Jul 30, 2019

Axios Login

For as much time as I spend watching "The Office," I can't believe I scored only 65% on this quiz. Clearly, I need to watch it even more. Sorry AJ.

Meanwhile, in between watching Jim, Dwight, Pam and Michael, I did write these 1,206 words.

1 big thing: TikTok is Facebook's antitrust Exhibit A

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

TikTok's explosive rise has given the world a new generation of influencers and memes that befuddle people over the age of 21. It has also handed Facebook a new tool in the social giant's effort to fend off wide-reaching antitrust action, writes Axios' David McCabe.

Why it matters: To neutralize concerns about its market power, Facebook and other tech giants have to successfully define the markets they compete in as broad and teeming with other players ready to challenge their dominance.

What they're saying: During a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing on the market power of online platforms, Facebook head of global policy development Matt Perault pointed to TikTok as evidence that it's still possible to create a successful social network more than a decade after Facebook took off.

  • “We compete with companies from all around the world," he said. "TikTok, for example, a Chinese app launched less than 3 years ago, has been downloaded more than a billion times and was the most downloaded iOS app in 2018.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, seemed concerned enough about Facebook's TikTok argument that he tried to dismiss it preemptively in his opening statement at the hearing.

  • He said that notwithstanding "the growing popularity of TikTok ... Facebook captures over 80% of global social media revenue.”

Context: TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has seen its influence and user base grow substantially in the United States since it was introduced to a stateside audience via a rebrand of the lip-sync app Musical.ly.

  • Young people in particular have been drawn to the ability to share 15-second looping videos often riffing on established memes or popular sound clips. TikTok's appeal echoes that of Vine, the beloved video-sharing app shut down by Twitter in 2016.
  • The app has accumulated cultural capital as well. Lil Nas X's track "Old Town Road" saw its popularity surge earlier this year thanks in part to TikTok.
  • Facebook has, in fact, tried to copy the app's success with a similar product called Lasso.

Between the lines: Unmentioned in Facebook's comments about TikTok is the fact that it not only competes with Facebook, but is one of its advertising customers as well.

  • A source familiar with the matter said that TikTok had spent substantially on online advertising to acquire new users late last year and early this year, including on Facebook.
  • TikTok does not release its user numbers, though in January one firm estimated that it was adding tens of millions of new users a month.

TikTok is not the only company Facebook cites as an important competitor. Others range from video sites like YouTube to messaging apps like Viber and Telegram.

The bottom line: Facebook's TikTok argument is unlikely to placate its most fervent critics.

  • Asked last week about Facebook's argument around TikTok, presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) burst into laughter for 2 seconds, paused as we got onto an elevator, then laughed again.
  • She said that an argument like that coming from Facebook "is a reminder: These guys have too damn much power. It makes them arrogant and disconnected from reality, and I laughed out loud.”
2. Earnings may reveal Apple's iPhone expectations

Apple never gives much insight into what's coming next, but in issuing financial guidance for the coming quarter on Tuesday, the company will be providing at least some sense of its expectations regarding initial sales of the next iPhone.

The financial outlook will be for the July-to-September quarter, so its guidance will reflect only its initial expectations, given the devices usually don't go on sale until September.

  • Also closely watched will be what Apple has to say about its business in China as well as trade tensions.

By the numbers: According to Bloomberg, Apple is expected to earn $2.10 per share on revenue of $53.36 billion.

The bottom line: Expect Apple to highlight its growing services business, while analysts will be closely watching how the all-important iPhone business is doing.

3. Google's Pixel 4 to feature facial and gesture recognition

Screenshot via YouTube

Meanwhile, the rest of the fall hardware lineup that will compete with the new iPhones is coming into focus, with both Samsung and Google sharing details on their next phones ahead of their official announcements.

Google on Monday posted details of the facial and gesture recognition features that will be part of the Pixel 4.

  • As with the iPhone 10 series, users will be able to use their faces to unlock the device, with a radar sensor allowing hand gestures to control the device.
  • Earlier in the year Google tweeted a photo of the rear cameras amid a series of leaks about the device.

Samsung, meanwhile, is roughly a week from its Galaxy Unpacked event in New York, where it is widely expected to announce the Note 10.

Our thought bubble: These companies have experienced enough leaks to know their smartphone secrets won't keep. Announcing key features builds excitement and lets the companies help influence the narrative.

  • Yes, but: It also builds anticipation, which could lead to a letdown if the final devices aren't more exciting than the sum of the features that are shared early.
4. What's no longer just in your wallet

Photo: Johannes Eilsele/AFP/Getty Images

The FBI arrested Washington state resident Paige Thompson Monday morning for the digital theft of tens of millions of credit card applications, multiple news sites reported. Capital One confirmed broad aspects of the arrest, Axios' Joe Uchill writes.

By the numbers: Among the information stolen:

  • Around 100 million credit card applications from between 2005 and 2019.
  • 80,000 bank account numbers.
  • 140,000 Social Security numbers.
  • 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers.

Context: Capital One said it discovered the data breach on July 19 in the process of patching a security glitch reported to the company.

  • The FBI quickly arrested Thompson, who reportedly bragged about the heist online.

Threat level: Capital One's statement said the company does not believe information from the credit card applications has been released online.

The impact: The breach will cost the financial firm $100 million–$150 million to resolve, per Capital One, including the costs of notifying affected applicants, providing applicants with credit monitoring, and other costs.

5. Uber cutting 400 jobs from marketing department

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber is laying off 400 employees from its marketing team across 75 offices, the company told the New York Times. Before the cuts, it had about 1,200 marketing employees, Kia Kokalitcheva reports.

Why it matters: It's not surprising to see Uber attempt to cut costs after a rocky IPO and after its CEO eliminated chief marketing officer Rebecca Messina's position last month. Uber is also reporting its quarterly earnings next week.

Meanwhile, Lyft COO Jon McNeill is leaving the company after less than 18 months on the job.

6. Take note

On tap

  • Tuesday's earnings reports include Apple (see above).

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7. After you Login

This pooch deftly nabbed some freshly baked cookies, but couldn't quite nail the getaway. Technically speaking, he got collared.