There's no episode of the podcast this week, but there is way too much to talk about to not say anything. Below is a rundown of the major stories of the week. I'll be back in a week with a new episode.
Snap Earnings Disappoint
Snap Inc. reported its Q1 earnings this week, and the news did not please investors.
The company kicked off 2018 with a complete app redesign aimed at separating content of friends from that of celebrities and publishers. Snapchat’s core base of users did not take kindly to the change, sparking backlash by everyone from everyday uses to celebrities like Kendall Jenner (who I guess qualifies as a celebrity).
While Snapchat did not get specific, it did admit that March’s average daily active users was below Q1’s total average of 191 million. They did, however, note that March’s number was above the 187 million daily active users seen in Q4 of 2017. Investors found the lack of specificity confusing and evasive.
In terms of advertising, revenue rose to $230.7 million, which was up over last year but below expectations of $244.9 million. This drove shares down 15 percent.
Snap did not have a great quarter. The redesign was only one part of its troubles, which also included a 7 percent staff cut and the loss of top executives.
Snap’s certainly experiencing struggles at the moment, and it’s difficult to say whether or not these are the struggles of a new platform going through growing pains or the signs of a platform that needs to reenergize its base. It’s likely a combination of the two. Snapchat’s already testing a redesign of its redesign and is rolling out new features like Snappables regularly. Q2 earnings will tell a much more robust story.
Facebook F8 Full of Announcements
Facebook held it’s annual F8 Developer’s Conference in a an environment in which the social network is under heightened scrutiny. That made for a slightly tempered event compared to last year’s, which touted the ability to control computers with our brains.
While we didn’t see Facebook announce the much-rumored smart speaker to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home, we did see several key announcements:
Facebook’s getting into dating. Users will be able to set up dating profiles separate from their personal profiles to find matches based on mutual friends, dating preferences and interests. Potential matches can then connect over Messenger.
AR’s coming to Messenger bots. AR features can now be added onto Messenger bots. For example, a makeup brand could launch an AR feature to let users try on makeup before they buy it, as Sephora has done.
Video chat’s the latest standard for everyone. Even Instagram is going to get video chat this year inside of Instagram Direct. Video chat on Instagram will let up to three friends chat. Video chats will also be able to be minimized so users can continue scrolling through Instagram. WhatsApp’s getting similar treatment with group video calling features coming soon.
Privacy was overlaying the entire event, but a few new features have been committed to by Facebook. A Clear History feature will allow users to delete their browsing data from Facebook’s servers. Users will also be able to opt out of data collection by Facebook completely. Facebook may still track users anonymously.
Oculus Go is a go! The Oculus Go headset went on sale, starting at $199. The headset allows users to jump into VR without secondary hardware like a computer to support it. It’s the first VR headset with the potential to bring the technology to the masses.
Instagram’s getting camera effects. Users will soon able to add interactive camera experiences to their Instagram content. The effects will be designed by third parties.
Groups will be getting more time in the spotlight. Later this year a new groups tab will launch to make it easier for users to join, find and stay connected to groups.
News Quick Hits
YouTube is now selling ads in its live TV service. The ads will be sold as part of Google’s Preferred package, which is the top 5% of YouTube content that it makes available for advertisers. Advertisers will not be able to buy YouTube TV inventory directly. Instead, they’ll buy a Google Preferred package, and YouTube will distribute their ads based on demographic and affinity targeting. That distribution may include YouTube TV.
Facebook is testing the ability to downvote comments made on posts, similar to how users can upvote and downvote comments on Reddit. This test only applies to comments, not posts themselves, but Reddit users and even its co-founder were quick to take notice of the similarities between Facebook’s test and Reddit’s core functionality.
Twitter is launching 30 new shows thanks to a partnership with NBCUniversal as well as other partners like Ellen Digital Studios, Live Nation, Viacom, BuzzFeed News, Vice News, The Weather Channel and others. The announcement of new shows comes just a week after Twitter shared that video views on the platform have doubled in the past year.
WhatsApp CEO and cofounder Jan Koum is leaving Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. WhatsApp’s other cofounder, Brian Acton, left the company six months ago to encourage people to delete their Facebook accounts. Koum is leaving due to issues associated with Facebook’s approach to privacy and encryption.
It was revealed that Twitter sold access to large-scale public data to Global Science Research (GSR). GSR was created by Aleksandr Kogan, the person who created the personality quiz used to gather data for Cambridge Analytica. GSR did not, however, have access to any private data on Twitter users.
Hulu is letting users download content to watch while they’re away from their internet connections.The content will include ads. Hulu is also planning to start selling ads in its live TV streaming service.
Twitter has advised all users to change their passwords. A bug was found that shows user passwords in plain text internally. Twitter said there are no signs that there was a breach or misuse of the data by anyone.