Nike, Under Armour and Adidas have all passed on endorsing NBA draft prospect Lonzo Ball, reportedly due to LaVar Ball’s efforts to include the licensing of Big Baller Brand.
Lonzo Ball may be one of the most talked about pro prospects in sports history, but in this day an age, there is such thing as bad publicity. While Lonzo has stayed relatively quiet and let his hoops do the talking, father Lavar has made him and his sons the butt of many jokes thanks to his outlandish comments. The most outrageous, of course, was his $1 billion price-tag for all three sons as a group deal, which many sneaker industry experts found completely inane.
Well, the Big Baller Brand took a bit of a hit as ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that Nike, adidas, and Under Armour are not interested in signing Lonzo Ball. Lavar, who represents Lonzo and his sons, insisted that one of the brands license their Big Baller Brand and even went as far as showing them a shoe prototype. Lavar says he and his sons are not looking for a typical shoe contract, but rather a business partner.
Lonzo is projected to be one of the top picks of the upcoming NBA Draft and potentially be the first overall selection. But for all three big brands to kick a prospect of Lonzo’s nature to the curb speaks volumes and it doesn’t appear that the Ball billion dollar dynasty is starting anytime soon.
During his first trip to Michigan, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg visited the Ford Rouge Plant.
He says he had the opportunity to play a small part in assembling some Ford F-150s by adding cleats, antennas and drilling screws.
Zuckerberg even signed the inspection sticker on one of the vehicles that’ll soon be owned by a surprised driver.
He says the most interesting part of his trip was talking to the workers who keep the plant running each day.
“Working at Ford is a long term thing,” he wrote. “Most of the workers I met had been at the plant for at least a decade, and a lot of them have kids and friends who work there, too. Someone told me that when you spend 11 hours a day, four days a week together, you end up becoming family and friends outside of work, too.”
Working on an assembly line is a physically demanding job, he says, and he heard from workers first-hand about just how hard it can be.
“Each person told me separately how important it is to have good shoes because you’re essentially walking on a treadmill for 10 hours a day. Every 52 seconds, you have to go through your set of tasks — 650 times a day,” he wrote. “You have to be perfect, but the biggest challenge is having the focus to do the same thing over and over again.”
Snapchat is looking to geofilters as the next source of growth for its fledgling ad business.
Starting Monday, Snapchat maker Snap Inc. is allowing its ad partners in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada to sell and manage sponsored geofilters, which allow Snapchat users to place special filters over their photos and videos in certain locations.
Snap’s more than a dozen outside ad partners, like Amobee and VaynerMedia, will now be able to sell sponsored geofilters alongside fullscreen video ads, a Snap spokesperson told Business Insider. Sponsored geofilters could previously only be purchased directly through Snapchat’s own self-service tool, which launched in February 2016.
By giving outside partners the ability to buy, manage, and report analytics for sponsored geofilters alongside video ads, Snap is hoping that the geofilter format will catch on more widely with advertisers. The company has previously touted paid, on-demand geofilters as a more consumer-oriented feature by showing how people can create custom filters for events like weddings and birthday parties.
Snap is also looking to make paid geofilters more available to marketers with other outside partners. In the coming weeks, the company will start selling on-demand geofilters through the wedding planning site WeddingWire, Hootsuite, Eventfarm, and MomentFeed.
Snap has yet to disclose how much money it makes off sponsored geofilters, and pricing for the format varies based on duration and location. Covering the size of about 17 football fields in downtown Los Angeles for five hours on a Friday evening would cost roughly $35, for example, while the same size and duration in midtown Manhattan would cost roughly $170.
Snapchat’s geofilters are another feature that’s been copied by Facebook, which recently started showing location-specific camera frames in Instagram and is currently testing them in its main app.
Ride-hailing app Gett today confirmed that it will acquire Juno, another app in the on-demand transportation industry, for $200 million, reports TechCrunch. The deal will combine Juno’s network of New York City-based drivers under Gett’s and continue to offer drivers a 10 percent commission rate while giving them 100 percent of tips. (Uber’s commission ranges between 20 to 25 percent.)
Juno launched in New York City just one year ago, and initially pitched itself toward drivers, not riders. It promised to be a more “ethical ride-sharing app,” offering drivers $50 a week to keep the app open during normal work hours and a rating system that deducted 5 percent of their lowest ratings on a weekly basis.
In light of recent press around Uber’s shady business practices, consumers have been rapidly switching to competitors like Juno, Lyft, and Gett. Just a few days after the #DeleteUber campaign began in January, Lyft surpassed Uber in app downloads for the first time ever. Gett also reported that in the last quarter, its revenue and rides completed grew 100 percent.
Gett currently services 100 cities worldwide, including New York, Tel Aviv, London, and Moscow. Its acquisition of Juno aims to help it further expand in the United States.
Yazmin Cavale thinks of the process of taking her freelance beauty business to become Glow, the beauty-on-demand app, as a series of goals.
Can I convince someone to book an at-home makeup appointment online? Check.
Can I get a booking through someone who doesn’t know me? Check.
Can I get a whole market of people who don’t know me to buy my product? Check.
Can I get investors? Glow just closed its first $250,000 round of fundraising.
Cavale launched her app in November before becoming one of the first companies to complete the Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator program. She just closed on her first round of funding, and the investors couldn’t get much closer to home: The Innovation Depot; Scott McGlaun, chairman of the Depot’s board and Chief Information Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; and Molly LaBorde, Chief Operating Officer at the Depot.
“This is the time I’ll hold so dear to my heart, because it’s been such a process, and every step has been so monumental,” Cavale said. “Of course, there’s downsides to everything, and it’s definitely a roller coaster, but it’s those steps moving forward that just push us.”
The round will fund Glow’s first expansion outside Birmingham: by the end of July, Glow plans to be up and running in Nashville. Cavale will be there this week interviewing make-up artists and hoping to find a full-time sales lead and full-time artist leader there.
“Nashville is going to be different. It’s a different market and we’ll market to different groups, and really find out what works with a touristy market,” Cavale said. “Birmingham is more everyday women and weddings and things like that, where Nashville is a high tourist area. So we’re going to see what works there, and that way we have two markets to base our next move on.”
The app works similar to Uber or Lyft, but instead of GPS finding you the nearest cab, it uses GPS to find you the nearest makeup artist, hair stylist or spray tanning professional. After you input the service you want and your location or home address, you browse available beauty professionals sorted by how close they are to you. You can check each professional, read user reviews, and browse photos of his or her work without leaving the app.
You request an artist-an independent contractor-who can accept or reject the booking. Glow offers make-up, spray tan and hair styling and blowout services. Services range in price from $50 to $175, but the average booking is about $100.
Glow hopes to hit 200 bookings per month this month, and within a year of launching in Nashville, it aims to hit 1,000 bookings a month.
“We keep seeing bookings grow each month. We don’t want to see it taper,” said Jim Cavale, Yazmin’s husband and an entrepreneur himself, a former President of Iron Tribe Fitness. He’s not full-time with Glow, but he’s helping with the launch and building the brand. “We think it’s very possible, being just four months in and hitting 20 percent of that just in Birmingham.”
Glow is partnering on the launch with New York City-based marketing firm VaynerMedia, the marketing firm of Gary Vaynerchuk, an investment fund owner who has invested in companies like Uber, Facebook and Birchbox, as well as an author and Internet personality.
Glow has also applied for up to $100,000 in grants to help grow the business without giving up any more equity.
“We could have raise money upfront, but we didn’t. We self-funded it, and I was still leading Iron Tribe at that point. But we said, let’s just tough it out, let’s self fund it, let’s make it work, because we would give up way too much if we raised money before we even had a client,” Jim Cavale said.
“We want to, in Nashville, create a prototype that people see as scalable. If the Nashville launch is successful, the valuation of this company will increase, and the next round of capital could be significant but without giving up as much.”
Snapchat maker Snap Inc. is saying ‘Hallo’ to media outlets in Germany with the launch of its Discover section in the country.
Bild, Spiegel Online, Sky Sport, and Vice will begin publishing content in German on Snapchat starting April 25, a Snap spokesperson told Business Insider. Like messages in the app, each publisher’s collection of stories will disappear after 24 hours.
“We want Snapchatters everywhere to have content that is relevant to them, in their own language, from trusted media brands,” Snap’s VP of content, Nick Bell, said in a statement. “Starting today, German Snapchatters will for the first time have local content in Germany, in German, from German publishers.”
Snapchat expansion into Germany marks the fourth international version of its Discover section to date. Discover began in English before a French version was launched in September 2016. A small Norwegian version with one participating publisher was made available in January — roughly half of all smartphone users in Norway are on Snapchat, according to eMarketer.
Creating language-specific versions of Discover in highly developed, monetizable countries falls in line with Snapchat’s overall business strategy. Snapchat is also gaining momentum in Germany; a study by UM from November 2016 found that 24.3% of Snapchat users in that country said they opened the app every day, marking a 207% increase from the year before.
With Discover, Snapchat initially took a cut of the revenue participating publishers gained from video ads next to their stories. Recode reported in October that Snapchat started prioritizing a licensing model, which would let it keep all ad revenues in exchange for paying publishers an upfront fee. A Snap spokesperson told BI that the company is sharing ad revenue with publishers in Germany, not paying upfront.
Snap has said it intends to focus its advertising efforts on the world’s top ad markets, which are primarily in North America and Europe. Total ad spend in Germany is expected to swell from $18 billion in 2016 to $21 billion by 2020, according to IDC.
Snap recently opened its first office in Germany and hired Marianne Bullwinkel as its manager for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. She previously held the same role at Facebook.
The additional focus on Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, comes as Snapchat has faced criticism for a perceived bias favoring affluent markets. A recent lawsuit by a former Snap employee, alleging that Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said Snap was “only for rich people” and not for countries like India, has caused a furor in India. Snap has denied that Spiegel made the comments.
Facebook wants you to think about whether a headline is true and see other perspectives on the topic before you even read the article. In its next step against fake news, Facebook today begins testing a different version of its Related Articles widget that normally appears when you return to the News Feed after opening a link. Now Facebook will also show Related Articles including third-party fact checkers before you read an article about a topic that many people are discussing.
Facebook says “That should provide people easier access to additional perspectives and information, including articles by third-party fact-checkers.”
Essentially, rather than trying to convince someone that what they just read might be exaggerated, overly biased, or downright false, Facebook wants to raise people’s suspicions before they’re indoctrinated with lies and embellishments. The feature could break you out of your filter bubble before you fall in any deeper.
If you saw a link saying “Chocolate cures cancer!” from a little-known blog, the Related Article box might appear before you click to show links from the New York Times or a medical journal noting that while chocolate has antioxidants that can lower your risk for cancer, it’s not a cure. If an outside fact checker like Snopes had debunked the original post, that could appear in Related Articles too.
Facebook says this is just a test, so it won’t necessarily roll out to everyone unless it proves useful. It notes that Facebook Pages should not see a significant change in the reach of their News Feed posts. There will be no ads surfaced in Related Articles.
Facebook originally launched Related Articles in 2013 to surface more interesting links about a topic you just read. But after being criticized for allowing fake news to proliferate during the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook began working with third-party fact checkers to append warnings to disputed articles.
Mark Zuckerberg later said in his humanitarian manifesto that one way to combat the problem was by broadening people’s views. “A more effective approach is to show a range of perspectives, let people see where their views are on a spectrum and come to a conclusion on what they think is right. Over time, our community will identify which sources provide a complete range of perspectives so that content will naturally surface more.”
Some publishers might not be excited about their more well-known competitors potentially hijacking their readers through Related Articles. But as Facebook seeks to fight the scourge of fake news without necessarily becoming the arbiter of truth itself, its best bet may be to expose a range of opinions about a topic and hope people understand the most outlandish (and viral) takes might not be worth reading.
Publishers are making it clear that they’re fed up with Facebook’s Instant Articles and its inability to make them money.
“If IA monetization doesn’t dramatically improve, high quality publishers will continue to pull out,” said Dan Check, vice chairman of Slate, which publishes most of its Facebook articles to Instant. “There’s just no reason for publishers to continue to lose money on IA this far after launch.”
Publishers including The New York Times and The Guardian have pulled out of the fast-loading mobile articles feature. Its critics say that Facebook has to do a better job of helping them monetize and connect directly to their readers. But Facebook can save IA by improving its subscription products, giving publishers more control over their inventory and providing more user data.
Instant Articles load faster than old-fashioned Facebook links that take users back to the publisher’s website. But IA keeps users within Facebook’s app, where they are harder for publishers to monetize.
Facebook claims that an IA link is 20 percent to 50 percent more likely to be clicked than the equivalent mobile link. But even if IA brings in more readers it can be tough to monetize them because publishers have less control over the formats and frequency of ads in its articles. And at a time when publishers are looking harder at subscription models, some are disappointed in the platform’s call-to-action units — which let publishers serve messages in IA inviting people to sign up for a newsletter or like their Facebook pages — and trial subscription signups.
Facebook declined an interview request for this story, but a spokesperson sent over a statement that said that since the beginning of the year, the number of pubs using IA has increased by 27 percent to over 9,000.
A more robust subscription product in IA or revenue guarantees per page view to publishers could win over publishers, Check said.
“The current subscription offering doesn’t integrate well with existing subscription platforms and payments,” he said. “It is basically a two-step process where someone signals their openness to a subscription and you are left to collect credit card info. But on mobile what you really want is integrated payment. Getting them to subscribe later by email doesn’t fundamentally make sense.”
Another former Instant Articles publisher said IA would be more attractive if it let publishers sell their own IA inventory programmatically rather than making publishers rely on its Audience Network, which is inefficient for publishers.
“Facebook hasn’t designed their ad products to really let publishers sell their own inventory, and it’ll be months, if not years, if not never, when this is truly supported,” said the publisher, who, like many publishers, wouldn’t speak publicly for fear of retribution by Facebook. “Which makes sense because of their own self-interest. If you’re them, why open this up until you have to?”
Data is another gripe. Publishers can get data on emails and likes, but they’re limited in how they can track and learn about their IA readers.
“For our owned and operated [website] we use lots of analytics tracking to understand how our audience is interacting with the page,” said Justin Festa, evp of digital at LittleThings, which publishes about 20 percent of its content to Instant. “We don’t have the same capabilities within IA.”
Another publishing exec requesting anonymity theorized that Facebook doesn’t want to let publishers know more about who its IA users are because doing so would let pubs re-engage with those users outside of the Facebook ecosystem.
“Facebook doesn’t want pubs to create and capture value within Facebook that they can take elsewhere,” the exec said. “As a result, pubs never really own any of their Facebook data — they just have access to view limited portions of it mediated by Facebook’s rules and self-interest.”
The exec was doubtful that Facebook would open its data to the publishers whose content it relies on.
“But it definitely helps that this is a public flop,” the exec added.
Spotify is said to be exploring the launch of branded wearable, according to rumors floated by a “trusted source” at Zatz Not Funny. There’s little information out there at this early stage, though a job listing posted by the company does lend some validity to the project.
Based at the streaming service’s global headquarters in Stockholm, the position involves, among other things, “leading an initiative to deliver hardware directly from Spotify to existing and new customers; a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles.”
The products listed offer some insight into what a device might entail – that last bit especially. Spectacles hit all the right notes for a hardware debut by a software brand, providing a template for what a product looks like when the stars align.
The product went beyond just hardware branding, filling in an interesting niche for the photo app by taking it beyond the confines of a smartphone. Hipster cachet and planned scarcity helped a bit, too.
Similarly, the Echo – and even the now-departed Pebble – point to some pretty grand ambitions for the device. Both served as proof of demand for new product categories. Which seems to imply that Spotify isn’t planning to simply slap its name on a fitness band and call it a day. Remember when Samsung branded MP3 players with the Napster logo? What’s that? You don’t?
Also worth noting from team Pebble is the Core. That product failed to surface due to the company’s own financial issues, as it was killed alongside the company’s new watches in the midst of FitBit’s acquisition of the startup. But the product at least pointed toward a category that has been neglected since hardware makers shifted focus away from MP3 players to smartphones.
Targeted specifically at runners, the device promised music playback and other functionality on a keychain, so people could leave their smartphone at home. We’ll never know how the product ultimately would have done, but it offered some interesting insight into how old product categories become new again as technology evolves.
Of course, the Core didn’t come anywhere near the promise of “affect[ing] the way the world experiences music & talk content,” but then, how often has a job listing really lived up to its promise? My first job out of college as an “editorial assistant” was 95-percent shipping boxes. But hey, I’m not bitter.
We’ve reached out to Spotify for comment on the listing/rumor, but I don’t really anticipate hearing much more than what’s already out there. This could well just be the early exploratory phase into the company’s “world affecting” hardware, and even without it, the job description points at integration with “fully-connected hardware devices,” and certainly the streaming company has been working hard to bring custom experiences to third-party products.
That alone would likely keep a new recruit busy for a while.