July Recap: Got $10 Billion? Buy CNN… or Snapchat
July bombarded us with world events too depressing to recap. In the midst of this madness, we banded together and watched soccer, wishing we could be best friends with Tim Howard as he made a record-setting 16 saves in a single game. Otherwise, we didn’t have much to cheer about.
During this dearth of good news, Jon Stewart decided we should take over America’s first 24-hour cable news network. Stewart launched a $10 billion Kickstarter campaign to buy CNN, “confident that we can do better.” By the miracle of crowdfunding, “CNN will belong to the people.” Stewart is asking viewers to submit their ideas to LetsBuyCNN.com. New slogans include, “CNN: if you’re watching this, your flight’s been canceled.” Take that, Rupert.
The peer-to-peer platform pranks don’t end there. Two brothers, Maksym and Denys Pashanin,squeezed $40,000 out of Kickstarter donors before taking their sharing economy shenanigans one step further. The brothers have been squatting in an Airbnb rental in Palm Springs since May, invoking California renter’s rights. Both Airbnb and Kickstarter have banned the brothers, but not before Maksym defiantly commented about his squatting experience on Kickstarter. “10/10, would squat again,” he wrote.
Squatting, swindling bros aren’t the only ones making money. LinkedIn announced its Q2 earningsand reported a 47% year-over-year increase in revenue. While 60 percent of Q2 revenue was driven by LinkedIn “talent solutions” products, which are aimed at helping recruiters attract new hires, the company is also investing in its professional publishing platform and sponsored updates. LinkedIn recently announced a new product called “Sales Navigator” that connects salespeople and buyers and is targeted at enterprise customers.
Like LinkedIn, Twitter’s stock soared after the company’s Q2 earnings call, during which it reported $312 million in revenue. What’s more, Twitter announced that a staggering 81% of its ad revenue comes from mobile advertising. #MobileFTW.
Facebook also announced rising profits driven by mobile ads, with 62% of its ad revenue driven by mobile. Shortly following Q2 earnings, Facebook took a step toward achieving its goal of expanding Internet access. The company announced a new app for Internet.org, a partnership with other tech companies to bring wireless access to developing parts of the world. The Internet.org app is currently available in Zambia — though Facebook plans to bring the app to other countries in the near future. The app allows users to access certain services (including Facebook) via a local wireless carrier.
Meanwhile, Instagram launched a slightly less altruistic app called Bolt, which is eerily similar to Snapchat. Currently available in limited countries, Bolt allows users to share fast-disappearing photos and videos with their friends. Despite this new competition — and some questionable judgmentdemonstrated by CEO Evan Spiegal in the recent past — Snapchat seems to be doing just fine. A new round from Alibaba could value Snapchat at a whopping $10 billion.
Do people just look at pictures? OkCupid thinks so, according to studies conducted on its users. The online dating website has been getting flak for this experimentation, which involved intentionally mismatching people to analyze their reactions. A blog post by co-founder Christian Rudder claimed no wrongdoing, asserting “that’s how websites work”.
We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook “experimented” with their news feed. Even the FTC is getting involved. But guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.
In more serious breaches of trust, Canadian officials claimed that Chinese hackers broke into a network for the National Research Council, though Beijing has denied the allegations. Is high-tech espionage such a threat that government officials need to eschew email altogether? Some politicians in Germany think so. Patrick Sensburg, the head of the NSA inquiry in Germany, claims that the government has considered a return to manual typewriters for sensitive documents.
Reverting to typewriters won’t protect you from actual theft, however. Earlier this month, 20 criminals dressed as Samsung employees, entered a factory in Brazil and stole an estimated $6.5 million worth of tablets, smartphones and notebooks. No one was hurt, and the thieves remain at large.
If you need something to cheer you up as more bad news crawls across the CNN ticker, don’t read up on cyber-security — or the physical security of hardware factories, for that matter. Instead, consider investing in some tech shares. And if that doesn’t work, you could always indulge in a guilty pleasure. We’re excited for Sharknado 2, the SyFy sequel that promises a cyclone of carnivores, chainsaws and Tara Reid — this time taking a bite out of New York City. Even if the cinematic value disappoints, you’ll be able to keep up with the Twitter banter.