Bumble is launching video stories to show more of your match

By Fitz Tepper as written on techcrunch.com


Bumble will soon release BumbleVID, which will allow users from across the dating platform to create a story with unlimited 10-second videos, which will each delete after 24 hours.
Here’s how it will work. Users record 10-second videos from directly within Bumble. These videos then post to their profile, and can be viewed by anyone who comes across their profile while swiping. You can also draw on these video, and eventually the dating app will introduce features to add additional depth to your video – like filters, location tagging, etc.
You can also add pre-recorded videos, but only ones taken in the last 24 hours, and they will be marked with an indicator saying they weren’t added “live”. And just like on Instagram and Snapchat, you’ll be able to see how many people saw your videos and who the people were.
In addition to being shown on each person’s profile when you’re swiping, the videos will be shown on the connections and conversations page – so you can see the video stories of anyone you are talking to, as well as the stories of people who you’ve connected with but haven’t started talking to.
The feature will launch in the next few weeks, and be available for everyone who is photo verified on the platform. The company had a bit of a setback with photo verification, mainly due to a response that exceeded their ability to verify every picture by hand. But they are now re-rolling out the feature on a limited scale, and expect it to be fully available soon.
Whitney Wolfe, cofounder and CEO of Bumble, explained that video had been on the company’s radar for a long time – but that the foray into video is much riskier for a company that connects strangers, instead of a company that connects friends (like Instagram and Snapchat). Nevertheless, Wolfe explained that after 2 years it was time for Bumble to add video, especially when video has become a part of every other major social platform.


Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Pioneered by Snapchat, a video story consisting of 10-second clips that delete in 24 hours is now the de-facto way to share stories on the internet. Even Instagram’s CEO admitted that their hot new feature was inspired by Snapchat, saying “they deserve all the credit”. And in a similar vein, Wolfe explained that there’s no need to have an ego and try to reinvent the way short-form video is done on mobile. She said Bumble’s main focus is providing value to users, and making them relearn a new way of sharing video instead of adopting the hyper popular “story” method would just be a disservice.
A Stronger Incentive to Create Content 
Swipe-based dating apps are currently pretty static. You work hard to create a profile, then essentially sit around (and swipe) while waiting for someone to swipe on you. There’s just not much more you can do to make your profile more interesting. Until now.
What’s a better incentive to create content than an opportunity to score a date with a guy or girl that you wouldn’t have otherwise matched with?
Take this example: You’re out with your friends on Friday night and want to share a short clip on one of your stories, but the moment won’t last to capture video in each platform individually. So which one do you pick? Instagram, Snapchat, or….Bumble?
Typically you’d just pick the platform where you have the biggest following or group of friends – for me that’s Instagram. But what if there’s a girl or guy you just matched with on Bumble who hasn’t started a conversation yet, and you really want to get their attention. It’s a no brainer that you’re going to eschew your friends on Instagram for the chance to impress a potential date.
BumbleVID will also help engagement – more people will spend more time on the platform, since they now will want to watch a video on each profile they swipe.
Adds Reality to Dating
A side effect of being static is that profiles on dating apps are still pretty perfect. Notice I’m not saying fake – it’s hard to succeed long term on Bumble or Tinder if you have straight-up fake pictures and information, especially with Bumble’s new photo verification features.
However, there is certainly a tightly-curated aesthetic that most people try to maintain on social platforms. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure it’s important to look pretty and sound cool, but you don’t want to come off as a person that is totally different from who you will be in person.
So BumbleVID could fix this. If enough people start creating video content on a regular basis, it could actually become weird to not have un-polished, ephemeral video always on your profile.



Instagram will now let creators add URL links, tag friends, and create Boomerangs in Stories

By Fitz Tepper as written on techcrunch.com
Instagram is adding three new features to Stories in what they are calling the biggest update to Stories since its launch.
Starting today the company will let creators add URL links to their stories that viewers can navigate to without leaving Instagram, add the ability for users to be “@ mentioned” in someone’s story, and add the ability to add a Boomerang to your story without having to go create one in the separate Boomerang app.


First and most importantly, Instagram will now let creators add navigable URL links to their stories – meaning viewers can tap a button and instantly be taken to whatever website the creator wants to send them to.
When tapped, this button will open up a browser within Instagram that automatically navigates to whatever website or page the creator has specified. consumption-see-more
Creators will add a link at the same time they are creating the Story – after capturing a video or picture there will be a button to add the link – just like there are already buttons to add text or a drawing to a Story.
But Instead of actually showing the URL (which could have created a cluttered experience), Instagram will add a “See More” button to the bottom of any story that has a link added to it. This will keep the photo itself free of ugly links, while still letting users navigate to the link with just one click.
While this does mean users won’t actually see the link they are going to before they click it, Instagram will be blocking inappropriate links, just like they already do with links in profiles.
At launch this feature will only be available to verified Instagram accounts. While there’s a chance it may eventually expand all users, Instagram currently won’t say if or when this will ever happen.
Expect to see this tool used by professional creators who want to direct users to consume content they have created on other platforms, like a video on YouTube or song on SoundCloud. Or celebrities and retailers using Links to direct users to purchase something on an e-commerce site. You’ll also probably see media properties use Links to direct users to read articles on their own website.
The addition of Links is sure to satisfy brands who want to promote products, and creators who need to promote their others social channels.
One of the biggest gripes with Snapchat is that creators can’t add links to their Snaps and Stories, meaning their viewers are stuck inside the Snapchat ecosystem. This makes it extremely hard for creators (and brands) to monetize. Creators may now be more inclined to start using Instagram Stories over Snapchat Stories, since they can link viewers out to their own sites.
Plus, it allows Instagram to sidestep the issue of not allowing links inside actual Instagram pictures in the feed, which is something brands and creators have long complained about. Currently only ads can contain links to websites in the Instagram feed.


The second feature Instagram is adding to Stories today is Mentions. The feature will let creators use @ to “tag” any other Instagram user in their story.
Here’s how it works:
After taking a picture or video for a story users can tap to add text, and instead of typing a message they just type @, followed by someone’s Instagram username. And just like in comments and captions, Instagram will autocomplete their username.


Once “tagged”, the username will be underlined and tappable in the story. When tapped, the tag will take users to the profile of whoever is tagged in the picture. And also like comments and captions, users will receive a notification if they are tagged in the story of someone they follow. If they are tagged in a story by someone they don’t follow, it will show up in their “requests” folder.
You will able to tag up to 10 people in one Story. But remember that you’ll have to actually add everyone’s username in a text box, which could mean that lots of usernames will clutter up your picture or video.
Unlike Links, Mentions will be available to all users.


The last feature is that Instagram is adding Boomerang, its stand-alone app that creates one-second video loops, to Instagram Stories. So when you go to create a new story you can just swipe from “normal” (which lets you capture photos or videos) to Boomerang mode, and capture a Boomerang. Previously users had to leave Instagram Stories and navigate to Boomerang’s stand-alone app.
Interestingly, Instagram is only adding the ability to create Boomerangs to Stories, and not regular Instagram. This means if you want to add a Boomerang to your Instagram feed you’ll still need to use their separate app.
These features launch today, and besides Links (which is now only available to verified users) you can start playing with them today.

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Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26.2B in cash, makes big move into enterprise social media

By Ingrid Lunden as written on techcrunch.com
Huge news today in the world of M&A in enterprise and social networking services: Microsoft has announced that it is acquiring LinkedIn, the social network for professionals with some 433 million users, for $26.2 billion, or $196 per share, in cash. The transaction has already been approved by both boards, but it must still get regulatory and other approvals.
If for some reason the deal does not go through, LinkedIn will have to pay Microsoft a $725 million termination fee, according to Microsoft’s SEC filing detailing the merger.
The $196 per share offer is a big hike on its closing price from Friday, $131.08. (And in pre-market trading, unsurprisingly, LinkedIn’s stock has nearly crept up 64 percent to reach the share price Microsoft is paying. Microsoft’s price is down 4 percent to $49.66 in pre-market trading.)
LinkedIn is keeping its branding and product, and it will become a part of Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment. LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner will report to Satya Nadella.

How Microsoft plans to use LinkedIn

The acquisition is a big one for both sides.
For Microsoft, it’s bringing a key, missing piece into the company’s strategy to build out more services for enterprises, and give it a key way to compete better against the likes of Salesforce (which it also reportedly tried to buy).
Today, Microsoft is focused squarely on software (and some hardware by way of its very downsized phones business). But LinkedIn will give Microsoft a far bigger reach in terms of social networking services and professional content — developing the early signs of enterprise social networking that it kicked off with its acquisition of Yammer for $1.2 billion in 2012.
LinkedIn’s wider social network, pegged as it is to groups of employees and employers, will give Microsoft a sales channel to sell more of its products, and will serve as a complement to those that it already offers for collaboration and communication.
In a section called “Selling to Social Selling” in the deck below, Microsoft details how it plans to use LinkedIn’s social graph as an integrated selling tool alongside its existing CRM products (which are second to Salesforce in the market currently). Users of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM and other systems, it notes, will want to use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator “to transform the sales cycle with actionable insights” — essentially lots of background information about users that can help find leads, open conversations and close deals.
There are other elements of LinkedIn’s business that are interesting to consider in light of this acquisition. LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com, for example, to spearhead a move into offering online learning tools to users — expanding on their bigger hope of being the go-to place for overall professional development. Now, with Microsoft, you can see how Lynda might be employed to help sell Microsoft software products, and provide assistance in learning to use them. This is also an area that Microsoft is already highlighting as a positive in the deal:


There are also other areas where you will see lots of natural integrations, for example with Cortana and providing more professional networking tools to users.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said in a statement. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.” You can read Nadella’s full memo to staff here.
(And just as a side note, this puts some of Microsoft’s recent cost-cutting through layoffs and sales into some perspective, as well.)
For LinkedIn, it puts to rest questions of how the company would ever compete with companies that are building more software on top of their social graphs that would put it into closer competition against LinkedIn. For a while, it looked like this was the direction that LinkedIn hoped to develop, but more recent problems with user and revenue growth, and a subsequent dropping share price, has put the company on the defensive.
“Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn‘s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works,” Weiner added in the statement. “For the last 13 years, we’ve been uniquely positioned to connect professionals to make them more productive and successful, and I’m looking forward to leading our team through the next chapter of our story.” Read Weiner’s letter on the deal to LinkedIn staff here.
But this is not at all a story about a failing company getting scooped up on the way down for parts. LinkedIn, even with a share price that is below its 12-month high point of $258 per share, is one of the better-performing tech companies in the public markets.
Microsoft has never been a massively successful company when it comes to social networking — although it smartly invested in Facebook before it went public, and as we have reported before it was apparently interested at one point in trying to make a bid to buy Slack for $8 billion. LinkedIn’s social network will give it a significant foothold in this area.
LinkedIn is active in over 200 countries and has 105 million monthly active users, with 433 million registered overall. The company has some 60 percent of all traffic on mobile, and — thanks to some strong SEO — a crazy 45 billion quarterly page views. It’s also one of the biggest repositories of job listings, with some 7 million active listings currently. While some parts of LinkedIn’s business has stagnated, specifically with MAU growth (which is up only 9 percent on last year) latter is a growing business — up 101 percent on a year ago.
LinkedIn’s core business is based today around recruitment ads and, to a lesser extent, premium subscriptions for users. The recruitment business (termed “Talent Solutions”) accounted for $2 billion of the company’s $3 billion in revenues in 2015.
And as you can see from the photo above, Reid Hoffman, one of the co-founders and current chairman, is behind the deal.
“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn. I see incredible opportunity for our members and customers and look forward to supporting this new and combined business,” said Hoffman in a statement. “I fully support this transaction and the Board’s decision to pursue it, and will vote my shares in accordance with their recommendation on it.”
The companies are hosting a conference call at 8.45 a.m. PT.


Instagram’s Redesign Goes Live with a Colorful New Icon, Black-and-White App and More

Explore this blog on Instagram's Redesign written By Sarah Perez as written on techcrunch.com

Instagram’s new icon is pink. Well, it’s pink and purple and yellow and orange. It’s definitely different. And that’s not all the company has changed today.

Instagram this morning is rolling out a radical redesign of its mobile application, which not only includes this new, brightly colored app icon but also a revamped user interface that does away with color in favor of a black-and-white look and feel.

You may remember that screenshots of this redesign leaked last month, prompting many to wonder if such a change was actually in the works.

As it turns out, it was.


Instagram’s interest in updating the icon was to better reflect how its community has changed over time.

“When Instagram was founded over five years ago, it was a place for you to easily edit and share photos. Over those five years, things have changed,” says Ian Spalter, Instagram’s Head of Design. “Instagram is now a diverse community of interests where people are sharing more photos and videos than ever before, using new tools like Boomerang and Layout, and connecting in new ways through Explore.”

The new icon, however, still references Instagram’s history with its now simplified and softer camera that appears in the much more colorful design.

In addition, the colors that blend and blur from purple to pink to orange and yellow are also supposed to reference Instagram’s iconic rainbow in its older design. (This isn’t entirely obvious, but we can see how the designer would want to make that connection.)

Meanwhile, where Instagram’s icon is now filled with color, the app itself has had the color removed. Instead of using blue and white in the app’s chrome, the new black-and-white design allows the color in the app to come from the community and what’s being shared. The user interface is no longer competing for attention.


Though this design change will impact users the most, given it’s the app that’s actually interacted with on a regular basis, it somehow feels less jarring — at least, initially — than the change to the app icon.

Perhaps that’s because nothing has been fundamentally changed with regard to the app’s workflow. The buttons remain in the same positions, and pops of color are still shown to highlight things like notifications, for example.

And there are some slight under-the-hood changes. For instance, Instagram now uses standard iOS and Android components, fonts and patterns. But the app itself is simply a cleaner, more modern version of the Instagram we know and love.

That’s not to say it doesn’t take some getting used to. Seeing the editing tools laid out in black-and-white simplicity will prompt a double take the first few times you use them. But the process of using the tools has not been changed.


However, the icon’s update feels as dramatic as iOS 7 once did when Apple’s Jony Ive unveiled the operating system’s newer, flatter look-and-feel and its brighter color gradients. This initially prompted some user backlash among Apple fans who had trouble adjusting. (Remember the Jony Ive Redesigns Things Tumblr, anyone?)

What’s funny is that the iOS revamp years ago eventually prompted Instagram’s user base to call for the company to update its look as well. The older app icon began to feel out of place on the iPhone home screen, as other app icons were updated to better fit Apple’s new design language.

Then, when Google rolled out its own take on flat design with Material Design, Instagram’s icon began to feel a little out of place there, too.


Besides the icon change and black-and-white revamp, Instagram’s larger suite of apps, including Layout, Hyperlapse and Boomerang, have also received new icons. These new icons now better reflect what their app does in some cases.

For example, the collage maker Layout has gone from a square to a grid. They also now match the new Instagram icon’s color scheme.

While the makeover is dramatic, it’s not tied to the other forthcoming changes, like the rollout of Business Profiles due in a few months.


Instagram has been working on this redesign since last summer and ended up testing more than 300 icons before arriving on a lead candidate in late November. The company then worked on the user interface update, which had been tested internally since the beginning of the year.

Those tests finally made it out into the wild in the past couple of weeks, which is when users spotted them and the news of the redesign was leaked. The company doesn’t share details on its internal tests or how the changes impacted key metrics like user engagement.

However, with 400 million users worldwide who share more than 80 million photos and videos daily, it’s not likely that the company would roll out an update of this magnitude if it were worried the changes could negatively impact any of its numbers.


the death of instagram - managed solution

The death of Instagram for brands

By Steve Feiner as written on techcrunch.com
Earlier this week Instagram updated its news feed algorithm. Posts will no longer appear in chronological order and instead be sorted “based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.”
What this means is that Instagram will choose what to surface and when – essentially mirroring Facebook’s news feed.
This change is being spun as a way to optimize a user’s feed, when actually it grants Instagram the power to control ad content. “On average, people miss about 70 percent of the posts in their Instagram feed,” says Kevin Systrom, the co-founder and CEO of Instagram. “What this is about is making sure that the 30 percent you see is the best 30 percent possible.” While this certainly is true, make no mistake, Instagram is about to do this for monetization.

Why does Facebook care?

Facebook, which owns Instagram, just announced $5.8 billion in Revenue in Q4, a staggering 51 percent growth over the prior year. While Facebook’s growth rate has consistently been over 40 percent, maintaining that growth is not simple by any means.
By applying Facebook’s historical growth rate, it needs to produce an incremental $2 billion in growth next quarter and another $3 billion in growth in this quarter next year.
In the most recent earnings call, Facebook’s CFO mentioned “core Facebook is really driving the top line”. This growth is being driven by an increase in average revenue per user, not an increase in user growth. Can this growth continue to be driven by core Facebook?
Facebook needs to grow an incremental $3 billion more in this quarter next year. If we apply historical user growth numbers, of 13 percent that would mean average revenue per user would need to increase 33 percent. Can Facebook continue to do that given that Facebook has already increased Rest of World growth by 4x since and U.S. & Canada growth by nearly 5x since Q1 2012? How much further can Facebook average revenue per user growth grow before that too reaches a saturation point?
So this places an importance on monetization in new areas such as Instagram. According to eMarketer, Instagram revenues hit $600 million in 2015 and are forecasted to grow by 149 percent in 2016. Surely this will not be driven by user growth as a 149 percent growth in users would equate to nearly 600 million new users just in the next year.

Implications for brands

Here’s where Instagram comes in. Over the past few years, thousands of brands have joined Instagram after realizing that it is the social media platform brands and consumers engage in most. What happens when Instagram begins to monetize? The path of least resistance would be to follow a path similar to Facebook and limit organic reach — we have seen this story with Facebook before.
So what happens to brands that have heavily invested in creating wonderful content on Instagram? While larger brands have the marketing budget to pay for what was once free media, blogshops and other small businesses may not be so lucky.
Consider this your wake up call, because if your business relies heavily on Instagram as a channel, customer acquisition is about to come with a hefty price tag instead of a perfectly edited photo.

Leaked Pinterest Documents Show Revenue, Growth Forecasts

Leaked Pinterest Documents Show Revenue, Growth Forecasts

As written on by Katie Roof (@Katie_Roof), Matthew Lynley (@mattlynley) on Techcrunch.com
TechCrunch has obtained documents that show Pinterest has been forecasting $169 million in revenue this year and $2.8 billion in annual revenue by 2018. Pinterest was also expecting to grow its monthly active users to 151 million by the end of 2015 and 329 million by 2018.
Andreessen Horowitz used this information to solicit limited partners to invest in its special investment fund for Pinterest earlier this year, valuing the social media company at $11 billion.
The venture firm said that Pinterest is “striving to build a platform with the scale and engagement of Facebook and the purchasing intent of Google.”
The documents say that based on the fourth quarter of last year, Pinterest’s “revenue run rate” stood at $90 million. As the WSJ noted in June, this means that Pinterest brought in less than $25 million in revenue last year because the company first introduced its “promoted pins” in late 2014.
The papers show that Pinterest is generating $1.44 per active user, based on its 2015 projections. It expects this number to grow by $9.34 by 2018.
While Target is already a confirmed partner for some of Pinterest’s e-commerce initiatives, the company was “in discussions” with Burberry, Walmart, and Nordstrom as of February 2015.
The documents also reveal that over half of U.S. women between the ages of 18-54 have signed up for Pinterest. The social media service showed strong growth amongst male users, growing 133% last year.
Pinterest is seeing its strongest growth outside of the U.S., accounting for 60% of new users. The fastest growing markets last year were the UK, Japan, France, Germany and Brazil.
The data also shows that roughly half of Pinterest users log in. As of January 2015, the company had 176 million registered users, but only 88 million active users. (In September, Pinterest confirmed that it had surpassed 100 million active users).
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Pinterest Brings On A New Head Of Its Advertising Partner APIs
Pinterest’s primary advertising product is Promoted Pins, which gives marketers a way to get their pins in front of more users. It uses traditional advertising models like cost-per-click advertising, but can also charge marketers based on “engagement” — such as a re-pin, a close-up or a click on that pin.
The primary reason Pinterest is so valued by advertisers is it hits almost all points in which people can be targeted on the web. Pinterest users casually browse for ideas or inspiration, which can help drive brand awareness and justify purchasing promoted pins. But they also search on Pinterest for specific things, giving marketers a way to capture that intent and drive traffic — and potentially sales — using Promoted Pins. Promoted Pins give marketers a way to capture that intent or get visibility, while other platforms are generally good at capturing specific moments — such as Google with search.
Pinterest is also still releasing new products for marketers. For example, the company released Cinematic Pins — its take on a video-based advertisement that essentially plays only when the user scrolls — in May this year. It also released a new pricing model at that time that allowed marketers to pay based on engagement with their Promoted Pins. And it also earlier this year released Buyable Pins, a way for users to purchase things directly through Pinterest — and while merchants keep 100% of the sales, it gives them an incentive to promote pins on Pinterest in order to further drive sales.
All of this taken together gives advertisers a gold mine of sorts that might not necessarily be available in other outlets. Given the high engagement its users have, part of the sales pitch is that they have a much higher conversion rate than other platforms. Pinterest is super sticky and people wander around on it at basically all points of the funnel.
The social media site has raised over $1.3 billion in capital from notable investors including SV Angel, Rakuten and Bessemer Venture Partners.
Pinterest declined to comment. Andreessen Horowitz did not respond to a request for comment.

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