If you’re giving the gift of a tin of freshly baked biscuits, the last thing you want is for your recipient to open it up to find the contents all dry and crumbled in the tin. America’s Test Kitchen offers up a foolproof way to keep them moist for the long haul: Pack them with tortillas.
Uber’s revenue numbers, which were leaked to Gawker just a few weeks ago, look bold at roughly $ 20 million per week.
But there isn’t necessarily a definitive market winner yet in the peer-to-peer space, as the entire field is on a rising tide. Lyft, which started peer-to-peer ride-sharing after Uber’s black cars on demand, is seeing its revenues grow at a rate of about 6 percent every single week, according to raw data and revenue dashboards that Lyft co-founder John Zimmer shared exclusively with TechCrunch.
That growth rate is more than double Uber’s growth pace, which averaged about 2.8 percent in the five weeks of data leaked to Gawker. Compounded over a year, Lyft is seeing 20X growth.
“I think there will be a black car winner at the high end and a peer-to-peer winner at the affordable price point for the mass market,” Zimmer said. “Lyft is already the leader in peer-to-peer, which is the fastest growing on-demand transportation segment.”
You could argue that because Lyft is growing from a smaller revenue base, its growth rate would naturally be higher. But Lyft says it is already doing one-third of the weekly ride volume Uber was doing across all of its product lines when they raised their last round at a $ 3.5 billion valuation (if you back out Uber’s leaked numbers to June 2013).
Zimmer’s data and revenue dashboards last week revealed a more than $ 100 million gross run rate.
Uber, for its part, says that growth rates vary drastically in different seasons, with the summers being slower than the holiday season. November, in particular, is a weaker month so they argue you can’t extrapolate growth rates back. (That said, Lyft shared revenue dashboards for the same time period.)
“I’d love to tell you how much bigger we are than them, but I can’t do that,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. “We’re the leader right now, but we take competition seriously. We don’t dismiss it.”
We estimated Uber’s gross revenue run rate at $ 1 billion from the leaked Gawker dashboard. That is 10X Lyft’s size and Uber said many of the cities it serves on its own have already passed the $ 100 million gross revenue mark. Kalanick adds that the company has also seen 20 percent month-over-month growth in the last two months, despite growing from a larger revenue base.
But they don’t just do peer-to-peer ride sharing. They have multiple product lines covering black cars, taxis, peer-to-peer ride-sharing and SUVs. Uber is also international, covering 66 cities in 24 countries, compared to Lyft’s U.S.-based 20 markets. (Lyft also doesn’t do 7X surge pricing.)
Then there is a slew host of other companies competing to offer on-demand transportation from your phone like Sidecar, Hailo, Gett, and China’s Didi Dache.
But these competitors are generally much smaller than Lyft and Uber, which are fighting for peer-to-peer in the U.S. market. It’s not clear from Uber’s leaked numbers how big their peer-to-peer business is compared to the original black car or taxi business lines. Kalanick declined to break this out, but he said black car fares are generally only 1.8 times higher than the peer-to-peer fares.
The competition between the two companies has become increasingly cutthroat, with Uber resorting to aggressive campaigns to undercut Lyft’s supply of drivers. They’ve offered $ 50 gas vouchers to recruit Lyft drivers and have run advertising campaigns urging drivers to “Shave The Stache.”
Kalanick defended these tactics, “It’s important for us to have as much supply as possible. When you’re small, you don’t need that many drivers to make it work. But when you’re big, you’re talking about taking in thousands, if not tens of thousands of drivers. It’s important that if there are good drivers out there, they know they have options.”
Amid Uber’s more competitive tactics, Lyft has stayed focused on growing its core community of drivers and users without poaching from rivals.
“By focusing on community, we’re able to attract the highest quality drivers. It makes sense that our competitors would try to recruit them as they try to catch up in peer-to-peer, but we’re not seeing an impact on our loyal driver base or our ride growth numbers.” said Zimmer, who added that the “Shave the Stache” campaign actually ended up educating more prospective passengers and drivers about Lyft.
TechCrunch » Social
Android: Cover is an adaptive launcher for Android that uses the time of day and your location to automatically show you relevant apps and information. Whether you’re at work, at home or in the car, you’ll see apps you typically use in each of those situations.
In many cases, when a developer-focused company launches an app, it’s done as a proof-of-concept: “Hey, look what you could do with our technology!” In this case, however, co-founder Jeff Boudier said this was built to address an honest-to-goodness consumer need, using a lot of the video technology that Stupeflix had already built.
“Even the biggest oversharers will only share 10 percent of their photos,” he said. “The rest will die in the camera roll. We want to fix that.”
So with Replay, you can bring your photos and videos together in a single video. If you do it right, it’s like a slideshow, but flashier and more fun. The concept is similar to the Animoto mobile app, which has the company says been downloaded more than 1 million times, and which it’s still working to simplify.
I haven’t tried Animoto on my iPhone, but Replay is certainly easy-to-use — you just choose the items you want to include, and the app opens a single menu where you can choose a filter, choose music, and rearrange the order of the photos and videos. When I tried Replay, I only had five photos on my camera roll (and two of them were of receipts), so the resulting video wasn’t worth sharing (trust me), but the results in the “featured” section of the app are pretty impressive.
“Our vision has always been to make it easy and quick for them to express themselves through video,” Boudier added. “This is really the accomplishment of our vision.”
Replay is currently available for iOS. Boudier said he’s planning to release an Android version in the second or third quarter of next year — for now, he said he’s focused “on exploiting 100 percent of the capacity of the iPhone.”
TechCrunch » Social
Facebook is indeed rolling out autoplaying videos for ad units in your News Feed on both mobile and desktop, something the Wall Street Journal pegged for arrival just a little while before it was made official. The autoplaying ads follow Facebook’s trial of autoplaying non-ad video content on both the web and mobile.
The reasoning behind the decision is simple math in terms of returned value for advertising partners: Facebook claims that its autoplaying videos have seen engagement in terms of views, likes and shares on mobile and desktop increase over 10 percent versus the non autoplaying kind since it started testing them back in September.
Earlier this month, Facebook flat-out revealed in a slide deck obtained by Ad Age that its organic reach was waning, a fact which was used as a stepping off point for the sale of ads, which can drive greater brand visibility. And here it’s foregrounding the interaction metrics – there’s no doubt this is a sales pitch to advertisers, more so than a way to “continue to improve the quality of ads you see in News Feed,” as Facebook actually claims in the release.
It’s hard to imagine many users lauding Facebook for putting autoplaying ads in the News Feed, which is probably why this is rolling out to just a small test audience first. The initial pilot will feature ads for Divergent, a new movie due out next year. Videos start playing instantly when they come into view for the test group on both desktop and mobile, albeit without sound, and to stop playback you can just continue to scroll past. Facebook is looking to potentially start a video ad chain reaction by presenting you with two other video ads to choose from if you watch one all the way through, too.
It’s easy to see where this got its root: Instagram enforced autoplaying videos in its feed as mandatory back in October, and as mentioned, FB already piloted a project for non-ad content on its network to do the same. It’s awfully hard not to read both as an attempt to make autoplaying video The New Normal for users, in order to pave the way for the real payload of autoplaying video ads, which is likely to be the most material to Facebook’s business going forward.
At least FB is doing users a solid by pre-loading video ad content on mobile devices when they’re connected to Wi-Fi, instead of eating up all that bandwidth when they’re connected to more expensive and data-capped mobile network connections. And it’s a limited test, which means it could always get killed if the general reaction from users is negative enough.
TechCrunch » Social
Facebook unveiled a “Donate Now” button today to make it much easier for non-profits to take contributions. A nice side effect for its business? The button will collect credit card numbers and other billing info for Facebook that could aid its ecommerce and gaming initiatives.
19 non-profit launch partners will start displaying the Donate Now button at the tops of their Facebook Pages and bottom of their News Feed posts. These include DonorsChoose.org (a personal favorite), Boys And Girls Club Of America, World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, Red Cross, and Kiva. After some more testing, Facebook will open the feature to additional non-profits, who can sign up for access here.
Thanks to the Donate Now button, instead of forcing users off Facebook and away from their friends, these organizations can now accept donations in a pop-up window right on Facebook. Users can choose how much they want to give and either enter payment details or use ones already stored with Facebook. The pop-up could boost conversion rates and get more funds to needy projects.
The Donate Now button also gives people an easy way to share the call for donations with friends, helping philanthropy go viral. Facebook is not charging a fee to process credit card donations and is instead paying that fee itself so 100% of donations go to the non-profits.
Sadly, some people believe that corporations are all evil and there’s no way they could actually be staffed by decent human beings that want to help non-profits. But Facebook seems genuinely determined to help these causes, even if there’s no denying that the button could also aid its business. It’s a part of a trend of for-profit businesses launching philanthropy initiatives that could earn them money in the long run. Facebook backs Internet.org, an internet accessibility project for the developing world that could also get more people signed up for its social network. And just this morning, Comcast announced multi-million dollar backing for online education resource Khan Academy in hopes of attracting more low-income families to its reduced-price broadband service.
[Update: Perhaps Facebook should make it easier to delete your credit card info after donating. Right now you can go to your payment account settings and remove your credit cards. Adding a link there or delete button to the donate flow itself would make it easier...but would also make it tougher to donate to other non-profits in the future.]
Facebook is behind in the race to collect credit card numbers compared to app store owners like Apple and Google, and ecommerce juggernauts like Amazon. Not having payment details on file creates a barrier to people buying virtual goods in Facebook Games, or buying Facebook Gift cards for friends. The moral imperative to donate to a worthy cause could get users over the hump to keying in their credit card number or connecting another billing service like PayPal.
More payment info on file will also bolster Facebook’s latest ecommerce push: Autofill With Facebook. The system lets third-party mobile apps integrate a button in the checkout flow that lets users quickly pull in their billing and shipping info from Facebook without much typing.
Facebook doesn’t collect a fee or revenue share, but instead plans to use purchase data it peeks on through Autofill to prove the return on investment of its ads. If you click an ad to download JackThreads’ ecommerce app, use Autofill With Facebook to import your payment info that you previously entered through the Donate Now button, and make a purchase, Facebook can tell advertisers just how much money their marketing message earned them.
Again, these indirect boosts to Facebook’s business provided by Donate Now might not have been what drove Facebook to build the button, but they’re a convenient synergy. Connecting people to their friends and non-profits just so happens to make it easier to connect them to advertisers as well.
TechCrunch » Social
Getting all your citations together for a research paper can take a lot of work, and you might miss a few if you’re not careful. To avoid this problem, redditor Disguising suggests finding what you need fast by using a plagiarism checker.