Author: @jazminduribe

‘Amazon Live’ is the retailer’s latest effort to take on QVC with live-streamed video

Amazon is taking on QVC with the launch of Amazon Live, which features live-streamed video shows from Amazon talent as well as those from brands that broadcast their own live streams through a new app, Amazon Live Creator. On the live shows, hosts talk about and demonstrate products available for sale on Amazon, much like they do on QVC. Beneath that sits a carousel where shoppers can browse product details and make purchases. More than one video streams on Amazon Live at the same time, so shoppers can tune to the one that most interests them. For example, Amazon Live is currently streaming a Valentine’s Day Gift Shop show, a cooking-focused show (In the Kitchen with @EdenEats) and Back to Business Live, which is showing off products aimed at daycare centers and schools. You can tap on the different videos to change streams, scroll down to watch recordings of those videos that were recently live or view which live shows are coming up next. On the web, the live-streaming site is available at Amazon.com/Live, but it’s not listed yet in Amazon’s main navigation menus so it remains hard to find. On mobile, there’s now a section labeled “Amazon Live” that’s appearing on both the iOS and Android app’s main navigation menu as of a recent app update. We’ve confirmed the page Amazon.com/Live is newly added, though this is not the first time Amazon...

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Luxury handbag marketplace Rebag raises $25M to expand to 30 more stores

Rebag, an online resale marketplace for luxury handbags, is getting another infusion of capital as it prepares to expand its offline retail operations. The company this week announced $25 million in Series C funding, in a round led by private equity firm Novator, with participation from existing investors, General Catalyst and FJ Labs. The round brings Rebag’s total raise to date to $52 million. Rebag competes with other luxury goods resellers, like TheRealReal, and to some extent with broader resale marketplaces like thredUP or Poshmark, which also attract shoppers looking to buy quality pre-owned items. And it exists in alongside large marketplaces...

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Instagram thinks you want IGTV previews in your home feed

If you can’t beat or join them…force feed ’em? That appears to be Instagram’s latest strategy for IGTV, which is now being shoved right into Instagram’s main feed, the company announced today. Instagram says that it will now add one-minute IGTV previews to the feed, making it “even easier” to discover and watch content from IGTV. Uh. IGTV, you may recall, was launched last year as a way for Instagram to woo creators. With IGTV, creators are able to share long-form videos within the Instagram platform instead of just short-form content to the Feed or Stories. The videos, before today, could be viewed in Instagram itself by tapping the IGTV icon at the top right of the screen, or within the separate IGTV standalone app. Instagram’s hope was that IGTV would give the company a means of better competing with larger video sites, like Google’s YouTube or Amazon’s Twitch. Its users, however, haven’t found IGTV as compelling. As of last fall, few creators were working on content exclusively for IGTV and rumor was the viewing audience for IGTV content remained quite small, compared with rivals like Snapchat or Facebook. Many creators just weren’t finding it worth investing additional resources into IGTV, so were repurposing content designed for other platforms, like YouTube or Snapchat. That means the bigger creators weren’t developing premium content or exclusives for IGTV, but were instead experimenting...

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T-Mobile plans to offer à la carte media subscriptions, but no TV ‘skinny bundle’

T-Mobile doesn’t want to compete with other carriers or teleco’s by developing its own “skinny bundle” of streaming TV channels, the company said today on its earnings call with investors, noting the market was already oversaturated on that front. Instead, the mobile operator’s strategy will focus on helping customers pick and choose which paid TV subscriptions they want to access — a move that very much sounds like T-Mobile is going the “Amazon Channels” route with its mobile streaming plans. According to T-Mobile President Mike Sievert, today’s customers have a number of choices for streaming TV thanks to the massive expansion of OTT (over-the-top) services that are now available. “It’s subscription-palooza out there. Every single media brand either has or is developing an OTT solution, and most of these companies don’t have a way to bring these products to market,” he said. “They’re learning about that. They don’t have distribution networks like us; they don’t have access to the phone like we have.” Instead, the exec explained that T-Mobile wants to help customers access paid subscriptions that already exist, by simplifying aspects of that process such as search, discovery and billing. “We don’t have plans to develop an nth undifferentiated skinny bundle,” Sievert continued. “There are plenty of those. We think there’s a more nuanced role for us to play in helping you get access to the great media...

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Netflix launches ‘smart downloads’ feature on iOS to automate offline viewing

Netflix today is launching a new feature on iOS devices that will help make it easier to watch its shows when you’re offline. The “smart downloads” feature, as it’s called, will automatically delete a downloaded episode after you’ve finished watching, then download the next one – but only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. The idea is that users will no longer have to go through the tedious work of managing their downloads – deleting those they’ve watched or downloading new titles, for example. Instead, the app can manage the downloads for you, so people can spend more time watching Netflix shows. Smart downloads makes sense for those who plan for intermittent connectivity – like commuters who take underground trains, for instance, or those who travel through dead spots where wireless coverage drops. It also makes sense for those on limited data plans, who are carefully about not using streaming video apps unless they’re on Wi-Fi. Offline features like this are key to attracting and retaining users in emerging markets where connectivity concerns are the norm. That’s likely why Netflix prioritized Android over iOS, for the initial launch of smart downloads. The feature had first arrived on Android last summer. It’s now offered across platforms, including iOS and in the Windows 10 Netflix app, the company says. Offline access is only one area where Netflix is focusing on the needs...

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Match 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, and today owns 100 percent of the app which has been gaining momentum both inside and outside of the U.S. following last year’s deal. Match believes that Hinge can offer an alternative to those who aren’t interested in using casual apps, like Tinder. As the company noted on its earnings call with investors this morning, half of...

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The plot to revive Mt. Gox and repay victims’ Bitcoin

It was the Lehman Brothers of blockchain. 850,000 Bitcoin disappeared when cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox imploded in 2014 after a series of hacks. The incident cemented the industry’s reputation as frighteningly insecure. Now a controversial crypto celebrity named Brock Pierce is trying to get the Mt. Gox flameout’s 24,000 victims their money back and build a new company from the ashes. Pierce spoke to TechCrunch for the first interview about Gox Rising — his plan to reboot the Mt. Gox brand and challenge Coinbase and Binance for the title of top cryptocurrency exchange. He claims there’s around $630 million and 150,000 Bitcoin are waiting in the Mt. Gox bankruptcy trust, and Pierce wants to solve the legal and technical barriers to getting those assets distributed back to their rightful owners. The consensus from several blockchain startup CEOs I spoke with was that the plot is “crazy”, but that it also has the potential to right one of the biggest wrongs marring the history of Bitcoin. The Fall Of Mt. Gox The story starts with Magic: The Gathering. Mt. Gox launched in 2006 as a place for players of the fantasy card game to trade monsters and spells before cryptocurrency came of age. The Magic: The Gathering Online eXchange wasn’t designed to safeguard huge quantities of Bitcoin from legions of hackers, but founder Jed McCaleb pivoted the site to do that...

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Facebook will reveal who uploaded your contact info for ad targeting

Facebook’s crack down on non-consensual ad targeting last year will finally produce results. In March, TechCrunch discovered Facebook planned to require advertisers pledge that they had permission to upload someone’s phone number or email address for ad targeting. That tool debuted in June, though there was no verification process and Facebook just took businesses at their word despite the financial incentive to lie. In November, Facebook launched a way for ad agencies and marketing tech developers to specify who they were buying promotions ‘on behalf of’. Soon that information will finally be revealed to users. Facebook’s new Custom Audiences transparency feature shows when your contact info was uploaded by who, and if it was shared between brands and partners Facebook previously only revealed what brand was using your contact info for targeting, not who uploaded it or when Starting February 28th, Facebook’s “Why am I seeing this?” button in the drop-down menu of feed posts will reveal more than the brand who paid for the ad, some biographical details they targeted, and if they’d uploaded your contact info. Facebook will start to show when your contact info was uploaded, if it was by the brand or one of their agency/developer partners, and when access was shared between partners. A Facebook spokesperson tells me the goal to keep giving people a better understanding of how advertisers use their information. This...

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