Author: Anthony Ha

Scribd has more than 1M paying subscribers

Subscription ebook and audiobook service Scribd says it’s grown to more than 1 million subscribers. It still has a long way to go before reaching the heights of Netflix (nearly 150 million subscribers) or Spotify (87 million paying subscribers), but the announcement should help put any lingering doubts to rest around whether there’s a sizable audience willing to pay an $8.99 subscription fee for books. The company also says it’s been profitable since early in 2017, and that it’s currently bringing in $100 million in annual recurring revenue. Scribd started out as a document-sharing service before moving into the subscription ebook business in 2013, when it signed its first deal with a major publisher — namely, HarperCollins. Since then, the service has added other big publishers and moved beyond older “backlist” titles. In fact, last year HarperCollins released the latest book from “Divergent” author Veronica Roth on Scribd, on launch day. Chantal Restivo-Alessi has been chief digital officer at HarperCollins for the duration of the Scribd partnership. Via email, she praised Scribd’s “willingness to monitor, analyze, learn and adjust – something that clearly it has been doing in the past years.” “We have continued to learn and adapt together,” Restivo-Alessi said. “We expected the digital ebook market to be a bigger part of our and their business now, and we have been positively surprised by the uptake in digital audio....

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Original Content podcast: Fyre Festival docs shine light on a social media-fueled disaster

Netflix and Hulu have each released their own documentaries about the infamous Fyre Festival, and the hard-working hosts of the Original Content podcast have watched both of them. We’re joined this week by Brian Heater, and the three of us are unanimous on one thing: If you’re only going to watch one of these documentaries, make it “Fyre” on Netflix. It’s the better-made movie, offering a clearer retelling of what actually went wrong at the first-time music festival in the Bahamas. But if you’ve got the time, watching both films will give you a fuller picture. “Fyre Fraud” on...

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Daily Crunch: Facebook is shutting down Moments

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. Facebook is shutting down Moments; here’s how to save all your photos Facebook Moments, the standalone mobile app designed to let users privately share photos and videos, is shutting down next month. The reason is simple: Not many people used it. For those who did use it, there are two export options. One will create a private album on their Facebook account; the other option downloads everything to their device. 2. StarCraft II-playing AI AlphaStar takes out pros undefeated AlphaStar is different from the traditional StarCraft AI. It learned from watching humans play at first, but soon honed its skills by playing against facets of itself. 3. Theranos documentary review: The Inventor’s horrifying optimism The documentary that premiered yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival explores how the move-fast-and-break-things ethos of Silicon Valley is “really dangerous when people’s lives are in the balance,” as former employee and whistleblower Tyler Shultz says in the film. 4. Facebook to encrypt Instagram messages ahead of integration with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger As first reported by The New York Times, the social media giant said it’s reworking the underlying infrastructure of its three messaging apps to allow users to talk to...

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Crypto wallet BRD raises $15M for Asian expansion

Mobile cryptocurrency wallet BRD is announcing that it’s raised $15 million in Series B funding. The funding comes from SBI Crypto Investment, a subsidiary of Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings (formerly a subsidiary of SoftBank). BRD said the funding will allow it to grow its product and engineering teams, and to expand in Japan and across Asia. “SBI Group’s investment in BRD allows us to firmly cement ourselves in the Asian market,” said BRD co-founder and CEO Adam Traidman in a statement. “It shows incredible support for the foundation that we have built in North America and reinforces...

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Parse.ly’s new feature helps writers find topics that are (relatively) under-covered

Okay, I’ll admit it: Sometimes, I write stories because I think they’re going to be popular. And sometimes, those stories fall flat anyway. It makes sense — both on a cosmic level, because life isn’t fair, but also in the more specific sense that some topics are simply over-covered. Yes, people seem to like reading about Apple, but are they going to read my Apple post if it’s fiftieth story published on the same topic? Analytics company Parse.ly is trying to address that very problem with a new feature in Currents, its free product highlighting broader audience trends. The feature is called “demand sorting,” because it points out the topics that are most “in demand” by the audience. Demand, in this case, is determined by taking the total number of views for a topic and then dividing that by the number of articles. In other words, if a topic is in-demand, it’s attracting a lot of views but has been covered by relatively few stories — creating an opportunity for a writer looking for their next subject. In part, CEO Sachin Kamdar said this is highlighting Parse.ly’s “differentiated data, showing what people are actually reading versus what people are sharing or searching for.” Special Projects Lead Sal Gionfriddo said it’s also taking advantage of the natural language processing technology used in Currents to identify the main topic of a story...

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MoviePass says it’s bringing back an unlimited movie plan

It may be hard to remember, but MoviePass once offered a relatively straightforward value proposition — for a monthly subscription fee, you could watch as many movies as you want. Now it sounds like a version of that plan is coming back. The news was shared in an interview that Executive Vice President Khalid Itum gave to Variety. Apparently, Itum didn’t offer any details beyond saying that some version of the unlimited plan — allowing subscribers to watch as many movies as they want each month — will be launching next week. It’s barely been a month since MoviePass...

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Daily Crunch: Apple shrinks its autonomous car team

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. Apple cuts 200 staff from its Project Titan autonomous car division Apple’s secretive efforts to develop a self-driving car — its so-called ‘Project Titan’ — have taken a hard turn in 2019. CNBC broke the news that the company has reassigned 200 employees previously involved in the car’s development. “As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being...

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Verizon’s unlimited data carrier Visible starts selling iPhones, announces Android compatibility

When Verizon stealthily launched a new startup called Visible last year, it operated under a bring-your-own-device model — to sign up, you needed to already have an unlocked iPhone, and Visible would send you a new SIM card. Today, however, Visible is announcing that it’s partnering with Affirm and Apple to sell iPhones with 0 percent APR financing. It’s also launching Android compatibility in beta testing (the carrier was iOS-only until now), and is selling Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ devices. Visible is one of several attempts by companies large and small to rethink the wireless carrier model. In...

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