Connect with us

Social

TikTok Starts Testing ‘Links in Bios’ and Videos, Giving Users Ways to Monetise

Published

on

TikTok is testing the ability to add links in bios as well as social commerce URLs in videos. The testing is being conducted via few influencers in the US, and this could be its first move to help users (and brands) make monetised content on the app. Currently, the only way TikTok influencers can make money is through brand deals that happen off the platform, but these shoppable ad links will allow users (and brands) to monetise through different means. TikTok has become one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world, downloaded more than 1.3 billion times, 120 million of those in the United States.

AdWeek reports that TikTok is now testing the ability to add links in bios and videos. This will enable viewers to click on the link inside the video or ‘in the bio’ and get directed to a shopping page. This will help influencers’ market products better, and open up monetisation opportunities for TikTok users and the company both. As mentioned, the feature is being tested with a few subset of influencers in the US for now, and there is no word on when it will see a full-blown commercial rollout. The report added that a TikTok spokesperson had confirmed it is testing the feature, noting “we’re always experimenting with new ways to improve the app experience for our users.”

To recall, competitor Instagram already allows users to add a link to their bios, and offers a ‘Swipe Up’ feature to influencers. This new TikTok feature that is being tested may also be limited to influencers only. However, this is pure speculation, and should be taken lightly. Marketer Fabian Bern posted a video showing off how the social commerce URL feature in videos work, with a shoppable short-form video where clicking inside video will redirect you to the product shown, for users to buy. This will prove to be very useful and handy for influencers (and brands), whenever it launches.



Source link

Continue Reading

Social

From ‘literally zero’ experience to $100M, this VC is raising his second climate tech seed fund – TechCrunch

Published

on

If you ask me, climate tech investor Contrarian Ventures isn’t so contrarian anymore.

The five-year-old firm is targeting $100 million for its second seed-stage fund, and it’s doing so smack in the middle of a climate-tech dealmaking boom. So, if anything, it’s trendy.

But when the seed-stage VC — a backer of e-bike maker Zoomo and solar data firm PVcase — debuted with a $13.6 million fund in 2017, its focus was “obviously contrarian,” founding partner Rokas Peciulaitis told TechCrunch, as the “industries in vogue at the time were AI and Fintech.”

The launch also marked an unexpected pivot for Peciulaitis, who says he dove into the scene with “literally zero climate tech sector experience.” He’d recently left an inflation-trading job at Bank of America, where the work was “not fulfilling in the slightest,” Peciulaitis said in a nod to the bank’s reputation as a major funder of fossil fuels.

In 2017, PitchBook recorded 578 climate tech deals globally, altogether worth $12.5 billion. The sector has since tripled in size, as climate change–driven extreme weather events occupy evermore space in our collective consciousness. To that point: PitchBook tracked 1,130 climate tech deals globally in 2021, topping $44.8 billion in value. Climate tech is cool now, but Peciulaitis’s Lithuania-based venture firm is sticking with its name anyways.

Like any venture capital firm, Contrarian says that it stands out through its emphasis on “developing excellent relationships with founders.” Materially, the firm invests in tech that could help decarbonize transportation, industrial processes, energy and buildings.

Contrarian has completed 21 deals to date, and this year it expanded beyond Lithuania with new partners in Berlin and London. The firm backs emerging startups in Europe as well as Israel, but nowhere else in the Middle East. Currently, the firm does not invest in agriculture-related tech, though the category has a significant carbon footprint of its own.

In an email, Contrarian said it counts London-based tech VC Molten Ventures among its limited partners. The firm declined to share a full list of its LPs, but stated that none of them were fossil fuel companies.

Continue Reading

Social

How a16z’s investment into Adam Neumann further solidifies the ‘concrete ceiling’ – TechCrunch

Published

on

It was the fundraise heard around Twitter.

Adam Neumann, the infamous entrepreneur behind WeWork, raised a stunning $350 million from Andreessen Horowitz for a yet-to-launch real estate company called Flow. The investment gave Neumann’s latest venture a more than $1 billion valuation, as reported by The New York Times, and came amid what is supposed to be an investor pullback in a bear market.

It is the largest individual check a16z has ever written and the second time the firm backed a Neumann-founded company this year.

There is no need to rehash every single thing that Neumann did wrong; AppleTV+ did that already in the miniseries “WeCrashed.” His calamitous tenure at WorkWork garnered him a reputation for worker mismanagement and he led his company to a disastrous IPO. He nevertheless walked away with a roughly $1 billion exit package. He failed up, and the announcement of his a16z round was a reminder that he is still failing up.

“The news [of Neumann’s raise] was not shocking to me,” Nicole Tinson, the founder of the inclusion platform HBCU 20×20, told TechCrunch. “I actually anticipated this because discrimination in funding is no different than discrimination in any avenue.”

One cannot out-educate, out-network and out-assimilate the systemic barriers designed to discriminate against them.

The news put reality in a harsh light, a breaking point for many. Women are tired of shattering glass ceilings; their hands are slashed from the dropping shards. Some founders are also exhausted from taking swings at the concrete ceiling, where gender, racial and often socioeconomic conditions combine to create a discriminatory barrier so strong it cannot shatter like glass; it’s sturdy like concrete and must arduously be drilled through.

Continue Reading

Social

SAIC Mobility Robotaxi valued at $1B after $148M Series B – TechCrunch

Published

on

SAIC Mobility Robotaxi, an arm of state-owned Chinese automaker SAIC aiming to launch a commercial robotaxi service, raised $148 million (RMB 1 billion). The funds will be used to scale its robotaxi service in China, which it will operate in partnership with autonomous vehicle company Momenta.

SAIC Group led the Series B round that also saw participation from Momenta, Gaoheng Management Consulting and other institutions. The funding brought SAIC Mobility’s total valuation to more than $1 billion, according to the company.

SAIC Mobility’s robotaxis are powered using Momenta’s “Flywheel L4” technology, which is designed to use deep learning rather than a rules-based, machine learning approach. Momenta contends that the technology allows the robotaxis to quickly iterate and improve its algorithms.

The funding comes eight months since the two companies launched two 100-day trials in the cities of Shanghai and Suzhou. The pilot, which launched in December, tested a fleet of 60 vehicles, all of which had a safety driver behind the wheel at all times. SAIC says it reached a daily order volume of about 20 rides per vehicle, and that its overall user satisfaction rate was 98%. About 80% of riders used the service two or more times after their initial experience, according to the companies.

The next step is to advance SAIC’s trial in Shanghai and Suzhou into a service as SAIC Mobility gears up for eventual commercialization. Local regulations don’t support commercialization and SAIC wants to be ready when new regulations are released early next year, according to a SAIC spokesperson.

With Momenta on its side, SAIC Mobility has a good chance of scoring a commercial deployment permit in Suzhou. The company has a joint venture with the Suzhou branch of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), which has oversight of more than 100 large state-owned enterprises, to “scale up” robotaxi deployment in the city.

Launching in Shanghai will put SAIC Mobility in competition with other big players, like Baidu, which also has an autonomous ride-hailing service, Apollo Go, in the city. Baidu also recently got the green light to operate a commercial robotaxi service, without a human driver present, in Wuhan and Chongqing. Baidu is also operating Apollo Go commercially in Beijing, with a human safety operator present, alongside Pony.ai.

Momenta and SAIC have said in the past that they aim to deploy 200 vehicles across China by 2022. To reach this aim, the two companies will use the Series B to buy and develop more vehicles, more than doubling the current number in its fleet, and to continue to improve on both the ride-hailing app, as well as the autonomous capabilities of the vehicles, said the spokesperson.

“SAIC Mobility Robotaxi’s success is the organic combination of ‘operational experience’ and ‘leading autonomous driving technology,’” said Cao Xudong, CEO of Momenta, in a statement. “Our two companies together will continue to develop the technology, products and commercial implementation to meet the future and diverse travel needs of end users. We believe that this will become the industry benchmark for autonomous driving and in-depth cooperation between leading car companies and operating platforms, and the future of scalable [uncrewed] driving.”

Continue Reading

Trending