👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
In this edition
What’s next for Twitter?
Meta ordered to sell Giphy by UK regulator
Disney plans to spend $33bn on content in 2022
What’s next for Twitter?
There have been several takes written on the recent changes in the leadership of Twitter. Jack Dorsey has left the company as CEO and its CTO, Parag Agrawal, became the new one. Here is a good profile on him from NYT.
For many, the move came suddenly and the probability you have heard about it illustrates the paradox of Twitter. The social network is far from being the biggest, in fact it is not even in top 10 worldwide. But the reason you might know about this change-at-the-top is the users Twitter has - opinion leaders, marketers, journalists, CEOs. Almost like LinkedIn, if LinkedIn tried to be less like Facebook and had 90% less feel-good-TED-talk-like content and more actual information.
With a high density of opinion-formers as the platform's heavy users, the comment threads tend to get into the discourse. And Twitter was basically built to spread information quickly. The combination of the two things are what make Twitter a powerhouse with an influence way beyond its network.
Many have argued Twitter is an undervalued asset with big influence. Influence is both good and bad. Good as it drives engagement. Bad as it invites scrutiny. If its co-founder and ex-CEO Dorsey has been called an enigma, Twitter is also an enigma among the social networks.
The both argue that the future is unknown, even though the new CEO has been with the company for more than 10 years, we know he is a crypto fan and has been a longtime advisor to Dorsey.
So far, the future of Twitter is a combination of wishes of its users. Some want Twitter no remain as it is, they like that it isn’t the biggest network and hate change. Some are eager for Twitter to become a platform for opinion leaders and lean into its subscription service Twitter Blue (count me in this camp). Others want it to become the crypto-network of the future.
We’ll see. The last year and half has showed Twitter can spin up new projects like the Clubhouse-clone Spaces and actually make them popular. So there is potential for good, iterative change. Still, as the social network is not huge, there is still the option for it to get acquired by someone bigger. Exciting times.
A few notes:
Agrawal is yet another tech CEO with roots in India (others include the bosses of Microsoft, Google, IBM, Adobe, Vimeo …)
Agrawal studied at the Indian Institutes of Technology, where many of the other tech CEOs got their higher education as well
The activist investors at Elliott Management that seemingly started this whole transition have quite an interesting story as well, here is a good profile
✋ The US has banned exports to Chinese quantum computing companies. Move reflects mounting concern Beijing could acquire encryption-busting technologies from US groups. [FT]
👽 The phrase NFT (short for non-fungible token) has been made word of the year by Collins Dictionary. [BBC]
🕶️ Apple’s AR headset is expected to launch late next year with an M1-like chip and no tethering to a Mac or an iPhone, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. [MacRumors]
👨💻 What tech leaders get wrong when hiring developers in Central and Eastern Europe. Interesting take. [Sifted]
🇪🇺 Margrethe Vestager asks the EU Parliament and Council to approve the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act as a matter of urgency, even if they are imperfect. [FT]
🌾 Thailand start-up Ricult is boosting crop yields with an app for farmers. It analyzes weather patterns and advises farmers on when they should start putting their seeds into the soil and when to add fertilizer. [CNBC]
👻 Meta ordered to sell Giphy by UK regulator after its investigation found it could harm competition. Although Meta may appeal the decision, the UK regulator’s decision sets a notable precedent for future big tech purchases.[The Verge]
🤔 A very long profile of FTC Chair Lina Khan. Some longtime staffers worry she is underestimating the risks of pursuing aggressive antitrust cases that are likely to fail. [New Yorker]
💡 A conversation with ‘the father’ of Web3 on what it means for the internet, economy and society. [Wired]
😮 More than a third of world’s population (that’s nearly 3 billion people) have never used internet, says UN. Kind of mindblowing, I knew it was a lot of people but didn’t think it was that many. [The Guardian]
💭 The people and ideas that defined global business in 2021. This is a good list as always. [Bloomberg]
🤦♂️ Square is renaming itself Block as it focuses on technologies such as blockchain and expands beyond its original credit card-reader business. [CNBC]
👍 The Independent has been in profit every year since it closed its print edition in March 2016. With profit up 100%, The Independent is a good case study of how dropping a dying business can help focus. [PG]
😶 Substack is expanding to UK. Big news that sends a message of the platform’s ambitions to go more international. Still, I wonder how big a market there is for Substack when it comes to much smaller countries than, US without so many big journalists and personalities. In this case, I would say scale matters. [Substack]
🤑 Solutions Journalism Revenue Playbook. The team behind the project promises to show newsrooms how to use solutions journalism to generate new revenue. [Revenue Playbook]
📢 EBU launched a new report: What's next? Public service journalism in the age of distraction, opinion and information abundance. [EBU]
📊 Are you interested in audience analytics? Here is a replay and presentations from INMA’s recent event on the topic. [INMA]
🇪🇺 The first “European Newsroom” will launch next year, with 16 EU member state news agencies to start. They will collaborate in reporting on EU affairs. The European Newsroom initiative can help boost quality news from Brussels to the world, and that would be a win in itself. [Euroactiv]
🇪🇺 EU plans media act. The European Commission plans to introduce rules next year to prevent a few large media groups from acquiring smaller rivals and to thwart government interference. [Reuters]
📺 Disney plans to spend $33bn on content in 2022. The figure marks an uptick of approximately $8bn to the company’s fiscal 2021 spending, which reportedly tallied up to $25bn. Netflix, which has roughly 214 million global subscribers compared with Disney+’s 118 million subscriber count, aims to spend $17bn in 2022. [Variety]
🍿 Netflix announced its 2022 lineup, including a new season of “Stranger Things,” the sci-fi series with a slew of marketing tie-ins. [The Verge]
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🎧 The 100 Most Popular Podcast Names article got updated. Good inspiration on how not to name your podcast. [Podnews]
🤳 TikTok-like video feed is coming to Spotify. The streaming giant confirms it is testing Discover with short music videos that appears to repurpose Canvas videos. [TechCrunch]
🎙 Acast France shares data from its network in the country. Apple Podcasts is the top app for podcast listening, users listen to three times the podcasts that Spotify users do. [Medium]
📊 Apple Podcasts released the best of 2021 lists. [Apple]
📊 Also, get your Spotify Wrapped 2021. Or just look at the charts. [Spotify]
🎬 A dating app — not Facebook or Clubhouse — cracked getting audio to go viral. The headline here makes it sound like a bigger story than it is in reality. I mean, good story, but, it still was videos that made the audio clips go viral. [The Verge]
€€€ Advertising in podcasts brings one company 25% more revenue than Google Search and more than from influencer marketing. [Sounds Profitable]
🎁 The best-designed gifts of 2021. [Fast Company]
❓ Poll: Do you use Twitter?
Last poll results: Are you buying tech gadgets for Christmas? 38% answered No, I prefer non-tech gifts. 36% Yes. 26% already bought some.
🙏 And big thanks to Celine Bijleveld who helped me edit this newsletter. You can follow her on Substack here.