Author: Anthony Ha

Daily Crunch: Bezos accuses National Enquirer of blackmail

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 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of blackmailing him — and publishes the details himself Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he is being blackmailed with nude selfies by AMI, owner of the National Enquirer, over claims the publisher has acted as a political operative. In a Medium post, Bezos described the process by which he has been targeted by AMI. AMI, meanwhile, says it was engaging in “good faith negotiations.” 2. Apple tells app developers to disclose or remove screen recording code This follows an investigation by TechCrunch that revealed major companies, like Expedia, Hollister and Hotels.com, were using a third-party analytics tool to record every tap and swipe inside the app. 3. Spotify will now suspend or terminate accounts it finds are using ad blockers In an email to users, the streaming music and podcast platform said its new user guidelines “mak[e] it clear that all types of ad blockers, bots and fraudulent streaming activities are not permitted.” Accounts that use ad blockers in Spotify face immediate suspension or termination under the new rules, which go into effect on March 1. 4. T-Mobile plans to offer à la carte media subscriptions, but no TV ‘skinny...

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Apple turns Ariana Grande and other musicians into Memoji for its latest ads

[embedded content] Just in time for the Grammy Awards, Apple has unveiled three new ads for Apple Music, featuring new singles from Ariana Grande, Khalid and Florida Georgia Line. In each video, the musicians have been transformed in Memoji (the human-style Animoji variant that was announced last year), which lip synch to their latest songs. The ads probably won’t change any minds when it comes to Memoji and Animoji — but if you like the format, they’re are fun. [embedded content] Apple actually created similar ads with Animoji lip synching to Childish Gambino and Migos before last year’s Grammys. As...

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Gametime lets you buy tickets for games and concerts that have already started

Ticketing app Gametime is taking its last-minute approach about as far as it can go, with the launch of a new feature called LastCall. This allows users to purchase tickets through Gametime until 90 minutes after an event has started. Why would you want to do that? Well, prices usually drop precipitously after the event starts — for example, Gametime said that 48 hours before a game, the median price for a Major League Baseball is (coincidentally?) $48, but it’s dropped to $13 by 90 minutes after the first pitch. Founder and CEO Brad Griffith acknowledged that most fans probably...

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IAC-owned publishing company Dotdash grew revenue by 44 percent last year

Holding company IAC just released its fourth quarter earnings report, which includes positive numbers for Dotdash, the rebranded company formerly known as About.com — revenue increased 32 percent in the quarter (to $40.2 million), and it was up 44 percent (to $131 million) for the fiscal year. This comes after big layoff announcements from BuzzFeed, Vice and Verizon Media Group (which owns TechCrunch). Unlike those companies — and unlike The New York Times, which actually seems to be doing well — Dotdash isn’t really a news publisher. Instead, it focuses on the same kinds of evergreen, how-to content that...

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Daily Crunch: Instacart CEO apologizes

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 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Instacart CEO apologizes for tipping debacle On the heels of a recently filed class-action lawsuit over wages and tips, as well as drivers and shoppers speaking out about Instacart’s alleged practices of subsidizing wages with tips, Instacart is taking steps to ensure tips are counted separately from what Instacart pays shoppers. “While our intention was to increase the guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as a part of this guarantee was misguided,” said CEO Apoorva Mehta in a blog post. “We apologize for taking this approach.” 2. Match Group fully acquires relationship-focused app Hinge Last year, Match Group acquired a 51 percent stake in the relationship-focused dating app Hinge, in order to diversify its portfolio of dating apps led by Tinder. The company has now confirmed that it fully bought out Hinge in the past quarter. 3. German antitrust office limits Facebook’s data gathering A lengthy antitrust probe into how Facebook gathers data on users has resulted in Germany’s competition watchdog banning the social network giant from combining data on users across its own suite of social platforms without their consent. 4. Twitter Q4 beats on sales of $909M...

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Subscription startup Scroll acquires news aggregator Nuzzel

Tony Haile, who previously led analytics company Chartbeat, is trying to rethink the business model for news at his new startup Scroll. Now he’s adding aggregation and curation to the mix with the acquisition of Nuzzel. Scroll is still an invite-only product, but Haile explained the idea succinctly: “We deliver this amazing, clean, ad-free experience, and we do it for a low monthly price.” In other words, after you subscribe and download Scroll, anytime you load up one of its partner sites (including USA Today, BuzzFeed and Vox), you should get an ad-free experience, which should work regardless of whether you’re accessing the site directly from your desktop or mobile browser, or from social media. In exchange, the publishers share the subscription revenue. Nuzzel, meanwhile, was founded by Jonathan Abrams (who previously founded Friendster), and its core product allows you to see the stories that are most-shared by the people you follow on social media. Haile said that by acquiring Nuzzel, Scroll can also start experimenting with different models for news curation — which is particularly important because if “we have just two algorithms determining who gets traffic and who doesn’t, then that’s not a healthy web ecosystem.” “It’s really hard to [build] a scalable business as an amazing curation service,” he added. With Nuzzel, he hopes to “start finding ways in which we can build in that value...

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Subscription platform Substack adds podcast support

Substack started out by providing individual writers and publishers with a set of tools enabling them to charge a subscription fee for their newsletters. Now it’s giving them the ability to do the same thing with podcasts. In fact, Morgan Creek Digital Assets founder Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano is already using the platform to introduce a daily podcast to complement his existing, crypto-focused Off the Chain newsletter. “We’ve always thought the magic of what Substack is doing is the fact that we’re disintermediating the people creating stuff and the people who are consuming it — you are the brand they’re paying for,” Substack CEO Chris Best told me. “That whole model works incredibly well for newsletters, and to us, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be a great model for podcast content.” Substack’s podcasting capabilities will allow publishers to either offer a podcast-specific subscription — or, like Pompliano, to include it as part of a broader package with their newsletter subscription. The podcast itself will be distributed through an audio player that can be embedded in both newsletters and on the web. A web-based audio player might seem like a clunky way to listen to podcasts, but Substack’s player (which you can try out here) works pretty smoothly and includes features like the ability to jump backward and forward 30 seconds, and to play podcasts at various speeds. Best added that...

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Daily Crunch: Spotify buys Gimlet and Anchor

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 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here: 1. Spotify buys Gimlet and Anchor in podcast push, earmarks $500M for more deals Spotify is going after podcasts in a major way in 2019. The music streaming service confirmed that it has snapped up two podcast networks — Gimlet and Anchor — in undisclosed deals. But that’s not all: Spotify also said it has plans to spend a further $400 to $500 million “on multiple acquisitions in 2019” to get even deeper into the space. 2. Meditation app Calm hits unicorn status with fresh $88 million funding As meditation grows in popularity across the U.S. — the CDC says it tripled from 4.1 percent in 2012 to 14.2 percent in 2017 — Calm has capitalized on the craze by offering a suite of mindfulness and wellness tools, from guided meditation sessions to a product called “Sleep Stories,” via a subscription. 3. Instacart faces class-action lawsuit regarding wages and tips The suit alleges Instacart “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers. Based on this representation, Instacart knew customers would believe their tips were being given to shoppers in...

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