MasterClass is mastering scale as a media business

MasterClass’ $80M Series D announced last week marks a triumph in validating the potential venture-scale of content businesses in an era when many are founded with equal parts tech and media DNA. The platform for online video courses on topics from film directing to tennis taught by iconic figures in each field (like Martin Scorsese and Serena Williams) launched in 2015 and has raised $160M from top VC firms like IVP, NEA, and Atomico while gaining brand recognition among millions of Americans. Neither education nor content startups have been particularly hot spaces for Silicon Valley investors over the last few years, so Masterclass’ breakout status calls attention to its strategy.

High-quality original content cuts above the noise

Due to the user inputs of subscription streaming services, a platform focused on its own high-quality original content can gain an advantage against the crowded field of quantity-over-quality competitors in monetization and defensibility
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Instagram confirms it’s testing video tagging with a percentage of users

Instagram is testing a way to allow users to tag their friends in their video posts, not just in photos, TechCrunch has learned and the company confirmed. The option works similarly to tagging photos, but instead of pressing the small icon at the bottom left to see the list of tagged names appear over top of the content – something that would be more difficult with videos – the button links to a list of tagged people. When you tap this button, you’re directed to a new page titled “People in this Video” with all the Instagram users who have either appeared in the video, or who the original poster wants to alert in some way. As far as we can tell, these videos don’t also copy over to the tagged users’ profiles, where tagged photos typically appear today. But that could come further down the road. Video tagging is
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How I Work: NYC’s Only Taffy Maker

“Ugh, saltwater taffy is kind of gross.” That’s what Marisa Wu thought years ago, when a colleague suggested she make some of her own. But then she investigated and figured out how to cook taffy flavored by real ingredients, not chemicals. Now Wu runs Salty Road Taffy, a popular high-end taffy brand where the banana… Read more...

Interview with Priscilla Chan: Her super-donor origin story

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Priscilla Chan is so much more than Mark Zuckerberg’s wife. A teacher, doctor, and now one of the world’s top philanthropists, she’s a dexterous empath determined to help. We’ve all heard Facebook’s dorm-room origin story, but Chan’s epiphany of impact came on a playground.

In this touching interview this week at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, Chan reveals how a child too embarrassed to go to class because of their broken front teeth inspired her to tackle healthcare. “How could I have prevented it? Who hurt her? And has she gotten healthcare, has she gotten the right dental care to prevent infection and treat pain? That moment compelled me, like, ‘I need more skills to fight these problems.'”

That’s led to a $3 billion pledge towards curing all disease from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $45 billion-plus charitable foundation. Constantly expressing gratitude for being lifted out of the struggle of her

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The 2018 Lifehacker Pack for iOS: The Essential iOS Apps

Trying to find the perfect iOS apps can be tough, and we’re willing to bet that your iPhone or iPad is full of pages and pages of apps. There’s just so much out there, it’s hard to come up with a short list of favorites. We understand. Allow us to help you with our freshly updated Lifehacker Pack for iOS.
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YouTube launches a suite of fundraising tools

YouTube today announced a suite of new features designed to offer creators and their fans new ways to contribute to charitable causes. This includes beta versions of new fundraising and campaign matching tools, as well as a variation of YouTube’s Super Chat service, called “Super Chat for Good.” Explains the company, YouTube creators have already been using its video platform to raise awareness about causes they care about, and bring their communities together. The launch of YouTube Giving, as this combined toolset is called, will now allow them to do more by making it easier for fans to donate to over 1 million nonprofits. With Fundraisers, YouTube creators and qualifying U.S. nonprofits (registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits) will be able to create fundraising campaigns that are embedded next to their YouTube videos. Directly beneath the video, viewers will see a “Donate” button that will allow them contribute to the
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Facebook Watch is launching worldwide

Facebook Watch, the social network’s home to original video content and answer to YouTube, is now becoming available worldwide. The Watch tab had first launched last August, only in the U.S., and now touts over 50 million monthly viewers who watch at least a minute of video within Watch. Since the beginning of the year, total time spent viewing videos in Watch is up by 14x, says Facebook. The company has continued to add more social features to Watch over the past year, including participatory viewing experiences like Watch Parties, Premiers, and those with audience involvement, like an HQ Trivia competitor, Confetti, built on the new gameshow platform. Watch also offers basic tools for discovery, saving videos for later viewing, and lets users customize a feed of videos from Facebook Pages they follow. Along with international availability, Facebook is introducing “Ad Breaks” to more publishers. These can
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Spotify expands its $4.99 per month student bundle with Hulu to include Showtime

Spotify today is announcing a new way for students to access its Premium service, along with Hulu and Showtime, for a discounted price of $4.99 per month for all three. The new deal is an expansion of the existing Hulu and Spotify bundle for students, which launched around a year ago at the same price. Now those existing subscribers as well as new ones will be able to stream from all three services when they sign up. The new bundle consists of Spotify Premium for Students, Hulu with Limited Commercials, and Showtime . Students will need to be attending a Title IV accredited institution in the U.S. to qualify for the discounted pricing. When Spotify teamed up with Hulu back in September 2017, it was the first time it had ever partnered with a streaming video service on a bundle deal. The deal had arrived just as Spotify’s own
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Netflix tests video promos in between episodes, much to viewers’ dislike

Netflix is testing video promos that play in between episodes of shows a viewer is streaming, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The promos are full-screen videos, personalized to the user, featuring content Netflix would have otherwise suggested elsewhere in its user interface – like on a row of recommendations, for example. The promos also displace the preview information for the next episode being binged, like the title, description, and thumbnail that previously appeared on the right side of the screen. The test was first spotted by Cord Cutters News, following a Reddit thread filled with complaints. A number of Twitter users are angrily tweeting about the change, too. (See below examples.) We understand the introduction of promos in between the episodes is not a feature Netflix is rolling out to its subscribers at this time. Instead, it’s one of the hundreds of tests Netflix runs every year, many
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Watch Reddit’s Favorite Worldwide Webcams

Webcams make the world feel magic, and that’s why they’ve survived 17 years on the internet. The webcam has evolved from still images to video, from tiny, muddy pictures to pristine 4k streams. Video technologies like Twitch, Snapchat, and Skype haven’t killed the appeal of a mounted camera pointed at the same spot… Read more...

Google launches Cameos, a video Q&A app aimed at celebs

Google has launched a new video-based Q&A app called Cameos on the App Store, which allows people to answer questions about themselves, then share those answers directly on Google. The app appears to be aimed at celebrities and other public figures, who are often the subject of people’s Google searches. With the Cameos app, they can address fans’ questions in their own voice, instead of leaving the answers up to other websites. The feature is an extension of the company’s “Posts on Google” platform which has been slowly rolling out over the past couple of years, giving some people and organizations the ability to post directly to Google’s search result pages. Initially, “Posts on Google” was open only to a small number of celebrities, sports teams and leagues, movie studios and museums. But last year, it expanded to local businesses who could then publish their events, products and services. This
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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile video startup NewTV closes on $1 billion

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new mobile video startup NewTV, now headed by CEO Meg Whitman, has closed on a billion in new funding in round led by Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the company has confirmed. WndrCo, Katzenberg’s tech and media holding company, officially announced the round’s close on Tuesday, following last month’s report from CNN which had first leaked the news of the billion-dollar investment. CNN’s report had attributed the funding to investors like Disney, 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros, Entertainment One and other media companies, noting they had put in a combined $200 million. The company has now confirmed the investor lineup includes Hollywood studios 21st Century Fox, Disney, Entertainment One, ITV, Lionsgate, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, and Warner Media. On the technology side, it say Alibaba is invested. In addition, the round was led by strategic partners The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., JPMorgan Chase &
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TV Time debuts an analytics platform for the streaming era

TV Time, the consumer app that helps bingers keep track of where they are with favorite shows and socialize with fellow viewers, is today expanding its business with the launch of an analytics platform called TVLytics. The new service will allow creators and distributors to tap into real-time data from across more than 60,000 TV shows. It will also offer other anonymized data collected from viewers, including things like on which platforms viewers watched, their favorite characters, bingeing behavior, viewers’ locations, anticipation from fans for new episodes, social engagement and more. The data is pulled from the app’s community of around a million daily users from more than 200 countries who check in with the app some 45 million times per month. To date, TV Time has tracked more than 10 billion TV episodes, and has seen 210 million reactions. TV Time began its life as a source for
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U.S. adults now spend nearly 6 hours per day watching video

If you’ve been wondering why every major media platform has been doubling down on its video efforts in recent months, Nielsen’s new report has the answer. According to the firm’s research, U.S. adults are now spending almost 6 hours per day on video, on average. That includes time spent watching both live and time-shifted TV, watching videos in an app or mobile website on a smartphone or tablet, watching video over a TV-connected device like a DVD player, game console or internet device such as Roku, and watching videos on a computer. That data on video viewing was collected during the first quarter of 2018 – and accounts for a sizable chunk of the 11 hours per day Americans spend listening to, watching, reading or otherwise interacting with media. The nearly six hours of video (5:57) of video viewed daily represents an 11 minute increase in video consumption over
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Gillmor Gang: Backflip

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The Gillmor Gang — Esteban Kolsky, Frank Radice, Michael Markman, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Sunday July 29, 2018. Social markets, what is notification media, the 20 percent solution. Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor Liner Notes Live chat stream The Gillmor Gang on Facebook

Amazon is planning to give Prime Video a big makeover

Could user profiles and better personalization features be coming to Amazon’s Prime Video app at long last? The company’s new Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke just teased that a major upgrade to Amazon’s streaming video app is in the works – and she already has it running on a phone in her office, she said. The exec was speaking at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in L.A., according to reports from AdWeek [paywall], TheWrap, and Deadline, when she mentioned the app’s big makeover. And while Salke’s statements were light on key details – like when such an effort would reach end users, for example, or what changes, exactly, would be in store, there’s plenty of room to speculate on what Prime Video’s app today lacks. For starters, unlike competitors such as Netflix and Hulu, Prime Video’s app doesn’t focus on making personalized recommendations about what to
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Twitter will suspend repeat offenders posting abusive comments on Periscope live streams

As part of Twitter’s attempted crackdown on abusive behavior across its network, the company announced on Friday afternoon a new policy facing those who repeatedly harass, threaten or otherwise make abusive comments during a Periscope broadcaster’s live stream. According to Twitter, the company will begin to more aggressively enforce its Periscope Community Guidelines by reviewing and suspending accounts of habitual offenders. The plans were announced via a Periscope blog post and tweet that said everyone should be able to feel safe watching live video.

Currently, Periscope’s comment moderation policy involves group moderation. That is, when one viewer reports a comment as “abuse,” “spam” or selects “other reason,” Periscope’s software will then randomly

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