Top of Mind. Happy Sunday! I’m thrilled to witness Snapchat’s comeback under the leadership of CEO Evan Spiegel after a gruelling few years. I’m not a superuser of the app, but I love these stories for what they signify – that tech underdogs can choose the long game and succeed in the midst of great competition.
On that note, I ordain myself as the President of Evan Spiegel’s fan club!
Big Tech This Week:
- Snapchat’s comeback
- Clubhouse opens to everyone
- Facebook’s Virtual Reality
3 big things…
Snapchat makes a comeback
The Short: Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, made the biggest comeback in recent Silicon Valley history following years of decline in user growth and plunging shares at the stock market.
The company released its second-quarter financial earnings, detailing a story reminiscent of a phoenix rising from the ashes of tech oblivion.
A quick stroll down memory lane…First: In 2018, makeup mogul and former Queen of Snapchat Kylie Jenner tweeted the below to millions of followers after a product redesign that confused users. The tweet knocked down Snap’s shares by 7% and wiped out $1.3 billion of Snap’s market value – strikingly similar to Elon Musk’s influence on bitcoin.
“sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.”
|Second: A month later, music superstar and beauty mogul Rihanna criticised Snapchat for running an offensive ad, which made a joke about her traumatic experience with domestic violence.A Snapchat advertiser took out an ad called “Would you Rather”, – which asked users if they would rather “slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown”.Well, hell broke loose. Rihanna’s fans deleted Snapchat from their phones and cursed the app. Snap apologised and pulled down the ad, stating the ad violated advertising policies.Too late – shares plunged 4% and wiped out $800 million in market value.|
Third: Context: Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg once offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion. Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel thought the figure was too low and instead used that figure as a benchmark to raise more venture capital funding.Industry experts love a good pile on, especially when it’s easy to predict the downfall of an app already in the trenches. Snap was advised to find a buyer and to find one quick!My favourite prediction was from NYU Stern Marketing maven Professor Galloway, popularly known for bad predictions – kinda like that one Nigerian Pastor who tells you every 4 years that the good Lord said he would be President.
Galloway said this about Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel:
Evan is William Wallace, and Facebook Inc are the English. It’s fun to root for Mr. Wallace but we’ve been to this movie. Snap is now on a wooden slab where it will be emasculated, disemboweled, drawn and quartered. So, what to do? Simple, sell.
…and like a Phoenix from the ashes
…Snapchat’s Q2 2021 financial results:
* Snapchat’s daily active users increased 23% year over year to 293 million
* Revenue increased 116% year over year to $982 million from a loss of $326 million in 2020
What it means: Snap went public in 2017. It faced its worst year in 2018. Between 2019 – 2021, it compounded its success by rebuilding its Android app, thereby gaining the company millions of users. It invested in augmented reality initiatives, original shows, creator monetization, and building its ads business. This was Snap’s holy grail.
Final thoughts: Snapchat’s comeback deserves case studies at top business schools. It’s a great lesson on how to succeed in the midst of the world writing you off and bigger competitors turning your business model into a feature – Stories was a Snapchat original.Evan Spiegel deserves credit for building the company’s revenue to almost a billion dollars in 3 years and remaining relevant in the middle of stiff competition from TikTok and Instagram. All this, in a short amount of time and at such a young age. Veteran tech CEOs couldn’t pull this off.Spiegel deserves all the flowers.
Clubhouse opens its gates
The Short: Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, Co-founders of the premier social audio app Clubhouse, announced this week that the app is open to everyone who downloads it through the app store.
What changed: Clubhouse’s initial appeal was partly because of the exclusivity of the invitations to join the app from existing users. In those days, an invite to Clubhouse felt like a glamourous invitation to an exclusive cigar club, where you could run into tech billionaires and famous people. And on a good day, find yourself “on stage” speaking directly to them.
Spanking new logo: Clubhouse also debuted a new logo that’s a variation of its old (👋🏾) logo. The new logo is not a major departure from the old one. Instead, it retains the scrappy beginnings of Clubhouse that users came to love. But this logo, it owns. Not a random emoji.
Clubhouse gets to compete: Before the new update, Clubhouse operated as a walled garden, giving apps like Twitter and Spotify the opportunity to build their own audio products and attract users who couldn’t get into Clubhouse. Plus, Clubhouse’s delay with launching an Android version caused a decline in its user base, with users flocking to Twitter Spaces and Spotify’s Greenroom.
Final thoughts: I expect to see some growth in Clubhouse’s user base. All its efforts in building partnerships with the NFL, TED, etc., and its investments in its Android version should see the app welcome millions of global users. For its sake, I pray.
However, the problem with Clubhouse has never been about attraction but retention. It’s discoverability algorithms are still a work in progress. This is the part of the business they’ll need to scale quickly.
Facebook opens up its VR Headset Oculus to developers
The Short: Oculus, Facebook’s hardware Virtual Reality product launched a new API to allow developers build apps for virtual and real world experiences.
What this means: Oculus is one of the dominant virtual reality headsets in the world. Facebook has made significant investments in virtual and augmented reality experiences, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg detaling the future of Facebook becoming a metaverse company – blending real-world and virtual experiences.
How the API will work:
- Developers will be able to collaborate with a team through virtual monitors and a physical keyboard.
- Developers can create games that blend the physical and virtual worlds, e.g., playing GTA with the villains hiding in your bathroom or your closet, or playing chess on the headset but moving the pieces on a flat surface in your home.
Final thoughts: Facebook’s Vice President of Reality Labs, Andrew Bosworth, believes mobile phones will be obsolete in 15 years. There could be a future where all we need are glasses that enable real-world and virtual experiences. The world will be your canvas.
So many exciting possibilities.
Big Tech This Week on Twitter Spaces!
We’ve planned another exciting episode of our weekly conversation on Twitter Spaces today, 6pm GMT+1 – where we deep dive into the topics in the newsletter. Today’s special guest is Eloho Omame, Co-founder of FirstCheck Africa, a female-focused angel fund supporting African women in raising capital.Click this link to set a reminder and join us.
Joinable Group Calls on WhatsApp
Goodbye to FOMO (fear of missing out): WhatsApp launched a new feature called joinable calls to allow users to join video calls after they’ve started. Now, if anyone misses a group call when the phone rings, they can still join when they are ready.
You can also drop off and re-join as long as the call is still ongoing. To access this feature, you’ll need to update your WhatsApp to the latest app update. Test this out and let me know how you like it by replying to this email or dropping me a DM.
This week’s industry trends covers product updates and two brilliant tech CEOs talking Space and cryptocurrency.
- Ditch your power banks! If you own any of the iPhone 12 models, Apple launched a new MagSafe battery pack as an external battery solution. It will set you back $99 😉
- Instagram launched a new sensitive control feature to help users filter out sensitive content.
- Some takeaways from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s powwow this week.
That’s it. Have a delightful week, see you next Sunday!
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