Pinterest Launches Its First Api, And It’s All About Big Brands: Zappos, Walmart, Disney In First User Group

Pinterest Roadmap tight

Pinterest is today, at long last, releasing its first API for developers, which will let third-party sites embed Pinterest pins, and make it easier to post content into Pinterest itself. First partners for the service are a list of big brands and retailers – including Zappos, Walmart, Disney, Nestle, Random House and Hearst – underscoring how the site is ramping up for revenue generation with advertising and cross-marketing.

“We’re releasing documentation for multiple APIs that will roll out to partners over the coming weeks,” the company notes in its blog. These will include Top Pins API (showcase top clicked pins / top re-pins, launching on partner sites today); Domain search (surface trending results for keywords such as “Men’s Boots”, “Thanksgiving recipes”, or “Fashion Week”); Most Recent (bring a stream of your latest pins to your site); and Related Pins (suggest other pins people may like based on the item or content they’re viewing).

More features will be getting added to the API over time, the company says.

The move comes after months (even years) of hints about when these would be coming out, with the company yesterday making its closest comments yet to those APIs.

Pinterest has already proven itself to be a strong driver of referral traffic on the web – second after Facebook in a list of leading traffic referral sites from Shareaholic, but growing the fastest.

What adding an API will mean is that Pinterest is now laying the groundwork to expand that role. It will make existing pins more useful to sites and brands, and also make it easier for people to post to Pinterest. Both of these will also help Pinterest string its data together in a more actionable way. Just as the recent deal with Getty will provide more metadata to pins that use Getty images, stronger links between pins and the sites/brands from which they come will mean that they can be better tracked by Pinterest, and those brands themselves. That will mean, too, potentially more marketing spend against that.

Pinterest notes also that users can now pin directly from these sites, “so there’s no need to interrupt your shopping, reading, or browsing.” The full list of partners for the early roll out are AllRecipesBetter Homes and GardenBuzzFeed, Disney sites Babble and BabyZoneElle MagazineMashableModClothNBC News Digital’s iVillageNestléRandom HouseSnapguideTargetWalmartWayfairWhole Foods,ZapposZulily, with Spoonful and Taste Book coming soon.

Learn more: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/14/pinterest-launches-its-first-apis-partners-with-zappos-walmart-disney-nestle-random-house-hearst-on-first-rollout/

Facebook Picks Sportstream To Beef Up Its Real-time Sports Data For News Outlets

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You post “Goal!!!!11!!” but who scored? Facebook’s on a drive to host more sports talk and get its trends shown on the news, so today it’s partnering with SportStream to structure, enhance, and make sense of its messy real-time data.

SportStream will offer broadcasters and sports teams a search interface for Facebook’s Keyword Insights and Public Feed APIs that leverages its “SportsBase” of metadata on teams, players, leagues, and games to surface who’s saying what about the biggest moments in athletics.

Facebook knows chatter about real-time, global events like sports is a huge opportunity for engagement, but many people are bringing this talk to Twitter. By getting TV, print, and web news outlets plus the sports teams themselves sharing Facebook sports chatter trends, Facebook hopes users will make it their water cooler for the big game.

The problem is jumbled data. When you write “RG3 touchdown” you mean Robert Griffin the third scored a touchdown for the Washington Redskins NFL football team. Facebook can’t parse that, but SportStream can.

Launched last June, SportStream monitors every major game, organization, and player plus all their social media accounts to understand what’s going on in games. It would break this content down into feeds about specific games or rivalries that news outlets could reference or sports teams could embed on their sites. At first the company was making consumer apps, but has shifted its focus towards being a data provider.

Until now SportStream was predominantly looking at public Facebook Pages, Instagrams, and Twitter accounts, but its new partnership with Facebook gives it access to the Keyword Insights API that anonymously aggregates trends of what Facebook users are privately posting about, and the Public Feed API that’s a firehouse of what users are specifically sharing in public posts.

It’s now releasing a search interface for these APIs that makes it easy to construct queries like “What part of the country talks about football the most?”, “Do young people chat more about Kobe Bryant or LeBron James”, and “Which home city is talking more about the big Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees game?” SportStream then visualizes that data with graphs and maps as clips for TV news or embeds for news websites.

The ability to license access to its platform filled with this Facebook data could be a huge boon to SportStream, which has raised $3.5 million, has 10 employees, and serves about 50 teams and media outlets already.

By making its sports data easier to understand, Facebook might get more outlets and teams to use it. Facebook hopes the perception that it’s a home for real-time event chatter will trickle down to users.

But it’s not built for this kind of talk. The News Feed is algorithmically sorted for relevance, rather than reverse chronologically sorted for up-to-the-minute information. Facebook has been testing a solution to this problem that would show updates in the proper time sequence if it recognizes that you’re posting about a real-time event, but this formatting modification isn’t ready yet.

As much as Facebook wants to be a place for public talk about world events, it was built for sharing updates about your own life with friends. Facebook lets you be your offline self online, but now the service is encountering growing pains as it seeks to define its own identity.

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Go: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/18/facebook-sports-data/

Snapchat Sees More Daily Photos Than Facebook

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Snapchat now shares 400 million snaps each day, according to CEO Evan Spiegel, who confirmed the number to TechCrunch today.

In September, Evan Spiegel announced on the Disrupt stage that the disappearing photo-sharing service was seeing 350 million snaps sent per day, up from 200 million in June. Clearly, growth on the hot new service is staggering.

Even more staggering, perhaps, is the fact that the 400 million/day figure surpasses the photo-sharing activity on both Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook reportedly sees 350 million photos uploaded each day from its worldwide audience of more than 1 billion users, and Instagram’s 150 million users upload around 50 million photos each day.

Snapchat’s growth numbers likely include photos and videos, as well as “broadcast” snaps. Broadcast snaps are when a user takes one photo and sends it to multiple recipients, turning one snap into many snaps.

Of course, it’s not that surprising that more photos are flowing through the very private, self-destructing Snapchat as opposed to the very public Facebook and Instagram, where content lives forever and is seen by many.

Still, the speed with which Snapchat’s user engagement grows is quite rapid, which may explain recent rumors around a $3 billion Facebook acquisition offer and a massive funding round on the horizon.

Link: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/snapchat-reportedly-sees-more-daily-photos-than-facebook/

A New Place For Better Place, As Bankrupt $800m+ Backed Electric Car Startup Sold For $12m

better place charging station

Looks like we have a final chapter for Better Place, the Israel-based electric car tech startup that raised $786 million plus $50 million in debt, only to then file for bankruptcy in May: it has now been acquired by a group called Sunrise, headed by green-technology entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz and the Association for the Promotion of the Electric Car in Israel.

According to court filings, Sunrise is paying 18 million Israeli shekels ($5 million) for Better Place’s assets in Israel, and another 25 million shekels ($7 million) for its intellectual property, held by Better Place Switzerland. Sunrise was one of two bidders for the company, the other being a consortium including Success Parking Ltd. and U.S. electric car charging company Car Charging Group Inc.

It’s a whimper of an ending for a company that raised hundreds of millions, and many hopes, for its core business: a system that relied on smartgrid technology to create a network of battery swapping stations and other charging points for users of electric cars.

Speeding up battery charging, which typically can take anywhere from between 4 and 12 hours to charge on electric cars, could significantly spur the convenience factor of these vehicles, and help with consumer adoption. Better Place also had other ideas about how, with the rise of electric cars, power usage overall needed to be better managed.

But it seems that even if the vision was big, business was not. Creating a breakthrough technology that relies on industrial-scale overhauls is capital intensive. And there is the question of critical mass for electric car technology: apparently only 950 cars fitted with Better Place’s replaceable battery technology – the core of the business – were sold since 2012 (it looks like the only carmaker to sign on with Better Place was Renault).

Meanwhile, individual car companies like Tesla working on proprietary solutions are a sign that the space is perhaps still too fragmented and nascent for what Better Place had in mind.

Although the downward spiral from bankruptcy to bidding to eventual sale was swift, the writing was on the wall months before, when founder Shai Agassi was removed as CEO in October 2012.

New owners Sunrise are keeping 50 out of Better Place’s 85 remaining employees, and will operate 15 of its charging stations for a period of at least two years. It may not be complete curtains for all of Better Place’s efforts, depending on how Sunrise chooses to use the IP it purchased as well, but it’s not a great day for the wider ambition to move us away from fossil fuel consumption and towards more sustainable progress.

Web: http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/12/a-new-place-for-better-place-as-bankrupt-800m-backed-electric-car-startup-sold-for-12m/

Hallan Volcán Activo Debajo Del Hielo De La Antártida

Un grupo de sismólogos dirigido por Douglas Wiens, de la Universidad de Washington , han descubierto un volcán en la región de Marie Byrd Land, situada en las tierras altas del oeste de la AntártidaEl descubrimiento se hizo a partir de la detección de una serie de terremotos de baja magnitud – el mismo tipo de los que ocurren antes de erupciones volcánicas.

Los investigadores ya han descartado que estos temblores hubieran sido ocasionados por terremotos de hielo glacial, movimientos o actividad tectónica dada por  profundos y largos períodos de vibraciones. Además estos temblores sucedieron cerca del límite entre la corteza y el manto de la Tierra, lo que acentuó aún más la posibilidad de que estuvieran relacionados con actividad volcánica.

El volcán descubierto se encuentra media milla (800m) por debajo del hielo. La región de Marie Byrd Land de por sí cuenta con registro de numerosos volcanes que se hallan alrededor de la costa y en alta mar, pero es la primera vez que se confirma actividad volcánica tan lejos de tierra. Los temblores ocasionados por este volcán ocurrieron a una profundidad de 15 a 25 millas (25 a 40 km) por debajo de la superficie de la sub-glacial.

Según los científicos involucrados en esta investigación, para un volcán que se ubica debajo de hielo, al momento de una erupción, el magma subterráneo abrirían nuevos caminos a su paso y provocarían fracturas en la tierra, lo que daría lugar actividad sísmica. En caso de que ocurriera una erupción volcánica grave, se especula que habría un rápido derretimiento del hielo y un dramático aumento de los niveles del mar.

Una imagen de radar también reveló una capa enterrada de cenizas de hace 8.000 años y evidencia de pequeños flujos de magma debajo del hielo.

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Este artículo, fue publicado originalmente aquí: http://www.fayerwayer.com/2013/11/hallan-volcan-activo-debajo-del-hielo-de-la-antartida/

The Omniture Of Pr? Airpr’s New Analytics Platform Aims To Show Cmos How To Invest In Pr

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Startups and PR firms have long had a halting, if not embattled relationship. Spend time talking to entrepreneurs and those working at startups, and it won’t be long before you encounter the nagging mistrust founders have of PR firms and the PR process.

That’s why AirPR, the PR marketplace and technology platform, is launching a new analytics platform that aims to restore some of that trust – or at least give companies and their CMOs a greater degree of insight into both the value of PR and how to increase PR performance.

But let’s step back for a minute and ask: Why is it that, generally speaking, entrepreneurs mistrust PR and often end up unhappy with the PR process – and performance? Well, on the one hand, that’s because, frankly, public relations and communications aren’t skills entrepreneurs necessarily have in spades or are comfortable with (and vice versa). On the other hand, as Zaarly co-founder Eric Koester wrote in a recent blog post, boiled down, startups are all about math. Simply put the job of a founder, Koester says, is to make a simple math equation work: R > E.

“You need to show how you can make the revenue you earn from a customer exceed the expenses you incur to get that customer,” he writes. It’s for this reason, among many others, that most founders not only pay attention to math, they’re datavores. The prevailing psychology, especially in a highly technical world, is that if you can’t measure and quantify the value of some activity or spend for the business, it’s not worth pursuing.

So, why is there a sense that entrepreneurs struggle to find good PR firms? Well, startups, and particularly the founders and CTOs of tech-focused companies, aren’t always the most “outward-facing” people to begin with. Couple that with the fact that – and take this from someone in the media – good PR people can be hard to find, and you’re already halfway there.

On the other side, entrepreneurs are already data and metrics-focused, so unsurprisingly, they have trouble seeing the value in spending money on a PR firm. Why? Well, if it’s an early-stage startup, capital is tight to begin with, but, really, it’s the fact that the PR process is largely opaque. Traditionally, it’s been difficult, if not impossible, to effectively measure Return On Investment (ROI).

In the past, PR firms and startups have used “advertising value equivalency” as a placeholder for measuring media coverage compared to a particular publication’s CPM or CPI rates – or the functional equivalent thereof. But this really isn’t the most effective benchmark.

If you haven’t already fallen asleep, this is the thought process that led Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer to create AirPR in the first place. The startup’s initial product, as we wrote in June, was a kind of “Match.com for PR.” In other words, AirPR offered a marketplace designed to match top, pre-screened PR talent with tech startups looking for (and actually able to pay for) representation that makes sense for them given the story they’re looking to tell, funding, stage of development and so on.

Since then, AirPR’s marketplace has served as a testing ground that has allowed it to observe and collect loads of data on how startups are approaching the PR process, what they want help with and, ultimately, how effective PR is at meeting its goals, costs, publications they want to speak to and so on. Apply the insight and trends from this formula at scale (over time) – now that the company has had 2,000 companies cycle through its marketplace and hosts anywhere between 50 and 75 active PR professionals at any given time – and one begins to see how this presents the opportunity for a real business.

Over the last six months, AirPR has worked to productize this data-driven insight into the PR process, ultimately resulting in an analytics platform that can potentially help PR professionals and companies alike measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Launching this week, AirPR “Analyst” as it’s being called, attempts to enable companies to track PR efficacy at a more granular level – all the way down to revenue impact.

At a high level, the product measures a PR campaign’s web traffic, the number of articles to result from it, social media conversion, performance of core messages and how online interactions drive company sales.

The product allows companies to view this information, segmented by engagement, awareness and optimization, in a single dashboard. Sounds like your friendly neighborhood analytics tool, doesn’t it? And, really, that’s the idea – a kind of enterprise-focused Omniture or Mixpanel for PR. Depending on the pricing plan and customization companies choose to pursue, they can also compare their metrics and performance to their competitors.

To put this in context, well, the PR industry really hasn’t had much of a relationship with analytics, historically. Fouladgar-Mercer says that whereas marketing clouds like Vocus and Cision offer PR monitoring solutions, AirPR Analyst can be the first big data analytics approach to measure effectiveness down to real value.

“The only thing missing from the large marketing clouds of Adobe [read: Omniture] and Salesforce is PR,” the AirPR founder contends. And, while you can rarely trust a founder to be honest in the assessment of their own company, he has a point there. Every company has a line item for advertising and PR spend, and thanks to giants like Omniture, most companies know exactly how an increase or decrease in that advertising spend effects its bottom line.

“For PR,” Fouladgar-Mercer explains, “it’s still pretty much a black box.” Companies have very little sense of the degree to which tweaking PR spend positively or negatively affects their core business metrics and their bottom line.

The other approach that could end up working in the startup’s favor is that, while it’s initially targeting the enterprise and large brands, the long-term goal is to increase PR performance for companies of all sizes. And if the CEO is correct and AirPR is first to market with this, then it won’t matter. But the feature of AirPR’s product that could have the most appeal for companies? It takes less than 30 minutes to setup and integrates with the majority of existing analytics providers, the founder claims.

In other words, without the spin, AirPR needs to start generating some revenue from more lucrative enterprise-size contracts and, once it does, it will work downstream to startups. Sure, it’s Goliath over David, but that’s the approach that 99 percent of founders would take. Plus, for smaller companies, there’s always the AirPR marketplace and, at some point in the not so distant future, they’ll get access to Analyst as well.

When asked about her experience working with AirPR’s new product, “Your Network is Your Net Worth” author and former Virgin America Marketing VP Porter Gale sums it up nicely:

One major misconception about PR is that it’s not a driver of revenue and sales … Some people think of PR as solely a brand awareness builder, but time and time again when the press writes a story about a company, sales tend to go up. With AirPR Analyst, marketing executives, and comms teams can track important metrics and tie them to specific business objectives.

For more, find Analyst here.

Go: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/14/the-omniture-of-pr-airprs-new-analytics-platform-aims-to-show-cmos-how-to-invest-in-pr/

Blippy Is Reborn As A Dead Simple Mobile App For Finding Ridiculous Gifs

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You may remember the name Blippy from such startups as the one that shared your credit card purchases with friends.

The concept died. But the name lived on.

Another team of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs bought the domain for Blippy, and they’re using it for a new app that makes it dead simple to find and make animated GIFs. Because we all wish we could find that perfect facepalm or dog GIF to strike the right note.

Co-founder David King, who previously built up a social gaming company Green Patch and sold it to Playdom (which was then sold to Disney), said the app taps into an emerging trend of visual communication.

Not only are we seeing stickers take off in apps like Line, Facebook Messenger and Path, ephemeral messaging app Snapchat is also about very fast, visual communication. Anxious bears, woeful bunnies and typing cats capture feelings words can’t quite match.

But one obvious and missing link seems to be in animated GIFs. They run wild through platforms like Tumblr and our internal TechCrunch newsfeed, but there hasn’t really been a breakout mobile app for animated GIFs. Basically, it’s just technically difficult to make a messaging app with working animated GIFs outside of products like iMessage. There are issues with speed, or problems with creating an effective GIF search without proper tags or keywords.

The new incarnation of Blippy is starting from a pretty basic place. It’s not a full-on chat service. It instead just makes it easy to find the right GIF to share through iMessage, Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

“We want to be just focused on finding and curating great GIFs,” King said.

There are categories for pets, celebrities, sports, #fail and so on. Then there’s a basic search engine that you can swipe down from above.

Once you pick one, you can overlay a personal message in any number of absurd or “elegant” fonts and colors.

Then you just zip it off to iMessage or any other of the big platforms. One feature not available now is the ability to create animated GIFs from your phone’s video or photo library. But it’s one that may come shortly.

Learn more: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/14/blippy-2/

Kabbage Brings Its Small Business Lending Service To Mobile

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Kabbage, the Atlanta-based company offering working capital to online merchants and sellers on marketplaces like Etsy, eBay and Amazon who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get a bank loan, is today expanding its business to mobile. The company is officially introducing its new apps for both iOS and Android, which will enable Kabbage users to quickly add funds to their associated bank or PayPal account while on the go.

The company had been quietly testing the apps with select users over the latter part of the year, and have now seen adoption from customers across 41 states. The iPhone app was actually introduced in September to a test market via an email invitation, while the Android version launched just a week ago.

Before being able to take advantage of the service on mobile, customers will have to register and qualify on the Kabbage website. In other words, mobile is not yet being used a way to attract new users, but serves as an extension of the company’s core product. However, that may change in time.

The company says it felt the need to move into the mobile space in order to offer more flexibility to customers, who are often out and about making deals or meeting with business partners.

In the apps, Kabbage customers can view their balance, make transfers, and select the amount of cash they need to fund a particular purchase or opportunity they may encounter while away from their PC. For instance, a seller might come across a deal on additional inventory while on a routine buying trip. Kabbage mobile apps would then allow them to access the funds they need to make that purchase in just a few minutes. (Kabbage says it can deliver up to $50,000 of funding in 7 minutes).

To qualify its customers, Kabbage uses dozens of data sources, including past sales, credit history, customer traffic and reviews, plus pricing and inventory compared with competitors, in order to determine a seller’s business performance and credit worthiness. The company, which competes with On Deck and Capital Access network, raised $75 million in debit financing this spring, to help the company scale its service to meet the needs of a growing user base.

At the time, co-founder Marc Gorlin said that Kabbage had extended over 60,000 advances (nearly 40,000 in 2012). Today, the company says that advances are up 80% year-over-year, to 70,000 and the service has reached over 100,000 business accounts. In 2013, Kabbage will advance over $100 million in funds, a 105% increase from 2012.

The mobile apps for iOS and Android area available on the respective app stores here and here.

 [Photos: Shutterstock; Kabbage]

Link: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/kabbage-brings-its-small-business-lending-service-to-mobile/

Causes Relaunches As A Social Network For Social Good Action, Not Shallow Clicktivism

Causes Relaunch

Click a link, click a petition, feel better without making a difference. That was the old Causes. Today, the new Causes launches to reactivate its 186 million registered million users. It’s an independent civic social network pushing education, donations, and pledged behavior changes, rather than a patchwork of campaigns tethered to Facebook. And it’s got a serious native advertising strategy.

“We believe there will be special purpose but deep social networks around specific parts of your identity” Causes CEO Matt Mahan tells me. ”We think your purpose or civic identity is a core part that’s currently underserved.”

The plan continues to be serving up Causes as a for-profit business. It wants to make the world a better place, but by raising $16.4 million on the promise it will make money, it could hire better talent and more quickly scale its contribution to the world.

A Lot Of Bark, Not Enough Bite

The mission to connect people in support of common causes started back in 2007 when the startup was one of the launch partners for the Facebook platform. Founded by two former employees, Joe Green (now President of FWD.us) and Sean Parker (investor and serial entrepreneur) with a Series A from Founders Fund. Causes’ head start and the lucrative viral channels Facebook offered at the time let it quickly sign up droves of users.

The problem was they weren’t as getting much done as they could. In six years, the 186 million users did raise $48 million for non-profits and add 34 million signatures to petitions for grassroots campaigns, but much of their potential went unrealized.

Most people (me included) were delivered to Causes campaigns through Facebook Requests or wall posts their friends spammed them with, signed or gave a little money, and never came back. Few took the time to really understand what they were supporting. Save the whales? Sure. Click. Stop human trafficking? Here’s $10. Maybe I’ll see ya again in 17 months, Causes.

By this year, Causes had  60 employees and revenue in the millions thanks to display ads and sponsored campaigns, but had failed to become cash-flow positive and was still relying on its venture funding. It’s founders were no longer involved day to day. And its engagement had dwindled to just 6 million users per month – a measly 3% of its registered users.

Causes needed fresh blood, and found it by acquiring Votizen, another Sean Parker-backed company. Votizen converted people’s political vigor into influence, letting them encourage their like-minded friends to vote in elections. Its co-founder Jason Putorti was renowned for his classy, engaging designs. The deal was closed in January by Causes’ newly promoted CEO Matt Mahan. Him and Putorti set out to redefine Causes.

Turning Passion Into Action

Today their vision goes into production. The old Causes Facebook app will stick around for now, so veteran users don’t have to worry about their campaigns disappearing, but its the new Causes.com where things are really happening.

Already aboard are organizations such as World Wildlife Fund, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, as well as brands like Toyota and Kashi. Causes has also tapped celebrities with long track records of social good support including Forrest Gump’s Lt. Dan aka Gary Sinise who backs veterans campaigns, and wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who fights for gun safety.

To start on Causes.com, you don’t have to login with Facebook anymore. It’s an “independent” social network that lets create a unique social graph around good, and sign up with just an email address. Then you pick a few digital “bumper stickers” that will represent your ideals on your Causes profile. Really, though, this is a lightweight way to get you to tell Causes what you’re into so it can suggest organizations and people for you to follow. It’s a savvy on-boarding flow that makes sure your feed is full of relevant projects.

That brings us to the homepage feed where you’ll see intelligent suggestions of campaigns to take part in based on what you follow. That includes making a donation, taking a pledge to do something like join an offline boycott, or watch the video for a brand-sponsored campaign which triggers a $1 donation from that brand.

While Causes would love its feed to be part of your daily routine, Mahan admits to me that “The way most people will get into a campaign is by seeing a piece of content syndicated through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and email” or from a brand they’re connected to elsewhere. The goal is for Causes to proliferate horizontally instead of just top-down from organizers themselves.

That’s why Causes campaign pages are focused just as much on content contributed by supporters as by the admins. The top shows an official image, description, and call to action that explains how you can help, but the bottom is a feed of user generated content aiming to inspire and educate people about the project. In hopes of showing people their impact and encouraging contribution, each post displays the number of views and actions it’s driven.

To become a formal supporter who can invite friends and post to a campaigns feed, people actually have to take action on behalf of a cause. Mahan tells me ”We want the notion of supporting to be heavier and more meaningful than Liking or following on Facebook and Twitter. It’s standing with people whose beliefs you back and you want to take action with. It should be the beginning of a relationship of collective action.”

The big new feature in the revamped Causes is the ability to create your own personal sub-page for any campaign. Here you can pledge to rally a certain number of actions, say $1000 in donations or 50 people confirming they’ll boycott a bad business. You can tell your own story about why an initiative is important to you, and invite friends. These personal pages turn anyone into a grassroots organizer.

Overall, the new Causes looks nice and could get a lot more done on behalf of social good movements than the old version. However, navigation feels a bit clunky and counter-intuitive, and it can be a bit confusing knowing if you should be adding content to a campaign or friend’s personal page. The core challenge for Causes will be making its new site either viral enough to stay top of mind via constant shares to other social networks, or changing people’s behavior so they stop by Causes naturally.

‘Good’ Advertising

If Causes can reactivate its tuned-out users and convince them to spend significant time on the site, it’s got a serious plan to earn money. Mahan explains “People are skeptical of advertising” but Causes can offer businesses a different way to connect. ”We’re giving them a new, deep, rich way of building relationships with millions” say Mahan.

Instead of ads where click-throughs lead to a product page, Causes is building out native ad units in the form of sponsored campaigns. Rather than try to aggressively sell its beer, Budweiser can show people that it funds clean water projects. When people pledge support by watching a video informing them about why clean water is important, Budweiser gives a dollar on their behalf. It might have already planned to give that dollar, but by tying the donation to someone’s action, they feel like the beer company helped them make a difference, and their affinity for the brand grows.

Causes will be recommending these sponsored campaigns in the home feed, on topic pages, and in search. In some cases they’ll look like Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, where the ads highlight a friend connected to the brand’s campaign. For now on its desktop site Causes will also show more traditional display ads for social good organizations and campaigns, but Mahan tells me that native advertising is its focus going forward. That’s because these native units will fit well as users shift to mobile where there’s no room for old-school banners.

This business model also sets it apart from competing social good sites who make money in less scrupulous ways. “If you survey the space – Petitionsite, Change.org, Rally – they’re either taking a cut of donations or selling contacts, or doing both. We’ve decided to go with native ad units” says Mahan. That means when you sign a petition, your email address will never be sold to donation solicitors, and Causes uses Network For Good to process credit card payments at cost so as much money as possible goes to what you support. Still, it’s a crowded space with sites like Jumo, HopeMob, Google’s OneToday, and topic-specific sites vying for people’s pledges and donations.

In the end, Causes‘ idealism is its greatest strength, but also its greatest threat. Setting a barrier of action to joining a Cause ensures people really care about what they say they do, but it also creates a hurdle to sharing and growth. If it can consistently deliver relevant campaigns for us to care about, and refine its design to be more intuitive, the impetus will fall on us to make social good a part of our every day lives.

Link: http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/24/causes-social-network/

Reverse Engineering Snapchat’s Size Is Impossible…but Here Goes

Snapchat Math

Acquirers and investors fear (missing out on) what they don’t understand. That’s one reason Snapchat might not be revealing its user count. But everyone wants to know. The problem is that ephemeral messaging isn’t like posting to Facebook or texting. It’s a new medium with a unique behavior pattern, so you can’t estimate Snapchat’s size by comparing it to anything else.

But you don’t have to. With some science and anecdotal reports of how many snaps people send a day, you can get a range that illuminates how many daily users Snapchat might have.

[Update: Earlier today BuzzFeed's John Herrman wrote a smart piece questioning how little we know about Snapchat's metrics. However, it used stats about WhatsApp and text usage to estimate Snapchat's user count. We don't see as accurate since Snapchat's ephemeral messaging is so different and takes much longer than texting or instant messaging, so we wrote this breakdown using no comparisons to other communication mediums.]

We start with two ‘facts’ directly from Snapchat team:

  • All of Snapchat’s users receive (not send)400 million photo or video snaps a day.
  • 88% of snaps are sent to one person.

To calculate user count, we have to make a few assumptions that we can’t verify as accurate, which we’ll mark with a *. We’ll then note that all our final user counts are based on these assumptions by marking them **. Seriously, these are clever but speculated projections that aren’t necessarily right.

Let’s make our first assumption that the average snap that is sent to more than one person is sent to four people*, based on our anecdotal usage. If 12% of snaps are sent to more than one person, and each is sent to an average of four people, 48% of received snaps each day are multi-user-received snaps.

We can use that to derive the total number of sent snaps. 52% of received snaps are sent to only one person, making the send:receive ratio almost 1:1. So, 192 million received snaps each day are multi-user-received snaps, and 208 million are sent to one user directly.

We can get the number of snaps sent to multiple users simply by dividing the total received count for that type of snap (192 million) by the average number of recipients (4), yielding 48 million sent multi-user-received snaps.

Summing the two numbers grants us the total sent snap count per day: 256 million. Alright!

Using that figure, we can derive estimated daily active user (DAU) counts for Snapchat by laying out different ranges of user activity. In short, on a day that a user is logged in, how many snaps do they send? Using the above daily sent snap count, we can derive the following ranges.

  • 1 snap per day per user*: Snapchat has 256 million DAUs**
  • 2 snaps per day per user*: Snapchat has 128 million DAUs**
  • 5 snaps per day per user*: Snapchat has 51.2 million DAUs**
  • 10 snaps per day per user*: Snapchat has 25.6 million DAUs**
  • 20 snaps per day per user*: Snapchat has 12.8 million DAUs**

Snapchat’s user base is surely distributed across this range (with some crazy snap-happy outliers), but using these averages gives us a range of estimated user counts.

A caveat. It is very unlikely that the average Snapchat DAU sends one snap per day, or 20 snaps per day. Those numbers are included for reference, and are not endorsed by TechCrunch as probable.

Why The Hell Does This Matter?

Snapchat won’t share its user count. Why not? Reasons. Many of them.

It could want to maintain an air of mystery as it courts acquisition offers in the billions of dollars. It could hope to avoid direct comparisons to longer-standing social networks like Instagram or more traditional messaging apps like WeChat that may have higher user counts. Internally, it may focus on engagement – getting people deeply addicted/in love with Snapchat rather than courting a larger, less passionate user base.

Or it might think press and people are dumb enough to directly compare its 400 million snaps privately sent per day to Facebook’s 350 million photos uploaded and usually shared widely/publicly. “Wow, Snapchat is bigger than Facebook!” No, though I’m sure Snapchat has successfully  confused some people.

But why does knowing Snapchat’s user count matter? Because it explains whether ephemeral messaging is a niche activity frequently done by a small audience – or – a widespread phenomenon a large audience is dabbling in.

If a few million people love it, the question will be whether Snapchat is appealing beyond hyper-chatty mobile-first young people, and can gain exposure to more people. It would mean with the right distribution, it could grow very large, as each additional user brings a ton of engagement. This might mean Snapchat would benefit a lot from being acquired by a massive service like Google or Facebook that could promote it.

If many millions kind of enjoy it, the question is whether the world is still getting used to disappearing communication. If it’s a medium humans naturally take to, Snapchat might not require much help, but would just need to bide its time and let people grow into self-destruct sharing. This could support an argument for Snapchat to stay independent.

But whether 128 million** people send 2 snaps per day or 25.6 million** people send 10 snaps per day, we know Snapchat is pretty damn popular. And as much as some want to write it off as a fad, ephemeral messaging translates a core aspect of offline human interaction into the online world. The silly jokes, funny faces, and intimate encounters you share with the people you love disappear when the moment ends. It’d make sense that we’d want the same freedom from the permanent record when communicating digitally.

*Assumption

**Estimate based on assumption

Words by Josh Constine, numbers by Alex Wilhelm

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Reference: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/how-many-users-does-snapchat-have/