Google Shopping Adds Analytics Tools, Trusted Store Badge

Google Shopping is introducing new tools to help merchants and brands improve online sales performance. A Shopping Experience Scorecard will provide retailers the opportunity to earn a “Trusted Store” badge. In addition, Google is offering data analytics, including a conversion rate measurement tool, a price comparison feature and shipping and return overview pages. Since revamping its market portal as Google Shopping in 2019, the company has been trying to make it easier for users to “research and buy” using Google Search. Continue reading Google Shopping Adds Analytics Tools, Trusted Store Badge

Streaming Distributor Filmhub Floats $6.8 Million Seed Round

Filmhub, the independent distribution website incubated by German composer Klaus Badelt and Brazilian tech entrepreneur Alan d’Escragnolle, has raised $6.8 million led by Andreessen Horowitz in the company’s first capital raise. Filmhub helps budding cineastes get their work onto more than 100 streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, IMDb TV, Plex, Roku Channel and others. Using its own sales team and technology, Filmhub pushes out content from shorts to episodics to full-length films, taking a 20 percent fee from royalties, which vary by service. Continue reading Streaming Distributor Filmhub Floats $6.8 Million Seed Round

Big Tech Concerned About Crypto Startups Poaching Talent

There are reports of a migratory wave of executives and engineers moving from Big Tech firms such as Google, Amazon, Apple and others to chase what is being described as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” with startups whose business models rely on blockchain and involve everything from cryptocurrencies to non-fungible tokens. Google is said to be so worried about employee retention they’ve increased stock grants in categories vulnerable to poaching following the exit of Surojit Chatterjee to join Coinbase where he saw his stake in the company grow to more than $600 million in 14 months. Continue reading Big Tech Concerned About Crypto Startups Poaching Talent

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?

Talk of Twitter Sale Brews with Square/Block Floated as Suitor

Even before Jack Dorsey tweeted his resignation as Twitter CEO — and announced that another company he co-founded and runs as CEO, Square, will on December 10 change its name to Block — there was speculation that Twitter will soon be purchased. The rumors have been fueled by a belief that Twitter has potential beyond its stagnant share price — $44.47 as of yesterday’s close, slightly less than $44.90 the day of its November 2013 IPO — evidenced in its strong branding and popularity with elites. Top tech exec Parag Agrawal’s ascent to CEO is the corporate equivalent of staging in real estate.  Continue reading Talk of Twitter Sale Brews with Square/Block Floated as Suitor

Jack Dorsey Steps Down, Parag Agrawal New CEO of Twitter

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has resigned as the company’s CEO, with chief technology officer Parag Agrawal promoted to fill that slot. Dorsey, who was concurrently serving as CEO of financial services firm Square and has recently become active in cryptocurrency, will retain his Twitter board seat until expiration of his term at the 2022 shareholders meeting. “I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it,” Dorsey said in a tweet yesterday. “There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.” Continue reading Jack Dorsey Steps Down, Parag Agrawal New CEO of Twitter

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

Embedded Finance Becomes More Popular Across Industries

Global firms such as Amazon, IKEA, Mercedes-Benz and Walmart are cutting out traditional financial institutions in favor of financial technology, or “fintech” — startups offering everything from banking and credit to insurance. Embedded finance, a term for companies integrating software to offer services like “buy now pay later” at check out, are poised to disrupt the status quo, according to Reuters, which reports that while “banks are still behind most of the transactions,” analysts are warning that as they “get pushed further away from the front end of the finance chain” they’ll be frozen out of lucrative consumer data mining. Continue reading Embedded Finance Becomes More Popular Across Industries

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

Bitcoin Experts & Advocates Lobby Congress Over Tax Rules

Faced with new tax rules for cryptocurrencies, Ashton Kutcher, Elon Musk and Square chief executive Jack Dorsey were among those who brought the fight to Washington. They and others in the industry including lobbyists, executives and trade group officials reached out to Congress over a provision in the massive new infrastructure bill that would “expand and strengthen tax enforcement of crypto transactions.” Dorsey “brought the Twitter heat” over the issue, igniting a grass roots reaction among thousands of crypto enthusiasts. Continue reading Bitcoin Experts & Advocates Lobby Congress Over Tax Rules

Square Will Purchase Afterpay Credit Company for $29 Billion

Square announced it will acquire Australia-based financial tech company Afterpay in an all-stock deal worth about $29 billion, with Square chief executive Jack Dorsey stating that the two companies “have a shared purpose.” Afterpay appeals to a younger demographic that mistrusts traditional credit companies; its technology lets a consumer pay for goods in four interest-free installments and receive the goods immediately. Customers only pay a fee if they miss an automated payment, which also locks their account until the balance is repaid. Continue reading Square Will Purchase Afterpay Credit Company for $29 Billion

PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

PayPal announced the launch of Checkout with Crypto, which allows customers to purchase certain items online via cryptocurrencies. The new feature is part of the company’s new unit focused on blockchain and crypto/digital currencies and adds to its current capability for customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash are the cryptocurrencies accepted, which are processed with clear conversion rates and no additional fees but only one type of cryptocurrency is accepted for each purchase. Continue reading PayPal, Visa Enable Streamlined Cryptocurrency Transactions

Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Digital payment firm Square is spending $297 million in cash and stock for a majority share of the subscription-based Tidal streaming music service. Tidal owner Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, will join Square’s board. Now, musicians on Tidal will be able to use Square’s Cash App payment service to digitally store and transfer money. Square hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker, who will temporarily lead Tidal, said, “we’re interested in a 360-degree view of artists as small-business owners,” noting live performances, merchandise and collaborations. Continue reading Square Acquires Majority Stake in Jay-Z’s Tidal Music Service

Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

Bitcoin’s price surged above $50,000 for the first time yesterday as companies including Tesla, Mastercard, PayPal and BNY Mellon showed support for the cryptocurrency. Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and plans to accept it as payment for its cars, while Mastercard added that it too would accept Bitcoin as payment for “some of its products.” Coin Metrics reported that Bitcoin broke the $50,000 metric by rising 3 percent on Tuesday to $50,487, and hitting a fresh record high of $51,715 earlier today. Meanwhile, SEC commissioner Hester Peirce has called for crypto regulation. Continue reading Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

CES: Industry Experts Discuss the Cryptocurrency Landscape

Cryptocurrency entrepreneurs convened in early December to record The Cryptocurrency Landscape session that CES 2021 released today. Panelists discussed how Wyoming has established legal and regulatory protocols for Bitcoin to make cryptocurrency activities compatible with existing banking regulations. They also discussed how institutions and businesses are getting more comfortable with cryptocurrency investments, how online payment services such as PayPal and Venmo have added Bitcoin to their transaction options, and how cryptocurrency’s provable scarcity makes it more attractive to investors and the general public as countries issue more currency to prop up their economies during the COVID shutdown. Continue reading CES: Industry Experts Discuss the Cryptocurrency Landscape