Under the deal, content from certain BuzzFeed verticals will now be distributed to Toutiao’s 120m+ users in Asia.
What’s ByteDance, again?
Founded in Beijing in 2012, ByteDance is best known for Toutiao, a $20B news aggregation app that seizes on China’s Facebook ban by using algorithms to “generate a tailored feed list” of news for each individual user.
The platform is immensely popular as a news source for Chinese millennials — though only about 10% of the “news” on any given feed comes from actual news outlets (the majority is sourced from 800k independent “content creators”).
ByteDance also owns TopBuzz (a US-focused app), Musical.ly (live streaming app), and Xigua (video app) — all rapidly-growing platforms in their own right.
This is big for BuzzFeed
As Axios reports, BuzzFeed already reaches 83% of millennials in the US on any given month. They’ve saturated the market, and this move allows them to expand into the world’s 2nd-largest ad market.
It’s a promising opportunity for BuzzFeed to boost their reach — especially in the wake of missing 2017 revenue targets and laying off 6% of their staff.
It’s also a leap for US media companies at large
Foreign publishers and social networks have long faced the “Great Firewall of China” — strict online regulations and censorship imposed by the Chinese government, in an effort to eliminate content that violates the country’s “socialist core values.”
Many of the platforms BuzzFeed relies on for content dissemination (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) are blocked in China, and ByteDance gives them a state-approved distribution network.
That, of course, comes with its own set of issues. Though, articles like “Leonardo DiCaprio Might Be A Human Puppy” are probably safe from censorship.
5 Reasons to Expand to China
Let’s get social: Google is testing a local news app called Bulletin
Mom, Google’s testing social tools again…
This time it’s called Bulletin: an app that will allow anyone to publish local news stories, happenings, or events going on in their neck of the woods.
According to Google, the app is for posting photos, video clips, or good old fashioned bloggin’ prose to specific communities via the web, kinda like… a Facebook group.
What does it all mean, Basil?
Google is really pushing the community aspect with the app. Giving a platform to locals who want to let their community know the goings on around their area — much like a local newspaper would.
With the platform, they hope to regulate the rate at which viral or “fake” news travels, mainly by keeping it downhome. Like, BREAKING: Feral coyote caught roaming Clementina Street. Passersby beware, or, anyone seen my bike?? *facepalm meme*
For now, the local interest platform is only testing in Nashville (TN) and Oakland (CA).
Google: the unsocialer
Google is… well, Google. But for all that the search engine powerhouse is, it is not historically adept at creating social platforms.
Remember Google+? They spent a ton of cash in their failure to try to turn gmail into Facebook, and that was one of their more successful attempts.
That said, in a time when “fake” news fatigue seems to be flooding the figurative and literal streets, this could be just the hyperlocal outlet the doctor ordered.
Didi is dominating ridesharing in China — now they’re dipping into their $9B of fun money
Chinese-ride-hailing star Didi Chuxing has been raking in the funding, and last week, they flexed their #gainz hard by opening their 3rd AI research lab, in Beijing, said to “push the boundaries of transportation innovation.”
This comes after a monster investment year in 2017, when they raised over $9B from investors. That puts Didi at a whopping $56B valuation, with investors like Alibaba, Tencent, and Apple.
FYI, that’s higher than Uber
Yep, Uber is usually valued between $68B and $78B, but last month, their partnership with Softbank came at a 30% discount, putting Uber close to a $48B valuation, and let’s just say, Didi is striking while the iron is hot.
Aside from out-valuing them, they’re also gobbling up some of Uber’s other international competitors, like 99 — Uber’s Brazilian rival — acquiring the ride-hailing company for close to $600m.
Just a little extra insurance in the fight for worldwide ride-hailing domination…
Back to the labs
The Beijing research labs will employ more than 200 engineers and AI experts to tackle transportation-related AI challenges, like enhancing computer vision, deep learning, and other cool robot smarty pants kinda stuff.
Chinese tech companies have been making a huge push to expand their AI initiatives in the US lately, and Didi’s new Beijing lab will work in conjunction with the AI hub they launched in Silicon Valley last March.
Ping pools are like ‘dark pools of liquidity’ on steroids
You probably don’t know what any of that means. Well, gather ‘round kids, ‘cause you’re gonna learn today.
Private exchange groups (or “dark pools”) that aren’t accessible to the general investing public have actually been around since the ‘80s as a way for big institutional investors to make large-scale trades without making a splash in the public market.
In recent years, these “VIP” investment groups have become incredibly commonplace: as of 2014, off-exchange trading made up 40% of all US stock trades, up from 16% in 2012.
Dark pools are a special type of investment group where all the participants are completely anonymous. Neither party involved in the trade knows the other’s identity, or even the reason the shares are being put up for sale.
It’s essentially a financial glory hole for large-scale trades that allows participants to sidestep exchange fees and public disclosures.
Which brings us to the ping pool
Where dark pools consist of multiple buyers and sellers, ping pools are completely controlled by a single company, which buys and sells chunks of stock for clients, all with the same privacy as a dark pool.
Sounds peachy. However, pool owners’ bird’s-eye view of multiple private trades leads many to wonder if they’re actually working on behalf of investors, or just using their knowledge to bet against trades and profit from brokers who pay to post their trades in the group.
In the SF office on Friday we started doing that thing that co-workers do: talking about our weekend plans — specifically, our Sundays.
Our CEO Sam has “tech-free Sundays,” where he ditches his phone and spends time outside. Becca, our account manager, is known to hit up a cool craft brewery or hike. I usually go for a long run, throw on a record, or do improv with a team in the city.
And it got me thinkin’: We talk to you guys Mon-Fri, and we have at least a loose idea of how you guys spend your days during the week. But, if you’re anything like me, the weekend is a whooole different ballgame.
So, how would you describe your “Sunday self?”
Weekend warrior: You’re either recovering from a hangover… or already at a bar.
Nature fiend: You’re spend the rest of the week at your desk, so you’re out and about, taking in the sights.
Unplugger: Anything… as long as it’s not work-related.
Netflix binger: If anyone needs you, you’ll be on the couch.
Workaholic: The world is a desk, and all the people merely employees.
Respond with your number or weekend persona, or chime in on this Facebook post here. Cheers to the freakin’ weekend.
— Lindsey, VP of going off the grid
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