The Facebook-Australia news battle seems to have reached an end, Android gets an update and Lucid Motors is going public via SPAC. This is your Daily Crunch for February 23, 2021.
The big story: Facebook brings news sharing back to Australia
Last week, Facebook responded to the Australian government’s proposed law requiring internet platforms to strike revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers by blocking news sharing and viewing for users in the country. But with the government amending the law, Facebook said it will restore news sharing in the “coming days.”
Among other things, the amendments call for a two-month mediation period before Facebook is forced into arbitration with publishers, and it also says the government will consider commercial agreements that the platforms have made with local publishers before deciding whether the law applies to them.
William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement that the amendments address “core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”
The tech giants
Android’s latest update will let you schedule texts, secure your passwords and more — This update will integrate a feature called Password Checkup to alert you to passwords you’re using that have been previously exposed.
Twitter relaunches test that asks users to revise harmful replies — Twitter is running a new test that will ask users to pause and think before they tweet.
Area 120 is beginning to use Google’s massive reach to scale HTML5 GameSnacks platform — GameSnacks is an HTML5 gaming platform where titles are bite-sized and load much faster.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Lucid Motors strikes SPAC deal to go public with $ 24B valuation — This will be the largest deal yet between a blank-check company and an electric vehicle startup.
Shippo raises $ 45M more at $ 495M valuation as e-commerce booms — The startup provides shipping-related services to e-commerce companies.
Reddit ups Series E round by another $ 116M — Reddit had already announced a $ 250 million Series E earlier this month.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
How to overcome the challenges of switching to usage-based pricing — The usage-based pricing model almost feels like a cheat code, according to OpenView’s Kyle Poyar.
Oscar Health’s initial IPO price is so high, it makes me want to swear — Alex Wilhelm doesn’t mince words: “Public investors have lost their damn minds.”
RIBS: The messaging framework for every company and product — The test is designed to tell you if your story is memorable, so you can turn it into a compelling message.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Announcing the complete agenda for TC Sessions: Justice — Our second-ever dedicated event to diversity, equity, inclusion and labor in tech is coming up on March 3.
Six Miami-based investors share their views on the region’s startup scene — Investors see a huge opportunity for the region to become a major startup hub by utilizing its diverse workforce and wonderful quality of life.
SolarWinds hackers targeted NASA, Federal Aviation Administration networks — Hackers are said to have broken into the networks of U.S. space agency NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration as part of a wider espionage campaign.
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.
Facebook joined the growing ranks of companies publicly complaining about the 30% fee that Apple collects on payments made through its App Store.
Those complaints came midway through a blog post about the social network’s new feature supporting paid online events. Facebook said that to support struggling businesses, it won’t be collecting any fees on those events, at least for the next year, which means that those businesses keep 100% of payments on the web and on Android.
But Facebook said that won’t be the case on iOS, due to App Store fees, and it took aim at Apple with surprisingly direct language (at least, direct for a corporate blog post):
We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue. Because this is complicated, as long as Facebook is waiving its fees, we will make all fees clear in our products.
To that end, the post includes screenshots of how the events payment flow will look on iOS and Android . On Android, it says, “Facebook doesn’t take a fee from this purchase,” while on iOS, it says, “Apple takes 30% of this purchase.”
Facebook said this language is included in the app update “which we submitted to Apple today for approval” — suggesting that there’s a possibility that the update won’t be approved.
This comes just about 24 hours after Fortnite was removed from the App Store, after Epic Games introduced direct payments into its hit title. It seemed like Epic was intentionally trying to provoke a fight, with the company quickly announcing a lawsuit against Apple and releasing a short in-game video parodying Apple’s famous 1984 commercial, with Apple cast as the villain. (The game publisher is in a similar battle with Google and Android.)
While Apple’s 30% fee has been around for as long as the App Store itself, the issue came to the forefront earlier this summer after Basecamp got into a public feud with the company over its subscription email app Hey, for which the developer tried to circumvent App Store fees by only accepting subscription payments on its website.
Apple’s Phil Schiller told us at the time that the controversy was not prompting the company to reconsider any of its rules, which he said were designed for a better app experience — to avoid situations where “you download the app and it doesn’t work.”
- With sponsor deals shutting down, trips cancelled and events postponed, the Coronavirus has given influencer marketing a huge hit.
- Travel influencers suffered while fitness influencers thrived in a world of social distancing.
- Twitch, which is a top live streaming platform, saw a 10% rise in viewership.
- Be it self-help or DIY tutorials, social media figures are finding new ways to help their followers.
- As audiences trusting influencers more than faceless brands, they’re collaborating to raise funds from people affected by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to pay tribute to doctors who are on the front-line.
- Social media personalities are proving themselves to be flexible enough to create content that still resonates with a quarantined population. Dive in for more details.
No one predicted that a virus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan would take the world into its grip. All around the world, life is on standstill and most economic and social activities have come to a halt.
Influencer marketing is among many industries that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. With sponsor deals shutting down, trips cancelled and events postponed—the once-booming influencer industry is going through a curious time.
In December of last year, Business Insider estimated that brands will invest up to $ 15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Among other things, this estimate was based on the fact that influencers proved themselves to be highly effective promotional tools. Individuals with a significant following on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook became important voices for brands that were seeking to spread their word.
But under the current crisis, influencers are not seeing money flowing into their bank accounts.
Travel influencers, the worst hit
Travelling from country to country and getting paid to do so is a dream life for many. But those who have been living this dream have been struck by a harsh reality. With countries suspending air travel and companies reluctant to invest in anything new, business isn’t exactly booming for vloggers and influencers who made a living travelling around the world.
Source: Zornitsa Shahanska’s Instagram
Zornitsa Shahanska, whose Instagram page usually features captivating images of fashion and travel is feeling the impact of the pandemic. Speaking to the Wired, she exclaimed,
“In the travel sector, the future seems uncertain.”
The influencer further informed that most of her trips and contracts have been either cancelled or postponed indefinitely.
Travellers who are shut off from beautiful tourists hotspot that previously dominated their Instagram feed are the worst hit in the influencer community.
Fitness influencers are thriving
People who made arguments against lockdowns felt they would devastate every section of the economy. While this is proving to be true for many industries, some businesses are thriving in a socially distant world.
Fitness creators are seeing spikes in traffic to their pages. Videos of home workouts have already garnered millions of views on Youtube. With gyms closed, people are flocking to fitness influencers on sites like Instagram and Youtube so they might stay fit during the pandemic.
Since fitness influencers often promote their own programs rather than relying on advertisements for revenue, they are surprisingly safe from the adverse effect on the lockdowns.
Live streaming is extremely popular
Influencers have always used live streams to interact with their followers in real-time and generate community engagement. Social isolation has made this form of content even more popular as people are seeking connections digitally.
Twitch, which is a top live streaming platform, saw a 10% rise in viewership during the weekend of March 14th. A similar rise was seen on Instagram as celebrities and influencers conducted live sessions. Musicians, in particular, are using Instagram to perform virtual concerts, raising relief money for charity.
Live streams are currently the only source of back-and-forth conversations between influencers and those who enjoy their content.
A new kind of content is in demand
Brands realize that these are sensitive times. Any campaign that comes off as tone-deaf and opportunistic would be a PR disaster that will haunt them for a time to come. This is why businesses are turning towards influencers for more purpose-driven campaigns.
With audiences trusting influencers more than faceless brands, they are more effective in promoting philanthropic messages. Brands and influencers are working together to raise funds from people affected by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to pay tribute to doctors who are on the front-line.
Governments and private institutions alike are enlisting influencers to promote social distancing and other precautionary measures.
Many brands are taking the page out of Ford’s book which was quick to replace its scheduled March Madness ads with car payment relief programs. Gestures like these might be the only way brands will be able to win hearts and continue to earn goodwill in this uncertain period.
Meanwhile, influencers themselves are shifting towards more solution-based content. Be it self-help or DIY tutorials, social media figures are finding new ways to help their followers.
Though Ad revenue is down, engagement has spiked
While campaigns are currently on a pause, influencers are reporting more engagement than ever before. Social media usage has increased exponentially with people staying indoors resulting in a dramatic traffic increase for many influencers.
Apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok serve as distractions for individuals who are practising social distancing. In the early days, the same platform saw decreased engagement with Twitter dominating the online world. However, people are back on their favourite social media sites and are showing great interest in organic and non-sponsored content.
Marketing firm Influence Central conducted a survey involving 389 digital creators. All of these individuals reported an increase in engagement on different social media outlets. The report analyzed the period when states and local governments first gave out the stay-at-home orders.
Content creators are adapting to the new normal
Influencers put in a great effort to have a carefully curated feed. Generally, their social media depicts a dream lifestyle that prominently features designer dresses, fancy meals, and breathtaking scenery from exotic locations.
But given that people are not interested in this content at the moment, influencers are thinking out of the box. Instead of stylish halter tops from famous retailers, they can be seen in more casual clothing.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Katie Sands (@honestlykate) on
Some have taken this opportunity to discuss issues like mental health and anxiety. Others are going down the memory lane, posting images from events they attended or locations they visited years before the pandemic gripped the world.
Time are tough but there’s influencing to be done
For influencers, the primary source of income exists via brand partnership and affiliate revenue they earn through tools like exclusive digital coupon codes. Currently, both of these revenue streams are under threat.
But rest assured, influencers aren’t going anywhere and neither are the millions of their loyal followers. While the circumstances have changed around their work, what hasn’t changed is the power influencers wield over big sections of the internet.
Social media personalities are proving themselves to be flexible enough to create content that still resonates with a quarantined population. Companies are taking note of this as many brands are still going ahead with their scheduled campaigns.
Inevitably, when things go back to normal, brands would need these important voices to amplify their message on the digital realm.
Evelyn Johnson is a full-time cat lady and a part-time blogger. I write about money-saving, technology, social issues and pretty much anything that’s in the now. She can be found on Twitter @EvelynJohns0n.
The post Social media influencers fight back the Coronavirus disruption appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
More big names are stepping Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest phone and telecom trade fair, prompting the organizers to urgently decide what they wish to do going forward.
Nokia, one of the omnipresent firms at major tech trade conferences, won’t be attending this year’s Mobile World Congress. It cited health and safety concerns over coronavirus outbreak. Electronics giant HMD, which sells smartphones under Nokia brand, cited similar reasoning for its withdrawal, too.
The iconic Finnish firm, one of the cornerstone companies at MWC, and HMD have become the latest to back out of the trade fair. In recent days, scores of firms including Ericsson, Amazon, Vivo, LG, Facebook and Sony have withdrawn their participation from the world’s biggest smartphones-focused trade show.
German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom, BT, Britain’s biggest telecommunications group, and London-headquartered telecoms giant Vodafone have also backed out citing coronavirus outbreak, they announced on Wednesday. French-Italian semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics is also not attending, it said.
However on Wednesday afternoon (CET) Orange denied a Reuters report it won’t attend, telling us it still hadn’t taken a decision on whether to pull out or not. “We are awaiting further communication from the GSMA regarding the event,” a spokeswoman for the operator said.
Orange CEO Stéphane Richard is the current GSMA chair.
MWC attracts over 100,000 attendees, abd thousands of companies and high-profile executives use this global platform to broker deals and unveil their upcoming gadgets and innovations to the world.
The trade fair also contributes to the bottom line of Barcelona city. This year, the four-day trade show was scheduled to take place from February 27.
Like Samsung, Huawei and Ericsson, Nokia occupies swathes of exhibition space which will now be empty. But also, it's arguably one of the whole reasons for MWC existing in the first place.
— Ingrid (@ingridlunden) February 12, 2020
“While the health and safety of our employees is our absolute priority, we also recognize that we have a responsibility to the industry and our customers. In view of this, we have taken the necessary time to evaluate a fast-moving situation, engage with the GSMA and other stakeholders, regularly consult external experts and authorities, and plan to manage risks based on a wide range of scenarios. The conclusion of that process is that we believe the prudent decision is to cancel our participation at Mobile World Congress,” Nokia said in a statement.
The high-profile no-shows should put more pressure on GSMA, the body that organizes the event, to cancel this year’s edition of the trade show. GSMA acknowledged the safety risks to attendees in an email on Sunday, but it ducked away from assuming any liabilities at the trade show. As my colleague Romain Dillet pointed out, the email appeared to have triggered companies to withdraw their participation.
On Tuesday, Spanish publication El Pais reported that the GSMA executives would meet on Friday and consider their next steps, which could include suspending this year’s event. A spokesperson declined comment to TechCrunch.
The GSMA executives have moved to have that talk today, according to a report. Earlier local press had reported the operator association had decided to go ahead with the event — but in a more recent update La Vanguardia reports the GSMA has called another meeting to discuss the future of MWC 2020.
The organization has previously declined to comment on internal meetings.
You can check out the full list of companies that have withdrawn from MWC so far this year below.
This report was updated with additional information about Orange and the developing situation at the GSMA
If you were desperately ripping days off of your calendar until you could get your hands on Huawei’s $ 2,600 5G foldable, the Mate X — which was originally slated to launch next month — it sounds like you’re going to have to wait a bit longer, per TechRadar which attended a press event at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters today.
It reports being told there is no possibility of a September launch. Instead Huawei is now aiming for November. But the company would only profess itself certain its first smartphone that folds out to a (square) tablet will launch before 2020. So it seems Mate X buyers may need to wait until circa Christmas to fondle this foldable.
It’s not clear exactly why the launch is being delayed. But — speculating wildly — we imagine it’s something to do with the fact that the screen, er, folds.
We’ve reached out to Huawei for official comment on the delay.
Huawei’s Mate X date slippage suggests Samsung will still be first to market with its (previously) delayed Galaxy Fold — which was itself delayed after a bunch of review units broke (because, well, did we tell you the screen folds?).
Last we heard, the Galaxy Fold is slated for a September release — Samsung seemingly confident it’s fixed the problem of how to make a foldable phone survive actual use.
Of course survival in the wild very much remains to be seen with any of these foldable. So expect TC’s in house hardware guru, Brian Heater, to put all of these expensively hinged touchscreens through their paces.
Returning to Huawei’s Mate X, potential buyers may not be entirely reassured to learn the company appeared to dangle rather more information about a planned sequel in front of reporters at the press event.
A sequel which may or may not have even more screens, as Huawei is apparently considering putting glass on the back. Yes, glass. (The gen-one Mate X will have a steel back.) Glass panels which it says could double as touchscreens. On the back. As well as the front. We have no idea if that means the price-tag will double too.
This theoretical quad (?) screen foldable follow-up to the still unreleased Mate X might even be released as soon as next year, according to TechRadar’s reportage. Or — again speculating wildly — it might never be released. Because, frankly, it sounds mental. But that’s the wacky world of foldables for ya.
There may be method in this madness too. Because, since smartphones turned into all-screen devices — making it almost impossible to tell one touch-sensitive slab from another — plucky Android device makers are trying to find a way to put more screen on the slab so you can see more.
If they can pull that off it might be great. However sticking a hinge right through the middle of a smartphone’s primary feature and function without that simultaneously causing problems is certainly a major engineering challenge.
If you’re brand new to digital marketing, you’ll likely hear the term CRO. It doesn’t matter if you’re a digital marketer working at an agency, member of an executive team working at a SaaS company, or marketing team member at an e-commerce company, you may hear this term and need to know what it is.
Read more at PPCHero.com
In May of last year, one of my B2B SaaS clients kicked their landing page forms to the curb and implemented chat-bot only conversions. At the time, there seemed to be a dearth of information about chatbot marketing. This ended up being a boon as I was able to get creative with tactics to lure […]
Read more at PPCHero.com
Dell just announced that it has agreed to buy back the VMware tracking stock from the EMC acquisition. The company confirmed the buy-back price of $ 120 per share for a total of $ 23.9 billion. With today’s move, Dell will return to being publicly traded starting on December 28th.
Sixty-one percent of shareholders voted in favor of the deal. It’s unclear how Wall Street will deal with the $ 50 billion debt load the company is carrying as a result of that $ 67 billion EMC acquisition from two years ago, but chairman and CEO Michael Dell got the results he wanted.
“With this vote, we are simplifying Dell Technologies’ capital structure and aligning the interests of our investors,” Dell said in a statement.
A company spokesperson confirmed that Dell is going public again. “Portions of Dell Technologies have been publicly traded through, for example, VMware and the tracker stock. The NYSE:DELL Class C shares will enable investors to invest in the full breadth of Dell Technologies company.” In plain terms, that means the company will be sold on the New York Stock Exchange under the DELL symbol.
Part of the EMC deal was a payout to shareholders based on VMware tracking stock. VMware was a key part of the deal in that it was one of the more valuable pieces in the EMC federation of companies. It still runs as a separate company with separate stock listing.
There was much drama prior to this vote with activist investor Carl Icahn suing the company last month after Dell had announced a price of $ 21.7 billion for the tracking stock last July. The move did get Dell to move the needle on the price a bit, although not as much as Icahn had hoped.
With today’s vote, Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research says that the company is looking to move away from activist investors like Icahn and Elliott Management to more traditional institutional investors. “Michael Dell is attempting to rid his short term activist shareholders for more mid- to long-term institutional types as he goes public again,” Wang explained.
As the company returns to the public markets, it means it is in the fairly unique position of going from from public to private to public again. Dell originally went public in 1988 before taking the company private again in 2013 in a $ 24.4 billion buy-back.
At least one other company, Deltek, took a similar path over a decade ago. It was eventually was sold to private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $ 1.1 billion in 2012 before being sold again in 2016 for $ 2.8 billion.
Your Twitter prayers are answered! Well, maybe not the prayers about harassment or the ones about an edit tweet button, but your other prayers.
Today in a series of tweets, the company announced that it had heard the cries of its various disgruntled users and will bring back a form of the pure chronological timeline that users can opt into. Twitter first took an interest in a more algorithmic timeline three-ish years ago and committed to it in 2016.
4/ So, we’re working on providing you with an easily accessible way to switch between a timeline of Tweets that are most relevant for you and a timeline of the latest Tweets. You’ll see us test this in the coming weeks.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 17, 2018
Some users were under the impression that they were living that algo-free life already by toggling off the “Show the best Tweets first” option in the account settings menu. Unfortunately for all of us, unchecking this box didn’t revert Twitter to ye olde pure chronological timeline so much as it removed some of the more prominent algorithmic bits that would otherwise be served to users first thing. Users regularly observed non-chronological timeline behaviors even with the option toggled off.
As Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour elaborated, “We’re working on making it easier for people to control their Twitter timeline, including providing an easy switch to see the most recent tweets.”
Nostalgic users who want regular old Twitter back can expect to see the feature in testing “in the coming weeks.”
We’re ready to pull the switch, just tell us when.
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