Aug 4, 2017

Google reportedly creating Snapchat rival


Google is working on building a Snapchat rival, the The Wall Street Journal reports. Sources say Google is in discussions with several media companies, including Vox Media, CNN, Mic, the Washington Post and Time Inc. about a product called "Stamp" which could be announced as early as next week.

Why it matters: In the race to win the attention economy, tech giants are looking to optimize ways they can deliver content, and especially news content, to audiences in a mobile-first format. Facebook's mobile-first news platform, Instant Articles, is facing backlash from some publishers while Snapchat's mobile-first content platform, Discover, continues to launch more partnerships.

The product is meant to be a fast-loading platform with swipe-based mobile cards (like Snapchat stories) for news content. The name "Stamp" is Stories and Google AMP (its speed-focused mobile news platform) combined. The news comes on the heels of a Business Insider report Thursday that Google wanted to buy Snapchat for $30 billion last year.

Our take: The timing is right for Google to enter the field, but we have three outstanding questions that will determine how Google can compete with its rivals to land publisher deals, attract consumers and sell ads.

1) What will the revenue model look like for publishers?

2) How will they integrate Google search? (Facebook and Snapchat lack search functions in their Instant Articles and Discover Functions.)

3) Who will they let be a part of the program? Will it be open to everyone or a select group of vetted publishers?

A Google spokesperson confirms to Axios that they're working on an open-source project within AMP, but declined to offer more details.

"The success of the open source AMP project is down to the constant collaboration with publishers that involves working early on upcoming features. We don't have anything to announce at the moment but look forward to sharing more soon." - Google spokesperson

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Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump administration to eliminate nuclear waivers tied to Iran deal

Pompeo testifies on Iran in February. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. is ending waivers that had allowed foreign companies to work at Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: This will eliminate most elements of U.S. sanctions relief still in place two years after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo said "continued nuclear escalation" made the move necessary, but critics warn it will encourage further Iranian enrichment.

Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.