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The bathroom stall of social
The Hustle, aka. your new best friend
to me
Yik Yak is down from 50 employees to 20 and they still don’t have a business model.
The Hustle Mon, Dec 12

The rise and demise of Yik Yak

Last week, the anonymous chat platform Yik Yak announced that it will lay off 60% of its employees as it attempts to revive its struggling user base.

How did the app voted “most likely to succeed” by investors like Sequoia become social media’s latest burnout? Well, there are a few theories:

First, the decline of the “field of dreams”

If you build a large enough user base, the belief is that someone will come and buy it — especially if it’s cheaper than doing it themselves.

However, for companies without a clear path to monetization, user acquisition deals (like Google buying YouTube for $1.65B) are much less common today than they were 10 years ago.

Doesn’t look like anyone told that to Yik Yak’s investors, who have yet to see returns on their $73.5M investment. Oops…

Second, the challenge of complete anonymity

Turns out the thing that drew users to Yik Yak in the first place also makes it difficult to create a loyal community of users.

Think about it: Even anonymous platforms like Reddit have power users with recognizable handles and huge fan bases. These return readers can then be monetized through sponsored posts or native advertising.

How the heck do you make any money off unidentifiable accounts?

There’s not a ton of return on anonymous posts about how awesome Chipotle burritos are. It’s basically the equivalent writing your ad on a bathroom stall.

(Wait we just gave ourselves an idea…)

And then there’s the icing on the cake…

Yik Yak’s public battle with cyber-bullying has plagued the platform since it’s inception. Racial slurs and physical threats have resulted in not only PR nightmares, but a petition with over 83,000 signatures to shut it down for good.

All of this means that the Yak, which was once one of the top 10 most downloaded apps, now has less than 100k downloads per month.

New year, new Yak?

Not so much. The company is trying so hard to reinvent itself that it feels like they don’t even know who they are anymore.

Back in March, they started encouraging usernames. Then in September, they mandated them. But once November arrived, they pulled a big ole’ 180 back to anonymous posting. Now that’s the kind of identity crisis a college kid can relate to.


Where the heck are my AirPods, Apple?

Three months after debuting AirPods and sending the entire internet into a frenzy about our wireless future, Apple still hasn’t made them available.

And with the holiday season just around the corner, the timing couldn’t be worse.

What’s the hold up?

It’s all speculation, but according to one Wall Street Journal source (paywall), the trouble “appears to stem from Apple’s effort to chart a new path for wireless headphones.”

See, normally only one wireless earpiece receives a signal via Bluetooth, which it then transmits to the other earpiece.

But with AirPods, each earpiece receives an independent signal from the device. Therefore, Apple must ensure that the audio for each one is in sync… and it looks like this might causing the delay.

Not everyone’s buying that, though

John Gruber, the guy behind Daring Fireball, doesn’t think Apple is having any technology-related issues.

In fact, he says his prototype AirPods have “never once been out of sync” and that “if Apple could mass produce AirPods that worked exactly like my review unit pair does, it would be great.”

(It’s important to note that Gruber is an Apple enthusiast, and also that analysts believe Apple ran into connection issues after sending out prototypes to critics, like Gruber, for review.)

What’s he blame for the delay then?

Apparently, word has spread from the AirPods engineering team that these futuristic, Her-inspired earbuds are “more difficult to manufacture at scale than expected.”

And, considering this is such a rare misstep for the tech giant, and that the last time they postponed a product was due to manufacturing issues, this explanation is much more believable than the most valuable tech company in the world marketing a breakthrough technology that literally doesn’t work…

Then again, Samsung couldn’t make a phone that didn’t blow up, so who knows these days.


High-five for Michigan

It looks like the mitten state has officially given autonomous vehicles the “thumbs up” (nailed it). On Friday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder passed the first bills to approve the operation of self-driving cars on public roads.

This is a huge step for companies like Uber and Google, but the new laws come with a small catch for tech companies.

“Gotta hold hands when you cross the street”

Specifically with traditional automakers. The bills specify that only “motor vehicle manufacturers” can operate a network of autonomous cars, throwing a wrench in the works of companies that make self-driving tech, but not the cars themselves (Apple, Uber, Google).

It also means that, until they can do their manufacturing in-house, they’ll have to work directly with someone who does (Ford, GM, Dodge).

Both Apple and Google have sent strongly worded letters to their local representatives (The Department of Transportation) expressing concern that this will limit innovation in the space. We certainly see their point, but we can’t help but wonder…

Does this mean a comeback for the Motor City?

It looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. This is a huge move to revitalize Michigan’s struggling economy, particularly for automakers in Detroit.

Plus, it looks like old-school manufacturers are already investing in new-school tech. Companies like Ford have launched their own startup incubators dedicated to “mobility innovation” and improving road congestion. Our road rage thanks them.


Crazy stat of the day

According to new research, only 51% of 30-year-olds earn more than their parents did at the same age. Just for reference, that number was 92% back in 1970.

What the heck happened?

While no specific reasons were provided, the researchers blame a slowdown in economic growth and the widening income gap in America.

“Wages have stagnated in the middle class,” one said. “When you’re in that situation, it becomes very hard for children to do better than their parents.”

So much for the American Dream…

This research was conducted by Stanford, Harvard, and UC Berkeley as a way of measuring the strength of the American Dream, and the conclusion was that it’s definitely fading.

Can’t wait to hear how millennials get blamed for this one.

monday morning review

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