the business,” said co-founder and CEO Jorge Sevillano. “For them, it’s very hard to think of how software creates value. All these devices are built on a user interface that’s 10-15 years old; think about a Tomtom, lots of menus, lots of clicks. This business hasn’t had its iPhone moment, where it had to rethink its entire design. So we thought: let’s start with a blank slate and build a new experience.”
CTO and co-founder Kristian Fallro started working on something like this years ago, and his company was acquired by Navico, one of the big players Sevillano refers to. But they didn’t seem to want to move forward with the ideas, and so he and the others formed Orca to pursue them. Their first complete product opened up for pre-orders this week.
“The challenge up until now has been that you need a combination of hardware and software, so the barrier to entry was very, very high,” Fallro explained. “It’s a very protected industry — and it’s too small for Apple and Google and the big boys.”
But now with a combination of the right hardware and a totally rebuilt software stack, they think they can steal a march on the dominant companies and be ready for the inevitable new generation of boaters who can’t stand to use the old tech any more. Shuttling an SD card to and from the in-boat system and your computer to update charts? Inputting destinations via directional pad? Using a separate mobile app to check weather and tides that might bear on your route? Not exactly cutting edge.
The Orca system comprises a ruggedized industrial tablet sourced from Samsung, an off the shelf marine quality mounting arm, a custom-designed interface for quick attachment and charging, and a computing base unit that connects to the boat’s own sensors like sonar and GPS over the NMEA 2000 protocol. It’s all made to be as good or better than anything you’d find on a boat today.
So far, so similar to many solutions out there. But Orca has rebuilt everything from the ground up as a modern mobile app with all the conveniences and connections you’d expect. Routing is instantaneous and accurate, on maps that are clear and readable as those on Google and Apple Maps but clearly still of the nautical variety. Weather and tide reports are integrated, as is marine traffic. It all runs on Android or iOS, so you can also use your phone, send routes or places of interest to the main unit, and vice versa.
“We can build new services that chart plotters can’t even dream of including,” said Sevillano. “With the latest tide report and wind, or if there’s a commercial ship going in your way, we can update your range and route. We do updates every week with new features and bug fixes. We can iterate and adapt to user feedback faster than anyone else.”
These improvements to the most central system of the boat mean the company has ambitions for coming years beyond simply replacing the ageing gadgets at the helm.
Information collected from the boat itself is also used to update the maps in near real time — depending on what your craft is monitoring, it could be used for alerting others or authorities, for example if you encounter major waves or dangerous levels of chemicals, or detect an obstacle where none is recorded. “The Waze of the seas,” they suggested. “Our goal is to become the marine data company. The opportunities for boaters, industries related to the sea, and society are immense.”
Being flexible about the placement and features means they hope to integrate directly with boats, becoming the built-in OS for new models. That’s especially important for the up-and-coming category of electric boats, which sort of by definition buck the old traditions and tend to attract tech-savvy early adopters.
“We’re seeing people take what works on land taking it to sea. They all have the same challenge though, the biggest problem is range anxiety — and it’s even worse on the water,” said Fallro. “We’ve been talking to a lot of these manufacturers and we’re finding that building a boat is hard but building that navigation experience is even harder.”
Whether that’s entirely true probably depends on your boat-building expertise, but it’s certainly the case that figuring out an electric boat’s effective range is a devilishly difficult problem. Even after building a new boat from starting principles and advanced physical simulations to be efficient and predictable, such as Zin Boats did, the laws of physics and how watercraft work mean even the best estimate has to be completely revised every few seconds.
“Figuring out range at sea is very hard, and we think we’re one of the best out there. So we want to provide boat manufacturers a software stack with integrated navigation that helps them solve the range anxiety problem their users have,” said Fallro.
Indeed, it seems likely that prospective purchasers of such a craft would be more tempted to close the deal if they knew there was a modern and responsive OS that not only accurately tracked range but provided easy, real-time access to potential charge points and other resources. Sure, you could use your phone — and many do these days because the old chart plotters attached to their boats are so limited. But the point is that with Orca you won’t be tempted to.
The full device combo of computing core, mount, and tablet costs €1,449, with the core alone selling for €449, with a considerable discount for early bird pre-orders. (For people buying new boats, these numbers may as well be rounding errors.)
Fallro said Orca is operating with funding (of an unspecified amount) from Atomico and Nordic VC firm Skyfall Ventures, as well as angel investors including Kahoot co-founder Johan Brand. The company has its work cut out for it simply in fulfilling the orders it has collected (they are doing a brisk trade, Fallro intimated) before moving on to adding features and updating regularly as promised.
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