U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

U.S. tech execs are experiencing app envy, with companies from Uber to PayPal and billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey setting their sights on building one-size-fits-all “super apps” to rival Tencent’s WeChat in China and SoftBank’s LINE in Japan. Where typical apps are built to do one thing really well, so-called super apps are generalists, which in theory means people will use them more often. Spotify and Snap have also expressed interest in super solutions, which have been popular in Asia since 2020 and are sparking new interest in the West. Continue reading U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

Musk Shares Some of His Thoughts with Twitter Employees

Twitter’s 8,000 employees were treated to a question-and-answer session with Elon Musk on Thursday, the first staff meeting the tech entrepreneur has conducted since his bid to purchase the company for $44 billion. The hour-long meeting, which was live-streamed to the Twitter staff, touched on a wide range of topics, including aliens and “the nature of reality” as well as interests closer to home, such as layoffs, growth plans and, of course, TikTok. The move seemed to reinforce Musk’s intent to close the Twitter deal after suggesting in April that it was “on hold.” Continue reading Musk Shares Some of His Thoughts with Twitter Employees

Chip Manufacturing Delays Threaten Next-Gen Smartphones

The global semiconductor shortage that has plagued the supply chain for the past two years is threatening to affect advanced chips for next-generation smartphones as well as impacting the data centers critical to powering their apps. High-performance chips with tiny transistors had to a large extent sidestepped the scarcities that impacted the auto industry, appliances and basic consumer electronics. Now everything from production volume to manufacturing equipment has analysts worried about whether the world’s top smart chip manufacturers — TSMC and Samsung Electronics — will be able to keep up with customer demand. Continue reading Chip Manufacturing Delays Threaten Next-Gen Smartphones

EU Hits Apple with Antitrust Objections Over Mobile Payments

European regulators on Monday hit Apple with an antitrust charge, alleging it has created a “closed system” for contactless mobile payments. The so-called statement of objections says the iPhone maker has abused its market power by favoring its Apple Pay for mobile contactless payments to the detriment of third-party services like PayPal, which reportedly helped initiate the charges. The European Commission says it has reason to believe Apple withheld access to its NFC inputs in order to suppress other mobile-wallet app developers from competing with Apple Pay, which the Commission called “a closed ecosystem.” Continue reading EU Hits Apple with Antitrust Objections Over Mobile Payments

No-Code AI and Prediction Tools Bring Coding to the People

A new AI revolution is underway, turning people who know little about coding into developers. Called “no code,” startups are emerging to productize this new category, which essentially lets people use familiar, clickable web interfaces and even natural language to automate tasks or create simple applications, while machine learning takes over the rest. Proponents predict it will be a game-changer, powering a brigade of “citizen developers” to leverage artificial intelligence without knowing how to write code. Startups entering the space include Juji, which makes creating AI chatbots as easy as programming PowerPoint. Continue reading No-Code AI and Prediction Tools Bring Coding to the People

The Web3 Debate: Impending Revolution or Marketing Hype?

Nearly 37 percent of the world’s population has never used the Internet, according to the United Nations. That’s about 2.9 billion people yet to experience the technology most of the other 63 percent now take for granted. But many feel the Internet is ready for its third act, Web3 (also known as Web 3.0). Companies trying to figure out what Web3 means for their business models are not helped by the fact that there is dissent as to what it will be. Decentralized, relying on blockchain, connected to the metaverse are among the themes being discussed. Although there’s a lot being written, it’s all rather fuzzy at this time. Continue reading The Web3 Debate: Impending Revolution or Marketing Hype?

Tidal Launches New Music Tiers, Model to Pay Artists Directly

Tidal unveiled an upgrade to its paid music plan and introduced two new plans — a cost-free tier (a first for the platform) and Tidal HiFi Plus. The standard $9.99-per-month subscription, now called Tidal HiFi, provides users with lossless and high-resolution audio and customized listening insights through features such as Tidal Connect and My Activity. With the new $19.99-per-month Tidal HiFi Plus, users get immersive formats including Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio as well as exclusive access to Tidal’s Master Quality Authenticated recordings. Tidal also launched an innovative direct-to-artist payments program with plans to introduce fan-centered royalties next year. Continue reading Tidal Launches New Music Tiers, Model to Pay Artists Directly

PayPal Not Planning to Acquire Image-Sharing App Pinterest

Financial tech company PayPal clarified that it is not currently pursuing a deal to acquire image-sharing social platform Pinterest, shelving reports that surfaced last week, at least for the time being. PayPal stock rose approximately 3 percent while Pinterest shares fell 12 percent on news that the digital pinboard site was not being wooed to the tune of $70 per share, largely in stock, for a deal valued at roughly $45 billion. Assuming discussions were taking place, it’s hard to know if PayPal got cold feet, caving to a mostly negative market response, or decided now may not be the time to grow. Continue reading PayPal Not Planning to Acquire Image-Sharing App Pinterest

Fintech Giant PayPal Explores $45B Acquisition of Pinterest

PayPal is on an expansion path according to media reports of an offer to purchase of Pinterest at $70 per share in a $45 billion deal, mostly in stock. PayPal as of its most recent quarterly report, issued July 28, had $311 billion in receipts for Q2. PayPal’s share price fell 5 percent on the news, ending at $258.36 per share Wednesday. The move marks a decisive interest by PayPal to stake its claim in the space where content meets e-commerce. Pinterest, meanwhile, has launched a $20 million Creator Rewards fund and added more video features to its site. Continue reading Fintech Giant PayPal Explores $45B Acquisition of Pinterest

Google to Update Its Product Searches to Attract Advertisers

In its latest effort to take on Amazon in e-commerce advertising, Alphabet announced that Google will update its product search pages to include more images of items such as accessories and apparel. Rather than Google’s traditional scroll of links with accompanying text, the results will feature a look more similar to a digital store. The move is part of the search giant’s larger strategy to fend off Amazon, Target, Walmart and others that have been ramping up their digital ad businesses to complement retail and e-commerce operations. While Google still enjoys the lead in online search, it does not join these competitors in directly selling products. Continue reading Google to Update Its Product Searches to Attract Advertisers

Twitter Announces Support for Audio Creators, Bitcoin, NFTs

Twitter is buoying its creators, rolling out a global program to let fans tip content producers and preparing to launch its own creators fund. The Tips feature will initially be made available on iOS and then on Android in the weeks ahead. The news is part of a product slate Twitter says is aimed at improving community and conversations and will include NFT support. The creators fund supports audio on Twitter Spaces. Unlike TikTok, Facebook and YouTube, Twitter’s fund won’t pay top performers but will focus on educating audio creators on topics like monetization, marketing and technical skills. Continue reading Twitter Announces Support for Audio Creators, Bitcoin, NFTs

PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

PayPal has begun rolling out its new app, designed as a one-stop financial services tool capable of handling everything from direct deposit and automatic payments to peer-to-peer transactions, shopping and crypto capabilities. In addition, the company has announced PayPal Savings, offering high-yield accounts in partnership with Synchrony Bank. Shifting paychecks to PayPal is seen as a big step that can centralize consumer financial chores through the service, making it competitive with neobanks like Chime and Varo. PayPal now links to 17,000 billers including utilities and credit card firms. Continue reading PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

Amazon’s POS System Will Take on Shopify, Square, PayPal

Amazon is developing a new point-of-sale system designed to lure small businesses that use Shopify, Square and PayPal for checkout needs. The new POS system manages in-store and online transactions, adds Amazon checkout options, provides inventory counts and offers business analytics. The system also integrates with existing Amazon services, including the Prime membership program, the One palm-based identification technology, and the Flex delivery network. Amazon also reportedly tasked its “Project Santos” team with a POS system that could be sold to third-party sellers. Continue reading Amazon’s POS System Will Take on Shopify, Square, PayPal

Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes that allow customers to order and pay for food and drinks caught on in restaurants and appear to be here for good. Retail chains including CVS and Foot Locker have also added them as have marketers. Because QR codes can store digital information and open an app or website that tracks peoples’ personal information, they’re ideal for vendors looking to create their own customer databases. Consumers will soon be served customized offers marketed within QR code payment systems. Continue reading Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Andreessen Horowitz launched a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund focused on blockchain and digital asset startups. The venture capital firm’s first crypto-focused fund was introduced three years ago, during the last bear market dubbed “crypto winter,” when cryptocurrency’s value plummeted 80 percent from a 2017 high. Andreessen Horowitz partners Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, who run the company’s cryptocurrency group, stated that they “believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto.” Continue reading Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund