Author: @jazminduribe

Blue Apron hopes lower cost meal kits, now on Jet in NYC, will help save its business

Blue Apron is introducing a lower-cost version of its meal kits, initially only for Jet.com shoppers in the greater New York City metro area. The new kits, called “Knick Knacks,” still require refrigeration, but require customers to supply their own protein and produce to complete the meal. But by dropping the two most expensive ingredients from the meal, the company has brought the price down to $7.99, compared with prices that ranged from $17 to $23 for the meal kits that launched on Jet last fall. As you may recall, Walmart subsidiary Jet announced in October that it would begin selling Blue Apron’s meal kits to its City Grocery customers. Jet had relaunched its site the month prior with a new focus on serving the needs of urban shoppers, which included same-day delivery of groceries. The revamped site is now localized to where shoppers live, with images and messaging specific to the customer’s own city. The localization efforts would begin in New York, Jet said at the time, before rolling out to other major U.S. metros like Boston, Philadelphia, and D.C. Jet then became the first online retailer to sell Blue Apron’s meal kits – giving the meal kit company a needed boost at a time when its subscriber base had been in decline. Though Blue Apron’s name had become synonymous with meal kits, they were beset with challenges...

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Pluto TV will expand its free service with paid subscriptions, says new owner Viacom

Last month, Viacom picked up free streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash. This week, the company spoke in more detail about its plans for Pluto TV – including its potential to for ad-supported streaming as well as the ability to market Viacom’s various subscription video properties directly to consumers, similar to how Amazon Channels works today. At the time of the acquisition, Pluto TV offered over 100 channels of free content from 130 partners, and reached 12 million monthly users – many of whom are younger, and never intend to subscribe to traditional pay TV, like cable or satellite. While Pluto TV built its brand on offering access “free TV,” Viacom sees the service not only as a way to grow an ad-supported video business, but also a way to upsell those free customers to paid subscription video products. Viacom isn’t the only brand to have realized in recent months that a good number of consumers are uninterested in paying for TV and movies, when there are so many free alternatives for entertainment available on today’s web – including most notably, YouTube’s massive ad-supported video network, and to a lesser extent, the video offerings from places like Facebook Watch, and even those from social apps like Instagram and Snapchat. That’s led many in the industry to launch their own, free and ad-supported video destinations. This includes...

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Disney+ streaming service will feature non-Disney content at launch

Disney’s soon-to-launch streaming service and Netflix competitor, known as Disney+, will include non-Disney programming at launch, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed in a call with investors following Disney’s earnings on Tuesday. The company had already licensed a CBS show for its service, which led to questions about Disney’s content strategy for the new service. Iger said that while Disney’s long-term strategy will focus on the company’s own internally-sourced programming, it plans to launch this year with shows licensed from outside of Disney. Last month, Disney had ordered the 10-episode series, “Diary of a Female President” from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writer Ilana Peña, Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), and CBS TV Studios. But it was unclear if a buy like this was something of a one-off for Disney, or if the company planned to strategically shop for more programming from outside of its walls to fill out Disney+. The service, we already knew, will feature content from all of Disney’s big-name brands, including Marvel, LucasFilm/Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic, and Disney Studios itself. And we knew, too, the service will focus on family-friendly fare, while snaring the exclusive streaming rights to things like the Star Wars and Marvel movies. On Tuesday, Disney announced that “Captain Marvel” would be the first of its movies to stream exclusively on Disney+. Disney will also produce original shows and movies for the service, including a “High...

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This Marie Kondo-inspired Twitter tool will help you declutter your timeline so it again ‘sparks joy’

Does your Twitter timeline spark joy? If you’re like most people, probably not. Over the years, you probably politely followed back a few too many Twitter accounts, and now have a timeline filled with all sorts of random tweets from people you can’t even remember following in the first place. A new Twitter tool, Tokimeki Unfollow, may help. Designed by Julius Tarng, previously of Facebook and Branch, “tokimeki” roughly translates to “spark joy.” It’s a nod to Tarng’s source of inspiration for the new tool – Marie Kondo’s hugely popular Netflix show “Tidying Up.” The series, based on the decluttering expert’s own KonMari method of organization, has prompted many to start purging their homes of unwanted and unloved clothing, books, papers, toys, and more in the weeks following the series’ debut. So why not take the idea to Twitter? After all, if anything is a source of clutter these days…it’s the build-up of timeline junk thanks to poor following choices in years past. Tokimeki Unfollow is easy to use, though its newfound popularity may have it running a little slow at times, we found. The tool works by using cookies and your browser’s local storage to save its progress. If you opt in, it can save your “keep” and “unfollow” progress secured on the Glitch servers. The tool also uses your Twitter authentication to pull in your follows, their tweets, and to...

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Snapchat shares soar as it stops losing users and shrinks losses in Q4

Snapchat isn’t growing again, but at least it didn’t hemorrhage any more users in its Q4 earnings report. The company stayed flat at 186 million daily users after falling from 191 million in Q1 to 188 million in Q2 to 186 million in Q3. It exceeded an expected quarterly count of 184.2 million user, though 186 million is still down 0.3 percent year-over-year. It reached record revenue of $390 million in the holiday quarter, up 36 percent year-over-year to beat the $378 million Wall Street estimate, and Snapchat lost just $0.04 per share compared to Wall Street’s $0.08 loss estimate...

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Snapchat’s Android usage keeps falling but rebuild tests promising

Snap has finally begun publicly testing the engineering overhaul of its slow and buggy Android app that for years has cost Snapchat users. Promising early results and reduction in app startup time could help Snapchat fix its growth problem after daily active users sank in Q2 and Q3 before staying put at 186 million in Q4, Snap announced today in its earnings report today. “We ended the year with user engagement stabilizing and have started rolling out the new version of our Android application to a small percentage of our community” CEO Evan Spiegel wrote. “Early tests show promising...

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Reddit is raising a huge round near a $3 billion valuation

Reddit is raising $150 million to $300 million to keep the front page of the Internet running, multiple sources tell TechCrunch. The forthcoming Series D round is said to be led by Chinese tech giant Tencent at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation. Depending on how much follow-on cash Reddit drums up from Silicon Valley investors and beyond, its post-money valuation could reach an epic $3 billion. As more people seek esoteric community and off-kilter entertainment online, Reddit continues to grow its link sharing forums. 330 million monthly active users now frequent its 150,000 Subreddits. That warrants the boost to its valuation, which previously reached $1.8 billion when raised $200 million in July 2017. As of then, Reddit’s majority stake was still held by publisher Conde Nast that bought in back in 2006 just a year after the site launched. Reddit had raised $250 million previously, so the new round will push it to $400 million to $550 million in total funding. It should have been clear that Reddit was on the prowl after a month of pitching its growth to the press and beating its own drum. In December Reddit announced it had reached 1.4 billion video views per month, up a staggering 40 percent from just two months earlier after first launching a native video player in August 2017. And it made a big deal out of starting...

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Target expands its 1 percent back loyalty program, Target Circle, to more U.S. markets

Target is expanding access to its new loyalty program that rewards shoppers for returning to its stores by offering 1 percent back on their next trip, among other perks. The program, called Target Circle, is still in beta testing following its initial launch in March of last year. At the time, the program was called Target Red, but the company has since rebranded it. It was also previously available only in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Starting today, Target is opening up access to the beta to six other major U.S. markets, including Charlotte, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Phoenix. This will allow the retailer to test the program on a much larger scale with millions more shoppers. In addition to the loyalty program’s name, the company also changed the marketing around the program. Today, Target Circle is more heavily focused on promoting the 1 percent back on purchases – the piece designed to increase foot traffic in Target stores. The 1 percent is meant to lure in those shoppers who won’t sign up for Target’s store card, REDcard. The card, which comes in both a credit and debit version, provides 5 percent back at checkout and has seen decent adoption to date. As of Target’s last quarterly earnings, REDcard penetration was nearly 24 percent. However, that figure has remained stagnant quarter-over-quarter. It’s not growing at all, and in some cases, even...

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