Axios - Business
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WhatsApp adds Snapchat-like features

WhatsaApp

WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service that dominates the messaging app market globally, is adding a photo and video sharing capability within their status feature that mimics that of Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Users will have the ability to annotate photos and videos with emojis, text, etc. and photos and videos will expire from users' statuses after 24 hours.

Why it matters: This is just the latest of steps Facebook has taken to mimic Snapchat-like features on its apps. They've already introduced similar features for Facebook Messenger and Instagram. While Facebook has spent the past year adding Snapchat-like product features, Snapchat has spent the past year adding Facebook-like measurement and audience targeting-features.

What we're watching: Mark Zuckerberg's $19 billion bet on WhatsApp in 2014 was based largely on WhatsApp's incredible reach in emerging markets. But in addition to the growth opportunity, the acquisition also gives Facebook the opportunity to experiment with unique new features with lots of users, before potentially integrating them into other Facebook-owned apps. In January WhatsApp announced it was testing the ability to temporarily track friends' locations and the ability to recall sent messages that haven't been viewed yet.

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Featured

Snapchat sells Spectacles online

Snap Inc.

Snapchat spectacles now available for purchase online.

Spectacles are smartphone-connected glasses that take Snapchats — up-to 10-second videos or stills — with the click of a button. Previously, the glasses were only available for purchase at pop-up vending machines in New York and California, where lines were long and the allure was strong. Now, Snap Inc. is making their glasses available to all consumers for $130 USD.

Why it matters: In its S-1 filing with the New York Stock Exchange, Snapchat calls itself a "camera company" instead of a social media app or a messaging service. This is critical in understanding how Snapchat plans to monetize its reach and technology, which investors are monitoring closely ahead of its IPO. In its S-1 filing, Snapchat noted that Spectacles have not initially generated any revenue. While Snapchat makes the majority of its money from advertising now, opening up sales for its new camera now signals that Snap Inc. sees camera technology and sales as a lucrative business model in the future.

Featured

The growing fight to save local newsrooms

Non-profits and media distribution companies are stepping in to support local newsrooms as they navigate the chaotic news cycle of the new administration and the rapidly-changing digital news environment.

The non-profits

Poynter is dedicating a reporter to cover the transformation of local and regional journalism full-time, in addition to launching a weekly newsletter. The Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative made a $5 million investment to continue a program that helps local papers transform their newsrooms to support digital storytelling. Local News Lab relaunched its site to include updated guidebooks to help local newsrooms survive the transition into the digital age. MuckRock started a Slack channel in January to help journalists all over the country, including 50% local news reporters, better cover the Trump Administration.

The platforms

Facebook finally took its initiative to reach out to local journalists to the road, hosting around 70 print and broadcast reporters — mostly from Texas — for a Dallas forum about best practices and the future of news. The move is part of the Facebook Journalism Project. Google introduced a local news source tag in May that algorithmically favors local sources in users' feeds. The tag labels stories that are reported first-hand by local sources.
Featured

Yes, your commute is really that awful

Julie Jacobson / AP

Reuters flags the latest Global Traffic Scorecard from INRIX Inc, a traffic data company based in Washington state. It found that 5 of the 10 most congested cities globally are in the U.S., and that drivers waste an average of $1,200 a year in lost fuel and time sitting in traffic jams.

The five worst U.S. offenders: Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami.

The worst road: The Cross Bronx Expressway in New York City.

But at least you're not in Bogota or Moscow: Drivers in those two cities deal with the worst traffic in the world, when you break it down by the percentage of time spent in traffic jams compared to total drive time.

Featured

The death of the click

Illustration Lazaro Gamio / Axios

For the past 10 years, we've operated on the premise that the most important digital metric is the click that refers a person to a website. That click usually comes from a social distribution channel, like Facebook or Twitter, or a search engine, like Google or Bing. But according to industry experts, the click referral is becoming an idea of the past, soon to be replaced by content exposure.

Why it matters: Most publishers have designed their websites to measure user interaction through clicks, not scroll rates or time spent on stories. As the industry moves away from click-through rates (CTR's) as the most meaningful marketing metric, those publishers will have a difficult time justifying the effectiveness of their platforms for marketers.

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Uber CEO responds to claims of workplace sexism

Jeff Chiu / AP

Another tale of sexism and unacceptable workplace behavior in Silicon Valley company has emerged. This time it's at Uber, according to an explosive blog post published on Sunday by a former company engineer named Susan Fowler Riggetti.

Riggetti was a site reliability engineer with Uber between November 2015 and December 2016, and now accuses the ride-share company's HR department of ignoring multiple complaints of sexual harassment, and of being denied opportunities to transfer or move up in her job. Worse: Her attempts to use emails (i.e., evidence) to document bad behavior were turned against her, she says.

Reached for comment, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said:

"I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber -- and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired."

Why this matters: Despite having several women among its top ranks, this isn't the first time Uber has been accused of sexism or ignoring ethics in favor of business growth. Moreover, this is far from the first time a woman at a high-profile tech company has shared such experiences — it's a rampant problem in the tech industry — which likely explains why Fowler's blog post is spreading like wildfire via Silicon Valley social media this evening.

Update: Uber board member Arianna Huffington has tweeted the following: "Just talked w/ Travis & as a representative of Uber's Board I will work w/Liane to conduct a full independent investigation starting now."

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Kraft Heinz gives up on Unilever

Warren Buffett made the call, the Financial Times reports:

Two people close to the talks said Warren Buffett and 3G's Jorge Paulo Lemann, the major Heinz Kraft shareholders, decided on Sunday morning to withdraw the bid after they concluded that a protracted public battle to take over Unilever would have caused more damage than good.

News of the possible deal, which at $143 billion would have been one of the biggest ever, broke Friday, when Unilever rejected it. Kraft vowed to press on, but the damage was done. More from the FT:

Another person said that the early leaking of Kraft's interest in Unilever made it hard for the US company to negotiate a deal that would have been more attractive for both sides. "Kraft Heinz was ready to make a lot of concessions, including taking on the Unilever name, to make this deal happen but unfortunately it leaked too early and that made it hard negotiate," this person said.
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Trump may recalculate trade figures to make deficits look worse

Stephen Carr/Los Angeles Daily News via AP

A Wall Street Journal scoop on how the Trump administration may fiddle with trade data says the calculation may change to exclude products imported and then exported. That would make the trade deficit look larger.

Some government employees objected to compiling the data, according to people familiar with the discussions. A Trump official said no decision's been made on changing the calculations.

Why this matters: "A larger trade deficit would give the Trump administration ammunition in arguing that trade deals need to be renegotiated, and might help boost political support for imposing tariffs," the WSJ writes.

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What Trump's top man on trade told Congress

In the Washington Post's profile of Peter Navarro, whom they call "Mr. Death by China," they catch what he said in a briefing last week with members of the Senate Finance Committee. His priorities:

  • Free and fair trade
  • Bilateral deals (not multilateral ones)
  • Reduction of trade deficit
  • Stronger industrial base
  • Automatic triggers for renegotiation of trade deals

According to people at the meeting, Navarro also said he wanted tools to punish currency manipulation and restrict subsidized, state-owned companies. And he said the WTO has been "unfair" to the U.S., and that Canada had "played" the Americans in NAFTA.

Why this matters: Trump picked Navarro to be head of the newly created White House National Trade Council and he's very in tune with the president's thinking on trade.

Featured

Inside Bitmojii

The Wall Street Journal's front-page A-Hed today's goes inside bitmojis in, "The Pajama-Clad Bitmoji and the 'Creepy Boss': Cartoon-message fad tests office etiquette; 'I embarrassed myself'," by Sarah Needleman, who covers the video game industry.

"Bitmojis are personalized cartoon images that can be pasted into text messages and emails. Using an app from Bitstrips Inc., people craft avatars of themselves—hairstyles, body types, clothing—that the app plops into quirky scenes."
"After winning over teens and young adults on mobile devices, bitmojis are seeping into corporate emails, messaging apps and texts. Now, eager and befuddled workers are figuring out how to use the social tool without breaching professional courtesy."

See more Bitmojis in the Journal's article, "Sending Bitmojis to Co-Workers—What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"