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Spotify is building shared-queue Social Listening – TechCrunch

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Want to rock out together even when you’re apart? Spotify has prototyped an unreleased feature called “Social Listening” that lets multiple people add songs to a queue they can all listen to. You just all scan one friend’s QR-style Spotify Social Listening code, and then anyone can add songs to the real-time playlist. Spotify could potentially expand the feature to synchronize playback so you’d actually hear the same notes at the same time, but for now it’s a just a shared queue.

Social Listening could give Spotify a new viral growth channel, as users could urge friends to download the app to sync up. The intimate experience of co-listening might lead to longer sessions with Spotify, boosting ad plays or subscription retention. Plus, it could differentiate Spotify from Apple Music, YouTube Music, Tidal and other competing streaming services.

A Spotify spokesperson tells TechCrunch that “We’re always testing new products and experiences, but have no further news to share at this time.” Spotify already offers Collaborative Playlists friends can add to, but Social Listening is designed for real-time sharing. The company refused to provide further details on the prototype or when it might launch.

The feature is reminiscent of Turntable.fm, a 2011 startup that let people DJ in virtual rooms on their desktop that other people could join where they could chat, vote on the next song and watch everyone’s avatars dance. But the company struggled to properly monetize through ad-free subscriptions and shut down in 2014. Facebook briefly offered its own version called “Listen With…” in 2012 that let Spotify or Rdio users synchronize music playback.

Spotify Social Listening was first spotted by reverse-engineering sorceress and frequent TechCrunch tipster Jane Manchun Wong. She discovered code for the feature buried in Spotify’s Android app, but for now it’s only available to Spotify employees. Social Listening appears in the menu of connected devices you can open while playing a song beside nearby Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. “Connect with friends: Your friends can add tracks by scanning this code – You can also scan a friend’s code,” the feature explains.

A help screen describes Social Listening as “Listen to music together. 1. On your phone, play a song and select (Connected Devices). You’ll see a code at the bottom of the screen. 2. On your friend’s phone, select the same (Connected Devices) icon, tap SCAN CODE, and point the camera at your code. 3. Now you can control the music together.” You’ll then see friends who are part of your Social Listening session listed in the Connected Devices menu. Users can also copy and share a link to join their Social Listening session that starts with the URL prefix https://open.spotify.com/socialsession/. Note that Spotify never explicitly says that playback will be synchronized.

With streaming apps largely having the same music catalog and similar $9.99 per month premium pricing, they have to compete on discovery and user experience. Spotify has long been in the lead here with its algorithmically personalized Discover Weekly playlists, which were promptly copied by Apple and SoundCloud.

Oddly, Spotify has stripped out some of its own social features over the years, eliminating the in-app messaging inbox and instead pushing users to share songs over third-party messaging apps. The deemphasis in discovery through friends conveniently puts the focus on Spotify’s owned playlists. That gives it leverage over the record labels during their rate negotiations as it’s who influences which songs will become hits, so if labels don’t play nice their artists might not get promoted via playlists.

That’s why it’s good to see Spotify remembering that music is an inherently social experience. Music physically touches us through its vibrations, and when people listen to the same songs and are literally moved by it at the same time, it creates a sense of togetherness we’re too often deprived of on the internet.



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Bumble files to go public – TechCrunch

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The dating and networking service Bumble has filed to go public.

The company, launched by a former co-founder of the IAC-owned Tinder, plans to list its share on the Nasdaq stock exchange, using the ticker symbol “BMBL.” Bumble’s planned IPO was first reported in December.

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd was on the founding team at Tinder before starting Bumble. She filed suit against Tinder for sexual harassment and discrimination, which was at least somewhat inspirational in her quest to build a dating app that put women in the driver’s seat.

In 2019, Wolfe Herd took the helm of MagicLab, renamed to Bumble Group, in a $3 billion deal with Blackstone, replacing Badoo founder and CEO Andrey Andreev following a harassment scandal at the firm.

The company is targeting the public markets at a particularly heady time for new offerings, with investors embracing venture-backed IPOs throughout late 2020 and the start of 2021. Previously privately held companies like Airbnb, Affirm, and others have seen their fortunes soar on the back of prices that public investors are willing to pay, perhaps inducing more IPO filings than the market might have otherwise seen.

You can read its IPO filing here. TechCrunch will have its usual tear-down of the document later today, but we have pulled some top-line numbers for you to kick off your own research.

But before we do, the company’s board makeup, namely that it is over 70% women is already drawing plaudits. Now, into its numbers.

Inside Bumble’s IPO filing

Let’s consider Bumble from three perspectives: Usage, financial results, and ownership.

On the usage front, Bumble is popular, as you would imagine a dating would have to be to reach the scale required to go public. The company claims 42 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of Q3 2020 — many companies will try to get public on the strength of their third-quarter results from 2020, as it takes time to close Q4 and the full calendar year.

Those 42 million MAUs translated into 2.4 million total paying users through the first nine months of 2020; the percent, then, of paying users to MAUs is not 2.4 million divided by 42, but a smaller fraction.

Turning to the numbers, recall that Bumble sold a majority of itself a few years back. We bring that up as Bumble’s financial results are complicated thanks to its ownership structure.

After the IPO, Bumble Inc. will “be a holding company, and its sole material asset will be a controlling equity interest in Bumble Holdings,” per the S-1 filing. So, how is Bumble Holdings doing?

Medium? Doing the sums ourselves as the company’s S- 1 is fraught with accounting nuances, in the first nine months of 2019, Bumble managed the following:

  • Revenues of $362.6 million
  • Net income of $68.6 million

And then, combining two columns to provide a similar set of results for the same period of 2020, Bumble recorded:

  • Revenues of $416.6 million
  • Net income of -$116.7 million

For those following along, we’re using the “Net (loss) earnings” line, for profitability, and not the “Net (loss) earnings attributable to owners / shareholders” as that would require even more explanation and we’re keeping it simple in this first look.

While Bumble saw modest growth in 2020 through Q3 and a sharp swing to losses on a GAAP basis, the company’s adjusted profitability grew over the same time period. The company’s adjusted EBITDA, a very non-GAAP metric, expanded from $80.0 million in the first three quarters of 2019 to $108.3 million in the same period of 2020.

While we are generally willing to allow quickly-growing companies some leniency when it comes to adjusted metrics, the gap between Bumble’s GAAP losses and its EBITDA results is a stress-test of our compassion. Bumble also swung from free cash flow positivity during the first nine months of 2019 to the first quarters of 2020.

If you extrapolate Bumble’s Q1, Q2, and Q3 revenue to a full-year number, the company could manage $555.5 million in 2020 revenues. Even at a modest software-ish multiple, the company would be worth more than the $3 billion figure that we discussed before.

However, its sharp unprofitability in 2020 could damper its eventual valuation. More as we dig more deeply into the filing.

Finally, on the ownership question the company’s filing is surprisingly denuded of data. Its principal shareholder section looks like this:

When we know more, we’ll share more. Until then, happy S-1 reading.

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Samsung unveils Galaxy S21 line – TechCrunch

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Samsung lowers prices with its latest Galaxy S phones, Google completes its Fitbit acquisition and Beyond Meat is coming to Taco Bell. This is your Daily Crunch for January 14, 2021.

The big story: Samsung unveils Galaxy S21 line

Samsung’s new line of phones includes the S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra, priced at $799, $999 and $1,119 respectively, an across-the-board price cut of $200. Brian Heater writes that the Ultra, in particular, “has one very important trick up its sleeve” — namely compatibility with the S Pen.

All three phones are available for pre-order now and start shipping on January 29.

In addition, Samsung announced the Galaxy Buds Pro, which cost $199 and come with a stated five hours of battery life. And it’s launching a Bluetooth locator, dubbed the Galaxy SmartTag.

The tech giants

Google’s Fitbit acquisition is official — This follows regulatory scrutiny on both sides of the pond.

Amazon’s Ring Neighbors app exposed users’ precise locations and home addresses — The bug made it possible to retrieve the location data on users who posted to the app.

Beyond Meat shares soar after inking deal with Taco Bell on new menu items — Taco Bell announced that it would work with Beyond Meat to come up with new menu items due to be tested in the next year.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Medium acquires social book reading app Glose — Glose has been building iOS, Android and web apps that let you buy, download and read books on your devices.

Tiger Global is raising a new $3.75B venture fund, one year after closing its last — Despite being named Tiger Private Investment Partners XIV, this is actually the firm’s thirteenth fund.

Carbyne raises $25M for a next-generation platform to improve emergency 911 responses — The Israeli startup aims to help emergency services get more complete information about callers, and to provide additional telemedicine services.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Five consumer hardware VCs share their 2021 investment strategies — Investors are generally bullish on at-home fitness startups.

Poshmark prices IPO above range as public markets continue to YOLO startups — This is the late-2020, early-2021 IPO market in action.

Twelve ‘flexible VCs’ who operate where equity meets revenue share — Founders seeking non-dilutive funding: start here.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Tech and health companies including Microsoft and Salesforce team up on digital COVID-19 vaccination records — The so-called “Vaccination Credential Initiative” includes a range of big-name companies from both the healthcare and tech industries.

2020 was one of the warmest years in history and indicates mounting risks of climate change — 2020 either edged out or came in just behind 2016 as the warmest year in recorded history, according to data from U.S. government agencies.

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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Medium acquires social book reading app Glose – TechCrunch

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Medium is acquiring Paris-based startup Glose for an undisclosed amount. Glose has been building iOS, Android and web apps that let you buy, download and read books on your devices.

The company has turned reading into a multiplayer experience as you can build a bookshelf, share notes with your followers and start conversations in the margins. Sure, there are social platforms that let you talk about books, such as Goodreads. But Glose’s differentiating point is that the social features are intrinsically linked with the reading features — those aren’t two separate platforms. There are also some gamification features that help you stay motivated as you read difficult books — you get streak rewards for instance.

In many ways, Glose’s one-tap highlighting and commenting features are reminiscent of Medium’s features on this front. You can highlight text in any reading app on your phone or tablet but you can’t do much with it.

More recently, Glose has launched a separate service called Glose Education. As the name suggests, that version is tailored for universities and high schools. Teachers can hand out assignments and you can read a book as a group.

Over 1 million people have used Glose and 25 universities have signed up to Glose Education, including Stanford and Columbia University.

But Glose isn’t just a software play. The company has also put together a comprehensive book store. The company has partnered with 20,000 publishers so that you can buy ebooks directly from the app.

And if you are studying Virginia Wolf this semester, Glose also provides hundreds of thousands of public domain books for free. Glose also supports audio books.

This is by far the most interesting part as Medium now plans to expand beyond articles and blogs. While Glose is sticking around for now, Medium also plans to integrate ebooks and audio books to its service.

It’s a smart move as many prolific bloggers are also book writers. Right now, they write a blog post on Medium and link to a third-party site if you want to buy their books. Having the ability to host everything written by an author is a better experience for both content creators and readers.

“We’re impressed not only by Glose’s reading products and technology, but also by their experience in partnering with book authors and publishers,” Medium CEO Ev Williams said in a statement. “Books are a means of exploring an idea, a way to go deeper. The vast majority of the world’s ideas are stored in books and journals, yet are hardly searchable nor shareable. With Glose, we want to improve that experience within Medium’s large network of engaged readers and writers. We look forward to working with the Glose team on partnering with publishers to help authors reach more readers.”

The Glose team will remain in Paris, which means that Medium is opening its first office outside of the U.S. Glose will continue to honor its partnerships with authors, publishers, schools and institutions.

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