Top of Mind. Historically, June marks the beginning of the second half of the year for Silicon Valley, where tech companies make interesting announcements on big bets. This year is no different. Let’s dig into some exciting announcements this week.
In today’s edition:
- Shopify’s big bets
- Facebook debuts audio product
- Spotify’s major play
3 big things…
Shopify lands huge partnership with Facebook and Google
Huge: E-commerce platform Shopify made headlines this week to announce the expansion of its payment product, Shop Pay to Facebook and Google – reportedly better than Amazon’s check out process.
What this means: Before this announcement, only sellers with Shopify accounts had access to Shop Pay, described as the best check-out process on the internet. Shopify says, “Shop Pay is 70% faster than a typical checkout”.
Now, the one-click checkout service will be available to non-Shopify merchants that sell on Facebook & Google’s e-commerce properties (i.e., Instagram Shops, Google Shopping, etc.), expanding Shopify’s footprint across the internet’s payments infrastructure.
Shopify’s evolution: Shopify came on the scene as an e-commerce platform, helping sellers set up digital storefronts built on their infrastructure, with a subscription fee – accelerating Shopify’s revenue.
Sellers were responsible for setting up and managing their own third-party payments at the start. Shopify eased the friction by launching Shopify Payments, dominating the e-commerce market with a fully integrated payments system and raking in $2.0 billion in 2020 for the 15-year-old company.
This is a big deal: Shopify reportedly controls 10% of e-commerce in the US alone, with Amazon retaining the lion’s share. Sellers describe Shopify as the answer to Amazon’s failings, which accelerated Shopify’s prominence.
Shopify is evolving from an e-commerce company to a payment’s company with a great product and potential for more vertical integrations with consumer-facing companies.
Watch out, Amazon: The partnership with Facebook and Google will speed up the adoption of Shop Pay and help Shopify catch up with Amazon. Amazon has dominated much of the payments ecosystem thanks to its frictionless one-click payments, but it seems it has a formidable competitor in Shopify.
The value-add for Google and Facebook is better trust incentives to onboard new merchants to their e-commerce properties. As a result, I foresee a revenue share between these companies in a mutually beneficial way.
Facebook debuts Live Audio Rooms
Big league: Mark Zuckerberg hosted a public beta test of its new audio product, Live Audio Room, with the Head of Facebook App Fidji Simo, Head of Facebook Reality Labs, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth and some creators. I doubt there’s been a bigger debut for audio product rollouts.
What’s in the app: The app will be available to Facebook and Messenger users when it’s launched.
- The active speaker is highlighted with Facebook’s colour scheme – blue, purple and pink. Clubhouse’ active speakers are highlighted with a grey colour scheme. If you’re a verified Facebook user, the verified badge shows up next to your name.
- Like Twitter Spaces, listeners on Live Audio Rooms can react to live content from the speakers with the thumbs-up sign at the bottom of the screen, but Twitter Spaces has a wider range of emoji reactions (💯✊🏾✌🏾👋🏾😂) to choose from.
- Share, report, captions – listeners can easily share the active audio room with their friends, report users or bugs, and turn on captions.
- Live Audio Rooms has more words in its name than its mono-worded rivals – Spaces, Clubhouse.
- No hand-raising feature – Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms has no feature to grant listener’s ‘speaker access’. Given this is a community-based app, I reckon this feature will be live on launch.
Bottom line: Launching the beta test with Facebook’s product leaders is a good case for creating buzz around the launch of the app. I’m curious to see what user adoption looks like compared to other competing platforms.
Spotify is not ceding its territory
Major play: This week, Spotify launched its standalone audio app called Spotify Greenroom to solidify its place as the dominant audio service.
Locker Room rebrand: In March this year, Spotify acquired the Locker Room app, a live audio app for sports fans and communities. Spotify did not speak publicly about its vision for the app until this rebrand.
Big picture: So far, Spotify’s Greenroom is the only audio app targeting specific communities with powerful industries – music, culture and sports. Spotify’s rivals rely on users to organically create new communities in-app, but Spotify chose a different marketing strategy.
The company will need to ramp up its media and sports partnerships to capture users from established apps like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces.
Down, down it goes: Clubhouse reached over 8 million iOS App Store downloads in February. However, as tech companies announced audio features, Clubhouse registered 900,000 downloads in April – a significant drop from the previous months. In May, Sensor tower stats put downloads at 700,000, despite them launching an Android version. Someone send help!
Pondering… if Spotify’s meta-targeting will attract users who have built music and sports communities on other apps or take inspiration from Clubhouse’ strategy with artists like Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber debuting music on the platform. Will users remain in the communities they built on the apps that came before Greenroom?
My verdict: I tested the Greenroom app two days ago and preferred the user experience to Locker Room, its prototype. Budding communities of content creators and sports fans kept the app buzzing. I predict Greenroom is an app to watch out for.
I co-host a Twitter Spaces conversation every Sunday at 6pm GMT with my friend and fellow product maestro Esther Kuforiji, where we deep dive into the topics in the newsletter. Today’s special guest is the Co-founder of Budgit and one of Nigeria’s brilliant tech entrepreneurs Seun Onigbinde. It’s always an hour of fun and great entertainment.
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Twitter’s testing out new privacy and anti-abuse features
Tell Twitter we need these launched today! I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat it – Twitter’s product team is the hardest working team in tech right now. Each new week, they test out new features in public and implement the feedback they get from users. It’s how Twitter Spaces became successful, and it’s why the new privacy features they’re testing will be exciting for users.
No word on when this goes live, but when Twitter announces, you’ll be the first to know!
Check them out:
Twitter is giving users the power to:
Unmention yourself from a tweet or conversation you don’t want to be a part of
Highlight potential unwanted situations from someone who you don’t follow. You can choose to unmention yourself from the user’s tweet, and this will stop the user from mentioning you in the future—this one you have to think about.