🔒 Apple’s privacy updates roil Zuck


January 29, 2021

PLUS: Traders sue the Robinhood app.

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The Gamestop ($GME) story — pitting retail traders from the subreddit r/WallStreetBets against hedge funds — reached (somehow) another level on Thursday.

Robinhood, the widely used trading app, restricted trading in $GME and other popular Reddit names. People are livid… and the week’s not yet over.

The Big Idea
Mark Zuckerberg

Apple’s privacy features are triggering Zuck

Mark Zuckerberg has previously admitted he might “come across as robotic.” And, let’s be honest, he does.

But that changed this week when Zuck unleashed his smack-talking, fight-me-in-the-parking-lot alter ego on Apple.

It all started when Apple and Facebook reported earnings

Apple finished the year with its most profitable quarter ever (no surprise there), breaking $100B+ in revenue for the first time.

Facebook’s report wasn’t too shabby either, beating expectations — with $28B in revenue. But the company’s numbers were overshadowed by Zuckmaster’s spicy comments…

The target: Apple’s competition and privacy measures

Zuck identified Apple as one of Facebook’s “biggest competitors” — and accused the company of using its hardware dominance to unfairly push services like iMessage (which he described as a “linchpin” of Apple’s ecosystem).

He also reiterated his stance that Apple’s upcoming privacy updates — which require users to opt in to data collection — will make it harder for small businesses to reach customers.

Translation: The update will make it harder for Facebook to make bank.

Either way, Apple’s privacy features are confusing people

Last year, the company introduced privacy labels in the App Store so developers could inform users about the info they collect.

The privacy labels are split into 3 categories: 1) data used to track you (e.g., your email address); 2) data linked to you (e.g., your purchase history); and 3) data not directly linked to your account (e.g., Apple Maps).

The goal is to create an easy-to-understand reference — kind of like how a Ben and Jerry’s label reminds you about the 12g of fat you’re about to shovel down your gullet.

The New York Times tested dozens of labels…

… and here are key takeaways:

  • Will it even work? One UX researcher questions whether a label will actually change behavior.
  • Similar apps like WhatsApp and Signal — which both encrypt your messages — can have very different privacy labels.
  • Labels themselves can be long and unclear, as the NYT discovered with Spotify and Apple’s own apps. (Some don’t even have labels.)

Our opinion: We’ll take semi-confusing privacy labels over 100-page terms and conditions any day.

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Snippets
  • Facebook’s oversight board overturned 4 of the company’s moderation decisions. One of the 20 board members said the board “starts with the supremacy of free speech” in reviewing each case. Next up: Donald Trump’s account 🍿.
  • Parler, Signal, and Telegram… are no longer the top apps in the App Store. Those are Reddit and Robinhood (more below).
  • Speaking of Telegram… you can now import your chat history from WhatsApp if you decide to peace out on Zucky McHarvard.
  • X’d: ESPN is looking to sell X Games as it “deals with streaming pressure,” The Information reports.
  • Not a sequel to Back to the Future: “Hyundai’s collaborative flying taxi port receives backing from UK government,” writes CNET.
  • We all knew this was coming: “WeWork [is] in talks to combine with SPAC,” per the Wall Street Journal. The deal could value everyone’s fave punching bag the company at $10B.
  • US airlines lost $35B in 2020so, basically what US hedge funds lost on $GME this week.
$GME
mannequin meme

#Stonkz (Source: Giphy)

Robinhood is facing lawsuits after restricting the trading of GameStop stock

Honestly, we tried not to write about GameStop ($GME) today, but this story is absolutely bonkers (seriously, when is the Michael Lewis book coming)?

If you want to catch up on how this saga has pitted Reddit day traders against fat-cat hedge funds, we’ve got you covered here.

On to the updates:

  • In addition to $GME, traders following the r/WallStreetBets subreddit have been piling into AMC ($AMC), Blackberry ($BB), and Nokia ($NOK).
  • At market open on Thursday, all of these stocks took a beating, and Robinhood — among the most popular trading apps for Redditors — restricted trading in $AMC and $GME (only allowing them to close out positions).
  • Robinhood’s tactics were so questionable lawmakers from both sides (AOC + Ted Cruz) dunked on the app…but don’t expect that unlikely pair to be working together on a bill anytime soon.
  • One hedge fundD1 Capital — is among the biggest losers betting against r/WallStreetBets and also just so happens to be one of Robinhood’s biggest investors.
  • Users have filed lawsuits against Robinhood for restricting trading in $GME (incredibly, more than half of Robinhood users have exposure to the stock).
  • In response, Robinhood says it restricted trading in response to SEC capital requirements. It also said it would allow limited trading of some restricted names — $GME and $AMC both jumped 40%+ after hours on the news.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren lashed out at the SEC, saying ““We need an SEC that has clear rules about market manipulation and then has the backbone to get in and enforce those rules.”

This story is very far from over and we’ll have more on Monday.

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69% of Americans now live in states with legal access to recreational (fun!) or medical (fun, accompanied by a doctor’s note) marijuana.

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It’s a great opportunity to get in on this emerging market… without having to, ya know, actually sell weed.

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Small Business
SMB graphic

With fresh $1.3B valuation, Melio aims to digitize SMBs

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) generate ~44% of all US economic activity — and ~42% of those payments are documented via pen and paper.

A dude named Matan Bar wants to change that. And as the former head of PayPal’s P2P business, he’s probably the right person for the job.

This week, Bar’s SMB payments platform Melio closed $110m in funding ($256m total since its founding in 2018) at a $1.3B valuation.

In 2020, Melio grew 2,000% in the US.

Unlike enterprise-level platforms Bill.com or Tipalti — which Bar thinks are “too overwhelming for SMBs” — Melio was designed for SMBs alone.

SMBs tend to use Square and PayPal for transactions. But when making B2B payments to suppliers, they often just “[stuff] checks in envelopes.”

Instead of forcing businesses to take part in an ecosystem of services, Melio offers a standalone solution for SMBs to digitize paper invoices and bank transfers.

Melio is riding a pandemic-era wave of SMB digitization…

… and highlighted this trend in a recent survey, with 31% of respondents saying that embracing new tech (like digitizing customer and vendor payments) helped their business.

Age was also a factor: 39% of respondents aged 26-41 digitized customer payments, compared to just 12% aged 57+.

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ResortPass is helping hotels make extra cash with ‘daycations’

We all know travel got pounded in 2020, but the numbers are jarring: Flight bookings were down 70%, and hotel occupancy rates decreased 50%, per Airbnb’s S1 filings.

Every industry, including hospitality, has had to get creative to cope.

Enter ResortPass, a startup that offers day passes (AKA “daycations”) for spa and pool use at high-end hotels across the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

With travel restrictions in place…

Airbnb research shows that people have been satisfying their wanderlust through local exploration:

  • Short-distance travel (i.e., travel within 50 miles) grew by 38% YoY
  • Local experiences make up 40% of its projected future business
  • Domestic travel accounts for 77% of all nights booked

Clearly, staycations — AKA vacationing in town — are on the rise.

ResortPass is notching $250 per customer visit…

… including spending on food and beverages.

That is great incremental revenue for the resort industry. That’s not to mention other benefits of the model:

  • There’s no risk to brand integrity
  • People often come back to stay overnight
  • And they bring friends (free word-of-mouth advertising)

Staycations are so 2020. Daycations are here to stay.

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Stat(s) of the day

👀 Check out the price changes for Reddit’s favorite stocks on Thursday ($GME, $AMC, $BB and $NOK), via Yahoo Finance.

Shower Thoughts

  1. 4am is the hour where you’re either up really late or really early.
  2. The Bucs perfectly captured the spirit of Tampa by their feature player being a middle aged man who spent his career in the northeast and then moved to Florida to retire.
  3. Deep down, we all wanted to take the risk of touching an electric fence to see if it really works.
  4. The first bowl of cereal leaves you wanting more; the second bowl makes you wish you stopped at one.
  5. Your phone uses some battery power to track how much battery power you have remaining.
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