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Situational awareness: Enterprise collaboration platform Slack has raised $427 million in new Series H funding at a valuation north of $7.1 billion. Axios' Dan Primack explains that it's a big deal because while Slack is massive and has subsumed some rivals, this new money reflects how competition is intensifying from deep-pocketed incumbents like Facebook and Microsoft.
FiftyThree is best known for its sketching app, Paper. Photo: FiftyThree
Subscriptions are the wave of the future for the mobile software industry, but they are by no means a panacea.
Case in point: FiftyThree, which is the well-regarded maker of apps like Paper and Paste, shifted to a subscription model but nonetheless couldn't turn the corner as an independent company. The company announced today it has sold its assets to WeTransfer, a 10-year-old company specializing in online file transfers.
Why it matters: Subscriptions to mobile apps offer developers a more predictable flow of revenue, and even the possibility of more total revenue over time. However, users remain wary of paying for consumer software, especially mobile titles, and even those who are comfortable with them may feel subscription overload as they pile up.
The details: It's not clear how much FiftyThree investors are getting. Terms were not disclosed and FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg declined to say whether the assets were valued higher or lower than in the company's last investment round. FiftyThree has raised more than $45 million in venture funding, per Crunchbase.
The big picture: In general, subscriptions can help developers better plan the lifecycle of products and what features to add.
"Predictability of revenue is certainly a big driver for subscriptions."— Carolina Milanesi, analyst, Creative Strategies
However, some categories seem to be more lucrative than others. "I have seen apps in health and fitness and education/learning use subscriptions quite successfully," Milanesi tells Axios, pointing to areas like language courses as well as apps for drawing/painting, cooking, exercise, weight loss or those for learning an instrument.
Creative Strategies recently asked consumers what would make them subscribe to an app. Here's what they found:
The bottom line: Software producers face the same cruel economics of abundance that media producers have been coping with since the advent of digital distribution. When there's plenty of "good enough" products available for free, it's hard to get people to pony up money, even for superior offerings.
Russian hackers continue to take aim at U.S. politics. Among the targets this time were conservative think tanks that have broken ranks with President Trump and promoted democracy in Russia, according to the New York Times.
Driving the news: Microsoft recently seized 6 potential phishing domains associated with the Kremlin-backed hackers Fancy Bear, which had tampered with the 2016 election and likely intended to target 2 conservative groups and the U.S. Senate. It appears Microsoft shut down the domains before they were ever actively used.
Why it matters: Spies have infiltrated legislative bodies and political groups from time immemorial, usually for boring reasons, like getting an edge in trade negotiations. But Russia's mass public dumping of stolen documents in 2016 broke the norms of espionage.
Be smart: The targeting of conservatives shows that Russia remains interested in gathering information on all sides. Prior to the 2016 elections, Russia hacked both Democrats and Republicans, yet only released files that harmed Democrats. Microsoft's moves suggest that Russia continues to hack both sides of the aisle.
Go deeper: Axios' Joe Uchill has more here.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
CoinDesk is the hottest digital media startup that most people haven't heard of, generating around $20 million in revenue through the first seven months of 2018. It's also profitable, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.
The bottom line: Three years ago the business was sold for just $500,000, but that was before cryptocurrencies and blockchain went mainstream. Its revenue has since grown tenfold, with a significant portion coming from an expanding events business. Its annual Consensus conference had 8,500 attendees in 2018, up from 625 in its 2015 debut.
CoinDesk was born in May 2013 as the brainchild of entrepreneur and investor Shakil Khan, who had been interested in bitcoin and wanted a simple site to track news and pricing data about the cryptocurrency.
“When we first launched CoinDesk, the goal was simply to supply the market with accurate and reliable information on digital currency,” Khan tells Axios. “As the community increasingly looked to us for the latest industry developments and our perspective on them, building a media business around that based also on data and events felt very organic.”
Yes, but: CoinDesk remains exposed to cryptocurrency's volatile cycles, including the recent fall in bitcoin prices.
Go deeper: Kia has more here.
More than a dozen companies, including Google, Apple and IBM, are no longer requiring applicants to have college degrees, CNBC reports.
Why it matters: Many jobs have historically required employees to hold college degrees even if they're not relevant or needed. This is connected to an effort to improve diversity and make it easier for those who attend coding boot camps or pursue other non-traditional college paths to be hired.
Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
Monday was our son's first day of kindergarten. Congrats Harvey!