ven, 06.12.2013 - 15:47
Publisher of craftsmanship Dymant just opened its doors to fashion enthusiasts and more generally fans of beautiful objects. Each month, the French startup works with luxury craftsmen to design, produce and sell limited edition objects to a demanding clientele.
“What gift can you make to someone who already has everything?” co-founder and CEO David Alexandre Klingbeil told me in a phone interview. “All of our creations are limited and numbered editions so that you know that you won’t find the same object at your friend’s house,” he continued.
Objects will range from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars. Yet, even if you have enough money, you have to be invited by an existing user to become a member of the club. With those two key elements, Dymant will remain an exclusive experience for a while.
Instead of simply selling the objects on a private website, Dymant has a strong editorial focus. Every month, the startup will select a new theme and find craftsmen to create objects around this topic. Then, everything is put together in a digital magazine — Volume 0 is named “The Secret”.
Dymant asks an artist to make the cover for each volume. For example, for this first cover, a video artist made a one-minute video showing hidden doors, keys and other dreamy images. You flip the page and find a foreword written by a famous luxury person — L’éclaireur founder Armand Hadida wrote the first one.
And of course, you can see the objects of the month. Every page comes with an explanation about how each object was made. Craftsmen have a story to tell and Dymant wants to be the platform to unleash those stories. The volume is available on Dymant’s website and works well on a computer, a tablet and a phone.
When I asked Klingbeil what were the objects available this month, he didn’t want to answer me — Dymant is a secret club after all. But he said that the company works with leather craftsmen, woodworkers and jewelers (you can expect black diamonds for example).
The team of four has raised $1.35 million from Partech Ventures and IDinvest. Now available in Europe and the U.S., Asia is already the next target. Early next year, the startup will expand to Asian markets.
“It’s a great advantage to be located in France,” Klingbeil told me. “It would be impossible to do a luxury startup somewhere else. All the best craftsmen are around me. When it comes to craftsmanship, the two biggest countries in the world are France and Italy.”
But all of this wouldn’t be possible without the web as well. Selling these goods online allows Dymant to bring together a diverse group of wealthy people interested in a new form of luxury. Klingbeil compares Dymant’s objects to a form of patrician luxury. Patricians held political power in ancient Rome. “They like elegant low-key luxury, the kind of luxury that shows that you have nothing to prove. What do you give your wife when she already has three Hermes handbags?”
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 15:01
After the Food and Drug Administration ordered that 23andMe suspend use of its at-home gene testing kits, based on the government organization’s belief that it constitutes a medical device and thus requires further examination and testing before it can be sold. 23andMe followed up that bombshell with the news that it would be working with the FDA to try to resolve the issue, and as a next step it will stop health-related testing altogether.
In a notice posted to its website, 23andMe says it has suspended the sale of its health-focused tests, specifically during the review the FDA is conducting of its health-based claims regarding its product. The company was apparently able to avoid a blanket ban, however, and will still provide new and existing customers with tests that provide ancestry data, and access to raw, uninterpreted genetic data.
The cut off date for access to health-related testing was November 22, 2013, so anyone who bought before that date will still get their results as promised, and continue to have access to that info. They won’t get any new updates regarding health-related results. New customers who purchased after November 22 will get ancestry and raw data, and if all goes well with the ongoing FDA certification process, they’ll be eligible to receive health info in the future. They’re also eligible for a refund, and will receive emailed instructions on how to get one.
There has been a lot of debate about the validity of the FDA’s concerns regarding 23andMe’s service. The genetic testing company has never claimed to make prescriptive judgements regarding user health, but many argue that information it provides about potential genetic illnesses could provoke extreme reactions from customers, including taking preventative steps like advance mastectomies, based on information that could be erroneous or not fully contextualized. Others have argued the FDA is being overly sensitive, and that the data 23andMe provides is innocuous enough on its own, even that which falls into the health category. A good summary of both sides can be found on Hacker News, and 23andMe’s complete letter to website visitors can be found below.
Welcome to 23andMe.
At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.
We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe’s interpretation.
If you are an existing customer please click the button below and then go to the health page for additional information. If you are a customer who purchased before November 22, 2013, you will still have access to your health-related results.
We remain firmly committed to fulfilling our long-term mission to help people everywhere have access to their own genetic data and have the ability to use that information to improve their lives.
Upon entering the site, please confirm you understand the new changes in our services.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 14:52
As befitting the mass-market appeal of the morning TV program, Costolo admitted that Twitter can be confusing to some folks who are unfamiliar with the service.
“For many people, when they come to Twitter the language is opaque,” said Costolo. “We need to push the scaffolding to the background, and bring the content forward. The media, the photos, the videos.”
Costolo responded by saying that Twitter will focus on bringing content forward.
As Twitter tries to build on its current user base of 230 million monthly active users, there have been concerns that the social network isn’t as accessible to the mainstream as other social services. Twitter has yet to reach the same mainstream appeal of Facebook, which passed a billion users last year.
Of course, this isn’t the only thing Twitter is doing to make the social network more accessible to the mainstream.
Recently, Twitter launched a new feature that switches up the timeline to include responses to previous tweets. This prevents users from seeing a random, contextless response in their stream and instead puts the conversation right in the stream.
Costolo also gave some vague tips on being the best possible tweeter. Ultimately, he said, it’s all about the kind of person you are and expressing your personality within that infamous 140-character limit.
However, he was a bit more specific on how not to tweet.
“You have to speak with an authentic tone of voice,” said Costolo. “With the ubiquity of communication these days, people can sense inauthenticity. Authenticity is the key.”
To close the Twitter-sized interview (it was only about five minutes long), Costolo said that the people he most wants on Twitter are a “collection of female comedians” including Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Melissa McCarthy.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 14:24
Apple will kick off this weekend by launching iBeacons functionality in all of its 254 domestic U.S. stores, according to a new report by the AP. The location-based tech will work with the official iOS Apple Store app, and will allow Apple to do things like provide you with notifications of when your order has been assembled in the in-store stock room, to noticing that you’re in the iPhone section and offering you a notice about upgrading from your current device.
iBeacon transmitters use Bluetooth 4.0 tech, and can be dialed in to a range of different distance sensitivities, which means that it can work on a hyper local basis, sending specific information only when you’re in the area for demos and workshops, for instance, or next to a particular product display. At the same time, it can provide general alerts to anyone who enters a store’s doors.
The upside for retailers using iBeacons is two-fold: First, they can offer more specific, targeted information to customers, which in theory helps with customer service (and could cut down on minor requests that would normally occupy staff). Second, iBeacons provides them with hyper-local data regarding customer movements within a store (apps could contain an opt-in for allowing use of that info). That kind of granular look at shopper behaviour could pay huge dividends in terms of helping formulate evolving retail strategy.
Apple, however, told the AP that it doesn’t collect any info about the shoppers in its stores via iBeacons, which could mean that it’s using this mainly as a way of dogfooding – showing other retailers how the technology might be useful when implemented in a ‘best practices’ kind of way.
Apple isn’t the first to use iBeacons; Major League Baseball made headlines when it announced plans to implement the tech to delivery unique offers and content to patrons attending games at its stadium locations. That doesn’t go into effect until next year, however, and other projects like the iBeacons Newsstand subscription delivery service we wrote about earlier are likewise in a pilot phase. Apple’s use of iBeacons is likely the most mature and whole implementation to date, so it’ll be the one to watch in terms of something for other retailers to mimic.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 09:15
Maxthon’s 120 million monthly users are divided between 60% who access its browsers mainly on desktop and 40% on mobile products. Although its mobile business is growing three times as quickly as PC, Karl Mattson, vice president of Maxthon’s International Division, says the company believes that releasing new or upgraded PC products is still a crucial part of its overall business strategy.
Maxthon users are located in 150 countries. Over the last two years, its main base has shifted from the Asia region and users are now divided equally among the U.S., Russia, China and India.
One of its fastest growing markets is Russia, where close to a quarter of Maxthon users are now based. According to IDC, PC shipments there decreased 30.7% in volume year-over-year to 2.7 million units in the third quarter of 2013, a decline that reflects the desktop market’s slowdown throughout the world. But sales in the business sector, as well as new purchases after the expiration of the Windows XP operating system in April 2014, could still propel quarter-on-quarter growth, says the research firm.
“We still have a number of users around the world on the PC side and we’ve found that this is not a small market. For a company like us it would be foolish to disregard it for a couple of reasons,” says Mattson. Most people still prefer using a PC to work. Making desktop browsers is also an important part of Maxthon’s cross-platform philosophy.
“You still can’t beat PC or Mac browsers for monetization at a higher RPU. Mobile still has some catchup to do in terms of lifetime value per user,” says Mattson. “So any little bit that we can grow on our PC side is good for not only our cross-platform strategy and markets, but also for our bottom line financially.”
Maxthon’s new Windows PC browser includes these features:
- Broad support of HTML5
- Support for WebGL and GPU accelerator for enhanced graphics and image processing
- Reduced memory footprint and CPU usage
- Proprietary multi-threaded downloads
- Improved mobile app-promotion
- Lower RAM usage
So how does this translate into user experience? Maxthon claims that its new Windows PC browser is 10% faster than Chrome 30. The third-party cookie support enables “do not track” without users needing to download a plug-in first. Maxthon’s browser separates cookies from subframe pages, which means its cookie is saved in a different place. That means users can still take advantage of personalization features, including instant login, without worrying about the subframe page’s third-party cookie sharing information with other domains.
The new features also reduce bandwidth consumption, which is important for users paying for flat rate data packages or per gigabyte.
The multithreaded downloads, which are supposed to boost download speeds up to five percent, means that your browser downloads files through five different connections at the same time.
“We’re really proud of the multi-threaded piece because we’ve taken something that’s been relegated to a plug-in used by power users and made it a default experience that actually makes it a lot faster,” says Mattson. “What that translates into for users is that that movie, that video clip, that enormously large PowerPoint file that someone emailed you is going to arrive five times faster in a lot of cases.”
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 04:48
Spotify plans to make mobile access to its music service free, The Wall Street Journal reports. Now a source confirms with TechCrunch that the free mobile tier will launch December 11th at a press event in New York. We’ve also learned users won’t get unlimited on-demand access, but will be less restricted if they listen to playlists or collections they’ve previously created.
Spotify sent out invites for the December 11th event on December 3rd, but didn’t say what would be launched. It simply noted “We’re having a media event. Like to come? There will be donuts.” But now we’ve confirmed that unveiling limited free mobile access is a big part of the show.
Until now, Spotify has only allowed premium subscribers paying $10 a month to stream music from mobile devices. Free, ad-supported access was available on desktop and laptop computers, and for $5 a month users could remove the ads from those devices but not listen on mobile.
But those rules were put in place years ago when smartphone penetration was lower, high-speed wireless networks were less common, and there were fewer competitors. Now the world is going mobile, and shutting users out of listening on the go unless they pay over $100 a year seems restrictive. It could also endanger Spotify’s ability to grow its paying subscriber base beyond the six million customers it has today (out of 20 million total users).
Presumably, the idea before was that you’d get a taste of Spotify for free on the web, and that would tempt you to buy mobile access. However, now many people hardly use traditional computers, especially in developing markets where people never owned them and skipped straight to mobile. With no way to try out Spotify on mobile, the company had no way to upsell them to paid plans.
Meanwhile, Spotify’s advertising infrastructure has matured over the year. It may be able to more efficiently sell its audio ads, making them a more viable way of earning money or at least breaking even from ad-supported listeners. That means it may be more cost-effective to support free mobile users now than before.
Finally, the last year has seen Google launch a streaming music service while Apple launched iTunes Radio. It still faces competition from startups like Rdio, Slacker, and Deezer. And new music streaming services from Beats and YouTube are slated for next year, making music a crowded market. Spotify can’t risk going into the new year without a free mobile option.
As for how that option will work, The Wall Street Journal’s Hannah Karp reports Spotify has spent a year quibbling with major record labels Sony, Universal, and Warner about how much control free users would get over what they listen to on mobile. The WSJ says Spotify has successfully struck a deal with the labels but users will only be able to play a limited number of songs on demand. After that, it says they’ll be restricted to listening to Spotify’s Pandora-like radio service that’s based on their tastes and input.
A source gave TechCrunch more details on the restrictions, saying that users may have more freedom to listen to their previously compiled playlists or starred collection of songs. The reasoning may be that Spotify sees these subsequent plays of songs users have already shown interest in as less valuable than on-demand access to what they’ve never listened to before. Reserving infinite search-and-listen capabilities for premium customers ensures people don’t get the milk if they don’t buy the cow.
When the free tier launches, these limits may not be especially easy to understand, our source says. That could confuse users, leading to poor user experiences where people think they should be able to listen to something but they can’t. They’ll blame Spotify, but sadly, they should really be blaming the labels, as they’re the ones too stingy to realize a simple user experience creates the delight that keeps users coming back, and maybe even opening their wallets.
We’ll be at the December 11th event covering exactly how things shake out.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 03:29
Palantir, the big data company that secured clients like the NSA, the FBI and the CIA early on, is topping up its recent September funding round with a 50 percent bump in valuation.
The company is now valued at $9 billion, according to sources familiar with the deal. An SEC filing released today showed that they are raising an additional $57.5 million on top of a $196.5 million round three months ago. That round valued the company at $6 billion.
The company hasn’t shared the identities of the investors in both rounds. We’re hearing that the company’s revenues are set to top half a billion this year, and will do at least $1 billion in contracts next year.
Founded back in 2004, the company was the brainchild of Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, who believed that the payments company’s anti-fraud technologies could be used to fight terrorism.
Current CEO Alex Karp, Joe Lonsdale (who went on to found Asia and Silicon Valley-focused investment firm Formation 8), Stephen Cohen and chief technology officer Nathan Gettings put together an initial product.
In its early years, Palantir grew into an analysis platform that government agencies use to manage the war against terrorism and drug trafficking. Palantir’s platform pulls disparate reams of data and puts them together in a way that makes otherwise hard-to-detect patterns and connections much more visible to users.
Since then, they’ve grown beyond their government clientele and have expanded into the private sector, cybersecurity and the pharmaceutical industry.
The company’s earlier investors include Founders Fund, Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman and Ben Ling among others and they’ve raised at least $650 million.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 02:55
At 14 years old, SurveyMonkey, the online feedback and survey company, is “not quite a startup anymore,” says its CEO David Goldberg. But the last year has marked what you might call a second childhood of sorts for the Silicon Valley company: a large raise of funds (some $850 million, all secondary); a launch of a whole new product branch (enterprise); and, now, for its hattrick, a new international push. It’s the third of these that has brought Goldberg — a seasoned enterpreneur, investor and husband to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg — to London, to meet with me in a bar high above the city in the Shard, a new skyscraper near London Bridge.
We’re meeting here because although SurveyMonkey is announcing a new office in London, along with a hiring push for 50 new staff in sales, marketing and business development, it hasn’t yet found a place to call its own. Where will the company look? The answer is still (ahem) up in the air. Not in the glitzy Shard, where the rents are too high; and not necessarily in Shoreditch, where many other startups have laid down roots.
As it turns out, the Shard — with London spread out beneath us — is a fitting place to meet. SurveyMonkey is arriving here with opportunity in its eyes. London will represent its biggest investment yet outside of the U.S., and it comes directly as a result of its bigger enterprise push. It comes also as part of a concerted effort by the UK government to bring more tech business to London, including encouraging a new work visa scheme, faster broadband and more companies to commit to investing here.
Today the UK is SurveyMonkey’s biggest market after the U.S., with 1.5 million users, a position that is built on enterprise and customers across organisations like the National Health Service, the oil company BP, local councils and universities, and “100% of the FTSE 100″ says Goldberg.
Many of these have started out as individual accounts, and so these are connections that SurveyMonkey hopes to reinforce and expand under its new enterprise licensing scheme; and, down the line, with more analytics services to make the most of the data that the surveys snag.
While I had Goldberg’s attention, I got an update on what else might be happening at SurveyMonkey:
– Acquisitions. It’s an obvious way for companies from the U.S. to scale business abroad, not to mention a way to bolt on new technologies, so will the be a route for SurveyMonkey?
Goldberg says that for the moment there are no acquisitions on the cards for customer scaling purposes. “There’s not a lot of anything of any scale out there,” he told me. “That’s not to say we wouldn’t buy something. We have been looking internationally but haven’t found anything.”
As for technology acquisitions, that’s a different story. The key with SurveyMonkey is that it’s launching a new business area with enterprise, and that could lead it into offering new products and services, some of which may get built internally; and some of which will not.
One of those areas could be data, and specifically big data analytics. “How do we collect data and how can we help people make decisions?” Goldberg asked me rhetorically. “To call what we do a survey is very narrow. It’s data, and that’s a very, very big space.”
Data intelligence could also be one way that SurveyMonkey could stay competitive against the likes of Google Surveys and (to a lesser extent) Formstack.
Although SurveyMonkey counts the public sector as a strong vertical for its services, one company Goldberg rules out as a target of any kind is YouGov, the UK-based polling company. “That’s not a space we want to be in,” he said, noting that SurveyMonkey in fact already has its own panel business.
And there remains a plan as well to continue to expand partnerships and integrations via SurveyMonkey’s API. (One of the latest partnerships, announced just this week, was with Zendesk.) Integrations like these are an important customer retention tool: “Those who use us and also use MailChimp and Eventbrite churn from us at a lower rate,” Goldberg notes.
– Funding. The money that SurveyMonkey raised earlier this year — which included significant contributions from Tiger Global, Social + Capital, and others — was “100% secondary,” he said, with the funds going to employees and investors.
“None of it went into the company,” he added, meaning that any acquisitions that it would make will come from its own cash reserves, as well as debt if needed. In 2012, SurveyMonkey made $62m in EBITDA, and $113 million in revenue, he tells me. It has not disclosed 2013 revenues. That funding round, he pointed out, which valued the company at some $1.35 billion, will put off questions of an IPO for some time to come.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 02:43
With getTalent, customers (who supposedly include Walmart, MTV, and Box) can add a plug-in to their job listings and career pages, allowing visitors to sign up for a “talent community,” where they’ll receive targeted content and listings. Recruiters can also scan résumés and sign people up at job fairs.
Either way, the goal is to keep job candidates engaged with the company even if they’re not the right fit for the current openings, in case something might work out down the line.
Those features seems like a pretty natural fit for a job site. In fact, Shafi said getTalent will continue to operate as a standalone product. IT will also be offered as an additional service to Dice customers who want to more “source leads from all over the Internet” and incorporate “personalized messaging and engagement” into their recruiting efforts. Shafi, meanwhile, will become head of product at Dice, and the entire five-person getTalent team is moving over.
When I last wrote about the startup, Shafi told me that getTalent had raised $2.6 million in funding from HR software maker SuccessFactors (which itself is owned by SAP) and angel investors including Krutal Desai and Ray Wallin. He said today that it reached a point where he was considering raising more money or getting acquired.
When I asked if other companies (like, oh, say, SuccessFactors) had also made acquisition offers, Shafi replied, “I can make a larger impact at Dice, getTalent can make a larger impact at Dice. I can’t publicly say what was offered, but I can say that in my decision-making process that’s what inspired me. … I wouldn’t have done it if this was just another product that was going to be put on the backburner.”
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. I’ve also emailed Dice for confirmation and comment and will update if I hear back.
Update: Dice just sent me the following statement from President Shravan Goli: “We acquired the getTalent product in October. We are pleased to have the team behind getTalent join our Dice.com development team.”
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 02:33
Once upon a time, Instagram was a little app for sharing photos with friends and photography buffs. Its mostly public sharing model worked at that size. But now with over 150 million users, widespread awareness, and years of people following each other, users may be holding back from posting as much because they don’t want the whole world to see what they see. That’s why it may be the right time for Instagram to launch private messaging.
That time could come as soon as December 12th when Instagram holds a press event in New York, for which it sent out invitations today with the tagline “You are invited to share a moment with Kevin Systrom and the Instagram team.” The snail-mail invite came with a woodblock printed with an Instagram on it, leading writers, including our own Jordan Crook, to speculate Instagram might launch some sort of physical printing option. While that might be cute, and a nice holiday gift option, I suspect (with no inside knowledge) that Instagram is actually gearing up for the launch of private messaging, a feature that last month GigaOm’s Om Malik said ”well-placed sources” told him Instagram is preparing to release. There are a ton of reasons this makes sense. Let’s start with why physical printing isn’t worthy of its own launch event. Last year, Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, tested a postcard service for sending paper prints of your photos to friends. It never took off and was shut down. Facebook
also launched a physical Gifts service but eventually switched to only selling virtual gift cards. It seems Facebook hasn’t physical goods to be a big enough business to support. Meanwhile there are a slew of small startups like Postagram and CanvasPop that print Instagrams on everything from postcards to canvas
paintings. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of additional value for Instagram to add by launching its own printing service. A simpler native integration for sending photos to or buying prints from third-party services beyond its existing APIs doesn’t seem important enough to warrant its own press blitz (though it could be a small part of the show).
“Public Eyes / They’re Watching You”
So why messaging? Because Instagram has outgrown public sharing. Yes, you can set your entire profile to private so only people you approve can see everything you share, but that’s privacy with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel. Most people are excited to share some photos publicly and have them shown right in the feeds of whoever follows them. In fact, they tag their photos with reams of hashtags just so they show up in more places and win them the sweet sweet validation of another Instagram heart or follower. Setting their account to private would mean their more benign pics of sunsets and lattes wouldn’t get as many eyeballs. While Instagram’s privacy model hasn’t changed much over the years from a functionality standpoint, a lot more people see the photos you post today. There’s better native discovery of photos, a web version of your profile, and an ecosystem of third-party apps for power users. That means someone who is curious about where you are and what you are doing has a lot easier time finding your photos now. But most importantly, Instagram just has way more users now than when some of its earliest, most loyal, and most engaged users joined. It’s gone from early tech adopters and artists to teens to mainstream young adults to even hosting a good number of parents. Does that growth progression ring any bells? It should because Facebook similarly went from young to mainstream to your mom. And what did that cause? A chilling effect on sharing. Posting party pics, silly jokes, or snarky perspectives on the world is a lot less appealing when you
know your dad, boss, little sister, or stalker are watching. That is a dangerous trend for Instagram. It needs people constantly sharing photos to fill its feed so other people check it, are delighted…and see its new ads. Less sharing = less happiness/revenue. Meanwhile, there are plenty of apps happy to help you share photos privately. Snapchat is building a powerhouse social network on the concept of private sharing. It doesn’t matter who joins Snapchat, as the only people who see your photos and videos are the ones you send them to. Then there’s a ton of international messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, KakaoTalk, and Line where people can share their precious moments privately. Perhaps if Facebook’s bid to acquire Snapchat was successful, it could use that as its private photo-sharing play. But it got rejected, and so the burden falls on Instagram. I’d imagine Instagram messaging could fit in the top left of the app, or be worked into the existing Activity tab alongside tags and likes. Anyone you follow would be eligible to send you messages, and group messaging would be allowed. Threads would typically start with a photo and caption, and permit both photo and text replies to let people have a conversation around the moments they’re sharing. Messages could also be a private back channel for discussing photos shared publicly. Done right, private photo sharing could be a huge
win for Instagram.
Messages 1. Boxing Out Competitors
Most people who have Snapchat probably have Instagram, too, and more of their friends are probably also on Instagram. Its size suddenly goes from a liability to an asset with private messaging.2. Notifications
Today if your best friend shares a photo on Instagram, you might not even know. There’s no notification sent. And since Instagram is an unfiltered feed like Twitter, it has the same issue where your favorite people can get drowned out by some shutter-happy person you followed but don’t even know. You might be missing some of Instagram’s most relevant content. Without the constant stream of
notifications like on Facebook, it’s easy to forget to even visit Instagram. I sometimes go weeks without checking as there’s nothing there addressed specifically to me to demand my attention. But with Instagram messaging private sharing, you can be damn sure I’d open any photo sent to me. And after that, I’d probably browse my feed,
get a few more smiles, and maybe see some ads. Instagram Messages could re-engage tuned-out users.
Messages could drive sign-ups for Instagram. You can already share a photo via email but then the engagement happens outside of Instagram in a decidedly crusty old medium. If I could privately message people by phone number (the identity basis for most modern messaging apps), I might lure my friends into signing up for Instagram.4. Intimate Sharing
Private messaging could get people sharing a whole new category of photos and videos on Instagram. Intimate ones. I’m not just talking about sexy ones (though who couldn’t benefit from some blur and filters to touch up their birthday suit or flirtatious smile). I mean the other stuff people currently share on Snapchat. Funny faces. Inside jokes. Lighthearted insults. Controversial or illegal activities. Flawed portraits. Random glimpses into their current scene. These are all things you probably wouldn’t want to share with everyone, and wouldn’t want permanently associated with your profile. They don’t necessarily need to be able to disappear like Snapchats (though
maybe that’d be useful), but having them buried in conversation threads would probably be enough privacy by obscurity. In a world where you get made fun of for sharing selfies, but people do it anyway, it seems clear that the world’s most beloved photo app gives a way to share on the down low. It’d certainly keep some of the photos that appear in this post from ending up on a blog somewhere. Instagram messaging could also turn the app into a true visual communication medium — one where people use it as a sort of replacement for text. Getting people constantly sending photos and
captions back and forth over Instagram could rack up more engagement in a single conversation than the social network side of that app sees in a week. Right now, conversation on Instagram is restricted to its messy, unthreaded comment system. And like the chilling effect on the photos in the first place, I’m often apprehensive to share a comment publicly, especially if I only really care if the person who shot the photo saw it. I’d often be inclined to message them directly, but currently have to resort to text or Facebook message. Messaging would fix that. Maybe I’m
drinking my own Kool-Aid but this seems like a wise move to make, and sooner rather than later. Sure, it would bloat Instagram a bit, making it less clear what the purpose of the once-lean app is. It might cannibalize some photos from the feed, though they might inspire more return visits and engagement as private messages. It could be seen, like Poke, as another desperate attempt by Facebook to compete with Snapchat. And it could flop, becoming a rarely used extra communication channel we’re loathe to check. But I don’t think those are big enough concerns to dissuade Instagram. The
company’s mission is “to capture and share the world’s moments.”
But right now it’s only broadcasting them.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 02:19
The mega rounds continue to drop, with enterprise-facing cloud storage company Box confirming that it has raised $100 million in fresh outside funds. TechCrunch reported and confirmed the funding in late November, meaning that Box took its time in disclosing the size of its new cash influx.
The round values Box in the neighborhood of $2 billion, meaning that the company sold around 5 percent of its equity in the deal.
Box, like Uber and Pinterest (and perhaps Snapchat shortly), have each raised huge sums in recent months, at valuations in the billions. Dropbox, a key competitor to Box, is said to be hunting for nine-figure funds with a valuation in the billions, as well.
As a company, Box has been almost magically well capitalized. As TechCrunch previously reported:
Box just raised $125 million in new funding last year, and another $25 million earlier this year. A new round would put Box’s funding at over $400 million total. Box famously turned down a $600 million acquisition offer from Citrix in 2011.International
According to Box, the United States accounts for 60 percent of its total activity, meaning that the company’s user and customer base is largely domestic. But that could soon change, as Box stated in its announcement today that it has signed “commercial agreements” with Japanese companies to “catalyze” its introduction into that market. It hired Katsunori Furuichi there to head up its efforts. Furuichi was formerly the CEO of Verisign Japan.
In addition, Box is partnering with firms in Latin America and Australia. Those firms, in conjunction with DST Global, which invested into Facebook, and Coatue, a hedge fund with a newly minted $300 million growth fund, provided the new capital.
There is a huge value stack to be built on top of file storage, and Box is well aware of it.
Catégories: News informatiques
ven, 06.12.2013 - 02:05
Google is promoting a White House petition calling for reform to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), amending it to require a warrant for the government to read the email of its citizens.
In a Google+ post – natch – Google asked its followers if they felt their online missives deserve the same protection as their physical mail. Sign the petition, the company continued, to “tell the government to get a warrant” before reading your email.
That the petition exists is not surprising. To see Google publicly promoting it is refreshing. Since Google’s post went live, around 6,000 more people have signed the petition, which is now over halfway to the needed 100,000 signatures.
What the hell is Google banging on about? Well, the ECPA is old, broken legislation that leaves us, the regular folk, unprotected from government intrusion into our affairs. As I reported earlier this year:
Written in a different era, it dictates that any email can be ordered by a mere subpoena provided that it is over 180 days old, or has been opened. Back in the last eighties, the amount of email you could store was constrained by ludicrously small hard disk space. With modern webmail systems today, you can store an unlimited amount of mail.
Thus, given that the bulk of your email is either a half year old or more, or read, the government can under current law access it with little to no oversight.
It’s like the NSA, but legal, and in the open.
In the larger discussion concerning privacy, the United States government has lied repeatedly, something that is incredibly frustrating. However, this specific law is something that we could change, that would in fact make a positive change to our society, and the relationship between our government and ourselves.
Bills have been written (including the Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act) that would amend the ECPA, bringing it in line with our broader privacy rules, regulations and mores.
Good on Google for furthering the petition. It likely won’t do much but demonstrate that there exists market appetite for reform among the more active in the electorate. Perhaps that will job Congress. One can hope.
Catégories: News informatiques