ByteDance Pauses its IPO After Meeting with Chinese Officials

Beijing-based ByteDance, parent company of social video app TikTok, which was valued at $180 billion in December, indefinitely put plans on hold for a public offering. The company had been considering an IPO in the United States or Hong Kong but its founder and CEO Zhang Yiming changed his mind after meeting with China’s cyberspace and security regulators who reportedly told him to focus on data-security risks and other issues. Another reason for holding off is that the company did not have a chief financial officer at the time. Continue reading ByteDance Pauses its IPO After Meeting with Chinese Officials

Viral TikTok Videos Fuel Buying Sprees by Young Consumers

Teenagers are now turning to TikTok influencers not just for fashion advice but to buy clothing worn by their idols. Several items, including a Lululemon skort, a Gap hoodie and Aerie leggings have gone viral, and retailers including Aeropostale and Abercrombie & Fitch are looking for ways to convert popular TikTok videos into sales. Influencers post #fashionhauls and #OOTD (outfit of the day) as well as #preppy and #closettour. One mother reported that, “my kids come to me all the time now showing me TikTok videos, pointing at them, saying, ‘I want to buy this’ or ‘I think this is cute for the fall’.” Continue reading Viral TikTok Videos Fuel Buying Sprees by Young Consumers

TikTok’s Three-Minute Videos Let Creators Expand, Monetize

ByteDance-owned TikTok revealed that over the coming weeks it would introduce the ability to share videos of up to three minutes on its platform. TikTok debuted with 15-second videos and later expanded to 60-second videos. TikTok product manager Drew Kirchhoff said the longer videos will give creators “the canvas to create new or expanded types of content … with the flexibility of a bit more space.” With 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., TikTok is now facing competition from Instagram Reels and Snapchat’s Spotlight in an evolving video landscape that could impact the streaming wars. Continue reading TikTok’s Three-Minute Videos Let Creators Expand, Monetize

Instagram Aims to Help Creators Monetize Exclusive Content

Instagram head Adam Mosseri posted a video to his Instagram and Twitter accounts explaining that the former is no longer a photo-sharing app. Instead, he said, after seeing the success of entertainment and video on TikTok and YouTube, he plans to “lean into entertainment” by focusing on “Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” Instagram is also creating its own version of Twitter’s Super Follow, which will allow online creators to publish — and monetize — exclusive content on Instagram Stories available only to their fans. Continue reading Instagram Aims to Help Creators Monetize Exclusive Content

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

Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

Facebook tested “Neighborhoods” in Canada and is now rolling it out in four U.S. cities: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; and San Diego, California. The new feature will be playing catch-up with similar social apps, including Nextdoor (which had 50 percent annual growth in daily active users last year), Amazon’s Neighbors by Ring, and crime-tracking app Citizen. Facebook’s Neighborhoods, which asks the user to introduce himself and list interests, aims to personalize the user’s experiences and ads. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Its Neighborhoods Feature in Four Cities

ByteDance Revenue, Profit Leap in 2020 But No IPO in Sight

Privately-held startup ByteDance, owner of TikTok, reported that its revenue more than doubled to $34.3 billion last year, rising 111 percent from a year ago while gross profit rose 93 percent to $19 billion. As of December 2020, ByteDance — which also runs Douyin, the domestic Chinese version of TikTok, and Jinri Toutiao, a news aggregation app — had about 1.9 billion monthly active users on all its platforms. Due to share-based compensation to workers, the company had a $2.1 billion operating loss last year. Continue reading ByteDance Revenue, Profit Leap in 2020 But No IPO in Sight

Twitch’s Business Model Lets Musicians Monetize Fan Loyalty

Amazon’s live-streaming platform Twitch was a haven for musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting “an average of 30 million visitors a day,” who watched 1+ trillion minutes of content last year. More importantly, its economic model, unlike that of Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube, allows musicians to monetize fan interactions. Musicians cultivate a loyal base that, in turn, patronizes them, to the tune of several thousand dollars a month. In contrast, last year, 97 percent of Spotify’s artists earned less than $1,000. Continue reading Twitch’s Business Model Lets Musicians Monetize Fan Loyalty

Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

As part of iOS 15, Apple will debut SharePlay to allow FaceTime users to stream online videos, movies and music from Apple TV or an iPad, iPhone or Mac and watch with friends while chatting — similarly to Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty. During COVID-19, the watch party feature was also adopted by Disney+, Hulu and Prime Video. SharePlay is ideally aimed at teens who are more likely to watch videos on their phones and chat. A Pew Research study showed that 59 percent of U.S. teens video-chat with friends. Continue reading Apple’s SharePlay to Power Watch Parties for FaceTime Users

Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

President Biden revoked former President Trump’s executive order banning social-networking services TikTok and WeChat — developed by Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, respectively — but didn’t let Chinese companies off the hook. Instead, he replaced the previous order with another that establishes a broader review of the potential security risks found in numerous foreign-controlled apps. Biden officials said the new order would create “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate those risks. Trump’s executive order was immediately challenged in court, and Biden’s move, said analysts, is intended to withstand such a test. Continue reading Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

Snap Unveils New AR Features for Advertisers, Pushing Trend

COVID-19 drove consumers to online shopping, with eMarketer reporting that global e-commerce sales grew to $4.28 trillion in 2020, from $3.35 trillion the previous year. Many advertisers shifted spending to social media platforms, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which said that such ad revenue grew 16.3 percent to $41.5 billion last year and represented almost one-third of all digital advertising. Now Snap, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok have debuted ads that use augmented reality to market products. Continue reading Snap Unveils New AR Features for Advertisers, Pushing Trend

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

To kick off ETC@USC’s five-part Spring 2021 Executive Coffee with… series, Serhad Doken, executive, innovation and product realization at Verizon, led a Zoom discussion on March 15. “Expectations for the Future of Entertainment and UI/UX design” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Six students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Iovine and Young Academy participated. Topics included user experience expectations, VR and 5G, “gaming” the algorithm, recommendations versus serendipity, artists earning a living, and what experiences have yet to be adopted. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon on the Future of Entertainment

YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

YouTube unveiled its $100 million YouTube Shorts Fund, which rewards creators who post the most engaging clips on its new “TikTok-style” feature. The program will debut in Fall 2021 and continue into 2022. Shorts was introduced in India before debuting in the U.S. in March. Regarding monetization, YouTube plans to experiment, including testing ads, sometime this year. YouTube Shorts director of global partnership enablement Amy Singer said the company will “reach out” to thousands of creators every month. Continue reading YouTube to Reward Creators of Shorts with $100 Million Fund

U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

The U.S. Defense Department removed Xiaomi from a blacklist preventing U.S. investment in the Chinese tech company, an action taken during the Trump administration that alleged the company had ties with the Chinese military. Two months ago, in a Washington D.C. court, a judge criticized the rationale behind the blacklisting and ordered a temporary halt against its enforcement. Xiaomi shares rose 6.1 percent in Hong Kong following the news. TikTok and WeChat also found redress against Trump-era actions against them. Continue reading U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

ByteDance’s TikTok Tests E-Commerce and Job Search Tools

In Europe, TikTok is working with streetwear label Hype and other brands to test in-app sales, a first step towards competing with Facebook in the e-commerce arena. Parent company ByteDance’s China-only app Douyin did $26 billion in e-commerce in its first year of operation. Sources reported that TikTok is already working with vendors in various European markets including the United Kingdom. TikTok is also working on another pilot program to connect people hunting for jobs with companies looking for employees. Continue reading ByteDance’s TikTok Tests E-Commerce and Job Search Tools

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