VideoGenie is a startup that helps businesses collect and highlight video testimonials from fans. But it seems that founder and CEO Justin Nassiri doesn't want to limit this to video. So VideoGenie has launched a new product that it calls StoryBox, which aggregates all kinds of content about a brand. The company says the testimonials can include tweets, YouTube videos, Instagram photos, and… Read More
TechCrunch » Social
You can only admire Mark Zuckerberg. If the game is Whack-A-mole he is prepared to whack them, small, medium or large – no matter the cost. Whacking moles is the only way to earn points and points translate into life.
Think about it. Would you give up 20 percent of your worth and 35 percent of your cash if you got to live on in the face of an otherwise certain demise. Of course you would! By this criteria Facebook is brave, bold and right. And it definitely didn’t overpay. Bravo, Facebook (really!).
It’s Still Act I
But we have seen this coming, and it doesn’t end here. This is Act I, Scene 3 of a multi-act drama. Let’s recall the previous scenes. I have written about them on TechCrunch.
|Scene I: The Rise Of Mobile (2011-2012)|
|Smart Mobile And The Thin Cloud|
|Facebook – Run From The Bulls?|
|The Mobile Paradox|
|Scene II: The Need To Acquire (2012-2013)|
|It’s Not About Instagram, It’s About Mobile|
|Mobile – Facebook And Google Can’t Live With It And They Can’t Live Without It|
|The Platform Ecosystem Wars – Rome is Burning|
|Unnatural Acts And The Rise of Mobile|
|Scene III: The End Of Social Networks (2013-2015)|
|The Future Of Mobile-Social Could Spell The End For Social Networks|
Facebook Isn’t Facebook Anymore
Facebook has, through this acquisition, made the transformation from a web-based social network into a production studio and holding company for a portfolio of in-house productions like Paper and Messenger, combined with some outsourced efforts like Instagram and WhatsApp. When Facebook launched Facebook Home, it tried to change mobile into a Facebook world. But Facebook has not changed mobile. Mobile has changed Facebook.
Facebook has become the mobile-era equivalent of New Line Cinema or Electronic Arts. Like them, it has to now focus on audience and because of that, distribution. This is a new game. It is not the same as having a centralized social network with a captive audience. It involves the continuous production of hits, similar to HBO and Netflix. And for those it has to acquire, it turns the Facebook executives into players of whack-a-mole. Facebook is no longer a technology platform. It’s a studio.
Just Another App Studio, Needing Distribution
As a mobile studio, Facebook is just a developer with apps. It is dependent on the owner of the operating system and the device for distribution – just as companies in the heyday of Microsoft were dependent on the OS and device. Distribution deals were cut to get your “App” on the desktop. Microsoft might suddenly put a feature in the OS and kill the need for it in an app. Now Apple and Google sit in that position.
For Facebook, Apple and Google represent its “Microsoft.” iMessage and Hangouts are already large competitors to WhatsApp and Messenger. Photos are the captive of the OS via Google+ on Android and PhotoStream on iOS. Survival is about innovating where the platform owners will not go – at least any time soon. Facebook has no track record of success in this world and will need to out-innovate both startups and the OS owners in order to prosper.
To be clear, this was predictable and inevitable. The only other possible outcome was the Yahooization of Facebook – a company washed up on the shore as the tide goes out on the old era. This is the right thing for Facebook to do for its future and its investors.
Users Don’t Care Who Wins
But unlike Investors, Facebook’s users don’t care whether it wins and survives or fails and dies. This is the other new element of Act I, Scene III. Users are truly in control on mobile. They adopt applications simply because they like them. This can be based on a social truth — their friends use them — or a feature they love, as with Snapchat and, earlier, Instagram. Users really care about features and friends. But they no longer need a holistic social ecosystem to provide them.
The phone itself, and the apps it contains, are sufficient to deliver on those needs. A disappearing photo message today, an anonymous secrets app the next, and who knows what tomorrow. Mobile is not a place with a solid floor under the feet of an app studio any more than the movie-going audience are loyal to a specific studio.
So What Is An Entrepreneur To Do?
Mark Zuckerberg and his team are doing an excellent job, but in the long run they cannot win because, just like a Snapchat message, apps themselves are ephemeral. Which Windows apps from the days of Windows 3.1 still dominate the platform?
Even platforms are somewhat ephemeral, as the emergence of wearables and context reveal. The pace of change is faster than at any time in history and the scale of the potential audience for the “new” is unparalleled. Entreprenuer’s should applaud Facebook’s instincts and execution and build the things that will make its attempts at survival difficult. They will be richly rewarded. The bigger they think, and the longer-term the implications of their inventions, the more threatening they will be, and of course more valuable.
It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur.
TechCrunch » Social
A fresh batch of snow is like a blank canvas, and a handful of Instagram users are getting creative
An East Coast storm struck once again (what else is new?) — and people are making the most of the bad weather. From the Capitol Building in Wasthington, D.C., to a Coca Cola polar bear, the country's snow sculptures are expanding well beyond good 'ol Frosty
Here are a few of our favorites from the last few days:
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more...
Ask anyone under the age of 30 if they love Facebook. Chances are, the answer will be no.
The once dominant social network has most certainly fallen from its hyper-exclusive, hyper-popular beginnings to become the place where moms and uncles post their political opinions and baby pictures. (At least, I think. I haven’t been on Facebook in forever.)
In fact, Facebook has lost so much of its cool factor that even President Obama knows it.
As it turns out, the Atlantic’s associate editor covering tech Robinson Meyer happened to be sitting near Obama at a coffee shop, of all places, during a meeting the President was having to learn more about 18-34 year olds. The goal was to get more people in this demographic to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. For Meyer, the goal was to overhear the president say something relevant to his beat and — as it so happens — President Obama gave him a gem.
“It seems like they don’t use Facebook anymore,” said President Obama.
Meyer tries to get to the bottom of the President’s use of “they.” Perhaps it was the age group he was researching, between 18 and 34, or maybe it was the all-encompassing, third-person singular, gender-neutral pronoun, muses Meyer.
But we know who “they” is. It’s the cool crowd of teenagers and twenty-somethings that make social services popular to begin with.
Meyer’s eavesdropped interview also revealed that the president knows what Snapchat and Instagram are, though his interest and/or enthusiasm toward the up-and-coming social powerhouses is unclear.
What is clear is that Facebook has lost its swagger.
Since Facebook bought Onavo, which was one of very few services that could provide empirical data into this downward spiral, there is only one other service that can offer insight into the competitive landscape of Facebook and other social players.
According to App Annie, Facebook was ranked in the 50′s in downloads on the U.S. iTunes store. Meanwhile, Snapchat was ranked in the teens and even single digits. In August, some sort of algorithm change suddenly bumped Facebook into the teens as well. (App Annie told TechCrunch that it had “observed changes in the iOS App Store rankings around August” but refused to clarify whether Apple was the sole source of this shift for Facebook.)
Even at the current rank of 14th overall and 3rd in social, Facebook is still ranked lower than Snapchat (6th) and Instagram (11th). Instagram (arguably the coolest part of Facebook) is still ranked lower than Snapchat in Photo and Video categories.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily paint a picture of a Facebook in trouble. The company is home to over 1 billion users, with the third most popular website on the internet behind Google and YouTube. Plus, this data actually proves that Facebook and Facebook Messenger are often downloaded by people when they buy new phones, showing the apps are still necessities.
But the cool kids are gone.
Facebook is no longer where we flirt with college classmates and spend hours posting photos. That use-case became nearly impossible when Facebook stopped being exclusively for college students and opened up to everyone. Inevitably, younger cousins and aunts and uncles and parents got on the platform. It started feeling more like a family reunion photo site than a hot social network.
And then, the generation that was champing at the bit to get on Facebook realized that their parents were champing at the bit, too. Instead of being a network full of 14- to 22-year olds, it became a network of 12- to 50-year olds.
Nowadays to the cool young kids, it’s an address book, with an email function, and perhaps the option to stalk if the person of interest doesn’t have Instagram. It’s a skeleton for all the other social apps we use, so signing up is easier and finding friends isn’t a repetitive process each time you download a new app.
Will Oremus hits the nail on the head. You can either have “everyone” or the cool kids, but you can’t have both.
Facebook has chosen everyone, and it makes sense — their business model depends on ubiquity. If you have everyone’s social data, you can sell ads about anything and convert. And up until recently, Facebook’s been wildly successful with this.
When Instagram posed a threat with 30 million super engaged and young users, Facebook instantly neutralized that threat with a cool $ 1 billion. After a shaky IPO, Facebook’s ad business is killing it.
But now up-and-comer Snapchat is posing a threat. Facebook first tried to fight it with a clone called Poke, which flopped, and then offered $ 3 billion to buy the app.
Snapchat, unlike other social competitors, is not reliant on Facebook at all, instead opting to use the Address Book for friend finding. Meanwhile, we’re seeing Instagram users rain down hellfire on Instagram ads as the once hip and cool photo-sharing app gets swallowed up, now a cog in the Facebook corporate machine.
With every day that passes, Facebook starts to look less and less like an Apple and more and more like a Dell. Luckily, there’s still no Apple on the horizon. While younger, hotter social networks spring up and solve problems, no one but Google has tried to make an all-encompassing social network to compete with Facebook. And we all know how that worked out.
Zuck is aware of all this. He admitted on an earnings call that Facebook is losing steam with teens, but that he’s more concerned with Facebook being useful than cool. And it still is useful.
The company will continue to see downloads, as it’s now necessary to have Facebook if you want to use other social apps. Facebook will continue to make money on ads (now that it knows everything about us) and Messenger will remain a truly popular tool among text-obsessed teens.
But things have changed. Obama even said so.
The cool kids are officially on the hunt for something else, and it’s only a matter of time before another Evan Spiegel pops up, too stubborn to take cash from Zuck, but this time with an all-purpose social network. And being young and VC-funded, this social network won’t show ads for years.
And, being different from the incumbent, it will become wildly attractive to teenagers and twenty-somethings.
But that’s way in the future. Right?
TechCrunch » Social
Web: There’s plenty of ways to download videos, even from seemingly un-downloadable sites, but SaveDeo makes the process a bit easier by offering native support for services like Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, TED, Vevo and others. More »
73% Of U.S. Adults Use Social Networks, Pinterest Passes Twitter In Popularity, Facebook Stays On Top
Facebook may be currently facing question marks over how well it’s faring with younger users, but among those over 18 in the U.S. it remains the social network king. According to figures out today from the researchers at the Pew Research Center, the percentage of adults using the social networks of Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram to communicate with each other is now at 73%, and Facebook — the world’s largest social network with 1.19 billion users — remains the most popular in the U.S., with 71% of U.S. adults using it.
In other words, nearly all adults that responded that they are on a social network are using Facebook. That’s four percentage points up from last year’s 67%, Pew notes. It comes at a time of heightened competition: partly thanks to the rise of mobile apps — the number of people on multiple networks is now at 42%.
Among the top five networks (as charted by Pew), there is a lot more wiggle room for who comes in second after Facebook. LinkedIn — site that bills itself as the “professional” social network focused on networking, job hunting and professional information and news — is hanging on at number-two, with 22% of U.S. adults using it — up 2% on last year. Close behind it is Pinterest — which has vaulted over Twitter to number-three position with 21% usage.
Twitter — despite the different services that it has launched to increase engagement like Twitter Music other discovery services; and despite the increased attention around its IPO — has only grown by two percentage points to 18%. Hot on its heels is Instagram at 17%.
Google+ does not make it into the top-five mix — not because of its lack of popularity; but because Pew says it did not include it in its survey questions.
Indeed, Pew’s numbers reveal a bit, confirm a bit of what we might have already guessed, but also leave a few blind spots. While there is a 42% overlap of usage across multiple sites, some 36% of respondents said that they only used one social network, and Pew notes that “22% did not use any of the five specific sites we asked about.” That could mean they used services like Google+, Snapchat, something else entirely, or nothing at all.
How many versus how often
For these sites, which are constructed in large part around advertising-based business models, critical mass is crucial: you won’t visit a site if no one else is using it. Similarly, on the commercial side of the equation, one of the key metrics that the sites, and their advertisers, like to focus on is engagement.
It’s interesting, therefore, that when it comes to frequency of use, the rankings change. Facebook continues to remain at the top in the daily rankings, with 63% of people accessing it on a daily basis. Instagram — last in the general rankings — is not far off and in second place, with a 57% daily use. Similarly, its weekly and “less often” rates are also close, respectively at 22%/20% and 14%/22%. (This goes some way towards explaining why Facebook was keen to acquire it: their usage patterns are very close.)
Twitter may overall be seeing less usage in general than Pinterest but those who are on it appear more engaged: some 46% of Twitter users are on it daily for their quick fix of quips made and received. Pinterest, in contrast, has a fairly low rate of daily usage, with 23% of its users visiting on a daily basis.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also are generating a significant amount of mulitple-times-per-day use, with 40% at Facebook, 35% at Instagram and 29% at Twitter, Pew says.
LinkedIn, meanwhile, has a lot of work to do, with only 13% of its users going there daily. Are those the ones looking for work? In any case, this is another way of explaining why it is that LinkedIn has tried to overhaul its whole content operation, to create something that will attract people to visit it more frequently than just “less often.”
Pew notes that for now it looks like Facebook is partly winning because of how it has managed to appeal to a wide range of users — a pretty impressive turn for widening its reach, considering that it started out as a network restricted only to university networks.
The demographic data for other networks stands in contrast to this: Pinterest “holds particular appeal to female users”, with women four times more likely as men to be Pinterest users; LinkedIn is “especially” popular among college graduates and internet users in higher income households. Twitter and Instagram resonate with urbanites and younger adults, and non-whites. (Facebook has over 70% usage among whites, Hispanics and black users, Pew notes.) All of them, excepting LinkedIn, has its highest proportion of users in the 18-29 age bracket; LinkedIn is more popular with the 30-49 group.
Among those who say they use only one social networking site, Facebook is a clear winner with 84% selecting it as their sole site, with the others lagging behind by a very far stretch: 8% solely use LinkedIn, 4% solely use Pinterest, and Instagram and Twitter each picked up only 2% — positioning them as firmly secondary in the U.S. market today.
TechCrunch » Social
As you may have already figured out, Instagram has launched private messaging this month, calling it Instagram Direct.
It lets users send a photo up to 15 people without publicly broadcasting that photo to their entire following. Recipients can like the photo and participate in live chat underneath it.
So, what do we think?
Well, on one side of the argument it makes a lot of sense for Instagram to launch a private messaging feature. Competitors like Snapchat and Twitter are focusing in on direct messaging as a way of communication while Facebook and Instagram get left behind in public broadcast mode.
However, Instagram may not have differentiated itself enough from competitors to get users excited about a feature they have been using elsewhere.
There’s also the school of thought that the smartphone itself is the do-it-all machine, and apps are to have their own individual use cases without trying to do too much.
We split down the middle on this once, but agreed on one thing: Instagram Direct isn’t original at all.
TechCrunch » Social
News Corp Pays $25M For Storyful, Which Digs Up And Verifies News From Social Sites Like Twitter And Instagram
News Corp is raising its game in digital news again: the company has just announced that it is acquiring Storyful, a Ireland-based “village square” for social media news, aggregating stories found on social media networks like Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and verifying the sources in the process. The price is €18 million ($ 25 million).
News Corp. says that it will continue as a standalone company post-acquisition. The news comes as another News Corp. property, the Wall Street Journal, is doubling down on its digital operations, with the launch of WSJD coming up to expand how the storied newspaper expands online, covering tech news and more.
“Storyful has become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp., in a statement. “Through this acquisition, we can extend the village square across borders, languages and platforms.”
The news comes about a week after another news conglomerate, Scripps, announced that it would acquire digital video startup Newsy for $ 35 million.
What’s interesting about Storyful is that it provides a verification that allows news organizations to make better use of content posted on social media sites without having to worry that the poster is not genuinely reporting from an event, or is who he/she says he is. That’s particularly handy on certain sites like Instagram, which have yet to start a verification program like Twitter’s. (Although there are some signs that seem to point to something like this on the cards.)
Given that sites like Instagram do not have verification services, how does Storyful work? Malachy Browne, the news editor at Storyful, confirms, “We don’t work organisationally with Instagram (or Facebook) and don’t have contact with them.”
So how does it work? By coincidence, just yesterday Browne had published a blog post describing how Instagram’s video trove had “accidentally” become a well of news content. I contacted him to explain a little more about how Storyful collects and verifies this information:
“Storyful has built internal technology that allow us to monitor Instagram (and other platforms) through its API for user-generated content. Our journalists apply editorial insight (hashtags, proper nouns and other search terms, as well as geo-location information) to the monitoring information and our technology returns a a rich stream of UGC. We don’t have hard statistics on Instagram’s video adoption (hopefully they will publish some), but we regularly see videos emerging on Instagram before other platforms, and Instagram content dominates the stream when we apply filters for geo-located content. It’s revolutionary and we’re looking at some exciting developments in our newsgathering technology in 2014. Details are under wraps for now.”
Prior to this acquisition, Storyful had received an undisclosed investment from ACT Venture Capital’s AIB Start-Up Accelerator Fund.
TechCrunch » Social
Moped announced it has been acquired by fellow Berlin company 6Wunderkinder, which will shut down the service on 31 December. It was clear the Berlin-based messaging platform wasn’t doing well – its social media channels had been eerily quiet since May and the last we heard from it was in June, when it released Moped 2.0.
6Wunderkinder’s main product is Wunderlist – a task management app – and in November the company announced a $ 19m funding round from American VC firm Sequoia.
Initially launched as a private messaging tool resembling Twitter’s DM feature, including hashtags and @s, Moped pivoted with its 2.0 version to provide a messaging service for teams and SMEs. This is the same market that 6Wunderkinder targets with its premium service, Wunderlist Pro. In a statement to The Next Web, 6Wunderkinder said the acquisition cements “Wunderlist as the one place to host all communications around your to-dos”.
In June 2012, Moped closed a $ 1m seed funding round with German VC Earlybird (also an investor in 6Wunderkinder), SV Angel, Betawork, and Lerer Ventures. The Next Web reports that there’s a silver lining for Moped users – they’ll receive one free month of Wunderlist Pro as part of the takeover.
For related posts, check out
- Moped releases version 2.0 and sets eyes on group messaging for small businesses
- Moped gets touch of Instagram with new photo editing tools
- Moped adds “Rich Messages” to the mix – SoundCloud, YouTube, Instagram in your stream
This story originally appeared on VentureVillage.
VentureBeat » Entrepreneur
Michelle Kuepper, VentureVillage
What a difference a day makes. In just 24 hours, two new features on two social media platforms have created quite the kerfuffle. Let’s recap, shall we?