Facebook finally brings Messenger to iPad


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After debuting its standalone Messenger app for iPhone and Android three years ago, Facebook has finally expanded the app to accommodate for the iPad. The app works more or less the same as the Messenger app currently available for the phone, including Stickers and VoIP calling. Right now, Facebook seems to be keeping chat baked into the iPad version of the Facebook app, but it will be interesting to see whether it decides to spin out Messenger and eliminate chat from the flagship app as it did for the iPhone. 

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In an effort to surface the right booking, Airbnb is on its way to redefining search


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Search is so engrained in our daily internet lives that we sometimes forget to stop and think about how it works. Often, when digging for a website on Google or finding a video on YouTube, search is straightforward: type a few keywords into the box, and sift through the results to find what you’re looking for. But what if you’re searching for something so specific that just a couple of keywords and extra parameters can’t filter it? Or, if you don’t even know what you’re searching for?

Those are the challenges that the search team at Airbnb is thinking about. In the past few months, the room and apartment sharing company has worked on tuning its product to support different ways people book vacations. First, the company unveiled its last-minute booking product in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now, the company is also looking into a Weekend Getaways feature, designed to inspire and entice users who would otherwise not be compelled to book a trip to make a last-minute excursion nearby.

“In Google, there is such a thing as the objectively best result,” Maxim Charkov, head of search at Airbnb, told me. “For Airbnb, people have very different preferences. In many cases, we don’t know know what those preferences are, so we have to iterate and find them.”

In order to make this happen — while managing Airbnb’s shifting host inventory and also pushing users to book rooms and apartments that suit their needs — Airbnb’s search team is trying to rebuild search from its foundation.

How it works

The main driver of search at Airbnb, Charkov said, is simply location: users type in where they want to go and how many people (if any) will join them. The company ensures that users not only get accurate location results, but also receive suggestions for locations they did not search for — one example, Charkov said, is when Airbnb serves a popular listing in Aptos for users searching in Santa Cruz. But the results that come from that search are much more complex, as Airbnb factors in dozens of factors to measure the “attractiveness” of each location, including photos, quality, ratings and cost of the listing.

“Quality can be drastically different. Airbnb is a user-generated marketplace, and there are a lot of gems, and we have to find them,” Charkov explained. “We think of quality as simply a measure of how attractive the listing is, independently of who you are. It’s just how good it is.”

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

From there, Airbnb takes a deep look at behavior to further deduce the quality of listings. This behavior starts with actions from users looking to book — especially testing when and how users click on listings — but become much more interesting on the host side of the spectrum. Airbnb closely studies what it calls a “conversion rate” — the likelihood of an inquiry to turn into a full booking. The conversion rate is dependent on a multitude of factors and some, like when a host has to suddenly black out days for an emergency, can’t be measured by the company. However, it does look at certain key pieces of information that compel a host to book a guest — such as the number of guests involved, the length of the stay, the turnaround time between other bookings, and even the specific season the booking is for — to surface better listings on the user end. This becomes particularly important as the company expands its last-minute booking feature beyond Los Angeles and San Francisco.

What’s next

Charkov says that Airbnb can algorithmically surface listings from user behavior and other quality markers, but increased search power comes from participation from the users — both hosts and guests. Currently, Airbnb has 650,000 listings in 34,000 cities across 190 countries, and more than 50 percent of the company’s business is in Europe. As Airbnb’s popularity grows all over the world — it said in a blog post in March that it is experiencing triple-digit growth in all European countries — there is potential for a lot more diversity in available rooms and willing guests. To help unearth those preferences, Charkov and his team are running tests to make Airbnb less like search and more of a matchmaker.

“One of the biggest problems the team has right now is understanding signals beyond quality,” Charkov says. “What we are trying to do now is learn how to tell apart these listings. What does a listing represent, and is it good for a certain group of users?”

AirbnbRoom

One of the ways that Airbnb’s search team tested enhanced preferences took advantage of the company’s acquisition of neighborhood information platform Nabewise to help better characterize neighborhoods in given cities. From there, the company turned to the data it gathered from user reviews on individual listings to pick out certain keywords like “food,” “nightlife” or “outdoors” to parse which listings were closer to ideal features that travelers normally look for. The results ended up being much higher quality than information offered by hosts themselves, and could lead to better search results in the long run.

“Anyone can write absolutely anything they want in the description, but we want to get feedback from people who actually stayed there,” Charkov added.

It’s those extra signals that separate particular listings from others in a similar location, and could help users find the perfect place to stay in the long run. Charkov says that as Airbnb scales, the goal of the search team is to break up listing results into reasonable chunks. Using as much information as possible, the company can then better match users with a smaller set of listings that suit their needs without overwhelming them.

“I see that matching and personalization will be more critical than it is for Airbnb now,” Charkov said. “We will need to be much better at not just matching the user behind the scenes, but also explaining why we are matching the user with a given set of listings.”

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg semi-apologizes for Facebook emotions study


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Facebook has spent most of this week fighting off the storm of controversy from a psychology study by the company that showed it manipulated the News Feeds of thousands of users to draw an emotional response without their consent. On Wednesday, speaking to NDTV in India, COO Sheryl Sandberg admitted, “We communicated very badly.” However, Sandberg downplayed the impact of the study and said that the company was neither breaching privacy nor being manipulative: “Facebook cannot control emotions of users. Facebook will not control emotions of users.” It’s another semi-apology from Facebook: Sandberg apologized for the way the study was handled, but not for the study itself.

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Vine update shows you how many times your video has been looped


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Vine has become a popular medium for users to share six-second videos, but until now there hasn’t been a way to know how popular individual Vines are. On Tuesday, the company introduced “loop counts,” which are available now in the Vine update for iOS and Android. Loop counts are exactly that — a number in the corner of a Vine that shows how many times a video has been “looped” — or played end-to-end and restarted — since April 3. The update, which includes a redesign, also offers richer analytics for Vines, including milestones like reaching 100 “likes.”

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Tinder CMO Justin Mateen suspended in wake of sexual harassment suit


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Trendy dating app Tinder has found itself in hot water. Whitney Wolfe, the company’s co-founder and marketing executive, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on Monday night, focused on CMO Justin Mateen but also including CEO Sean Rad and parent company IAC. The company has suspended Mateen.

According to the lawsuit, Wolfe, who was instrumental in the initial college outreach campaigns that ultimately formed the foundation for Tinder’s success, was stripped of her title as co-founder and hidden from press view because, according to Mateen, the presence of a “girl” founder made the company “seem like a joke” and “an accident.” Wolfe claims she suffered continually at the hands of Mateen, who as CMO was her direct supervisor and also pursued a relationship with her in 2013. After the relationship ended, Mateen sent private texts threatening her and calling her names like “lying liberal slut.” Wolf claims that the behavior leaked over into the office as well, when Mateen called her a “whore” in front of CEO Sean Rad and antagonized her at work.

Wolfe says that she approached Rad with an offer to resign with severance, but was denied and fired outright.

Reuters reports that IAC confirmed Mateen’s suspension and acknowledged his behavior against Wolfe, while denying the suit:

“We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe’s allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded.”

This suit, and Mateen’s suspension, comes at a difficult time for women in technology. While companies like Google report meager representations of women in tech roles, the high-profile sexual harassment allegations at GitHub — and subsequent shaming of accuser Julie Ann Horvath — exemplify why women sometimes feel intimidated in these roles.

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Twitter names Goldman Sachs banker as new CFO


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More C-level executive changes have happened at Twitter: CFO Mike Gupta has left the position, and Anthony Noto, the Goldman Sachs banker who handled Twitter’s IPO, has taken the spot. Guptawill stay on as the company’s SVP in charge of strategic investments.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo confirmed the move in a tweet:

Twitter has seen a number of executive changes recently: COO Ali Rowghani resigned in June, along with head of North American media Chloe Sladden, in a move that led many to question Twitter’s growth capabilities. Gupta joined Twitter in 2012, replacing Rowghani as CFO. His successor, Noto, is a well-known internet analyst who, before his days at Goldman, served as the CFO for the NFL for three years.

The company said that both Noto and Gupta will start their new positions in 30 days.

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Twitter acquired mobile ad startup TapCommerce


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Twitter seems to be on a roll with acquiring mobile ad companies. Ad startup TapCommerce announced in a blog post on Monday that it has been acquired by the microblogging company. While the details of the deal remain undisclosed, Recode reported that it likely cost Twitter somewhere around $100 million.

TapCommerce, which was founded in 2012, specializes in mobile ad retargeting — allowing mobile app companies the means to find users who have downloaded an app or purchased a product through their phone and re-engage with them. On a platform like Twitter, this means that TapCommerce’s technology could help find users who are already loyal and serve them ads with new products or specials.

Twitter shed light on what it hopes to acquire in a corresponding blog:

Together with the TapCommerce team, Twitter will be able to offer mobile app marketers more robust capabilities for app re-engagement, tools and managed service solutions for real-time programmatic buying, and better measurement capabilities. Combined with our other ad solutions, advertisers will be able to drive conversions and ROI with mobile consumers on and off of Twitter, across the full user lifecycle — from acquiring new users through app installs, to engaging existing users who already have the advertisers’ apps on their device.

Given those intentions, it’s probably no coincidence that the announcement comes on the same day that Twitter announced the global roll-out of its mobile app install ad cards. With the power of TapCommerce at its back, in combination with MoPub and native mobile advertising startup Namo Media, Twitter will have the resources to aggressively pursue mobile ads both inside and outside of its own platform.

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LinkedIn’s former VP of product joins Greylock as entrepreneur-in-residence


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David Hahn, the former VP of product for LinkedIn, will join Greylock Partners as an entrepreneur-in-residence, the VC firm announced Monday. At LinkedIn, Hahn oversaw the company’s monetization products, including Sponsored Updates. According to LinkedIn co-founder and current Greylock partner Reid Hoffman, Hahn’s product portfolio generated $1.5 billion for the company. As an entrepreneur-in-residence, Hahn will advise the leadership teams of the firm’s portfolio companies, which include both social and enterprise startups, on monetization and product.

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Twitter rolls out mobile app install ads worldwide


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After exploring new ad units for the past few months, Twitter announced Monday that it will move its mobile app install card advertisement unit out of beta and roll it out worldwide. The unit allows users to directly install advertised apps onto their Android phone or iPhone.

Twitter began experimenting with mobile app install ads in April of this year, which took advantage of Twitter’s existing card system. Brands can target their ads based on Twitter’s data, including interest, keyword, TV targeting and tailored audiences, along with traditional gender, geographic, language and mobile platform specifications. The ad can automatically port the app’s description from the Google Play or App Store, or run with customized language. Users can open the app directly from Twitter, and will see a notification inside the platform once the app has installed.

Twitter’s focus on ads isn’t limited to its own platform — I wrote earlier this month about the extra power (and one billion users) the company will take advantage of with its acquired ad exchange MoPub. Enriching Twitter’s own ads is the first step — it will be interesting to see how the company can take its ad targeting capabilities and data to MoPub’s greater ad network, and across many apps on a mobile phone.

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Anonymous bulletin board app Yik Yak raises $10M Series A


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Yik Yak, the anonymous geolocated messaging platform that raised a stir earlier this year when it became a vehicle for cyberbullying  among high schools, plans to announce on Monday that it has raised $10 million in a Series A round, led by DCM with participation from Azure Capital Partners, Chinese venture firm Renren Lianhe Holdings, and Tim Draper.

This brings the company’s total funding to $11.5 million — it raised $1.5 million in a seed round in April of this year, also led by DCM. The company said that it will use the capital to build new technical infrastructure, hire engineers and increase marketing efforts with the goal of reaching almost all U.S. college campuses by the end of this year. Currently, the platform supports 250 communities across the U.S. and worldwide.

“We’re seeing serious growth in our engagement rates – indicating a significant demand for localized, private interactions among mobile users of college age and above,” Yik Yak co-founder and CEO Tyler Droll said in the company’s press release. “In order to continue scaling and advancing the Yik Yak experience, we need to build a bigger team. This new funding will allow us to do that.”

The key word in that statement is “college age and above.” In spring of this year, Yik Yak caused controversy after multiple reports surfaced that showed the app was being abused by high school students at campuses. Reports of bomb threats, cyberbullying, and rape shaming led to arrests and suspensions, and the company had to turn off accessibility for the entire Chicago area after complaints from parents and schools. The company has since remedied the issue by allowing schools to geofence themselves in on the app and prevent usage on campus, and explicitly directed its efforts away from high schools.

The company’s fresh funding and focus on colleges will be a good indicator of how anonymous apps could grow over time — and whether they have lasting sustainability as a mobile trend.

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Are we in a tech bubble? VCs say yes and no


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Everyone has an opinion about whether the current state of startups in Silicon Valley is actually a bubble — a sort of history-repeating feeding frenzy that will come crashing down in a spectacular fashion as it did in 2000. The argument is on the rise recently, and Om pointed out in May that there are some signs that things could take a turn for the worse. While it’s easy to look at the latest funding round from ride-sharing service Uber, in which it netted $1.4 billion with a post-money valuation of $18.4 billion,  and say we’re in a bubble, a series of talks onstage at 500 Startups’ PreMoney conference on Friday in San Francisco suggested that the argument is more nuanced.

500 Startups founder Dave McClure, Andreessen Horowitz partner and COO Scott Kuper and Upfront Ventures partner Mark Suster agreed that the startup market was “bifurcating” — splitting between seed investors making smaller investments in new companies, and high-wealth funds pouring capital into big-market products. Kuper argued that the divide is a sign that a bubble could be forthcoming, but isn’t quite here yet  because the big money is going into companies that are taking their time going public: companies in the 2000s took just 3 years to IPO on average, according to the NVCA Yearbook by Thomson Reuters, but now that time is more than double.

“Because companies are staying private longer, it’s not surprising to see them getting a billion-dollar valuation,” Kuper explained.

As companies stay in the private market longer, they become more attractive to the investors that hold the highly concentrated wealth within Silicon Valley. Suster said in his presentation that in a lot of ways, the environment is positive. Revenue for companies looking to IPO has tripled since the dot-com days, and valuations are less than half of what they were as well — a sign that investors are making smarter choices about where they put their money. But as more companies stay private and pursue later-stage investment, the high concentration of wealth comes into play: Suster says that according to the Q2 2014 PitchBook US Venture Industry Data Sheet total amount of money involved in Series D rounds is groing rapidly up 24 percent in the last four years, and they’re only rising. This means that companies have a potential for big investment, but also big risk.

“If you have a need to raise additional capital later on, that bar you set in the last round may not be appropriate anymore,” Suster said.

Both Suster and Kuper believe that the landscape for funding is changing radically — and behaviors will need to change quickly as mid-level VC firms dwindle and money continues to concentrate around big players. But whether or not it’s accurate to say that Silicon Valley is in a bubble is more complicated, and that question might have to do more with the market’s natural cycles than with existing investing behaviors.

“We’ve effectively been in a bull cycle for the last five years, which means you’re playing the odds,” Suster said. “The likelihood of getting to a bear market in the next two years is pretty good.”

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Foursquare to charge some businesses for access to its data


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Businesses that rely on Foursquare’s location data may be receiving a bill soon, as the geolocation company announced Thursday that it would begin issuing fees on access to the information it has gathered from check-ins over the last five years. Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Glueck told the Wall Street Journal that it is currently negotiating with its heaviest users to begin billing.

While Glueck said that the fee system would affect less than 1 percent of the 65,000 companies that are hooked up to Foursquare’s geolocation data, the move is still a significant one for the company. The company has already dabbled in turning its data into a revenue-building product, most significantly in Microsoft’s “strategic investment” of $15 million in exchange for a licensing partnership with deep access to Foursquare’s API.

Interestingly, it’s likely that the companies affected by Foursquare’s new feed system are also social media companies. Currently, Twitter uses Foursquare’s location data to power services for Vine, and Yahoo allows users to geotag photos through Foursquare’s check-in database. Foursquare did not disclose which companies are going to be charged, but Gleuck said that deals will be reached on an ad-hoc basis.

Foursquare’s decision to capitalize on its data comes at an interesting time for the company’s product, as it is currently in the process of splitting into two apps — the check-in focused Swarm and the recommendation-focused Foursquare. While its platform is undergoing big changes, Foursquare will benefit creating a steady stream of revenue from the rich location data it has acquired over the years.

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Buffer’s Daily app is a “Tinder for news” that makes you look smart on Twitter


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Daily-swipeOne of the biggest challenges on social media sites, especially on a real-time platform like Twitter, can be finding something to say. While scheduling app Buffer has remedied that by allowing users to schedule tweets or links directly from a bookmark (becoming an essential tool in my everyday social media arsenal) it hasn’t had a proper showcase for its other use — surfacing links to schedule automatically, no vetting required.

Buffer’s link suggestion algorithms power its new iOS app, Daily. Marketed as a “Tinder for news,” users can quickly sift through Buffer’s link suggestions, swiping left to trash and right to load into Buffer for Twitter as well as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. There isn’t much tweeted beyond a link to news — Buffer picks out content in areas like Marketing and Design — and the odd standalone quote, with no opportunity to actually edit the material before it goes out. However, the app’s lightweight interface makes it easy to find raw material to share to social networks quickly, helping you sound smart and relatively well-informed.

While pushing algorithmically generated content doesn’t necessarily promote authenticity — part of social media has always been about being yourself — Daily is really for the news junkies that are already combing the internet for stories to share. It’s hard to tell whether Daily provides a diverse enough set of articles from the get-go to really capture people who don’t normally share content in the business, tech, or design world, but it could certainly help Twitter power users surface content and share links when nothing strikes them organically and keep up engagement among followers.

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Photo sharing community EyeEm releases design-focused Android update


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One challenge of building a photo-sharing community is making sure that those photos are beautiful — which is hard to do when your app isn’t as nice as the photos it hosts. Mobile-based photo sharing app EyeEm has released an update for its Android app that puts photos from its photographers front and center.

“We want to be there for all of the different things that mobile photographers do, from taking the photo to sharing it in a community to selling images,” said Markus Spiering, who was Flickr’s head of product before joining EyeEm in April of this year.

Screenshot_2014-06-23-17-48-45

The Berlin-based company says that it has 10 million users — more than 50 percent within the U.S. — and half of the user base is on Android. Spiering said that the heavy use from Android phones meant the company prioritized the latest update for that platform. He adds that similar updates to iOS will roll out later this year.

The new Android app, which Spiering said was redone from the ground up, eliminates overlays and cropping. Every photo in the app can be viewed in full resolution, as tapping on the photo not only enlarges it, but also fills in the extra pixels. The new app also prioritizes “missions” contests on the app that reward winning photographers with prizes, including one the company announced Wednesday with Uber. The new app uses push notifications to alert users of new missions (there can be as many as ten running on the site at once) and keeps them at the forefront of the app.

EyeEm has been toying with the idea of a photo marketplace for years, but Spiering says it will finally come to fruition later this year, building off of a partnership with Getty that allows users to make revenue from their work. It’s not clear yet exactly how the marketplace will factor into EyeEm, but the new app feels a lot like a showroom for mobile photographers to display their content.

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Photo sharing community EyeEm releases design-focused Android update


This post is by Lauren Hockenson from Gigaom


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




One challenge of building a photo-sharing community is making sure that those photos are beautiful — which is hard to do when your app isn’t as nice as the photos it hosts. Mobile-based photo sharing app EyeEm has released an update for its Android app that puts photos from its photographers front and center.

“We want to be there for all of the different things that mobile photographers do, from taking the photo to sharing it in a community to selling images,” said Markus Spiering, who was Flickr’s head of product before joining EyeEm in April of this year.

Screenshot_2014-06-23-17-48-45

The Berlin-based company says that it has 10 million users — more than 50 percent within the U.S. — and half of the user base is on Android. Spiering said that the heavy use from Android phones meant the company prioritized the latest update for that platform. He adds that similar updates to iOS will roll out later this year.

The new Android app, which Spiering said was redone from the ground up, eliminates overlays and cropping. Every photo in the app can be viewed in full resolution, as tapping on the photo not only enlarges it, but also fills in the extra pixels. The new app also prioritizes “missions” contests on the app that reward winning photographers with prizes, including one the company announced Wednesday with Uber. The new app uses push notifications to alert users of new missions (there can be as many as ten running on the site at once) and keeps them at the forefront of the app.

EyeEm has been toying with the idea of a photo marketplace for years, but Spiering says it will finally come to fruition later this year, building off of a partnership with Getty that allows users to make revenue from their work. It’s not clear yet exactly how the marketplace will factor into EyeEm, but the new app feels a lot like a showroom for mobile photographers to display their content.

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Kids’ mobile app network Fingerprint secures $10.85M, including new investor DreamWorks


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San Francisco-based Fingerprint, which focuses on rounding up educational, kid-friendly apps through custom marketplaces, announced on Tuesday that it received $10.85 million in Series B funding, including participation from new investor DreamWorks.

“Mobile has changed children’s viewing and playing habits, and as a result the growth in the mobile kids’ entertainment and edutainment industry is taking off,” Fingerprint CEO and co-founder Nancy MacIntyre said in a statement. “Kids from age 1-8 log nearly two hours per day according to Common Sense Media. And the Kaiser Family Foundation says kids from age 8-18 spend on average nearly eight hours daily on devices.”

Including this investment, Fingerprint has raised more than $20 million overall. According to the press release, the company will use the funds to increase content development globally and increase content for its partner networks. Currently, Fingerprint operates its own app network, along with partnerships with Sylvan Learning, Samsung and Astro, with a new partner marketplace from educational company Cricket Media recently announced. The company expects to have 600 apps across all networks by the end of this year.

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Forrester: No, Facebook doesn’t have a “teen problem”


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A report released Tuesday by Forrester, which surveyed more than 4,500 people between the ages of 12 and 17, says that Facebook doesn’t have the “teen problem” stemming from a study in 2013 that suggested youth were leaving the network in droves. According to the brief, more than three quarters of teens still use Facebook at least once per month — double the usage numbers of Snapchat, Tumblr, or Pinterest — and 28 percent say they use it “all the time.” While the study doesn’t track how teens see the popularity of Facebook among their peers, the usage levels suggest that teens aren’t abandoning it en masse.

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 8.35.48 AM

 

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Etsy acquires French handmade ecommerce company A Little Market


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Online marketplace Etsy, which has made its name in selling handmade goods from independent vendors, announced on Monday that it acquired A Little Market — an ecommerce shop based in France that also focuses on handmade goods. The Wall Street Journal reported that the acquisition is the largest from Etsy to date, although the terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The company says that A Little Market will continue to function independently, providing domestic goods in France. The company has been on a bit of a buying spree, as it acquired technology ecommerce company Grand St. in April of this year.

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Facebook’s changes to News Feed mean more relevant, less annoying videos


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In an ongoing effort to declutter its News Feed, Facebook announced Monday that it has updated its algorithms to better rank and surface videos. The new system will help those who watch lots of video on Facebook receive more relevant content higher up in their feed, while allowing those annoyed by the videos to see fewer videos over time.

Facebook has taken a particular interest in video since it launched its own native Premium Video Ads earlier this year, and more videos have been appearing in the News Feed as a result. That tactic seems to be paying off: according to the company, twice as many people watch video on Facebook today as they did six months ago.

The biggest change is that Facebook will now track how long a user watches a specific video, adding it other factors such as likes, comments and shares. Those who regularly skip videos will see fewer of them overall, and those who do watch will surface similar content. For example, if a user tends to watch more from a Page that offers puppy videos and fewer from a Page that offers videos of skateboards, Facebook will send more cute animal videos to the top of the Feed and bury skateboards further in the rankings. According to the company, this method resulted in more users watching video over time.

This change will only affect videos uploaded directly to Facebook by users and page owners — links to videos from other sites such as YouTube are already subject to a similar algorithm.

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Once again, Path proves why it has been trendy but not trend-setting


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In the four years since it debuted, photo sharing/social networking/moments app Path has twisted, turned, pivoted and morphed so often that it’s hard to really describe the service in a single breath.

If you want to use the company’s own words, it bills itself as a “quality, private social network,” and in its initial incarnation as a photo-sharing app that gave each user a 50-friend limit, it appeared to be the private person’s rebuttal to Facebook, where CEO Dave Morin co-invented Facebook’s application platform, Facebook Connect. Nowadays, that photo sharing is accompanied by messaging, ambient location tracking, archiving major life milestones, and interacting with friends.

PathTalk_ScreenshotAside from that laundry list of functions, Path also allows users to shoot, edit and filter their photos just like Instagram, send one-to-one messages with stickers like Line and other similar messaging products and create private circles similar to Google+. These features, and many more that have since vaporized from the app over time, have grown and shrunk as Path itself has focused and refocused over the years. The company said that it had 20 million registered users in October of last year, but according to the Verge, it has 4 million daily users.

And on Friday, the company made yet another shift: capitalizing on similar moves from Facebook and Foursquare, Path introduced a new app called Path Talk that spins out the messaging feature, including its sticker platform and premium plan. But it’s not just that: bolstered by the acquisition of messaging service TalkTo, Path users will soon be able to use the app to text message places and businesses. For example, users can text a local restaurant for reservations and receive an answer.

Path Talk will also have ephemeral messaging, meaning that text will disappear after 24 hours if not saved through other means, a feature that’s the most buzzed-about topic in social media at present, with the appeal of apps like Snapchat and the recent debut of Facebook’s Slingshot. It also has an “Ambient Status” feature that uses the phone’s sensors to give friends an idea of what you’re doing, where you’re going and what you’re listening to. You can text photos, voice messages, videos, maps, music, movies, and high quality video, too.

Does it sound exhausting? That’s because it is.

The issue with Path is that it can’t resist hopping on a new social trend. The app takes cues from practically every other social media platform in the public consciousness, seen most explicitly in its decision to hop on the ephemeral trend pioneered by Snapchat. As a result, it’s hard to explain to anyone why they should use path or find cues about how to actually use the service. Even in its decision to “simplify” with Path Talk, the new app chock full of tons of features that kind-of but not-quite match up.

And therein lies the rub of Path: just because these apps can do these things doesn’t mean they should. Path touts itself as having prioritized user experience design, but it’s full of so many options that it can be tough to recognize when and how its best used. While it tries to simplify the experience with Path Talk, the app is still full of so many trendy, novel features that don’t necessarily improve messaging overall. And, with so many messaging services already in the space, Path needs that clear distinction to make Path Talk successful.

If Morin and company really want to chase simple, they should take it to heart by reinventing Path around one trend instead of every trend — say, becoming a fully-fledged ambient location app or doubling down on its original photo sharing premise. By picking a clear direction and advancing the story beyond its competitors, instead of just chasing the next trend, Path could become a much more useful and distinct place to share with friends.

In this case, less is really more.

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