There wasn’t going to be a newsletter this week, but there was too much TikTok news. So here’s your Last Week in Digital Media and all the news you may have missed.
It was a big week in TikTok news:
- TikTok filed their lawsuit against the Trump Administration, arguing that the company is not a threat to US national security. There is a lengthy blog post by TikTok arguing their case.
- Kevin Mayer, the ex Disney executive who recently became the CEO of TikTok, resigned after less than 4 months in the job. This is making some see a sale of TikTok as inevitable.
- Walmart has emerged as a potential acquirer of TikTok, partnering with Microsoft. And the WSJ has a good write up on all the various dealings playing out across TikTok’s various investors.
- a potential TikTok suitor now includes Centricus Asset Management and Triller (a TikTok-like app) for around US$20B although at the time of writing TikTok claims it hasn’t received a formal proposal from Centricus.
- there’s speculation that TikTok might not survive being sold with concerns that the companies touted as potential acquires may sour TikTok’s magic.
- it’s reported that whoever will be acquiring TikTok will finalize a deal as early as this coming week with a price range of US$20B-US$30B.
- all that said, there are also reports that TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, is having engineers draw up contingency plans should TikTok US need to be shutdown.
- amidst all of the news, TikTok did reveal user numbers. TikTok reports 100MM US Monthly Active Users (MAUs). The article has the full breakdown of TikTok user growth, and Lightshed Partners has a handy chart that shows how Daily Active Users (DAUs) compare across platforms.
Now onto the non-TikTok news:
- Facebook has launched the invite-only beta of Facebook Horizon, the Oculus-based VR experience offering a virtual world to both interact in and explore. You can join the Horizon waitlist here.
- Apple continues to give vague signals on what it’s planning for VR, recently acquiring a company called Spaces. Spaces offered a VR Zoom-like experience.
- there’s a must-read over on Think with Google from my friends Richard Yao and Chad Stoller on 4 ways retailers can future proof their business. Check it out.
- Facebook is planning on rolling out Facebook News to more countries, including the UK, Germany, France, India, and Brazil, over the next 6 months.
- in something interesting to note, one of the first Quibi series, “The Stranger,” was made available as a movie-length experience at a drive-in.
- as Google still works through regulatory approval for the acquisition of Fitbit, Amazon has announced its own fitness band called “Halo.” Available on an invite-only early access basis, Halo offers health and fitness as a service with a monthly subscription costing US$3.99+tax after the initial purchase and trial membership.
- reverse engineer Jane Machun Wong has discovered Spotify is working on a virtual event feature. It’s not clear if this feature is in response to the pandemic (as virtual events are becoming the norm) or if it’s a longer-term strategy.
- Facebook is making it easier to shop within the core app, introducing a Facebook Shop tab. Facebook shops also include the ability to direct message a business through WhatsApp, Instagram, and of course, Facebook.
- antitrust action against Google seems to be focusing on tying products together, or the bundling of services to block competitors and give sellers an advantage. Bloomberg has a great write up of everything in play as well as potential framing of the legal arguments.
- all of this comes as the Chair of the House antitrust panel gave an interview stating that “All of these companies engage in behavior which is deeply disturbing and requires Congress to take action” and hinted the antitrust panel will release a report in September.
PRIVACY, TRUST, and SAFETY
- with iOS 14 getting closer to release, Facebook has confirmed that it will no longer collect IDFA’s (Identifier for Advertisers). This will impact ad targeting on Facebook Audience Network (FAN) with Facebook claiming there will be a 50% drop in publisher revenue.
- YouTube’s quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Report (CGER) was released during the week. The full report shows that for the April-June 2020 period, the number of videos removes stood at 11.4MM (up from 6.1MM last quarter). The bulk of content removed was for reasons that include child safety, spam, scams, or for being misleading (~62% of removal in total).
- if you ever want to know the AI and ML behind Facebook’s Community Standards Enforcement Report (CSER), Facebook has a write-up on how part of the content moderation system works. Called CLARA (Confidence of Labels and Raters), and the full CLARA paper can be read here (PDF link).
Have a great week.
PS. If you have ever played the offline Chrome game Dino Jump, this is a fun upgrade called Dino Swords.