Strong ad revenues boost Facebook past expectations as company cites ecommerce boom as tailwind – TechCrunch

Facebook reported its Q3 earnings today, including revenues of $21.5 billion, net income of $7.8 billion. The company earned $2.71 in per-share profit during the three month period.

Analysts had expected Facebook, the social giant, to earn a much-smaller $1.91 per-share off smaller revenues of $19.82 billion.

The company also reported an average of 1.82 billion daily active users in September, up 12% compared to the year-ago period. Monthly actives were 2.74 billion, also up 12%. Both results were ahead of expectations.

Notably Facebook’s headcount rose sharply during the year, rising 32% compared to the year-ago period. That outstripped its 22% year-over-year revenue growth. The company’s total expenses rose 28%, again faster than its revenues.

Shares of Facebook are effectively flat in after-hours trading, up around 0.4% at the time of writing.

The company did not share a specific outlook for Q4 2020 or 2021 in its report, instead noting that it anticipates “fourth quarter 2020 year-over-year ad revenue growth rate to be higher than [its] reported third quarter 2020 rate,” along with stronger non-advertising revenues stemming from Oculus Quest 2 sales, the company’s new VR helmet.

Facebook did say that 2021 will bring a “significant amount of uncertainty.” A potential hurdle of Facebook will be the regulatory environment in Europe, and viability of transatlantic data transfers. Facebook says that its “closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress.”

Analysts expect Facebook to generate revenues of $24.25 billion and per-share profit of $2.67 in the fourth quarter of 2020, and $100.0 billion in 2021 top line leading to $10.26 in per-share income.

What matters in all of this? That the core advertising market that seemed to bolster Snap’s own results has helped fill Facebook’s wings as well. Facebook noted in its earnings that it thinks that the “pandemic has contributed to an acceleration in the shift of commerce from offline to online,” leading to it experiencing “increasing demand for advertising as a result of this acceleration.” Twitter, meanwhile, saw ad revenue only marginally increase, about 8% from the year prior, as advertiser tastebuds remain volatile.

That’s a tailwind from a secular shift. For Facebook, it could mean a good year’s growth.

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Twitter’s API access changes are chasing away third-party developers – TechCrunch

‘Twitter made it mathematically impossible to turn a profit’

On August 12, Twitter launched a complete rebuild of its 2012 API, with new endpoints for data collection, new access levels and a new developer portal. Notably, the version 2 API was presented as a step in mending the notoriously fractious relationship between Twitter and its third-party developer community.

Improvements for third-party developers, however, arrived with hints of irony leaving many startup CEOs in the ecosystem unconvinced. Within 35 days of the v2 launch, Twint, a popular data scraping tool for researchers and journalists, stopped working. Twint is the latest casualty in a long string of third-party applications, including Tweetbot, Twitpic and numerous others that have shut down as a result of Twitter’s API restrictions.

“It may be time to get into another game,” says Ben Strick, a BBC investigator specializing in Twitter analytics.

“The game has already changed,” adds Tim Barker, the former CEO of DataSift, who explained that there is rightful skepticism over improvements in Twitter’s treatment of third-party applications. From a purely business standpoint, once Twitter directly entered the data analytics market after its 2014 acquisition of Gnip, it wanted limited players and no longer a competing ecosystem. Under increased public scrutiny of social media platforms post-Cambridge Analytica, Twitter also prioritized guarding its platform’s image, hoping to ward off increased regulation of its data.

“You can look on Crunchbase, but I can guarantee no one is in their bedroom starting a Twitter-centric startup anymore,” says Barker.

The most glaring evidence of Twitter tightening access to its data are massive hikes in pricing, which have pushed several startups out of the market. “In the early days,” Barker explains, “the pricing of Twitter data was volume based, as they were building an economy and an ecosystem.” But once that market matured and was funded by venture capitalists, Twitter was a post-IPO company that saw an opportunity to churn profits.

According to Stuart Shulman, CEO of Texifter, the market price of high-quality metadata for 100,000 tweets in 2011 was around $25-$50 USD. Today, Twitter estimates for the same quantity of data could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars.

In 2018, Texifter (customer #9 of Gnip) failed to renew its eighth annual agreement for premium Twitter data. During annual contract renegotiations, Twitter sharply increased prices and imposed increasingly stringent regulations, including a quota on the amount of data Texifter could license access to. In Shulman’s words, “Twitter made it mathematically impossible to turn a profit.”



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LA-based MarketerHire upgrades its service matching remote marketers with companies – TechCrunch

MarketerHire, a Los Angeles-based startup backed by a slew of executives from some of the city’s hottest startups, launched its new service matching freelance marketing experts with open jobs listed on its platform. 

“Today’s startup economy depends on the expertise of industry specialists as much or more than full-time generalists,” said Nick Green, co-founder and CEO of Thrive Market, a MarketerHire customer and investor, in a statement. “For a lot of high-growth companies, it no longer makes sense to build a big in-house team; better to leverage the best specialists to get the job done, and MarketerHire enables that talent to be easily found and matched — and all remote.”

To date, the company has raised $4 million in financing from executives like Green and other undisclosed C-suite executives from startups like Zillow, FabFitFun, Seamless and Notion .

The company provides a pre-vetted pool of marketing experts and matches those professionals with open positions posted by brands and agencies based on the qualifications, education, skills and project details they submit. Brands can typically fill their open positions in as little as 48 hours, the company said.

The new upgrade to the company’s service provides brands with a faster matching service based on machine learning algorithms designed to parse available jobs over different attributes across specific functions.

“The term ‘marketing’ has morphed to broadly encompass a growing list of niche specialties and platform-specific skills — from SEO and SMS to Amazon and TikTok,” said investor Andy Appelbaum, managing partner of RiverPark Ventures and co-founder of Seamless, in a statement. “As the algorithms, best practices, and expertise required for effective digital marketing rapidly evolve, organizations need instant access to expert talent to fill gaps in their internal teams.”

The company already counts a customer base that includes Allbirds, Netflix, PUMA and Quip, and it pulls its marketing professionals from a roster of former marketing executives from companies like Netflix, Sephora, Rothy’s, Facebook, Uber and Glossie. And the industry it’s tackling accounts for some $248.9 billion in business spending.

 

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Joe Rogan, Alex Jones and Spotify’s illusion of neutrality – TechCrunch

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken a messy beating from critics unhappy with how they handle questionable content on their platform, with some complaining they don’t do enough to rein in misinformation, and others decrying censorship. But what about Spotify? The company is never mentioned in this context, and with its traditional business couched in streaming recorded music, you might understand why its biggest controversies over the last few years have been over how little musicians get paid.

That position, however, is being jolted into quite different territory now with its move into podcasting, which is raising lots of questions over what role Spotify should and could play in overseeing the content on its platform. Now people are in an uproar of who, essentially, gets a platform on its platform.

That issue was highlighted in the last day, when Joe Rogan — the highly paid podcaster with a libertarian bent — brought on Alex Jones (of InfoWars fame, whose own podcast was removed from Spotify, along with YouTube and others, in 2018) on to his show for a meandering three hours, leading to an uproar over how Spotify is giving a spotlight and microphone to an infamous purveyor of misinformation.

The conversation, which also featured comedian Tim Dillon, covered a pretty wide range of topics, with the common themes being today’s most controversial topics, unproven (or disproven) stories behind them presented as fact, and of course the dastardly Dems.

Rogan made a few attempts at refuting or standing up some of the stories and claims that they covered. Early on, for example, when Jones started to talk about how the Democrats are in the pocket of the lobbyists (while Trump was not, according to him), Rogan called up web links in real time, showing that this isn’t quite so clear, with AT&T admitting to paying Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen fees, to help advance its own position with Trump and his administration.

“I was just trying to give you a Gestalt analysis,” Jones growled in response… He then went into a defense of Jared Kushner. “Everything he touches he turns to gold.” (Except, it seems, this, this, and well, maybe many other things, actually.)

The conversation veered on to a number of other topics, such as how the Democrats were intentionally trying to crash the economy to make Trump look bad, and a discussion, very the foggy on details, of the effectiveness of vaccines (foggy, but probably enough strands of which, in the hands of a person already skeptical, may well be the tipping point to dismissing Covid-19 public health initiatives altogether).

For now, Spotify is not saying anything in response to this publicly. We’ve tried to reach out to the company to get a response to questions about the show, and we will update if we hear back. We’ve had nothing for hours, and a colleague who asked the same questions months ago never heard back either. So we’re not holding our breath.

Notably, while Spotify has detailed how to report illegal musical tracks or explicit lyrics on its platform, it has never outlined its content policies when it comes to podcasting.

And from the looks of it, the company has been using some delaying tactics in facing up to the problem more directly.

BuzzFeed today has published a leaked memo from the company’s legal officer Horacio Gutierrez, from today, which appears to defend the company’s position on publishing controversial podcasts (not this one in particular), giving hosts the freedom to have whichever guests they want, and not responding to public outcry but to refer issues to Trust & Safety to investigate.

“If a team member has concerns about any piece of content on our platform, you should encourage them to report it to Trust & Safety because they are the experts on our team charged with reviewing content,” he wrote. “However, it’s important that they aren’t simply flagging a piece of content just because of something they’ve read online. It’s all too common that things are taken out of context.”

Bulleted talking points about controversial content seem to underscore how Spotify is sticking to a position of being a neutral platform, not a proactive curator: “Spotify has always been a place for creative expressions,” Gutierrez wrote. “It’s important to have diverse voices and points of view on our platform.”

He then noted that if a podcast complies with Spotify’s content policies — it doesn’t make clear what those are — then guests are not banned: “We are not going to ban specific individuals from being guests on other people’s shows, as the episode/show complies with our content policies.”

He noted in closing that “we appreciate that not all of you will agree with every piece of content on our platform. However, we do expect you to help your teams understand our role as a platform and the care we take in making decisions.”

People were upset back when Rogan came to Spotify in an exclusive, reportedly $100 million, deal earlier this summer — an event that first introduced the question of how Spotify would handle content controversies. No surprise there, since Rogan was already courting controversy over, for example, how he uses slurs considered to be transphobic by members of the LGBQT community (an issue that has not gone away). Now those questions are coming up again, along with boycotting threats.

Whether this actually makes a dent in its user base, it does raise lots of questions about how the profile of the company is changing, and that Spotify has been given a relatively easy break when it comes to content on its platform up to now. It’s been optimising for exclusive names and speed to market in getting them (and paying big bucks for the bragging rights), over considering what those names are actually doing, and what impact that could have.

One interesting angle to ponder is whether other high-profile hosts might bail if they feel strongly about Spotify’s editorial position. Another is whether (or when) this will catch the eye of the Powers That Be.

Just today, executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are being brought before the Senate with questions about bias on their platform and how their staff approaches content moderation, and whether they are liable for that content. I don’t know how effective or impactful today’s testimony will be, but for a start, maybe it’s time they start including Spotify in that list, too.



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Watch Facebook, Google, and Twitter’s CEOs defend the law that created social media to Congress – TechCrunch

The CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday in big tech’s latest showdown with Congress.

The Senate hearing will have a narrower, more policy-centric scope than other recent high profile tech hearings, focusing specifically on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That short law might sound obscure, but it’s the key legal shield that protects internet companies from liability for the user-generated content they host, from Facebook posts and tweets to Yelp reviews and comments sections.

Recent big tech hearings have meandered, seldom forcing the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful companies into revealing much. But the cumulative pressure of federal antitrust action, a high-stakes election less than a week away and a number of legislative proposals that could dismantle the law that made their businesses possible will likely set a different tone — and hopefully offer more substance.

You can follow a livestream of the hearing here (above) starting at 10:00 AM ET on Wednesday, October 28. We’ll be following the testimony and all things Section 230, so check back for our coverage of the day’s key takeaways.

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Watch Facebook, Google, and Twitter’s CEOs defend the law that created social media to Congress – TechCrunch

The CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday in big tech’s latest showdown with Congress.

The Senate hearing will have a narrower, more policy-centric scope than other recent high profile tech hearings, focusing specifically on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That short law might sound obscure, but it’s the key legal shield that protects internet companies from liability for the user-generated content they host, from Facebook posts and tweets to Yelp reviews and comments sections.

Recent big tech hearings have meandered, seldom forcing the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful companies into revealing much. But the cumulative pressure of federal antitrust action, a high-stakes election less than a week away and a number of legislative proposals that could dismantle the law that made their businesses possible will likely set a different tone — and hopefully offer more substance.

You can follow a livestream of the hearing here (above) starting at 10:00 AM ET on Wednesday, October 28. We’ll be following the testimony and all things Section 230, so check back for our coverage of the day’s key takeaways.

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Top Facebook India executive Ankhi Das leaves the company – TechCrunch

Ankhi Das, a top Facebook executive in India, is leaving the company on Tuesday months after she was alleged to interfere in how the company enforced its hate-speech policy in the country to show favoritism to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Facebook has denied the allegations, and people close to Das (pictured above) said her departure was not related to recent stories in the press. Das, who served as the Public Policy director for Facebook India, South and Central Asia, said she was leaving the company to pursue her interest in public service.

In a message to her colleagues, Das recounted the early days of Facebook and the internet ecosystem in India when she joined the company in 2011. “We were a small unlisted startup back then guided only by our mission and purpose to connect people in India. After nine long years, I feel that mission has largely been met,” she wrote.

“There is an enormous amount I have learnt from incredibly smart and talented people in the company, particularly from people on the policy team. This is a special company and a special group of people. Thank you, Mark for creating something beautiful for the world. I hope I have served you and the company well. I know we will be in touch on Facebook,” added Das, who was one of the first employees of Facebook in India.

In a statement, Ajit Mohan, the head of Facebook India, said, “Ankhi was one of our earliest employees in India and played an instrumental role in the growth of the company and its services over the last 9 years. She has been a part of my leadership team over the last 2 years, a role in which she has made enormous contributions. We are grateful for her service and wish her the very best for the future.”

According to reports from the WSJ, Das shielded from Facebook’s anti-Muslim hate speech / content moderation policy politicians affiliated with the ruling party in India because she thought it could hurt the company’s business prospects in India, Facebook’s biggest market by users. Facebook, which reaches more than 400 million internet users in India, has spread its tentacles in several categories in the country in recent years, including startup investments and education.

In the days following the publication of the WSJ report, both top political parties in India accused Facebook of showing favoritism to the opposing party. Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s IT minister, further accused Facebook of suppressing right-leaning pages.

Das, who received intense backlash after the publication of reports, filed a criminal complaint against several people whom she alleged attempted to defame her, among other charges. One of the people she named in her criminal complaint was a journalist. A review of the journalist’s post, over which Das had raised concern, found that it was just a summary of a news article.

Das and Mohan have appeared before several panels in recent weeks where they have been asked questions on a wide range of topics by Indian politicians. Early last month, Facebook banned a BJP politician from the platform for violating its hate-speech policy.

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How Jack Dorsey will defend Twitter in tomorrow’s Senate hearing on Section 230 – TechCrunch

Three of tech’s most prominent CEOs tomorrow will face the Senate Commerce Committee during a virtual hearing tomorrow and their opening statements are beginning to trickle out.

The hearing, scheduled for 10 AM ET Wednesday, will see Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet in the hot seat for what’s sure to be a long and winding session on how to rein in big tech’s “bad behavior.”

Specifically, the hearing will delve into a law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a key legal provision that shields online businesses from content their users create.

With the tide of public opinion turning against social networks in light of algorithmically-amplified societal woes, lawmakers are keen to do something about big tech’s unregulated power — they just can’t quite agree on what yet.

A number of competing pieces of legislation have recently proposed changes to Section 230 but it’s not yet clear what set of changes, if any, will prevail in Congress. While both political parties can agree that big tech needs a check on its power, they arrive at that conclusion from very different paths. Republicans remain occupied with claims of anti-conservative political bias in tech, while Democrats are focused on the failure of platforms to remove misinformation and other dangerous content.

Tech companies see any interest in altering Section 230 as an existential threat — and rightly so. The law is critical to growing any kind of online platform with user-made content (social networks, comments sections, even Amazon reviews) without being sued into oblivion.

In his opening statement, Dorsey calls Section 230 “the Internet’s most important law for free speech and safety” and focuses on the kind of cascading effects that could arise if tech’s key legal shield comes undone.

“We must ensure that all voices can be heard, and we continue to make improvements to our service so that everyone feels safe participating in the public conversation—whether they are speaking or simply listening,” Dorsey writes. “The protections offered by Section 230 help us achieve this important objective.”

Dorsey argues that dismantling Section 230 would result in much more content being removed — a line of reasoning aimed at Republicans’ ongoing accusations of political censorship.

He also makes the timely choice to defend Section 230 from an antitrust perspective, arguing that the law made it possible for small internet companies to establish themselves. Dorsey warns that changes to 230 would leave “only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies,” resulting in an even more winner-take-all environment.

Dorsey’s full opening statement is embedded below.

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Former Facebook and Pinterest exec Tim Kendall traces “extractive business models” to VCs – TechCrunch

Last month, former Facebook and Pinterest executive Tim Kendall told Congress during a House hearing on the dangers of social media that Facebook made its products so addictive because its ad-driven business model relies on people paying attention to its product longer every day. He said much the same in the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” in which Kendall — along with numerous other prominent early employees of big tech companies — warns of the threat that Facebook and others pose to modern society.

Kendall — who today runs Moment, an app that helps users monitor device habits and reinforces positive screen-time behavior — isn’t done campaigning against his former employer yet. On Friday morning, we talked with him about the FTC inching closer to filing an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook for its market power in social networking; what he thinks of the DOJ’s separate new antitrust lawsuit against Google; and how venture capital contributed to the “unnatural” ways the companies have commanded our attention — and advertisers’ dollars along with it.

Our conversation has been excerpted. You can hear the full conversation here.

TC: Like everyone else, you wrestle with addiction to the apps on your phone. At what point did you decide that you wanted to take a more public role in helping to identify the problem and potentially help solve it.

TK:  I’ve always been interested in willpower, and the various things that weaken it. I have addiction in various parts of my family and extended family, and I’ve seen up close substance abuse, drug abuse. And as I started to look at this problem, it felt really similar. It’s the same shape and size as being addicted to drugs or having a behavioral addiction to food or shopping. But it didn’t seem like anyone was treating this with the same gravity.

TC: What has been the reaction of your colleagues to you turning the tables on this industry?

TK: It has evolved in the sense that, at the beginning of this, I was kinder to Facebook. When I started talking publicly about my work with Moment, I said, ‘Look, I think that those folks are focused on the right issues. And I think they’re going to solve the problem.’ And I was out there throughout 2018, saying that. Now I’ve gotten a lot more vocal [about the fact that] I don’t think they’re doing enough. And I don’t think it’s happening quickly enough. I think they’re absolutely negligent. And I think the negligence is really about not fully and accurately understanding what their platforms are doing to individuals and what their platforms are doing to society. I just do not think they have their arms around it in a complete way.

Is that deliberate? Is that because they’re delusional? I don’t know. But I know that the impact is very serious. And they are not aligned with the rest of us in terms of how severe and significant that impact is.

I think everyone within Facebook has confirmation bias, probably in the same way that I have confirmation bias. I am picking out the family at the restaurant that’s not looking at each other and staring at their phones and thinking, ‘Look at Facebook, it’s ruining families.’ That’s my confirmation bias. I think their confirmation bias is ‘There’s so much good that Facebook has done and is doing for the world.’ I can’t dispute that, and I suspect that the leaders there are looking to those cases more often and dismissing the severity of the cases that we talk about, [including] arguably tipping the election in 2016, propagating conspiracy theories, propagating misinformation.

TC: Do you think that Facebook has to be regulated the FTC?

TK: I think that something has to change. What I would really like to see is the leaders of government all over the world, the consumers that really care about this issue, and then the leaders of the company get together and maybe at the start it’s just a discussion about where we are. But if we could just agree on the common set of facts of the situation that we’re in, and the impact that these platforms are having on our world, if we could just get some alignment in a non-adversarial dynamic, I believe that there is a path whereby [all three can] come together and say, ‘Look, this doesn’t work. The business model is incongruent with the long-term well-being of society, and therefore —  not unlike how fossil fuels are incongruent with the long-term prospects for Earth, we need to have a reckoning and then create and a path out of it.’

Strict regulation that’s adversarial, I’m not sure is going to solve the problem. And it’s just going to be a drawn-out battle whereby more individuals are going to get sick [from addiction to their phones], and [companies like Facebook are] going to continue to wreak havoc on society.

TC: If this antitrust action is not necessarily the answer, what potentially could be on the regulatory front, assuming these three are not going to come together on their own?

TK: Congress and the Senate are looking really closely at Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that allows — and has allowed since it got put in place in 1996 — platforms like Google and Facebook to operate in a very different way than your traditional media company does, in that they’re not liable for the content that shows up on their network.

That seemed like a great idea in 1996. And it did foster a lot of innovation because these bulletin board and portal-ike services were able to grow unabated as they didn’t have to deal with the liability issues on every piece of content that got posted on their platform. But you fast forward to today, it sure seems like one of the ways that we could solve misinformation and conspiracy theories and this tribalism that seems to take root by virtue of the social networks.

If you rewind five or 10 years ago, the issue that really plagued Facebook and to a lesser extent, Google, was privacy. And the government threatened Facebook again and again and again, and it never did anything about it. And finally, in 2019, it assessed a $5 billion fine and then ongoing penalties beyond that  for issues around privacy. And it’s interesting. It’s been a year since those were put in place, and we haven’t had any issues around privacy with Facebook.

TC: You were tasked with developing Facebook’s ad-driven business and coming up with a way for Pinterest to monetize its users. As someone who understands advertising as well as you do, what do you think about this case that the DOJ has brought against Google. What’s your hot take?

TK: If you’re trying to start an online business, and you want to monetize that business through advertising, it’s not impossible, but it is an incredibly steep uphill battle.

Pinterest ultimately broke through when I was president of Pinterest and working on their revenue business. But the dominance of both Google and Facebook within advertising makes it really difficult for new entrants. The advertisers don’t want to buy from you because they basically can get to anyone they want in a very effective way through Google and Facebook. And so what do they need Pinterest for? What do they need Snap for? Why do they need (XYZ) startup tomorrow?

That’s on the advertising side. On the search side, Google has been stifling competition for years, and I mean that less in terms of allowing new entrants into search — although the government may be asserting that. I actually mean it in terms of content providers and publishers. They’ve been stifling Yelp for years. They’ve been basically trying to create these universal search boxes that provide the same local information that Yelp does. [Yelp] shows up organically  when I search for sandwich shops in downtown San Mateo, but then [Google puts] their own stuff above it and push it down to create a wedge to hurt Yelp’s business so that [Google] can support and build up their own local business. That’s anti-competitive.

TC: Along with running Moment, you’ve been talking with startups that are addressing some of the issues we’re seeing right now, including startups that tell you if a news outlet is left- and right-leaning so you’re aware of any biases ahead of time. Would you ever raise a fund? We’re starting to see these solo GPs raise pretty enormous first-time funds and people seemingly just as happily entrust their money to you.

TK. I think traditional venture capital, with traditional limited partners, and the typical timeframe of seven years from when the money goes in and the money needs to come out, created some of the problems that we have today. I think that companies are put in a position, once they take traditional venture capital, to do unnatural things and grow in unnatural ways. Absolutely the social networks that took venture capital felt the pressure at the board level from traditional venture capitalists to grow the user base faster and monetize it more quickly. And all those things led to this extractive business model that we’re looking at today with a critical eye and saying, ‘Oh, whoops, maybe this business model is creating an outcome that we don’t really like.’

If I ever took outside money to do more serious professional-grade investing, I would only take it from wealthy individuals and there would be an explicit term that basically said, ‘There’s no time horizon. You don’t get your money back in seven to 10 years necessarily.’ I think that’s the criteria you need to have if you’re really going to do investing in a way that doesn’t contribute to the problems and misaligned incentives that we’re dealing with today.

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Facebook launches cloud gaming service – TechCrunch

Facebook gets into cloud gaming while continuing its public dispute with Apple, Ant Group prepares for a massive IPO and Pinterest embraces iOS widgets. This is your Daily Crunch for October 26, 2020.

The big story: Facebook launches cloud gaming service

Facebook is launching a cloud gaming service of its very own, although the focus is different from Google’s Stadia or Microsoft’s xCloud. Rather than trying to recreate the console experience on other devices, the social network’s gaming service is limited to mobile games, particularly on reducing the friction between seeing an ad for a game and playing the game.

The service is launching on the web and on Android, but it’s not available on iOS. Facebook blamed Apple’s App Store terms and conditions for the absence.

Facebook’s Jason Rubin told TechCrunch that Apple’s rules for cloud gaming service present “a sequence of hurdles that altogether make a bad consumer experience.”

The tech giants

Twitter will show all U.S. users warnings about voting misinfo and delayed election results — Starting today, Twitter users in the U.S. will see two large notices at the top of their feeds that aim to “preemptively debunk” misinformation related to voting.

Ant Group could raise as much as $34.5B in IPO in what would be world’s largest IPO — The long-anticipated IPO of Alibaba-affiliated Chinese fintech giant Ant Group could raise tens of billions of dollars in a dual-listing on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

Pinterest’s new widget brings photos from favorite boards to your iOS 14 home screen — As iPhone owners began customizing their iOS 14 home screens with new widgets and custom icons, Pinterest iOS downloads and searches surged.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Tencent leads $100M Series B funding round into China-based esport provider VSPN — Founded in 2016, VSPN was one of the early pioneers in esports tournament organization and content creation out of Asia.

Linktree raises $10.7M for its lightweight, link-centric user profiles — The Melbourne startup says that 8 million users, including celebrities like Selena Gomez and brands like Red Bull, have created profiles on the platform.

This startup wants to fix the broken structure of internships — Symba created white-label software to help companies communicate and collaborate with their now-distributed interns.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Good and bad board members (and what to do about them) — The CircleUp saga brings up questions about what happens behind the scenes at startups and about board composition specifically.

What would Databricks be worth in a 2021 IPO? — We’ve described Databricks as “an obvious IPO candidate,” and now it sounds like an offering is indeed in the works.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

NASA discovers water on the surface of the sunlit portion of the moon — Previously, we knew that water was present as ice on the dark part of the moon, but this is still a groundbreaking discovery.

Human Capital: Court ruling could mean trouble for Uber and Lyft as gig workers may finally become employees — Megan Rose Dickey has officially launched her newsletter focused on labor, diversity and inclusion in tech.

Original Content podcast: ‘Lovecraft Country’ is gloriously bonkers — Bonkers!

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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