Snapchat beats a dead horse – gpgmail


Hey. This is Week-in-Review, where I give a heavy amount of analysis and/or rambling thoughts on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on gpgmail this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.

Last week, I talked about how Netflix might have some rough times ahead as Disney barrels towards it.


The big story

There is plenty to be said about the potential of smart glasses. I write about them at length for gpgmail and I’ve talked to a lot of founders doing cool stuff. That being said, I don’t have any idea what Snap is doing with the introduction of a third-generation of its Spectacles video sunglasses.

The first-gen were a marketing smash hit, their sales proved to be a major failure for the company which bet big and seemingly walked away with a landfill’s worth of the glasses.

Snap’s latest version of Spectacles were announced in Vogue this week, they are much more expensive at $380 and their main feature is that they have two cameras which capture images in light depth which can lead to these cute little 3D boomerangs. One one hand, it’s nice to see the company showing perseverance with a tough market, on the other it’s kind of funny to see them push the same rock up the hill again.

Snap is having an awesome 2019 after a laughably bad 2018, the stock has recovered from record lows and is trading in its IPO price wheelhouse. It seems like they’re ripe for something new and exciting, not beautiful yet iterative.

The $150 Spectacles 2 are still for sale, though they seem quite a bit dated-looking at this point. Spectacles 3 seem to be geared entirely towards women, and I’m sure they made that call after seeing the active users of previous generations, but given the write-down they took on the first-generation, something tells me that Snap’s continued experimentation here is borne out of some stubbornness form Spiegel and the higher-ups who want the Snap brand to live in a high fashion world and want to be at the forefront of an AR industry that seems to have already moved onto different things.

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On to the rest of the week’s news.

tumblr phone sold

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

  • WordPress buys Tumblr for chump change
    Tumblr, a game-changing blogging network that shifted online habits and exited for $1.1 billion just changed hands after Verizon (which owns gpgmail) unloaded the property for a reported $3 million. Read more about this nightmarish deal here.
  • Trump gives American hardware a holiday season pass on tariffs 
    The ongoing trade war with China generally seems to be rough news for American companies deeply intertwined with the manufacturing centers there, but Trump is giving U.S. companies a Christmas reprieve from the tariffs, allowing certain types of hardware to be exempt from the recent rate increases through December. Read more here.
  • Facebook loses one last acquisition co-founder
    This week, the final remnant of Facebook’s major acquisitions left the company. Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell announced he was leaving. Now, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus are all helmed by Facebook leadership and not a single co-founder from the three companies remains onboard. Read more here.

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

  1. Facebook’s turn in audio transcription debacle:
    [Facebook transcribed users’ audio messages without permission]
  2. Google’s hate speech detection algorithms get critiqued:
    [Racial bias observed in hate speech detection algorithm from Google]
  3. Amazon has a little email mishap:
    [Amazon customers say they received emails for other people’s orders]

Adam Neumann (WeWork) at gpgmail Disrupt NY 2017

Extra Crunch

Our premium subscription service had another week of interesting deep dives. My colleague Danny Crichton wrote about the “tech” conundrum that is WeWork and the questions that are still unanswered after the company filed documents this week to go public.

…How is margin changing at its older locations? How is margin changing as it opens up in places like India, with very different costs and revenues? How do those margins change over time as a property matures? WeWork spills serious amounts of ink saying that these numbers do get better … without seemingly being willing to actually offer up the numbers themselves…

Here are some of our other top reads this week for premium subscribers. This week, we published a major deep dive into the world’s next music unicorn and we dug deep into marketplace startups.

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Final Oculus co-founder departs Facebook – gpgmail


The Daily Crunch is gpgmail’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook is losing its last Oculus co-founder

Nate Mitchell, the final Oculus co-founder remaining at Facebook, announced in an internal memo that he’s leaving the company and “taking time to travel, be with family, and recharge.” His role within the company has shifted several times since Oculus was acquired, but his current title is head of product management for virtual reality.

This follows the departures of former Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe and co-founder Palmer Luckey.

2. Twitter tests ways for users to follow and snooze specific topics

The company isn’t getting rid of the ability to follow other users, but it announced yesterday that it will start pushing users to start following topics as well, which will feature highly engaged tweets from a variety of accounts.

3. WeWork’s S-1 misses these three key points

WeWork just released its S-1 ahead of going public, but Danny Crichton argues we still don’t know the health of the core of the company’s business model or fully understand the risks it is undertaking. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

4. CBS and Viacom are merging into a combined company called ViacomCBS

The move is, in some ways, a concession to a turbulent media environment driving large-scale M&A, with AT&T buying Time Warner and Disney acquiring most of Fox — both deals are seen as consolidation in preparation for a streaming-centric future.

5. Nvidia breaks records in training and inference for real-time conversational AI

Nvidia’s GPU-powered platform for developing and running conversational AI that understands and responds to natural language requests has achieved some key milestones and broken some records, with big implications for anyone building on their tech.

6. Corporate carpooling startup Scoop raises $60 million

Scoop, which launched back in 2015, is a corporate carpooling service that works with the likes of LinkedIn, Workday, T-Mobile and more than 50 other companies to help their employees get to and from work.

7. Domino’s launches e-bike delivery to compete with UberEats, DoorDash

Domino’s will start using custom electric bikes for pizza delivery through a partnership with Rad Power Bikes.


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Facebook is losing its last Oculus co-founder – gpgmail


Facebook spent billions on Oculus in 2014, and in the years since the organization has been absorbed deeper into Facebook while the startup’s co-founders have stepped back in prominence. Today, the final Oculus co-founder remaining at Facebook, Nate Mitchell, announced he was leaving the company in an internal memo sent to employees.

The news was first reported by Alex Heath at The Information. Mitchell confirmed the news soon after on Twitter.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment.

In a note on Reddit, Mitchell said he was leaving the company and would be “taking time to travel, be with family, and recharge.”

Mitchell was Oculus’s head of product management for virtual reality.

Mitchell’s role has shifted several times in the past few years at the company as the VR organization underwent a number of leadership shakeups. Late last year, the company’s former CEO Brendan Iribe left the company following disagreements with the team on the future of Oculus’s high-end products. The company’s central co-founder Palmer Luckey had a much more high-profile departure from the company, following an odd, convoluted scandal that involved him paying for a billboard for an anti-Clinton political group aligned with Reddit’s r/The_Donald community.




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