🖥️ Wikipedia is making money moves


March 18, 2021

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The Big Idea
Wikipedia

Big Tech loves using Wikipedia. Now, the free site is planning an enterprise product.

Chances are, you use Google to find answers. Chances also are, Google uses Wikipedia to find answers to your questions.

Partly because of this — and other cases like it — Wikipedia’s site traffic has remained static for years.

That’s a problem for the Wikimedia Foundation — a nonprofit that relies on site traffic to drive donations that support its existence.

And Big Tech is the main culprit 

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and others leverage Wikipedia’s content for a wide range of commercial purposes, including:

  • The “infoboxes” displayed in search engine results
  • Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa
  • Information on digital maps
  • Fact-checking tools on Facebook and YouTube

The Wikimedia Foundation is fully aware that Big Tech invests big money into reworking Wikipedia data for its own products.

So now Wikimedia wants to make their lives a whole lot easier

Any company can freely use Wikipedia data through a clunky API. But Wikipedia-reliant products need teams of people to clean up and manage data.

So, the nonprofit is building the Wikimedia Enterprise API — designed to quickly deliver cleaned, tailored data paired with high-level customer service — to make the process easier, faster, and a whole lot cheaper.

The enterprise move is a long-term sustainability play

Individual donations aren’t going anywhere — Wikimedia estimates ~8m readers will donate this year at an average of $15 per donation. In 2019, the foundation raised $122m, up 18.5% YoY.

But as Wikipedia’s content is increasingly drawn from the site rather than viewed on wikipedia.org, the foundation sees a need to diversify its revenue streams for the long run.

It’s a strategic move from one of the world’s most successful internet companies (the 13th most-visited site in the world) — that also just so happens to be a nonprofit.

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Snippets
  • Apple dumps supplier: The company reportedly cut ties with Chinese supplier Ofilm over allegations of involvement in a government program to transfer ethnic minorities from Xinjiang to work in other areas.
  • Zuck cracks down: Facebook announced a swath of new group moderation rules in a broad effort to lower the temperature on the platform and stop the spread of misinformation and harassment.
  • A new AI copywriting startup — rightly named Copy.ai — raised a $2.9m funding round led by Craft Ventures. The company offers automated copywriting tools built atop Open AI’s mind-blowing GPT-3.
  • Opendoor founder Keith Rabois is going stealth with his new startup OpenStore (wonder where he got the name). The new venture reportedly plans on buying up a bunch of smaller ecommerce businesses.
  • Weed gets its own Shopify: Dutchie — a 4-year-old startup out of Oregon that helps dispensaries run websites and process orders– raised $200m at a high $1.7B valuation.
  • Not your grandparents’ bank: Crypto wealth management is a new reality at Morgan Stanley, the first major US bank to offer wealthy clients access to funds that enable ownership of bitcoin.
  • Fed Chairman Jerome Powell (AKA J Pow) said that he doesn’t expect to raise interest rates through 2023. Unsurprisingly, stonks responded to the news by stonking and the Dow closed above 33k for the first time ever.
New Funding Alert

Airtable and the unbundling of Microsoft Office

You probably used a Microsoft Office product this morning.

Whether that be Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or… gasp… Teams.

Unsurprisingly, this part of Microsoft’s business — dubbed Business & Productivity — is a complete cash cow, bringing in $10B+ a quarter.

Where there’s money…

… there are companies sniffing around. No one has sniffed harder than Google, which jacked recreated Office with Google Workspace (e.g., Sheets, Docs, Slides).

But there are also many startups building products to unbundle the individual Microsoft Office tools:

  • Notion is building a more collaborative and feature-filled alternative to Word
  • Figma is a better visual-creation tool than PowerPoint
  • Superhuman is creating a better email experience than Outlook

To see how lucrative the opportunity is, look no further than Airtable — an alternative to Excel that just raised $270m at a $5.8B valuation.

Airtable’s secret sauce…

… is that it is a no-code platform, as explained by Forbes. You can do all the spreadsheet-y stuff you do with Excel, but you can also customize it to create software tools… without having software experience.

Airtable is supercharging its functionality by building the equivalent of an App Store for the product, allowing 3rd-party creations into the ecosystem.

The startup already has 250k+ users, and its enterprise customer base — the bread-and-butter for Microsoft — is up 350% YoY.

As long as startups leave =SUM() alone, unbundle away.

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Big Tech Antitrust

Unreleased FTC documents detail Google’s monopoly playbook

In the last year, a total of 3 antitrust lawsuits have been brought against the Big G.

One — from the US Department of Justice and filed in October — claims Google used anti-competitive tactics to maintain its monopoly over mobile and desktop search.

This isn’t Google’s first antitrust rodeo

Far from it. Politico recently uncovered FTC documents from 2012 that detail a probe by antitrust investigators into Google’s search practices focused on, you guessed it, Google’s mobile search.

The documents disclose Google’s internal playbook to maintain search dominance in the early days of smartphones — the forgotten days of Microsoft smartphones, Yahoo, and Gangnam Style.

Evidence like:

  • “Humongous” payments to wireless carriers to keep Microsoft and Yahoo out
  • A deal with Apple to share 50% of ad revenue for the first 5 years and 40% thereafter to remain the default search engine on Safari.
  • Emails between Google executives and wireless carriers stating Google is “paying revenue share *in return for* exclusivity”
  • Android Chief Andy Rubin advocating for Verizon to drop Bing so Google would “own the US market” in an email to then-CEO Eric Schmidt

But no lawsuit was brought against Google

The FTC antitrust attorneys who conducted the investigation recommended an antitrust lawsuit be brought against the company, but the 5 FTC commissioners at the time sided with the staff economists.

The economists argued the mobile search market in 2012 was too small to bring an antitrust lawsuit.

Fast forward a decade, Google is still being Google, and mobile search is no longer desktop’s little bro. Your move, feds.

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Stat of the day

Is this a buy or sell signal? (Source: SOPA Images / Getty Images)

SPAC forecasts are bonkers. One of the most controversial features of the public listing craze known as special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) is that these deals regularly give long-term revenue forecasts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the traditional IPO process “strongly discourage[s]” this practice. SPACs — with lighter regulatory touch — are happily throwing projections out.

A major trend is electric vehicle (EV) companies forecasting insane revenue growth.

These 3 EV companies all project to hit $10B in sales within 3 years of hitting the market: Faraday Futures, Fisker, and Arrival.

To give an idea of how unlikely these targets are, consider how long it took leading public companies to reach $10B in sales, per WSJ:

  • Google = 9 years
  • Facebook = 11 years
  • Tesla = 11 years
  • Amazon = 12 years

It’s not just new EV companies making future forecasts either.

Earlier this week, German car giant Volkswagen held a Power Day (aping Tesla’s Battery Day concept) touting its new car battery technology called “unified cell.”

The presentation was very slick, but the tech won’t be available until 2023. Other heady VW projections include 450k+ EV deliveries in 2021 (double last year) and 3m units per year by 2025.

Investors praised this forward-looking news. Volkswagen stock is up ~50% since last Friday.

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