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How Hoop hit #2 with its Tinder for Snapchat – TechCrunch

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Snapchat’s developer platform is blowing up as a gateway to teen social app users. Hoop is the latest Snap Kit blockbuster, rocketing to No. 2 on the overall App Store charts this month with its Tinder -esque swiping interface for discovering people and asking to message with them over Snapchat. Within a week of going viral, unfunded French startup Dazz saw Hoop score 2.5 million downloads.

The fact that such a dumbfoundingly simple and already ubiquitous style of app was able to climb the charts so fast demonstrates the potential of Snap Kit to drive user lock-in for Snapchat. Because the developer platform lets other apps piggyback on its login system and Bitmoji avatars, it creates new reasons for users to set up a Snapchat account and keep using it. It’s the same strategy that made Facebook an entrenched part of the internet, but this time it’s for a younger crowd.

In the first-ever interview about Hoop, Dazz’s 26-year-old co-founders Lucas Gervais and Alexi Pourret reveal that the idea came from watching user patterns in their previous experiment on the Snap Kit platform. They built an app called Dazz in 2018 that let users create polls and get anonymous answers from friends, but they noticed their 250,000 users “always ended up adding each other on Snap. So we decided to create Hoop, the app to make new Snap friends,” Gervais tells me.

Gervais and Pourret have been friends since age two, growing up in small town in France. They met their two developers in high school, and are now marketing students at university. With Hoop, they say the goal was to “meet everyone’s needs, from connecting people from different cultures to helping lonely people to feel better to simply growing your Snapchat community.”

The Dazz / Hoop team (from left): Developers Julien Maire & Teddy Vallar, co-founders Alexi Pourret & Lucas Gervais

At first, Hoop for iOS or Android looks just like Tinder. You create an account with some photos and bio information, and start swiping through profiles. If you like someone, you tap a Snapchat button to request their Snap username so you can message them.

But then Hoop reveals its savvy virality and monetization strategy. Rather than being able to endlessly “swipe right” and approach people, Hoop limits your asks by making you spend its in-app “diamonds” currency to reach out. After about 10 requests to chat, you’ll have to earn more diamonds. You do that by sharing and getting friends to open your invite link to the app, adding people on Snapchat that you meet on Hoop, logging in each day, taking a survey, watching a video ad and completing offers by signing up for streaming services or car insurance providers. It also trades diamonds for rating Hoop in the App Store, though that might run afoul of Apple’s rules.

Those tactics helped Hoop climb as high as No. 2 on the overall iOS chart and No. #1 on the Social Apps chart on January 24th. It’s now at No. 83 overall and No. 7 in social, putting it above apps like Discord, LinkedIn, Skype and new Vine successor Byte. Hoop had more than 3 million installs as of a week ago.

There are certainly some concerns, though. Gervais claims that “We are not a meeting or dating app. We simply offer an easy way to make new Snap friends.” But because Tinder isn’t available for people under 18, they might be looking to Hoop instead. Thankfully, adults can’t see profiles of users under 18, and vice versa, and users only see potential matches in their age group. However, users can edit their age at any time.

Snap Kit keeps startups lean

Tools like Amazon’s AWS have made building a startup with a lean team and little money increasingly easy. Snap Kit’s ability to let developers skip the account creation and management process is another step in that direction. But the power to imbue overnight virality is something even Facebook never accomplished, though it helped build empires for developers like Zynga.

Another Snap Kit app called Yolo for receiving anonymous responses to questions shot up to No. 1 in May. Seven months later, it’s still at No. 51. That shows Snap Kit can offer longevity, not just flash-in-the-pan download spikes. Gervais calls the platform “a very powerful tool for developers.”

Three years ago I wrote that Snapchat’s anti-developer attitude was a liability. It needed to become a platform with a cadre of allies that could strengthen its role as an identity platform for teens, and insulate it against copycats like Facebook. That’s exactly what it did. By letting other apps launch themselves using its accounts, Stories and Bitmoji, they wouldn’t need to copy its social graph, sharing format or avatars, and instead would drive attention to the originals.

If Snap can keep building useful developer tools, perhaps by adding to its platform real-world object scanning, augmented reality filters and video calling, a Snapchat account could become a must-have for anyone who wants to use the next generation of apps. Then could come the crown jewel of a platform: discovery and virality. By building a section for promoting Snap Kit apps into Snapchat Discover, developers looking for shortcuts in both engineering and growth might join Evan Spiegel’s army.

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Twitter announces ‘Super Follow’ subscriptions – TechCrunch

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Twitter reveals its move into paid subscriptions, Australia passes its media bargaining law and Coinbase files its S-1. This is your Daily Crunch for February 25, 2021.

The big story: Twitter announces ‘Super Follow’ subscriptions

Twitter announced its first paid product at an investor event today, showing off screenshots of a feature that will allow users to subscribe to their favorite creators in exchange for things like exclusive content, subscriber-only newsletters and a supporter badge.

The company also announced a feature called Communities, which could compete with Facebook Groups and enable Super Follow networks to interact, plus a Safety Mode for auto-blocking and muting abusive accounts. On top of all that, Twitter said it plans to double revenue by 2023.

Not announced: launch dates for any of these features.

The tech giants

After Facebook’s news flex, Australia passes bargaining code for platforms and publishers — This requires platform giants like Facebook and Google to negotiate to remunerate local news publishers for their content.

New Facebook ad campaign extols the benefits of personalized ads — The sentiments are similar to a campaign that Facebook launched last year in opposition to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Sergey Brin’s airship aims to use world’s biggest mobile hydrogen fuel cell — The Google co-founder’s secretive airship company LTA Research and Exploration is planning to power a huge disaster relief airship with an equally record-breaking hydrogen fuel cell.

Coinbase files to go public in a key listing for the cryptocurrency category — Coinbase’s financials show a company that grew rapidly from 2019 to 2020 while also crossing the threshold into unadjusted profitability.

Boosted by the pandemic, meeting transcription service Otter.ai raises $50M — With convenient timing, Otter.ai added Zoom integration back in April 2020.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

DigitalOcean’s IPO filing shows a two-class cloud market — The company intends to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “DOCN.”

Pilot CEO Waseem Daher tears down his company’s $60M Series C pitch deck — For founders aiming to entice investors, the pitch deck remains the best way to communicate their startup’s progress and potential.

Five takeaways from Coinbase’s S-1 — We dig into Coinbase’s user numbers, its asset mix, its growing subscription incomes, its competitive landscape and who owns what in the company.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Paramount+ will cost $4.99 per month with ads — The new streaming service launches on March 4.

Register for TC Sessions: Justice for a conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion in the startup world — This is just one week away!

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Twitter plans to double revenue by 2023, reach 315M daily users – TechCrunch

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Just ahead of its 2021 virtual investor day on Thursday, Twitter this morning announced its three long-term goals focused on user base and revenue growth, and a faster pace of shipping new features across its platform. The company said it aims to “at least” double its total annual revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion or more in 2023. It also expects to reach at least 315 million mDAUs — that’s Twitter’s self-invented metric for “monetizable” daily active users — by the fourth quarter of 2023.

That would represent a roughly 20% compound annual growth rate from Twitter’s base of 152 million mDAUs reported in the fourth quarter of 2019, the company noted in a new SEC filing.

Active user growth has been difficult for Twitter — the growth tends to be slow or even flat, at times. Per Twitter’s most recent earnings, mDAUs in the fourth quarter 2020 had reached 192 million instead of the 193.5 million expected, for instance. Investors are used to Twitter under-delivering on this metric — or even inventing its own user base metric to hide that its monthly user growth sometimes declines.

In any event, Twitter’s longer-term plans indicate it believes it will finally be able to deliver on user growth — perhaps aided by its investment in new features.

In its filing, Twitter said it would “double development velocity by the end of 2023,” which means doubling the number of features shipped per employee that “directly drive either mDAU or revenue,” it said.

On this front, Twitter has been fairly active in recent months. Late last year, it launched its “stories” feature called Fleets to its global audience. It’s also now testing new features including a Clubhouse rival, Twitter Spaces, and a community-led misinformation debunking effort known as Birdwatch. And it acquired newsletter platform Revue, which is already now integrated on the Twitter website. The company has made smaller acquisitions, as well, to build out product teams, including with social app Squad, stories template maker Chroma Labs, and podcasting app Breaker.

New features may help to attract increased Twitter usage, but revenue growth will also come from diversification beyond advertising. Twitter has spoken several times about its plans to build out a subscription product, which the company said would begin in 2021 but wouldn’t impact Twitter revenue in the near-term. The company has also said it may investigate other areas of monetization, like tipping and various paid consumer-facing features.

Today, Twitter said publicly it plans to reach the $7.5 billion or more target by “growing our audience and gaining advertising market share in both brand and direct response.” But the company did not speak to its plans for subscriptions.

Investors are already responding favorably to Twitter’s announcements this morning. Twitter stock is up by nearly 7% as of the time of writing.

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New Facebook ad campaign extols the benefits of personalized ads – TechCrunch

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Online advertising can be a “pretty dry topic,” as Facebook’s head of brand marketing Andrew Stirk acknowledged, but with a new campaign of its own, the social networking giant is looking to “bring to life how personalized ads level the playing field” for small businesses.

The Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found campaign will include TV, radio and digital advertising. Individual businesses will also be able to promote it using a new Instagram sticker and the #DeserveToBeFound hashtag on Facebook.

The campaign will highlight specific small businesses on Facebook, including bag and luggage company House of Takura, whose founder Annette Njau spoke about the benefits of digital advertising at a press event yesterday.

“What those platforms allow us to do is, they allow us to tell stories,” Njau said. “I can’t tell this story on TV, I can’t tell this story in a huge magazine because it costs money and I don’t know who will see it.”

These sentiments are similar to a campaign that Facebook launched last year in opposition to Apple’s upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature, where apps will have to ask for permission before sharing user data for third-party ad targeting. In response, Facebook claimed that it was “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere,” though the social network also pointed to these changes as one of the “more significant advertising headwinds” that it expects to face this year. (Apple’s Tim Cook, in contrast, has said that these changes provide consumers with the control that they’ve been asking for.)

When asked how this fits into the broader dispute with Apple, Stirk said that while Facebook has been publicly opposed to Apple’s changes, this campaign is part the company’s longer-term support for small business.

“There is a degree of urgency in the fact that … small businesses are hurting right now,” he said.

Head of Facebook Business Products Helen Ma added that this is “very much an extension of the work that we did on the product side at the very start of the COVID period,” which included the launch of the Businesses Nearby section and a #SupportSmallBusiness hashtag.

In addition to launching the campaign today, Facebook is announcing several product changes, including a simplified Ads Manager dashboard, new options for restaurants to provide more information about their dining experiences and more information about personalized ads in Facebook’s Business Resource hub and Instagram’s Professional Dashboard.

The company also said it will continue to waive fees on transactions through Checkouts on Shops through June 2021, and will do the same for fees collected on paid online events until August 2021 at the earliest.

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