TECH POINT: Spotify without ads, Bitmain’s IPO, Y Combinator in China...

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08/17/2018 | 03:52 pm
Here is a quick recap of tech-related news that have drawn our attention this week.
Spotify. The music streaming service is going to test a new function in Australia: skip ads. Currently, free users frequently see ads between two songs. To ignore it, you have to wait until it’s finished or remove your headphones. The test function “Active Media” will offer the possibility to skip ads directly when it shows up.  In that case, advertisers will not pay the broadcast. This is a real bet for Spotify, as the move may reduce its turnover in the short term on the island (hopefully, that’s a small market). However, with time, the streaming service hopes to successfully develop its algorithm in order to offer better targeted ads, synonymous of additional revenues in the long run. If these Australian guinea pigs pass the test, this new feature could become global.

Bitmain. Chinese giant born in 2013 remains discreet, but not for long. Its revenues come from fees it applies to crypto mining. According to some analysts, it has made 1.1 billion in profit for the first quarter of 2018. We are hearing from the company because it is likely to go public this year at the Hong Kong stock exchange.  Bitmain could raise up to 18 billion dollars. Based on some sources, the company’s valuation could reach around $40 billion. The young company is very profitable and already raised one billion dollars from investors like Tencent or Softbank earlier this year.

Y Combinator. The famous American incubator is arriving in China. It wants to come closer to this dynamic ecosystem, which will allow it to apply its successful recipe. Launched in 2005, the accelerator brings $120,000 and a three months coaching to every company it bets on. In exchange, the startup gives up 7% of its capital. The recipe works. 1,900 startups were already accelerated, such as big names like Airbnb or Coinbase. YC has such a global reputation that Chinese talents will likely queue to get chosen. This is quite an advantage, given how hard it is for a foreign company to integrate the Chinese market.

Facebook. All in video. The network just made an offer to a startup that couldn’t refuse it. The team and the technology of Vidpresso are going to team up with the social network in order to make its videos interactive. The young company develops simple tools that feature in each of their videos: surveys, comments or graphs. This makes videos livelier- Facebook hopes it will seduce more users and compete directly against platforms like Twitch, Youtube, Twitter and Snapchat.

Google. The search engine follows you wherever you go, even if you didn’t allow it and deactivated geolocation. The tiny star at the end of the web page betrayed you. To justify this practice, the American group states that it wants to improve user experience… or rather the advertiser experience. Datas of potentially two billion people are monetized.

No, there won’t be any search engine in China. CEO Sundar Pinchai just spoke out after rumors where disseminated these past few days. Some employees begun to sign a petition worrying about possible moral and ethics derives of the group.  Anxiety got stronger because there are more than 770 million Chinese web surfers, a market that appeals to the giant. To conquer it, the search engine would have to censure some part of its services… but it will not happen. How come? Work in progress…

Thibault Lemler
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