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Cry revolution if you like, Alexa is not listening
FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | FT | Henry Mance.

We know that a revolt against Big Tech is coming. All the ingredients are there: unaccountable elites, wealth disparities, popular discontent......We should be drawing the opposite lesson. We should be grateful for these moments when technology fails: they remind us that we are relying too much on algorithms.

Silicon Valley has created such gloriously useful products that we mostly overlook their limitations. We don’t notice that Google inevitably has a bias towards certain sources of information, or that Amazon directs us towards certain products. We forget that messaging apps draw us away from other forms of interaction. Already Snapchat has over 100m users who use it for more than 30 minutes a day on average. Already you can have Alexa listen attentively to everything you say at home, which is more than any member of your family will. 

Occasionally, however, we are confronted with the imperfections of technology. We are shown online ads for products we have already bought or for which we are biologically ineligible. We are invited to connect on LinkedIn with people we’ve never met, but who have the same name as our first line manager.....It is these moments which allow us to see that the emperor has no clothes. They demonstrate that the software is only as clever as the humans who have designed it. They remind us that the real revolutionary act is to switch off.
backlash  platforms  Snapchat  imperfections  algorithms  biases  limitations  Big_Tech 
february 2018 by jerryking
Stanford dropout with a magical touch
Jul 14, 2017 | Financial Times | by: Hannah Kuchler.

Evan Spiegel refuses to be scared of Facebook. Confidence helped the 27-year-old Snap chief executive take a photo messaging app from a Stanford University coursework project to an almost $20bn initial public offering. The threat of Facebook has been following all the way.

In 2013, when the company behind Snapchat was just two years old, its co-founder (his partner was a fellow student, Bobby Murphy) was quizzed on stage about Poke, Facebook’s first attempt at imitating the app’s photo messaging. “Certainly it is scary when a giant enters your space and you are a small company,” Mr Spiegel said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. He laughed it off: Poke failed, and that became the “greatest Christmas present we ever had”.

But the world’s largest social network does not give up and has relentlessly imitated Snapchat since Mr Spiegel turned down its $3bn acquisition offer in 2013. Earlier this year, just as Snap headed for the public markets, Facebook finally succeeded in popularising a version of “Stories” in four of its apps — the Snapchat feature that expires after 24 hours.......an unlikely analogy..... “Just because Yahoo, for example, has a search box, it doesn’t mean they are Google.”......Mr Spiegel, who dropped out of Stanford, was the first chief executive from a new wave of highly valued tech start-ups to brave the public markets. It paid off personally: he became a multi-billionaire when he took Snap public....Spiegel is soaking up advice “like a sponge” from senior management and the board, which includes Michael Lynton, former chief executive of Sony Pictures and AG Lafley, former chief executive of Procter & Gamble.....Praised as a product genius who instinctively understands the desires of his young audience, Mr Spiegel now has to learn to be a public company leader, managing the expectations of investors who want to compare Snap to Facebook and Mr Spiegel to Mark Zuckerberg......By designing the disappearing photos that made Snapchat famous, Mr Spiegel completely rethought the camera. Photos became transient conversations, not kept for posterity; social media became a way to be creative — and silly — with your close friends, not flick through a feed of near strangers.....Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, told the Financial Times it plans to double its spending to $200m on Snap this year. But, he added, WPP will spend over 10 times more on Facebook.

...
dropouts  Stanford  IPOs  Snap  Snapchat  CEOs  Evan_Spiegel  WPP  Martin_Sorrell  product_development  product-orientated  public_companies  investors'_expectations  10x 
july 2017 by jerryking
Instagram Finds Focus Under ‘Efficiency Guru’
April 13, 2017 | WSJ | By Deepa Seetharaman

Ms. Levine’s biggest contribution, Mr. Systrom says, is helping Instagram avoid the fate analyst Ben Thompson described: “Companies break every time they double.” [See reference to sublinearity in new book of Geoffrey West, “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies” (Penguin). Specifically, "infrastructure growth scales in analogous sublinear fashion]

In 2014, Mr. Systrom said he realized he and his co-founder, Mike Krieger, needed help to grow Instagram. Facebook had bought the startup for $1 billion two years earlier, when it had just 13 employees. The pressure was on for Instagram to make money and roll out products at a more rapid clip, and the co-founders saw the need for an executive to manage the expansion.

Marne Levine is “an efficiency guru” who has helped the Instagram app avoid some of the pitfalls of rapid growth. Ms. Levine has skills that are in high demand in Silicon Valley, where startups often struggle to get past their adolescence. Uber Technologies Inc., for instance, is seeking a second-in-command to help founder Travis Kalanick repair the ride-sharing company’s image after allegations of sexism and sexual harassment and the departure of several top executives. “We want to be the 10x company,” Ms. Levine, 46, says. “That means we need to think carefully about how we set up our operations, how we grow and how we scale.”.....A seasoned manager can instill discipline and order, helping new companies avoid wasting time and resources while adding a veneer of professionalism to attract potential customers.
Instagram  Facebook  focus  scaling  growth  Snap  Snapchat  expansions  COO  efficiencies  sublinearity  powerlaw  product_launches  speed  blitzscaling  operational_tempo  10x 
april 2017 by jerryking
Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera - The New York Times
Farhad Manjoo
STATE OF THE ART MARCH 8, 2017

The rising dependence on cameras & picture-based communications system is changing the way we communicate and could alter society in big ways. ...Snap’s success or failure isn’t going to be determined this week or even this year. This is a company that’s betting on a long-term trend: the rise and eventual global dominance of visual culture.Snap calls itself a camera company. That’s a bit cute, considering that it only just released an actual camera, the Spectacles sunglasses, late last year. Snap will probably build other kinds of cameras, including potentially a drone.

But it’s best to take Snap’s camera company claim seriously, not literally. Snap does not necessarily mean that its primary business will be selling a bunch of camera hardware. It’s not going to turn into Nikon, Polaroid or GoPro. Instead it’s hit on something deeper and more important. Through both its hardware and software, Snap wants to enable the cultural supremacy of the camera, to make it at least as important to our daily lives as the keyboard.....the rising dependence on cameras is changing our language. Other than in face-to-face communication, we used to talk primarily in words. Now, more and more, from GIFs to emoji, selfies to image-macro memes and live video, we talk in pictures.
Farhad_Manjoo  Snap  Snapchat  visual_culture  cameras  big_bets  Communicating_&_Connecting  IPOs  Ikea  trends  Instagram  imagery  Polaroid 
march 2017 by jerryking
The Economist launches on Snapchat Discover
Oct 7, 2016 | Medium | Lucy Rohr.

The Economist is a weekly, [and] we’d like to think that our weekend editions on Snapchat Discover will offer people an antidote to the information overload of today’s noisy news environment. I really want our readers to finish an edition feeling that they’ve learned something—and have been entertained at the same time.
Snapchat  information_overload  magazines  digital_media  platforms  visualization 
october 2016 by jerryking
Twitter’s Troubles and Snap’s Appeal: It’s All About the Mojo
OCT. 11, 2016 | - The New York Times| By STEVEN DAVIDOFF SOLOMON.

User growth is the secret sauce of internet valuations. Revenue and earnings are forgiven if you can show growth in users. Whether that makes sense, of course, is another matter.....Sharp leadership — whether that is from its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, or new blood — could certainly help Twitter exploit its huge user base.

But the problem is that in the eyes of the Valley, Twitter has lost its mojo.

Even as Twitter was deflating, another social media darling, Snapchat, now renamed Snap, was riding high as reports emerged that the start-up, known for its disappearing messages, was preparing for a public offering that could value it for as much as $25 billion.
Twitter  Snapchat  momentum  valuations  Silicon_Valley  social_media  youth  mojo  special_sauce  customer_growth  user_growth  user_bases 
october 2016 by jerryking
Malcolm Gladwell: the Snapchat problem, the Facebook problem, the Airbnb problem | VentureBeat | Marketing | by John Koetsier
JULY 24, 2015 | Venturebeat | JOHN KOETSIER.

Why marketers have a job
The deficiencies not only in data but of data are the reason marketers have a job, Gladwell said. In fact, it goes deeper than that:

“The reason your profession is a profession and not a job is that your role is to find the truth in the data.”

And that’s a significant challenge.
data  Malcolm_Gladwell  skepticism  Facebook  Snapchat  Airbnb  sharing_economy  marketing  shortcomings  developmental_change  generational_change  customer_risk  millennials 
july 2015 by jerryking
Snapchat and Periscope: A Grown-Up’s Guide - WSJ
By KEVIN SINTUMUANG
Updated May 15, 2015

Remember that by default, everything you post disappears. Periscope and Meerkat broadcasts are intended to be live events; each element of a Snapchat Story expires after 24 hours. Although you can set the apps to save your videos (and, on Periscope, have them viewable for 24 hours), that’s not the point...there’s someone giving you a tour of the Louvre or a celebrity engaging with fans in an authentic way. For every incomprehensible Dadaist Snapchat Story that only a teenager could interpret, there is another that makes an ordinary day seem significant. And using Snapchat as a communication tool turns ordinarily mundane messages into something more charming, direct and personal.
social_media  Snapchat  Periscope  ephemerality  howto  mobile_applications  Meerkat  livestreaming  web_video 
may 2015 by jerryking
Why Apps for Messaging Are Trending - NYTimes.com
By MIKE ISAAC and MICHAEL J. de la MERCEDJAN. 25, 2015

a glimpse into how some personal messaging apps like Instagram, WeChat and Snapchat — already used by millions of people sharing text or images among friends — will be used in the future.

Some publishers, game makers and e-commerce companies are using the apps as a new distribution and moneymaking platform. Developers have been expanding the uses of the apps, making new functions possible. And investors, seeing huge potential, have driven the apps to ever-higher valuations.
...The initial appeal of the apps is simple. They are faster to use than email, and they generally allow you to send text, links, video and photos to friends more cheaply than traditional texting services offered by wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T.
chat  chatbots  conversational_commerce  mobile_applications  messaging  Instagram  WeChat  SnapChat  ephemerality 
january 2015 by jerryking
Small Data: Why Tinder-like apps are the way of the future — Medium
+++++++++++++++++++++++
The card-based UI updates the classic way in which we’ve always interacted with physical cards. When you think about it, cards are nothing more than bite-size presentations of concrete information. They’re the natural evolution of the newsfeed, which is useful for reading stories but not for making decisions.
++++++++++++++++++++++++
Cards are kind of natural choice for mobile screens because of their size and shape. But lay your cards on the table or put them on a board and they will also help you in revealing connections, understanding the topic and making decisions.
++++++++++++++++++++++++

every single interaction with card-swiping apps can affect the outcome.

We can call it small data. Imagine if every time you made a yes or no decision on Tinder, the app learned what kind of profiles you tended to like, and it showed you profiles based on this information in the future.

“With swipes on Tinder, the act of navigating through content is merged with inputting an action on that content,” says Rad. That means that every time a user browses profiles, it generates personal behavioral data.
bite-sized  Tinder  small_data  ux  design  decision_making  information_overload  behavioural_data  metadata  gestures  Snapchat  personal_data 
march 2014 by jerryking
Do We Want an Erasable Internet? - WSJ.com
Dec. 22, 2013|| WSJ | By Farhad Manjoo.

Snapchat will have been one of the most fascinating services to hit the Internet in years. To me, the app's exploding popularity suggests that society is yearning for a new way to think about data. Snapchat is one of the first mainstream services to show us that our photos and texts don't need to stick around forever: that erasing all the digital effluvia generated by our phones and computers can be just as popular a concept as saving it.

If the Snapchat model takes off—if other sites and services began to promote the idea of erasability as a competitive feature—the Internet would look very different from the Internet of today. It would be a more private network, one without the constant worry of every ill-considered picture or thought being held up for ridicule by the whole world, forever....Snapchat provides a sense of liberation from the constraints of a permanent record. Of course, we might not have to pick. Big Snapchat-like growth could mean that we'll have a Forever Internet and an Erasable Internet living side by side. Some users mainly will choose apps and services that save our data by default, while others will choose instant deletion. A lot will choose both, depending.
Snapchat  mobile_applications  transient  impermanence  ephemerality  Farhad_Manjoo  invisibility 
december 2013 by jerryking
Snap Out of It: Kids Aren't Reliable Tech Predictors - WSJ.com
Nov. 17, 2013 | WSJ | By Farhad Manjoo.

First, Snapchat's main selling point is ephemerality. Users who send a photo and caption using the app can select how long the image is viewable. Second, and relatedly, Snapchat is used primarily by teens and people in college. This explains much of Silicon Valley's obsession with the company....tech execs, youngsters are the canaries in the gold mine.

That logic follows a widely shared cultural belief: We all tend to assume that young people are on the technological vanguard, that they somehow have got an inside scoop on what's next. If today's kids are Snapchatting instead of Facebooking, the thinking goes, tomorrow we'll all be Snapchatting, too, because tech habits, like hairstyles, flow only one way: young to old.

There is only one problem with elevating young people's tastes this way: Kids are often wrong....Incidentally, though 20-something tech founders like Mr. Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates get a lot of ink, they are unusual.... "The twentysomething inexperienced founder is an outlier, not the norm," ...If you think about it for a second, the fact that young people aren't especially reliable predictors of tech trends shouldn't come as a surprise. Sure, youth is associated with cultural flexibility, a willingness to try new things that isn't necessarily present in older folk. But there are other, less salutary hallmarks of youth, including capriciousness, immaturity, and a deference to peer pressure even at the cost of common sense. This is why high school is such fertile ground for fads. And it's why, in other cultural areas, we don't put much stock in teens' choices. No one who's older than 18, for instance, believes One Direction is the future of music....Is the app just a youthful fad, just another boy band, or is it something more permanent; is it the Beatles?

To figure this out, we would need to know why kids are using it. Are they reaching for Snapchat for reasons that would resonate with older people—because, like the rest of us, they've grown wary of the public-sharing culture promoted by Facebook and Twitter? Or are they using it for less universal reasons, because they want to evade parental snooping, send risqué photos, or avoid feeling left out of a fad everyone else has adopted?

At this point no one knows, probably not even the people who make Snapchat. For now,That's reason enough to be wary of Snapchat's youthful vigor.
capriciousness  customer_risk  developmental_change  ephemerality  fads  Farhad_Manjoo  generational_change  hiring-a-product-to-do-a-specific-job  immaturity  impermanence  invisibility  motivations  peer_pressure  predictors  Silicon_Valley  Snapchat  snooping  transient  trends  young_people  youth 
november 2013 by jerryking
Messaging Service Snapchat Spurned $3 Billion Facebook Bid - WSJ.com
By
Evelyn M. Rusli and
Douglas MacMillan
connect
Updated Nov. 13, 2013

Mr. Spiegel's company has no sales and no business model—but it does have a smartphone app that delivers hundreds of millions of messages, mostly from teenagers and young adults, that disappear in 10 seconds or less.
Snapchat  Facebook  M&A  mergers_&_acquisitions  ephemerality 
november 2013 by jerryking

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