🔉 The Snap and Twitter comeback


February 26, 2021

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The internet is going crazy over eerily life-like deep AI fakes of Tom Cruise on TikTok (more in Snippets). All we know is this: whatever technology does to mimic the 58-year actor, we’ll always have the volleyball scene from Top Gun.

The big idea
David Dobrik

David Dobrik’s $200m photo app Dispo, explained

Zuckerberg. Dorsey. Spiegel. Dobrik?

24-year-old David Dobrik has seemingly overnight garnered as much interest from Silicon Valley as he has from Gen Z for years.

That’s because the YouTube and TikTok star is taking on social giants with a photo app that mimics a — get this — disposable camera.

Dispo brings photography back to simpler times

Dobrik came up with the idea after seeing friends use disposable cameras at parties without worrying about how pics came out.

Dispo is designed to mimic that unpolished, no-editing-involved experience:

  • There are no filter options, just flash on/off
  • Users have to wait until the next morning for photos to “develop”
  • Users can like, share, add to, or comment on photos and “rolls” under themes like architecture, plants, and pasta.

The app also happens to be invite-only. Sound familiar?

That’s cause Dispo is following Clubhouse’s footsteps

The invite-only version of the app — the one with social features — quickly hit its 10k-user limit. 

In October, Dispo raised $4m from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s firm along with VC icons The Chainsmokers and Sofia Vergara.

Earlier this week, following talks with little-known investors Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, and Benchmark, Dispo raised $20m, led by Spark Capital at a $200m valuation, pre-revenue.

A key to success in 2021: authenticity and celebrity

The rise of Dispo comes as the combination of authenticity and star power has become a superpower.

Clubhouse — which facilitates unfiltered conversations among celebrities, business leaders, and technologists — has grown to 10m users and a $1B valuation in a matter of months.

MrBeast — with 54.1m YouTube subscribers — this week announced that his MrBeast Burger ghost kitchen chain sold over 1m sandwiches in under 2 months.

That’s right, YouTubers in their 20s building $200m apps and thousand-chain burger joints… what a time to be alive.

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Snippets
  • Bit of a big deal for Coinbase: The trading platform filed to go public via a direct listing with more than 43m users and $1.3B in 2020 revenue. Recent secondary trading values it at $100B+; this would be the biggest IPO since Facebook (we’ll have a deeper dive next week).
  • Facebook fights: EU regulators are looking to make FB share revenue for publisher content on its platform. This comes after Zuck’s recent media battles in Australia. He prob didn’t foresee these issues when he launched FB in 2004.
  • Facebook banned Myanmar’s military following a coup to seize power from the country’s democratically elected government (in Turkey, FB banned one of the government’s opponents). Zuck DEFINITELY didn’t imagine that in his Harvard dorm.
  • Robinhood vs. Munger: Following Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger’s harsh criticism of Robinhood, a spokesperson from the gambling investing app fired back by calling his comments “elitist.”
  • DoorDash and Airbnb posted their first earnings reports since going public in December. $DASH forecasts its business may slow as normality returns while $ABNB is prepping for things to pick up as people get back to travelling.
  • We are so Stoked: Stoke Space raised $9m for reusable space tech… unlike those incredible vids we see from SpaceX returning rockets, the reusable part Stoke is building is the payload (AKA 2nd stage of rocket launch).
  • Memmo — an app that lets users buy shoutouts from celebs — just raised $10m. It’s very similar to Cameo, but with a focus on European talent.
  • Tom Cruise deep fakes. Click here.
 
Social Wars
social media logos

Snap and Twitter are both on a roll

At the end of 2018, social app Snap was in a daze.

Zucky McNoNewIdeas shamelessly copied Snap Stories on Instagram and — frankly — many industry observers were convinced that the social media wars were over.

As it turns out, social media is as competitive as ever in 2021.

Snap has seen its valuation explode

At its low point, Snap’s market cap was under $10B, leading its cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel to tell The Information[expletive] the markets” while he stuck to a 10-year vision.

It worked: Today, Snap is worth $100B+, and just announced that it expects to see 50% YoY revenue growth for “several years.” (We previously covered its comeback here).

Twitter is also showing signs of life

The social media company was founded in 2006, not long after
Facebook. For years, though, Twitter has lagged FB (the latter has a market cap that is 10x larger).

However, a slew of recent changes are turning the ship around:

  • Acquisition of newsletter company Revue
  • A clone of social audio app Clubhouse (called Spaces)
  • Talk of rolling out subscription services (e.g., upgraded bios)

On Thursday, Twitter’s analyst day showed plans to double revenue to $7.5B by 2023 and reach 315m monetizable daily active users. It also released a Super Follow feature for users to sell exclusive content for $4.99/month.

Its share price is up 50%+ since mid-January and the company is now worth ~$60B.

Throw short video app TikTok into the mix (AND Clubhouse, Dispo) and it’s clear that Zuck isn’t the only one having fun.

(For a deep dive on the newly competitie social media landscape, read this  great piece from tech reporter Casey Newton).

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Digital Art
Beeple

Beeple’s “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” (Source: Christie’s)

Meet Beeple: the artist selling NFT-backed digital art at Christie’s

Beeple, a 35-year-old husband and father of two, has been creating elaborate digital art every day for the past 13 years.

Much of it ends up on his Instagram feed, which now has 1.8m followers.

Yesterday, Christie’s started auctioning off one of his pieces…

… with bidding open until March 11.

This isn’t any old auction, though.

Beeple’s piece — dubbed “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS”, which includes images from his prolific daily output — is a non-fungible token (NFT) based piece of artwork.

Say whuuu?

Per CNBC, “NFTs are unique cryptocurrency tokens used to represent assets.”

Translation: Even though the artwork is digital (which is easily replicated; think GIFs or MP3s), ownership of the piece can be tracked and assigned to an individual.

An art world first

Beeple tweets, “This will be the first time that a global auction house has auctioned off an entirely digital artwork with no physical component.”

He actually sold $3.5m of digital artwork in December and — with NFTs absolutely exploding (read about NFT marketplace NBA Top Shot here) — expect this Beeple piece to get a bit crazy.

Bids hit $2m+ on Day 1, and Christie’s — for the first time — will accept cryptocurrency Ether as payment.

Here are some of Beeple’s other works, from an Esquire profile (wild stuff):

Beeple art: “Fix Kanye”, “Vibe City”, “Guy Fawkes Night” (Source: Beeple via Esquire)

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The Hustle Says

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Musician of the day
Shawn Mendes Genie

Source: Twitter / Genies / @ShawnMendes

Superstar musician Shawn Mendes has partnered with Genies — the world’s leading avatar company — to sell digital goods of himself, with proceeds going to charity.

Like the Beeple art mentioned above, these pieces will be NFT-backed.

If you’re wondering how much money might be raised, check this out: When Genies did a drop of rare limited digital goods (e.g., jerseys, cleats) for legendary German soccer star Mesut Özil… it sold $500k in 10 minutes!

The digital goods will be sold on OpenSea, the NFT marketplace for rare digital goods. The Mendes drop is scheduled for today at 7pm EST.

(Check out our previous coverage of Genies here).

Shower Thoughts

  1. Ever since the launch of the first space station, the place with the highest IQ per capita is no longer on earth.
  2. It’s just as much a “debodying” as it is a “beheading.”
  3. Checking IDs in 2021 is bar math on easy mode.
  4. Every human on Earth is at most your 50th cousin. What a weird family.
  5. Libraries have become the only place where you can borrow ad-free media that doesn’t disappear
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Editing by: Brad “Quick snap” Wolverton, Paul Murky of Murky Research (Public Opinion Pollster).

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