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Startup Financing and the Economy: Is it a VC Drought?

Yes and no. Alright, if you’ve got a mobile app that you want to sell, it’s going to be a lot harder for you. But if you have a truly innovative and courageous product, you’re good to go. Let’s take a real look at what’s happening in startups, the economy, and the VC drought.

What’s a K-Shaped Recession?

The good do better and the bad do worse; that’s capitalism, baby. 

Currently, we’re in what you would call a K-shaped recession, but most people don’t want to talk about that because of the widespread and chaotic implications that might have.

A K-shaped recession is a recession in which the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, in extreme. You’ve already seen it. People who make under $50,000 a year are getting crushed by inflation. But your friends in tech just got like eight raises, didn’t they?

Money is bleeding all over Silicon Valley. But we also know that major companies are axing employees left and right. What are we to make of this strange and, let’s face it, terrifying dichotomy?

The reality is that we’re on the precipice of dramatic digital transformation. Money is coming into digitization and tech, while it’s absolutely bleeding from everywhere else. People are pulling back on spending (including VC funding) because they’re terrified of the upcoming recession. At the same time, the recession is by far hitting the poor, working class more than it is hitting the rich—the rich have only gotten much, much richer.

What Does That Mean for Venture Capital?

A lot of private investors are holding back not because their balance sheets are going south (which they are) but because of psychology. Yes, the market is crashing. But any actual investor understands that the “market crashing” is the time to buy.

But it’s an unprecedented time. This means people can’t really anticipate who is going to do well or who is going to do poorly. Before you load up that Robinhood app, think about how wrong Reddit was about most of their stocks. Any time an individual thinks they can “disrupt” the stock market, well. It’s probably not going to go in the direction they expected. 

It’s not a drought, it’s a dry season. The money is there to invest. The rich are getting richer. So, eventually, the dams are going to break. For now, though, investors are being conservative with their money because they don’t know what direction the water’s going to go. And who’s going to get wiped out.

Getting Funding for Your Startup

VCs are still going to invest in companies. You need to be the best company for their dollar. It’s getting harder to get capital, but that doesn’t make it possible. Don’t ignore the temperature. Address, head on, why VCs want to get on the ground floor with your technology now. Address the fact that the economy means they are getting a fantastic deal on your company that they could never get during more auspicious times. Talk to them about how far their dollar can go right now.

People are still investing. But they’re being rightfully cautious. The K-shaped recovery isn’t pure good for the people on the upper angle of the K; it’s bad for everyone. It builds a shaky economy that could collapse at any time. But it also means the people at the upper angle have more relative wealth to invest than ever.

So, go after those dollars. But be smart. A VC drought means you have to be the best pitch available. 

5 Benefits of Conversational AI That You Should Know

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Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a form of AI that can recognize and respond to natural human speech. The emergence of this technology has led to some impressive innovations in customer service, eCommerce, and beyond.

If you’re not already using conversational AI in your business, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. As more people today get used to having their own virtual assistant at all times, any customer-centric business that doesn’t offer a similar level of convenience and accessibility is likely to get left behind.

Over 60% of customers today report preferring instant messaging a business instead of calling. There’s clearly a real appetite for conversational AI applications in customer service. However, this technology can do much more than provide support to your customers; it can also be used internally to boost efficiency and productivity.

Conversational AI can be used in many ways to improve customer service, increase sales, and streamline business processes. Here are five benefits of conversational AI that you should know about:

Better Customer Service

The impact of AI on customer experience is already being felt by businesses and consumers alike. Thanks to the development of natural language processing (NLP), conversational AI understands human speech. This technology is constantly improving, meaning that chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming more and more accurate at understanding the nuances of human conversation.

Improving the customer experience with conversational AI is one of the easiest ways to set your business apart from the competition right now.

Boost your customer service with these nifty features:

  • Automation– Automating simple tasks that would otherwise require the attention of a human agent, including complaints. This frees up your agents to deal with more complex issues and provides a more efficient support system for your customers.
  • Gather and analyze real-time customer data– You can use conversational AI to collect data about your customers’ preferences and pain points. This valuable information can be used to improve your product or service offering.
  • No language barriers– Conversational AI brings the power of machine translation to the customer service arena. This means that businesses can offer support in multiple languages without the need to hire bilingual agents.

Personalized Customer Interactions

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Linking your conversational AI platform to a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system provides a wealth of customer data that can be used to personalize interactions.

The CRM system stores all relevant customer information in one place, including contact details, order history, and past interactions with your business. This information can be used to create a customer profile which is then used to personalize conversations and ensure they are relevant to the customer. This not only increases customer satisfaction but can also lead to a higher customer lifetime value.

Helps You Scale

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Growing your business too fast should be a good problem. You don’t want to stop growing just because your company can’t physically or affordably support more customers. But when all your agents are busy with current customers, how do you take on more without sacrificing quality?

This is where conversational AI can help. Most customer queries can be answered without the need for a human agent. Leveraging conversational AI can help you to automate simple customer interactions, freeing up your human agents to focus on the more complex queries. This can help you to scale your support function and handle more customers without sacrificing quality.

Smaller companies may find it difficult to afford the customer service infrastructure to support a large customer base. However, conversational AI makes it possible for them to offer the same level of customer service at a fraction of the cost.

Lower Operational Costs

24/7 availability is a costly proposition for most businesses. Staffing your customer service department round the clock can be prohibitively expensive, but with conversational AI you can offer this level of support at a fraction of the cost.

Conversational AI platforms are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning which means they get smarter over time. This means that the more queries they handle, the more accurate their responses become. This can help to reduce the number of staff required to provide customer support and keep your operational costs low.

Easy Follow-Ups with Customers

One of the challenges of customer service is that it can be difficult to follow up with customers after they have interacted with your company. Conversational AI can help to resolve this issue by automating the process of following up with customers. This can be done using several methods, such as sending an automated email or SMS message, or by including a follow-up question in your conversational AI platform.

The value of customer service lies in its ability to build relationships with customers. By following up with customers after they have interacted with your company, you can show them that you are interested in their experience and that you value their business.

Conversational AI offers several benefits that can help businesses to improve customer service and reduce operational costs. It is scalable, affordable, and efficient—making it the perfect solution for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, conversational AI can help you to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, setting you up for long-term success!

Which Startups Are Resilient to Recession?

A downturn doesn’t destroy startups. Rather, it separates the startups that are in recession-proof arenas from the startups that didn’t think about the economy at all. Silicon Valley is no longer a pinata full of cash; you can’t just take a whack and bleed green. You need to be thoughtful about your enterprises. Well-run companies will thrive. The others will perish.

Lean it up

Strip your tech, drop your weight. Startups that were getting fat need to lean it down; they need to pare down to the barebones now. Now is not the time for rapid expansion or hyper-scaling. It’s time for hunkering down and building real muscle. Start cutting areas that you can cut while still retaining your core technology, talent, and identity. You don’t want to be the people scrambling to pick up talent later, but you also don’t want a thousand excessive tools and utilities that you really don’t need during a time when you can’t build strong scale.

Build homes, not castles

Focus on the major pain points of companies and create technologies that they need. Okay, a decade ago, you could make millions solving some minor “problem” that a company had or giving them some luxuries that they didn’t want. But now you have to concentrate on the issues they have. And they’re going to have a lot of problems. Think about what’s going to happen to people when the economy crashes? How can you help them lean it up themselves?

Learn from success

Hey, Amazon’s doing great isn’t it? Walmart, Amazon, anyone who sells stuff online, really. But who isn’t doing great? Oh, Facebook, Twitter… social media. It turns out that during a recession, companies that don’t produce anything of value don’t do great. Take a look at the companies that are posting record profits during these recessions. It has to do with the technologies that are making it easier for people to survive during a recession, doesn’t it?

Make less go further

Don’t just lean. Think about what you can do to grow your client base from within. Think re-selling, re-targeting, re-marketing, rather than raw expansion. What other problems can you solve for your customers? How can you help them succeed? Their success is your success, after all. It’s easier to sell to people who already love you. And, as Amazon has discovered, clients are more likely to stay onboard if they rely on you for multiple things. How many people still have Amazon Prime because they don’t want to lose Prime Video or Prime Music?

Look to the debt/credit/finance industry

And finally, look, it’s a raw deal, but the reality is the industry that’s gonna be doing great is in debt, credit, and finance. At minimum, diversify your interests. Fintech booms when deals go bad, and there’s no way around that. Forge partnerships within industries that are going to last. The real estate bubble, for instance, might crash, sure; but it’s not going away.

Alright, so you’re on your way to building a mobile app to disrupt—which industry? Choose a lean one. A recession doesn’t have to stop your startup in its tracks, but you’re doing it wrong if it isn’t changing at least some of what you’re doing. 

Crypto Mortgages May Be the Next Big Disruptor

Alright, well—it almost makes sense. Crypto mortgages are the new fad. You’ve got $300,000 in crypto. The mortgage company has $300,000 in cash. You leverage your crypto for the cash then you leverage that cash for a house and you’ve got it made. No taxes paid because you never cashed out the crypto.

But surely there’s a catch?

Why crypto mortgages do make sense

When you cash out your crypto you pay huge amounts of taxes, more if it was a short-term investment than a long-term investment. Crypto mortgages make it possible to secure a bank loan with your crypto equity, so you don’t actually have to cash out. The bank will hold your crypto as collateral but otherwise you’ve never cashed out. So, you can buy a house. And if you’re self-employed or a regular trader, you probably won’t qualify any other way.

If you’ve got millions of dollars in crypto, this type of mortgage makes absolute sense. Now, you’re still paying the mortgage, which also means that once you’ve paid off your house you’ll own it free and clear. But you get a great mortgage without having to go through a traditional qualification process.

Why crypto mortgages are insane 

Okay, so the thing is, like everything in the crypto world, crypto mortgages are an amazing idea that can go south for you very quickly.

Let’s say that your $300,000 in crypto tanks and now it’s worth $100,000. Your bank will perform a mortgage call and you’ll either need to put up more equity, refinance your home, or otherwise come up and with the cash. 

And let’s be honest, crypto is very volatile. So, the odds are that this could happen.

It’s a gamble. If everything works perfectly, you disrupt the mortgage industry and get an amazing house without paying taxes. If everything goes poorly, you’ll be back on your Robinhood app trading penny stocks in no time at all.

For the bank, they’re basically leveraging you. They’ve hedged their risks because either way, you’ll be left holding the bag. And they know you’re likely to pay considerable fees and high interest to avoid those hefty taxes.

What crypto mortgages mean for tech disrupters 

Big picture time. Mortgage is a highly regulated and very controlled industry. Obviously, these aren’t going to be FNMA mortgages. But the very fact that you can even get a subprime mortgage with crypto means that crypto continues to bleed into conventional, mainstream spheres.

So, what industry will be next? Travel and hospitality? Restaurants? Manufacturing? As cryptocurrency continues to grow in adoption, it can also spread into other sectors. And just as Blockchain technology is changing everything from the Metaverse to legal contracts, crypto can be slotted into any type of equity or asset-based transaction. 

Years ago, crypto fans on Reddit rejoiced when they could suddenly order a pizza through BTC. Being able to buy cars, houses, or even just groceries with crypto doesn’t just put crypto closer to adoption. It opens new opportunities. It’s not just about building some crypto mobile app anymore. Instead, it’s about what traditional industry you want to disrupt.

Stablecoins and the Crypto dash: What Happened?

Stablecoins and the Crypto dash: What Happened?

Hey, on the bright side, cryptocurrencies have finally untethered themselves from the market. On the downside, it was stablecoins that did it. To some, a new economic platform. To others, a transparent Ponzi scheme. Let’s take a look at how stablecoins are going to permanently disrupt the crypto market.


What is a Stablecoin?


Cryptocurrency is now fairly mainstream. You can buy cryptocurrency on the Robinhood app. You can buy it on Cash app. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the road.

A stablecoin is a coin that’s pegged to the value of something else. It’s designed to be, well, stable. For instance, the U.S. currency is technically backed by a gold standard (although it hasn’t really been for some time). Ideally, stablecoins should be a hedge against other risks.

Cryptocurrencies are, of course, notoriously volatile. Just load up Reddit and you can see photographic evidence of people losing millions (and gaining them).


TerraUSD, the Stablecoin That Couldn’t


TerraUSD/Luna was a stablecoin locked into the US dollar. It should, ideally, peg its price on the USD… largely in a way that no one really understood. TerraUSD/Luna was two coins in one. One was stable and pegged (again, theoretically), while the other coin was burned to create that stability. 

What you need to know is that a stablecoin can either be truly backed by a product (such as the stablecoins that are backed by pools of Bitcoin) or a stablecoin can be algorithmically backed. The algorithm seeks to course correct the coin any time the coin diverges from its backer. 

The problem comes when the algorithm needs to create increasingly more volatile swings to compensate for existing instability. With TerraUSD, the adjustments compounded in such a fashion that what should have been a stablecoin catastrophically tanked. As TerraUSD/Luna lost its value, it tried to print more Luna to compensate. This created a virtually infinite loop.


The Consequences of TerraUSD

TerraUSD lost its value within minutes. And that’s not a great thing for cryptocurrency as a whole, because the whole reason people were invested in TerraUSD was to keep their money safe. So, you’ve got this technology that promises that it’s going to be less volatile than crypto, and a great place to save your crypto money, and then it absolutely tanks.

On the one hand, most people investing in AltCoins pretty much know what they’re doing or know what they’re getting into. But on the other hand, anyone investing in stablecoin isn’t looking to engage in risk or make a buck; literally the only reason to be in a stablecoin that matches USD is to keep your money safe, whether it’s between transactions or part of a larger, more diversified portfolio.


Bottom line: Not only did TerraUSD absolutely obliterate its own value, but it also shook investor faith. More and more, cryptocurrency investors are starting to wonder whether crypto is really all that it’s cracked up to be.

The Follow Up Crypto Crash


Well, though, crypto is decentralized, right? So, if crypto is so decentralized, why would TerraUSD cause the entire crypto market to crash?

Actually, there’s good news and bad news there. Good news: a single AltCoin isn’t going to cause the market to crash. If it was going to, Dogecoin would have already done it like eight times.


The bad news is that there were entirely separate issues going on during the whole TerraUSD frenzy; probably issues that also caused TerraUSD to spin out. Part of it started when Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, announced that if it had to declare bankruptcy (which, it was going to do), all its wallets would need to be liquidated.


Because, of course, cryptocurrency isn’t considered to be an actual currency, and Coinbase isn’t a bank. That means the wallets that other people had stored on the exchange would be liquidated to pay Coinbase’s debts. 


That led to people mass panicking, selling, liquidating—just generally getting out. That introduced churn that was quickly followed up by the TerraUSD crash.


That doesn’t mean crypto is over, certainly. It’s a great way to transfer wealth, for better or worse. But it does mean that investors need to be a lot more cautious when they read a prospectus. Certainly, don’t just load up any mobile app and start buying coins.


Crypto Billionaire Takes Stake in Robinhood

Crypto Billionaire Takes Stake in Robinhood

Robinhood’s had a pretty bad year, hasn’t it? 
When the Robinhood app launched, it was poised to vastly disrupt the industry of at-home investing. The mobile app made it easy for people to invest from their phones. It gave voice to the often ignored retail investor.
But the Robinhood app eventually betrayed retail investors during the entire GameStop/AMC debacle, ultimately ending up on the wrong side of Reddit. This year has seen Robinhood’s stock regularly tanking… until now.


Robinhood App Surges in Stock Market


While everyone else was going down, Robinhood was going up. Robinhood lost 40% of its value this year, but regained 25% when crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried took a 7.6% stake in it. Does that mean anything?
Well, maybe.


Sam Bankman-Fried runs FTX, a popular cryptocurrency exchange that has made cryptocurrency far more accessible. The jump in Robinhood’s pricing could indicate a couple of things. First, maybe crypto bros just want to invest in an investor. Maybe they see advantages in crypto expertise.

Second, it could just be the meme. It’s very possible that people simply reinvested in Robinhood because they see “crypto” and they think “good bet.” Really, anything works; people want to believe in the Robinhood mobile app because they want investing to be easy and accessible. Perhaps that’s why it hurt so much that they were betrayed.


The Future of Robinhood


The reality of investing is that it’s designed to protect large fortunes. When you have a David-vs-Goliath situation, David will generally lose out. The skepticism surrounding Robinhood is that Robinhood may very well be ordering trades or making trades in ways that injure smaller investors.


Robinhood has been notorious for pausing trading during times of high volatility. When GME was soaring, they took away the purchase button. Now, that’s not entirely unheard of. The stock market itself stops working whenever there’s a crash.

The problem is that these times of high volatility are generally when a retail trader makes their money. A rich person can put $1,000,000 in a bank account and get thousands back. But if a retail trader is only working with a few thousand to start with, they need to engage in riskier bets.


So, there are a lot of people still using Robinhood. But there are also a lot of people disenchanted with the process. The entire stock market is rigged around not transferring too much wealth in one direction at a time because when that happens, well, the markets crash.


Could a Crypto Billionaire Help?


Well, maybe. A crypto billionaire is certainly more likely to have their finger on the pulse and know what people want. At the same time, we don’t really know what his plans are for influencing the company, even if there are any. The stated reason that he invested was that he saw Robinhood as a good investment. At 40% down from its prior valuation, it very well could have been. A 7.6% stake, even in a company as large as Robinhood, isn’t that much.


But perhaps the news of the stock jump matters. It certainly seems that investors are eager to believe in Robinhood. Robinhood does fulfill a vital position within the investing ecosystem. And if someone were to create an all-encompassing app that was more trustworthy than Robinhood, they would probably be able to capture a significant portion of the market.


Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered


One thing to remember in all this: It’s not hard to make money in a bull market. The stock market was racing to unseen highs for over ten years. Investors made money hand over fist, not because they were great investors, but simply because they existed.


A lot of retail investors made fortunes. A lot of them lost fortunes. But a disproportionate amount made money just because they weren’t screwing up badly enough to compensate for the sheer market inflation.


Now that we’re in a bear market, we’re going to see a lot more losses. We’re going to see “great investors” lose their shirts. And we’re going to see our day-trading uncles suddenly wonder why it’s “so hard.” How that impacts Robinhood remains to be seen.

Celsius Froze Crypto Withdrawals: Here’s What It Means for Crypto

Are we tired of this yet? The crypto market has never been as disrupted as it has been by its own community. Celsius (another big bad crypto marketplace) froze crypto withdrawals because, frankly, it was insolvent. Voyager this week just filed for Bankruptcy. Now Coinbase is selling off all its information to ICE—a government organization—because it’s about to declare bankruptcy.

What does this all mean for crypto?

It’s Not a Pipe Dream, But It Could Have Been Too Early

You know, there was a company that tried to bring television to the internet. It was going to disrupt cable. But it did it too early. (This is famously a Mark Cuban fail, but really he was right, ultimately.) They tried to bring television to the internet before the internet had the bandwidth to support it. So, they crashed and burned.

We have Bitcoin, and it’s a great idea: a global decentralized currency. But if you were an early adopter like me, you remember that within a year of mainstream attention, the Blockchain was so large that no one could feasibly download it anymore. And then people keep losing thousands upon thousands of Bitcoin, worth thousands upon thousands of dollars.

So they start moving to marketplaces and exchanges. And the second they did that, it’s no longer decentralized. Now it’s in control of a few companies because the most popular companies are the ones that have the market share. And here we are.

The Perils of Deregulation

Deregulation is great when you aren’t getting taxed and no one can trace your money. The flip side to that is the scammers who stole your money also can’t be traced and aren’t getting taxed. Now, once crypto hit the Robinhood App and even Cash App, better controls started to be instituted.

But crypto marketplaces still aren’t banks. They aren’t controlled or regulated by anyone. And yes, they can just disappear with your money.

As Coinbase pointed out earlier in the year, the money in their coffers isn’t even technically yours. Their bankruptcy could have led to the dissolution of all the money held in their wallets.

So, we’ve got marketplaces that are in charge of your money and poised to disrupt crypto, and they can basically do whatever they want. They can take away that “buy/sell” button (like the Robinhood app did) at any time because they aren’t regulated. They aren’t a financial institution.

Now, that doesn’t actually mean they can commit fraud. They can’t promise to keep your money and then throw it away. But if you look at your Terms of Service, you will probably discover that they have a lot more rights to your crypto than you do.

Going Back to the Foundations

Of course, that doesn’t mean that crypto was a terrible idea, or that it can’t still disrupt global currency. Primarily, the issue is that early crypto technology has always been so unwieldy that there’s really no way to interface it except through a third party. These third parties strip away a lot of the benefits and protections related to crypto in exchange for ease of use.

So, to really disrupt the crypto market, we need to start using crypto more intelligently. Yes, crypto was made for engineers. But for actual adoption to really surface, it has to be usable by people who don’t have a computer science degree. You know, something like an easy-to-use mobile app.

As for now, here’s what you need to know about the crypto market: It’s bad. That’s not to say you shouldn’t fill your pockets with cheap coin, but the problem is that crypto is essentially a faith-based economy, and people are getting crushed. Now that people can’t really trust their marketplaces to actually give them their money, they are turning away from crypto en masse. That doesn’t mean you should listen to the panic on Reddit… but you should probably be a little more cautious with your yolos.

Snapchat’s Crash Leaves Social Media Disruptors Gasping

Okay, so, the entire stock market is crashing. So this probably isn’t surprising. Open your Robinhood app, and it’s just a crazy sea of red. But there are still some standouts, sometimes for the wrong reasons. Snapchat crashed 43% because it didn’t meet its revenue targets. But that’s actually not altogether surprising.


Why Did Snapchat Crash?

It’s not that extraordinary. Many social media platforms suffer from the same problem. Even if they disrupt the market and get millions or, in Facebook’s case, billions of users, they have no clear path towards monetization. Facebook countered that by getting in good with businesses and starting to develop ads.

Snapchat has creator monetization tools, which makes it fairly unique among “social media first” platforms. But by and large, it’s just not an easily monetized mobile apply.

A lot of social media platforms are on a VC runway. They lose money, but they still get investments because they have such extraordinary engagement and active users. 

The Implications of the Snapchat Crash

But investors are becoming disenchanted with these continuous losses. As the recession pulls investors back from spending, it’s going to pull back on these high-risk, would-be-nice plays. Do you really want to be invested in Snapchat and it’s potential monetization as it bleeds money? Or do you want to pick up some cheap Microsoft stock, knowing that it’s currently at an extraordinary discount?

Social media disruptors tend to concentrate on engagement and hope, very fervently, that they’ll figure out monetization later. But that’s not the strategy. Just ask Reddit, which has had to incorporate pretty aggressive advertising on its platform to stay afloat. Just ask MoviePass, which lost investors millions of dollars on its casual “we’ll figure it out” engagement play.

Monetizing Social Media: Is It the Metaverse?

So, here’s the thing. Anyone who wants to disrupt social media needs to have their monetization baked in. How do you monetize social media?

The best way, quite honestly, is going to have to do with the Metaverse and product placement. Metaverse—purchasing digital items that generate a “lifestyle image,” whether that’s cosmetics for your digital avatar or filters for your digital photos. Produce placement—advertising that’s less obtrusive and more likely to get people to buy, because people are sick of ads.

That being said, social media ads are going to become tremendously more effective shortly because of the death of the third-party cookie. Cookies can’t track you, but your social media account can.
People are focusing more on product placement now. Get creators to highlight your items. Build sponsorships. In fact, that’s actually pulling back to the very early days of the web when everything was directly sponsored. Including the reviews.

But social media is a hard nut to track, because engagement doesn’t necessarily mean monetization. Companies that are poised to disrupt the social media market need to really dig into their monetization and make sure they have a viable strategy. We aren’t in the second DotCom boom anymore; VCs aren’t going to throw money at every mobile app that’s being built. You need an actual business strategy, not just a product.

As for Snapchat, well, the problem with social media platforms is also that they have a shelf-life. Just as the kiddos are moving away from Facebook, they’re moving away from Snapchat, too. Kids aren’t going to use the same platform as their parents—and it shows. So, the time is right for a successor to TikTok. But who will it be? 

Elon Musk takes over  Twitter

Elon Musk takes over Twitter

Can you believe it? It worked. But what does it mean for the media? What does it mean for “free speech” and the market of opinions? Elon Musk has finally bought Twitter — and tanked his own stock doing it. What does that mean for digital disruption?

A Hostile Takeover

Earlier in the month, Elon Musk started a hostile takeover of Twitter by purchasing an immense number of shares. Twitter reacted by enacting a poison pill measure; a poison pill is something a company does specifically to avoid a hostile takeover, making it effectively impossible for a company to be taken over through stock purchases alone.

But despite the board initially saying that Musk would have no control over the company, they quickly introduced him to the board. And when he offered $44 billion for Twitter itself, they rather quickly folded. Musk is known for his capricious but often visionary purchases; he did not build Tesla but rather purchased it.

Interestingly, until the very end, Reddit posts were saying Musk could never take over. But Redditors have a long history of skepticism, going back to the Robinhood App.

Why Does Musk Want Twitter?

Musk has a weird relationship with Twitter. He doesn’t like being censored. So much so that he’s been fined repeatedly by the SEC for saying things that manipulated Tesla’s stock prices. Musk says that he wants transparency on the platform but it’s also likely he wants the freedom to do what he wants.

Whether he’s the proper steward for a channel that has become a leading resource for news and even political change remains to be seen. Musk cut his teeth in digital disruption with PayPal and his forays into Tesla and SpaceX have both been markedly successful. But they are very different technologies.

The Consequences for Tesla

Tesla stock, meanwhile, has been absolutely slaughtered. In part, this is due to the perception that Musk is acting irrationally or emotionally, which he has historically been prone to do. If he’s purchasing Twitter as a means of radically decentralized discourse, that’s one thing. If he’s purchasing it because he wants people to stop saying mean things about him on the internet, that’s a vastly different situation. Regardless, Tesla stockholders got to see the stock plummet.

The Consequences for Twitter

While many users have abandoned Twitter, the reality is that people are mostly meh. As one user stated, “if you’re upset over a billionaire buying Twitter, wait until you find out who owns everything else.” So, a billionaire bought an online platform/mobile app. What else is new?

For many, the reality of the situation is that Twitter is just a social media venue that they can take or leave, and most appear to be waiting to see what happens.

Entrepreneurs, though, will face broader implications. One thing Musk does have a stance on is algorithm transparency.

Algorithm Transparency and Business

No one knows what special sauce Google uses to make sure that results surface. That’s the point. Billions are spent every year trying to figure it out in the form of search engine optimization.

Musk wants to make visible the mechanisms that promote posts on Twitter. And that could be both a problem and an opportunity. It will either radically change the way people are using Twitter or (more likely) destroy it as spam becomes even more aggressive and prevalent.

Companies that lean firmly on Twitter for their advertising campaigns are currently right to be wary.

Note that the Musk deal with Twitter could still fall through. It’s not finalized. He may discover that he didn’t want to buy Twitter after all. He may get butthurt that Bill Gates’ short position against Tesla paid off big. And Twitter itself may decide not to capitulate.  

Still, this gives rise to many thoughts as to how the wealthy can control discourse, how vulnerable the entrepreneurial disruption community is to its tools, and how the internet is evolving today. The Twitter purchase will undoubtedly disrupt business on the platform and mobile app; the question is how much?

Reddit vs the Market: A David and Goliath Tail

Reddit vs the Market: A David and Goliath Tail

By now, most people know about the meme stock debacle. But it’s more than meets the eye. When Redditors blew up GameStop and AMC stock, what they were really doing was revealing tremendous inequality within the current stock market — and a stock market inherently divorced from real economic values. 

Redditors and GameStop: The Big Short

Let’s go over what happened. On Reddit, retail traders (independent home investors) frequently post something called “DD.” Due Diligence. That’s information about stocks and investments; the research they’ve done into determining whether something is a “good buy.”

Okay, so, a Redditor posts that they’ve noticed that GameStop is being shorted into the ground. Someone is betting on GameStop to fail, way beyond what seems to be legitimate. And they decide it’s a good idea to be on the other side of that trade; they think GameStop is way undervalued.

What happens next is the chaos. Everyone agrees, so everyone buys. GameStop stock starts to soar. This launches a massive squeeze. A squeeze occurs when someone has shorted a stock (hoping it will go down in value), because that means they still need to purchase that stock to sell it at the lower value. So the value keeps going up and up because the short sellers don’t want to take a loss and buy, but they eventually have to make that purchase to cover their sales. 

But in this pandemonium, it’s large companies like Citadel losing money. And that’s where the disruption occurs.

Robinhood’s Fall from Grace

A few years ago, Robinhood made waves by making trading easy. It was able to disrupt the day trading market by letting anyone trade at any time. Retail traders were able to start trading stocks and making money with technology that could keep up with the giants.

But there were still some caveats. The Robinhood App was the only way a lot of investors could access their trades and money and many of them weren’t interested in holding traditional investment accounts.

When GameStop started ballooning, Robinhood started disabling the ability to buy and sell GME stock. It moved similarly on AMC. The idea was that Robinhood was trying to reduce volatility. But it all led to an inherent flaw in the system.

Everyone’s Jim Cramer

When someone on television says a stock is a “buy,” it can be enough to influence the stock to go up. But that’s legal. Offering an opinion on a stock is legal. Colluding to boost a stock price is not legal. But you can see where the lines can be gray.

Online, everyone can give their opinion about a stock. The GME and AMC squeezes had people making millions overnight. They increased their value not by thousands but by tens of thousands. This led to dozens of copycat pump and dump schemes focused on stocks like WISH.

The question is simple: what happens when internet trends can so vastly influence the stock market? 

But retail traders aren’t doing anything that hedge funds weren’t already doing. The reason the DD on GameStop first appeared was because a specific hedge fund, Citadel, had been shorting companies into nonexistence. This creates an unbalanced effect in which hedge funds can manipulate the market but the retail trader cannot.

The Fallout

Most GME and AMC investors are still waiting for their big payoff. While both stocks rose tremendously, they believed they should rise even higher because the shorts still haven’t been covered. However, a variety of financial systems (such as borrowing shares to cover shorted shares) have largely mitigated what they call MOASS (the Mother of all Short Squeezes).

Robinhood and Citadel are being accused of manipulating the market. The mobile app is accused of engaging and disengaging trades to manipulate price. Citadel is accused of relentlessly shorting stocks to drive companies out of the market and of not covering shorts that it should have covered. But whether anything will come of this is largely unclear. 

What is evident is that retail traders now have a very significant hand in the market and that they aren’t going away. If the market does not become more transparent or at least more accessible, it’s difficult to see how it can remain stable. 

As for the retail traders themselves, many are chasing the next squeeze. While some continue to invest in AMC and GME, the subreddits like WallStreetBets are full of other DDs. Many aren’t investing for long term strategies but rather short term gambles, which further complicates implications for the market — and makes it a lot more interesting.

Geotargeting & Geofence Marketing: How a small company can disrupt a big market

Geotargeting & Geofence Marketing: How a small company can disrupt a big market

If you feel like social media and online marketing is shouting into the void, you’re really not alone. Many small, local businesses are told to invest in online advertising and mobile marketing only to discover that it’s really not effective for them.

Imagine if you advertised your company to every 10,000th person on earth. How many of those people would actually be able to use your products or services? Probably none of them. There are a lot of people on earth and there are a lot of people online.

Geotargeting and geofence marketing focus on hyper-local leads — so you can stop shouting and start earning.

Connect to the Customers Closest to You

It’s the customers that are closest to you that you want to connect with. It’s better to connect with 50 people in your neighborhood than 5,000 people across the world. And it’s cheaper, too. When you connect with customers close to you, you greatly enhance the viability and effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. 

How Does Geotargeting/Geofencing Work?

Geotargeting/geo fencing works by identifying where customers are inside of a broader, third-party advertising network. For instance, Google Ads shows throughout the world but can show your ads only to those who are in your vicinity. Geotargeting is broad; it just means that you’re sending your ads to those who are in your country, state, city, or even zip code.

Geo-fencing is a little different. Geo-fencing specifically defines an area, such as an area that is located in a highly-trafficked region around your business. Once individuals are inside this area, they are targeted. Geo-fencing can be used to deliver ads through PoS systems within your neighborhood, for instance, or to send ads to phones and other devices detected in your region.

The Advantages of Geotargeting

Really, the advantages of geotargeting are clear. You can spend $100 to connect with 5,000 people in the world or $10 to connect with 50 people in your area. It’s cost-effective and far more useful.

But it also enhances public perception of your brand, as you’re no longer trying to reach out to individuals who wouldn’t be interested in your advertising to begin with. Geofence marketing creates more relevant, useful advertising, as well as more profitable strategies.

Implementing a Geotargeting Campaign Strategy

To implement a geotargeting campaign strategy, you (obviously) need to know where your customers are. There are third-party ad platforms like Google and Bing, but their usefulness will actually be vanishing shortly; action is being taken to reduce third-party tracking cookies.

There are two better options: social media marketing and third-party behavioral targeting databases. Social media marketing works because individuals already provide where they live to the social media platform. Even better, they provide information such as whether they’re married, whether they have children, and even where they work and where they went to school.

Third-party databases seek to identify consumers based on their behavior and contextual information without the help of cookies or files stored on the user’s device. These third-party geotargeted databases are likely to grow dramatically once cookies become ineffective for geofence marketing.

Summary

With the right geofence marketing, your company can focus all its efforts on advertising directly to the people who are closest to you. When they look at their phone or check their email in your location, they’ll get information that relates to your business. If they’re halfway across the world, they won’t.

But this type of advertising and mobile marketing really does require that you use the right technology. Social media marketing provides some of this targeting, but mobile marketing is about to get a lot more challenging.

What Are Blockchain Smart Contracts?

What Are Blockchain Smart Contracts?

Imagine that you wanted to purchase a car from your neighbor. You open an app and accept a contract. Instantaneously, money is sent to your neighbor and the car is transferred into your possession. Everyone can see that you own the vehicle. Your neighbor doesn’t have to do anything other than send the contract. 

This is the future of the blockchain — the incredible benefits of smart contract technology. But it’s also, like most new technology, potentially dangerous and disruptive.

How is a Smart Contract Created?

Smart contracts are created on a blockchain. They are programmed to exchange a given blockchain’s token (such as wrapped Ethereum) under specific conditions. A smart contract can be sent to anyone, anywhere, if you know their address. This also means that smart contracts can technically be sent to those who have no idea that they’re about to receive them. Driven by blockchain, smart contracts have risen into power alongside crypto and NFTs. Binance, Polymatic, and Solana all support smart contracts.

What Are Smart Contracts Used For?

Smart contracts can send and receive money and record transactions on the blockchain. Essentially, though, that boils down to one thing: smart contracts, given a set of conditions, write to the blockchain. That means smart contracts can be used to validate real-life contracts, exchange goods and services, and complete very fast financial transactions. 

What Are the Benefits and Limitations of Smart Contracts?

Like crypto, the major limitation of smart contracts is that they’re difficult for the average person to understand and they’re difficult to use. More than cryptocurrency, an individual needs detailed tech knowledge to launch a smart contract. But ideally, smart contracts will become more prevalent and easier to use as time passes.

Smart contracts record transactions. But they cannot influence anything outside of their individual blockchain. That means that additional work has to be done to do things like validate real estate transactions or validate car transactions — even if that work is merely acknowledging that the blockchain provides a real record of contracts.

What is the Relationship Between Contracts and the Blockchain?

Smart contracts are built on the blockchain. This provides for triggering events (such as opening a transaction) as well as for recording events (recording them directly on the blockchain). A smart contract is blockchain technology, but blockchain doesn’t necessarily imply smart contracts. NFTs could be called a type of smart contract, as they do convey ownership to an item in exchange for money.

What is the Legality of Smart Contracts?

A contract, legally, is something that two or more parties agree upon. Consequently, no new laws are necessary for a smart contract to be a type of contract; if it is validated that both parties agreed upon a transaction, then both parties agreed upon a transaction. A car can be sold through a smart contract right now, all that would be necessary (which admittedly is a hurdle) is for the law to understand what a smart contract is and how it operates.

That being said, smart contracts aren’t intended to be a legal venue, at least not yet. A lawyer should be involved if smart contracts are used for anything that is more valuable than a car or more obscure than an NFT.

Conclusion

Smart contracts are very disruptive. Presently, someone can borrow money, buy an NFT from themselves, and then send that money back within milliseconds. That may not seem helpful, but people have borrowed millions of dollars to buy their own NFT (in a fraction of a second) thereby boosting the value of their NFTs.

Start to dig deeper and you can see how smart contracts could be disruptive. Because they aren’t regulated (and can’t be regulated) they can give illusions of profitability where there isn’t one. People who work with smart contracts need to be tech-savvy and knowledgeable due to the potential complications and ramifications.

What the heck is GPT3 and why will it disrupt every industry?

What the heck is GPT3 and why will it disrupt every industry?

GPT3 is like Bitcoin that makes your Alexa and Siri look like Dogecoin! If you are reading this there is a likelihood GPT3 may disrupt your entire industry. 

The originator is Manuel Araoz, but halfway through the piece he confesses that he did not write it. The article was fully written by GPT-3. He received access to OpenAI API, and was amazed at the raw power of GPT-3, after only giving it access to his homepage, a title, some tags, and a summary. 

“OpenAI, a non-profit artificial intelligence research company backed by Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, … and others, released its third generation of language prediction model (GPT-3) into the open-source wild…”

So, GPT-3–Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3–generates text. It can create anything that has a language structure. You can ask it a question; prompt it to write an essay or summarize a long passage of text, translate languages, take memos. Since apps and web design are structured language, GPT-3 makes coding easier and faster.

Will GPT-3 as Marc Strassman, Founder & Executive Director at GPT-3 Society predicts, put a lot of writers out of business?  That’s an open question for now, but there is no doubt that AI has the potential to add even more to information overload by producing more content than anyone can absorb. The good news for writers is that GPT-3 can generate lots of useful new ideas and back them up with facts and evidence.

What is actually occurring inside GPT-3’s programming may not be all that clear, but what it does best is harvesting text found on the internet and creating a vast “scrapbook” glued together and available on demand. The quality and durability of its end-products depend on the reader’s taste and preference. 

Said one observer, “GPT-3 often performs like a clever student who hasn’t done their reading trying to bullshit their way through an exam. Some well-known facts, some half-truths, and some straight lies, strung together in what first looks like a smooth narrative.”

However, GPT-3 is a quantum step up from its previous GPT-2 version, released in 2020. GPT-2 spat out pretty convincing streams of text when prompted with an opening sentence. Compared with GPT-2’s vast 1.5 billion parameters, GPT-3 is over a hundred times more powerful with its 175 billion neural network ties at work in text generation and automated learning.

Michael Ryaboy, GPT-3 Prompt Engineer at Codebuddy in San Francisco adds a writer’s perspective to how GPT-3 will disrupt society:                                                                            

Most repetitive writing tasks such as copywriting will be in large part done by GPT-3…Similarly, a model like GPT-3 can greatly increase your writing productivity by writing for you if you are stuck… (For gaming programmers) Tools like GPT-3 will also be used to create immersive realities, as thousands of subplots for a video game can be created in minutes, and AI Dungeon already allows cohesive text-based explorations.”

Will AI-powered technology eventually become smarter than humans? Elon Musk fears that is so. He has warned that our existence as human beings could be at stake. Musk warns “that we’re headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans.”

The operating term here is “technological singularity.” That is the hypothetical point in time when technological growth becomes so exponentially expansive that it becomes incontrollable and irreversible. The disruption and changes to human civilization, according to the hypothesis, can result in unforeseeable disruption and changes to human civilization.

Not everyone agrees with Elon Musk’s pessimism. AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio’s view is that we “are very far from super-intelligent AI systems and there may even be fundamental obstacles to get much beyond human intelligence.”

As Cofounder, Create Labs Ventures Abran Maldonado stated, “It will put the power of AI technology into the hands of more creative and mission driven communities outside of tech. This technology has lowered the barrier to entry and will allow new groups to enter the space and stay focused on the problems they are trying to solve.” 

And according to the CEO of OpenAi, Sam Altman, all the hype about GPT-3 is “too much.”Yes, he agrees, “AI is going to change the world, but GPT-3 is just an early glimpse.” He identifies three main impediments to AI taking over everything:

1. AI is hugely expensive to use because of the vast amount of computing power needed to do its work. So, the cost of using it could be well beyond the budget of smaller organizations.

2. GPT-3 is a “closed” or “black-box” system. OpenAI has not revealed full details of its algorithms. So, if you rely on a technology to answer questions or create produces, you can’t be entirely sure how those answers or product solutions came about.

3. The output is far from perfect. GPT-3 can handle tasks like creating basic apps and short texts, but often tends to deteriorate and produce gibberish when tasked to produce something longer and complex. 

How GPT-3 will disrupt everything else

Mobile App developers are already leveraging GPT-3 to do some amazing things with very little effort beyond plain language requests. Some examples:

Generating web and app design code based on text descriptions. 

All that design code is already there. Developers can simply describe what they want, like “a layout that contains 3 buttons with a random color.” Watch this stunning display of GPT-3s plain language coding on this YouTube video.

Getting medical advice and answers. 

One medical student in the UK used GPT-3 to answer medical and health care questions. His program gives correct answers to plain English questions as well as the underlying science and biology.

Converting legalese to plain language, and vice versa. 

The law is one of the most text-driven professions. There are GPT-3 apps that can write pleas, motions, and other complicated legal documents and translate their text back to understandable English. For example, “my landlord neglected the property,” becomes “The Defendants allowed the real property to fall into disrepair…”

Finally, will GPT-3 send Siri and Alexa packing?

Probably not anytime soon, Michael Ryaboy believes that “Siri and Alexa do their job well. They are designed to allow you to do tasks through speech and not to maintain engaging conversation.” Until someone comes up with a better idea that Apple and Amazon are willing to throw out those top performers, they will probably be around for a while yet.

Let Colure help you design your mobile app and mobile app marketing

So, where do you fit into all that disruption? If you’re an innovative app developer or business owner and want to tackle some of our world’s most pressing challenges and harness AI to make everyone’s life better, contact us today. Colure’s Mobile App Development Team can get you going on your next projector to be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus.” 

Design your baby from a mobile app…

Design your baby from a mobile app…

Are you serious designer babies? What is CRISPR and can it disrupt the healthcare industry? Design a baby or fix your chronic illness right from a mobile app, well maybe not just yet but the technology to execute this is already on its way.

The world we live in might not look like The Jetsons, but we are living in the future in many ways. We’ve already got smartphones, and smart homes quickly followed. Augmented reality has expanded the horizons of video games, and virtual reality is poised to change the lives of people living with disabilities. What’s next? Smart genes? You might be shocked to learn that a technology called CRISPR promises exactly that!

While “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” might be a mouthful, CRISPR is a little easier to say. CRISPR are a naturally occurring sequence of repeats in simple living creatures such as some bacteria. While bacteria use CRISPR as an immune defense against other organisms, humans discovered that CRISPR could be used to target genes of pretty much any living creature, including us!

Through a method known as CAS-9, CRISPR can essentially be used to edit genes from DNA, similar to how you can cut text from Word documents. Researchers have since been able to use CRISPR to cut genes out entirely and cut out faulty genes to replace them with functional ones. That’s right, CRISPR lets us copy and paste our DNA.

CRISPY isn’t just a novel new technology. It represents some pretty important possibilities. For example, CRISPR can be used to disrupt the faulty DNA that leads to diseases such as Huntington’s, which is caused by a mutation in a gene and has been difficult to treat up until now. Not only does Huntington’s decrease the quality and length of life, but parents can pass the disease to their children. If CRISPR can remove faulty genes, people who would otherwise develop Huntington’s disease and avoid having children who might do the same can live happily and healthily with a brood of their own.

That’s just one example of the power of CRISPR. Researchers are hard at work determining the different ways that CRISPR (and CAS-9) can work for us. Many are hopeful that CRISPR can be used with CAR-T, a method used alongside genetic therapy to boost the patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. Jens-Ole Bock of COBO Technologies Aps, which focuses on DNA technology, expressed hope over this combination:

Focus now is on different types of blood diseases and cancer treatment using CAR-T. We have now more than 70 trials ongoing in the clinical phase and initial safety data from these trials are looking promising. 

Kevin Doxzen, Ph.D., expressed similar sentiments about the potential that the “development of CRISPR and other genome engineering technologies is moving modern medicine towards personalized therapeutics and away from a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare. The ability to precisely locate and alter a specific genetic sequence is opening the door to treating a range of previously untreatable diseases, especially rare genetic diseases.” Who’s to say what uses we’ll find for CRISPR in the future?

In fact, some researchers are already investigating whether CRISPR can be used to created so-called “designer babies.” Considering that researchers in China have already tested CRISPR on embryos to produce babies resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera, is it a leap to wonder if they could identify other traits that some people might find undesirable to edit them right out of embryos before implanting them. Given that the 23&Me app can already tell us what genes we might pass on to our children, the idea doesn’t sound that farfetched at all! Who could have predicted this? The writers of Gattaca, for one.

However, while it might be possible for CRISPR to create “designer babies” in the future, many medical experts are skeptical. For example, Bock expressed disbelief that CRISPR technology would move in this direction based on current research efforts.

 All trials today are in somatic cells and focus is to treat well-characterised genetic diseases that will have a significant impact for the patient and the patient group. Because we learn more and more about the genes involved in different diseases, it will make sense to do more pre-screening of germ cells and thereby we could exclude many potential genetic diseases to move to the next generation. However some genetic disease we can not predict and “capture” on in pre-screening and therefore we need tools like CRISPR to be able to cure future genetic diseases in this group of patients

Of course, there’s always someone who wants to capitalize on new tech, which means that we’re pretty much guaranteed that someone will step in to fulfill the role of designing babies with CRISPR in the future. But most researchers understand the significance of treating or even preventing cancer and other diseases that severely impact–and shorten–a patient’s life. With such important work already underway, there’s no use fretting over the potential misuses of CRISPR when the technology will have such long-reaching benefits.

The success of our agency is built upon our clients’ growth. If you want to discuss your next project or be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus,” contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team.

Will NFT’s disrupt the Christie’s of the world?

Will NFT’s disrupt the Christie’s of the world?

Will NFT’s disrupt the Christies, Sotheby’s, and the physical collectible market? 

NFTs are non-fungible tokens that store data on the blockchain. Through NFTs, companies and individuals are able to trade digital items — and track the trading on a digital ledger. NFTs can represent videos, audio, photos, and so forth. They can be used to trade music albums, digital art, and more.

In practice, NFTs are used to store unique, digital goods. In other words, collectibles. People are able to securely trade these collectibles with the knowledge that the item is unique. They can prove that they have the “first” of a digital item. Because of this verification, these items can retain or even increase their value — they can become investments.

NFTs are creating a fast-expanding digital collectible market. But can they disrupt physical collectible markets? Could physical baseball cards and physical stamps someday become digital ones?

Physical vs. Digital: The Advantages and Disadvantages of NFT

The advantages of NFT are clear. As Ben Kopec from OnChain Music says, “NFTs are the new digital merchandise from your favorite artists. NFTs can also be digital collectible items, with the potential to rise in value over time, or the popularity of the artist.”

The truth is that a lot of the world has already gone digital. Look at how people are interfacing with media. People are streaming music. They’re downloading videos. And they have large archives of completely digital games. But part of the issue people have with these digital products is they’re not really “collections.” They can lose their streaming access at any time. They can lose their entire archives if the system goes down. 

NFTs make it possible to really track and keep digital products with value. Someone can have the second copy of a digital album, or the only copy of a digital work of art. But there are downsides, too. Because NFTs are just token-based ledgers, they still “point” to these works of art; for instance, an NFT may just be a URL, which can eventually go down. Additionally, there’s nothing stopping someone from selling more copies of a digital product. The value is that the product is unique, verified, and first.

NFT’s Place in the Modern World: Why Now? 

Are NFTs a good investment? It’s a complicated question.

Right now, NFTs are in their infancy. That means that there’s a lot of profit potential. But it also closes out the market; only early adopters are willing to purchase NFTs. Luckily, because of the proliferation of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency, people are getting more excited about the blockchain — and technologies like OpenSea and Mintable.

Erik Spivak says, “In my opinion, physical work will always retain its value over digital. There’s something about the energy attached to an object that will inherently put it above something that can’t be held.” Thus, NFTs could be attached to physical works; they could be attacked to mystery boxes, crates, and bags, or integrated into other types of security. But, as Erik further points out, people invest in what they believe in, and they believe in a variety of things.

As long as people are interested in NFTs, NFTs are going to have some value. And because NFTs have such a low barrier to entry, it’s very possible that some of it will yield better ROI than more complex financial instruments. But this also depends on how scaling goes for companies like Mintable.

What’s next for the NFT Market?

The world is waking up to NFTs.

They’re finding NFTs now. There will be a boom; many people who don’t even understand the blockchain or its technology are going to be investing in NFTs because it’s the “next big thing.”

Whether it really has longevity is another question. Crypto currency clearly does. But there have been many experiments with the blockchain; some have succeeded, some have not.

As Andrei Jikh points out, “The fact that they are rare makes it difficult for the creators to mint more of the same token because it’s on the blockchain. Same with Bitcoin which has 21 million maximum coins that will ever exist.” In other words, there’s an upper limit to this type of technology.

It’s likely that NFTs are going to transition at least in part to more physical products. And it’s likely that NFTs are going to have some place in the digital market — people do want access to limited, collectible products. Trading card games like “Magic: The Gathering” are an excellent example of something that could easily transition into a digital arena, allowing people to collect digital items that are unique and inherently valuable.

But NFTs are very unlikely to become all-encompassing or to unseat Christies, Sotheby’s, and other physical collectibles. It’s far more likely that the NFT market will start being used to record such transactions on the blockchain. That will make it easier to verify and track the provenance of collectible items.

Most people aren’t going to need to tie NFTs into their own tech or their mobile apps. But understanding new technologies is our business. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team to either discuss projects or be featured in our next series of “Disrupting Venus.”

What is the Law of Diminishing Returns in advertising? If your mobile app marketing, or ecommerce campaign is no longer hitting your KPI thresholds it maybe time……

What is the Law of Diminishing Returns in advertising? If your mobile app marketing, or ecommerce campaign is no longer hitting your KPI thresholds it maybe time……

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle: 20 percent of anything will yield 80 percent of your results. It’s a general rule of thumb for anything. 20 percent of your employees will do 80 percent of the work. 20 percent of your customers will make up 80 percent of your sales. And 20 percent of your advertising spend may make up 80 percent of your revenue brought in.

The Law of Diminishing Returns is similar.

Under the Law of Diminishing Returns, investments and returns don’t have a one-to-one relationship. Rather, your returns start to drop off at a certain point. Your returns plateau; once you’ve hit the peak, every subsequent dollar you spend may gain you nothing at all.

And that’s why you can sometimes throw money at a strategy over and over and just not get the results that you desire. 

Let’s take a further look at the Law of Diminishing Returns — and how to disrupt it.

Caring is a Finite Resource: The Law of Diminishing Returns

Consider this: You’re a florist. You sell bouquets. You have about 10,000 people in your town — and you’ve got about $100 in media buying budget. You decide to send out mailers.

So, you spend $100 to send out 10,000 mailers. 500 people respond and purchase $10 bouquets; you make $5,000. That’s a great ROI!

Why not try it again?

You send out another 10,000 mailers. This time, 250 people respond and purchase $10 bouquets; you make $2,500. That’s still great ROI, but it’s significantly less.

Next time, only 50 people respond. And the next time, only 25. Your strategy hasn’t changed. But the audience you’re marketing to has been saturated. You’re getting diminishing returns because there are fewer and fewer people who are interested.

Now, you’re a little smarter. You decide to send 10,000 mailers to the next town over. But you still don’t get 500 people — you get 300. Why? Because the first audience set was your ideal audience — they’re in the area. Now you’re moving to people farther away who are less likely to spend. So you’re still getting diminishing returns.

This doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be doing poorly. Eventually, that first batch of 500 people who responded are going to be in the market for flowers again. But it does mean that your initial strategies can often do better than follow-up attempts, for a variety of reasons.

(But let’s disrupt a little. Consider if this time you spent $50 of your media buying budget on mailers and $50 on digital advertising instead. You might be able to take advantage of both with less saturation.)

Let’s take a look at another example: You have a company that does mobile app development. You spend $25,000 on paid digital advertising and you make $125,000 in sales. Then you spend $100,000 on paid digital advertising. Do you make $500,000 in sales?

Probably not. Your audience is probably already saturated, so the same people are seeing your ads multiple times rather than new people being connected with each time.

And that’s the Law of Diminishing Returns: the first $25,000 you spend may have substantially greater results than the last $25,000 you spend.

You’ve Plateaued: Detecting the Law of Diminishing Returns in Your Advertising

How can you determine whether you’re hitting the Law of Diminishing Returns?

As our VP of New Product Clifton Pierce stated, “In terms of advertising, the Law of Diminishing Returns only applies if the advertiser isn’t truly paying attention.” It’s pretty easy as long as you’re reliably tracking your metrics. You should see that the more energy you’re putting into something, the weaker results you’re getting. If everything else remains equal about your strategies, then it should be easy to see that you’re pumping money into the Law of Diminishing Returns.

That isn’t always a bad thing. Think back to the florist. Even though the florist is getting diminishing returns, they’re still getting returns. As long as your ROI is positive, your advertising is still being effective. It’s more a question of whether your advertising is being as effective as it can be.

Rob Palumbo CEO at OutPoint, splits everything into the Most Productive Zone, Diminishing Returns Zone, and Negative Returns Zone. From there, he is able to better determine the right course of action for each marketing channel.

With mobile app marketing, you might see that your mobile app installs have slowed. But that doesn’t actually mean that it isn’t bringing you in revenue.

And, of course, understanding the Law of Diminishing Returns is critical when you’re doing your cash flow projections. You should never assume that you’re going to get identical results from the same expense outlay; that’s just too optimistic.

Can There Be a Law of Increasing Returns?

Of course, not everyone believes in the Law of Diminishing Returns. Jonathan Ivanco says, “There is no such thing as the law of diminishing returns, it’s lazy marketers that don’t understand what goes into real advertising and marketing.”But Richard Heinberg points out that the Law of Diminishing Returns applies to everything, including civilizations — generally in reference to the abundance of resources available.

In the examples given, returns started to diminish immediately because saturation had been met. But in real life, it usually takes some time to reach that saturation point. Usually you’ll see increasing returns, a plateau, and then diminishing returns. And diminishing returns really means you need to move on to other strategies; hence Ivanco’s statement that it relates to lazy marketing.

But is it possible to grow exponentially? Is it possible to continue to see better and better returns?

There are very few advertising campaigns that will never plateau or that will never start going downhill.  You will always need to steadily invest more if you want to continue getting the same results. And it’s not always money you’re investing. With social media advertising, for instance, you’re usually investing time.

But it is possible to have a very significant ramp up.

Look at influencer marketing, social media marketing, and other types of traditional marketing disruption. Companies are able to exponentially grow and continue to grow; they have such broad appeal they don’t meet saturation. With new realms like augmented reality and virtual reality coming, there are new opportunities for brand development and product development.

So, the Law of Diminishing Returns doesn’t always have to be a law; there can be exceptions. But they are rare ones.

Using the Law of Diminishing Returns to Your Advantage

Realistically, what does the Law of Diminishing Returns mean? It means that you’ve done the best you can at a certain technique. Mobile Marketing? Mailers? Email lists? Social media? You’ve peaked, baby. I mean, it’s all downhill from there. But you’ve done as good a job as you can — and now it’s time to move on.

If you’re struggling with the Law of Diminishing Returns right now, you’re throwing good money after bad. You’re probably spending $25,000 in paid advertising to generate 90 percent of your results and another $25,000 for that last 10 percent.

That’s great news.

Because that means that you can take that $25,000 that you’re using in digital advertising and generate even better results elsewhere.

Ultimately, the Law of Diminishing Returns just means that it’s time to try something different. It’s a way to show that you’ve capped out on what you can get (for now) from a certain advertising technique, strategy, or channel. And that’s an exceptionally valuable thing to know.

Advertising is a wild arena. It’s always changing. The strategies that work today have no guarantee of working tomorrow. You need to be able to identify your key metrics, track them reliably, and pivot when you can. By studying things like the Law of Diminishing Returns, you can become more astute at recognizing the signs — and more confident and competent at reacting to it. Here at Colure, we know that the success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of your business. Contact Colure’s Advertising Advisors today to make sure you have a balanced Go To Market Advertising Campaign for your next project or to be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus”. Let’s grow!

Why Are SPACs giving Wall Street & VC Firms a run for its money? And why mobile apps like DraftKings are using SPACs as a choice of raising capital?

Why Are SPACs giving Wall Street & VC Firms a run for its money? And why mobile apps like DraftKings are using SPACs as a choice of raising capital?

Tel Aviv-based Blue Ribbon has leveraged its jackpot technology into DraftKings internet casinos and sports betting. Those are two of the DraftKings app developers’ core business competencies. Because of SPAC capitalization and direct IPO transactions, and having sold $1.15 billion worth of its convertible debt, Draft Kings has offered some of those vast proceeds for fund acquisition.

What the hell is SPAC?

SPAC stands for special purpose acquisition company. SPAC transactions are alternatives to raising capital via traditional stock market initial public offerings. In the insiders’ world of investments, SPAC transactions are essentially friendly buyouts of target companies. SPACs aren’t even real, commercially active companies. They are ventures where money is looking for companies.

How a SPAC works

High-profile investors—hedge funds, private equity and industry leaders—create a SPAC. They become the SPAC sponsors. They raise money from investors through prospectus marketing, emails, word-of-mouth, etc. The typical initial trading level is about $10 a share. 

The investment money is placed into an interest-bearing trust account. That begins a campaign where the SPAC sponsors do market research looking for a company that wants to go public via acquisition—the act of taking over or gaining at least 50% of the company’s stock.

The SPAC shareholders agree to the takeover, most often structured as a reverse merger, meaning that the target company merges with the SPAC or its subsidiary. Then the SPAC shareholders can opt to redeem their shares and take a profit or hold onto the investment in the form of shares. 

SPAC sponsors have two years after the initial public offering to find a company, whereupon the SPAC is disbanded and SPAC sponsors cash out. If the deal is successful, the sponsors can take over up to 20% of the company for an initial investment of only $25,000. That can mean an enormously lucrative return when the company can be worth millions.

So, the SPAC process is a cheaper, quicker, and easier way for a company to raise capital.  Rather than being underwritten by banks and investment firms, the target company is essentially mentored by experienced SPAC sponsors. In the end, investors can redeem their shares if they don’t approve of the acquisition.

On the other hand, investors who buy into the SPAC’s IPO have no idea of the final target. They must enter the deal on faith. Even though the prospectus might identify a specific business or industry, the SPAC is not obligated to keep its word.

Also, the two-year deadline for closing the deal means that investors must be patient. The delayed deadline could also create conflicts of interest if SPAC sponsors succumb to impatience and throw due diligence to the winds of stock market volatility and the historically weaker returns and in-the-red performance of common shares that occur after mergers.

Will SPACs disrupt Wall Street?

SPACs have the advantage of bypassing the substantial time, resources, reporting and underwriting through the traditional IPO process. But will they disrupt Wall Street? Colure’s social media manager Ivonne Tanbeh reached out to a number of movers and shakers in the SPAC industry to get their thoughts on the disruption. Here’s a sampling:

Q:  What makes SPACs so attractive to investors?

Richard Coffin, Investment Analyst at WDS Investment Management:

“They’ve been really popular amid the current euphoria of the markets, and investment celebrities (and non-investment celebrities) have been backing certain SPACs to monetize their name/reputation, but while that may attract initial demand, at the end of the day it’s how the company actually performs and operate over time that will matter.”

Ramin Nakisa, Co-Founder at PensionCraft Ltd. (UK)

“If you buy into a SPAC, it usually has a star management team. They will be interviewed constantly by the media doing ‘will-they won’t-they’ stories about which company they are going to buy. This cult of celebrity is what has propped up the active management industry long after it became clear that it is failing to deliver what it promises”

Daniele D’Alvia, SPAC Expert and Corporate Lawyer.

SPACs are the reverse of the normal IPO procedure. Instead of an operating company seeking investors, investors seek an operating company. This is clearly irresistible and more appealing than being passive. 

Q: Do you think SPACs will disrupt Wall Street?

Ramin Nakisa responded:

I don’t think this is going to disrupt Wall Street. The proliferation of SPACs is just one consequence of the huge appetite for risk following the selloff in March 2020. The traditional route of raising cash via IPOs is less attractive now because of the share price ‘pop’ the day after the company raises its money. 

Richard Coffin agreed:

“SPACs have been around for a while, so I am skeptical that they will revolutionize Wall Street. Perhaps they will become more popular, but the IPO still stands as a more established and rigorous process for companies going public.”

Daniele D’Alvia predicted the 2020 SPAC boom and was awarded the Colin B Picker Prize by the America Society of Comparative Law back in 2017. He has another perspective: 

“I do not see why SPACs cannot become the new alternative acquisition models, a legitimate alternative path to access public markets rather than the traditional IPOs. It cannot be denied that SPACs pose risks like any other investment, as risks cannot be completely eradicated. However, those risks can be curtailed through proper contractual risk allocation and enhanced governance.” So, whether SPACs will be an also-ran in the competition for investors, or a paradigm shift, they have something in common with mobile app developers: they are a threat to the giant big guys. Even though the little guy might not be all that small, disruption is what adds spice to the nitroglycerine of change. 

If you are trying to raise capital to launch a new product or service, pay attention. Remember when Blockbuster Video and Toys“R”Us ruled their roosts? Along came Netflix and Amazon, which caused a chickenshit-storm and toppled those two monopolies.

Here at Colure, we know that the success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of your business. Contact Colure’s Mobile Marketing & App Development Team to discuss your next project or to be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus”. Let’s grow!

What? Coinbase went public yesterday almost valuing the app at $100 Billion! Is it time for Crypto Currencies like Bitcoin to disrupt the world currency standard?

What? Coinbase went public yesterday almost valuing the app at $100 Billion! Is it time for Crypto Currencies like Bitcoin to disrupt the world currency standard?

In 2010, a single Bitcoin was worth about 8 cents.

Today, it’s nearly $62,000. Yesterday the mobile app known for buying crypto called Coinbase went public reaching almost one hundred billion dollar in valuation. 

Despite its detractors, Bitcoin keeps going up and up. An inherently deflationary currency — a currency that is finite — it is built to grow in value. The same can be said about a multitude of other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and even Dogecoin.

Cryptocurrencies were once treated as a joke. But they’re being taken seriously now. The question remains: How seriously should they be taken?

The State of the Crypto Market as of 2021

Cryptocurrency has gone from being denied on major payment processors (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) to showing up in ATMs. The cryptomarkets now support most major cryptocurrencies, with fringe candidates (such as Dogecoin) being slowly introduced. Market caps are growing. The market cap of Bitcoin stands at $1 trillion.

More companies are supporting cryptocurrency. Recently, Elon Musk stated that people could purchase a Tesla car in Bitcoin. It’s understandable. Cryptocurrency isn’t just a currency, it’s an investment. Companies make more by accepting Bitcoin and then holding it. And that is the double-edged sword.

Right now, cryptocurrency is still a relatively new technology. Ask the average person how the blockchain works, they won’t know. They don’t understand how the treasury works, either, however; they just have faith that it does. Consequently, the barrier isn’t really “understanding” the new technology. Right now, the barrier is usability.

How does someone purchase a Bitcoin? How do they invest in Ethereum? How can they turn a Bitcoin into a cheeseburger — or Ethereum into the down payment of a house? It’s these questions that need to be answered by the crypto market moving forward.

How Crypto Currency is Already Disrupting the World

As with any currency, crypto has some good aspects and bad aspects.

First, let’s tackle the bad. Untraceable currency has led to the proliferation of scams (such as malware and ransomware attacks) and a huge underground drug purchasing community (the dark net). Because it’s both currency and investment, it’s volatile. Most people don’t want to wonder if a cheeseburger is worth $10 or $1600 every morning; Bitcoin’s swings are no longer that volatile, but they used to be. While $1 trillion is a large market cap, it’s nothing compared to say USD ($30 trillion). It’s easily influenced. A single tweet from Elon Musk can send it doubling its price.

But, there’s the good. Volatility means a lot of money can be made. And the untrace-ability of Bitcoin is it working as intended; the idea is that Bitcoin being untraceable essentially means that anyone can use it for anything, true economic freedom. Even those who are in areas where they have an autocratic or dangerous government can purchase things that are important but “contraband.”  Ideally, globalizing currency will make it easier to trade and will make it less likely any one country, such as the US or China, can control trade.

Crypto currency has already significantly disrupted many markets. And it will continue to do so.

The More Things Change, the More Stay the Same – It Won’t Replace Fiat Currency

Most analytics believe that crypto will definitely disrupt currency, but it’s probably not going to replace it. “Bitcoin is way too volatile to be used as money. Imagine if you had taken out a mortgage worth $250,000 in Bitcoin last March; you’d owe the bank $2 million today.”, says Andrei Jikh.

“Personally I think we will see a wave of adaptation and adoption of this across the board until we reach a point, of it being widely accepted,” says Eric Spivak. It’s likely that crypto is going to become another payment method, alongside the currency of whatever country a person is in. But even as we move away from “cash” standards, crypto is not likely to get complete adoption.

There are some technical issues that need to be surmounted. People can “lose” their Bitcoin forever; there’s no “Bitcoin” bank that can guarantee them their currency. Because Bitcoin is untraceable, theft cannot be tracked or reversed. And because cryptocurrencies are deflationary, they are inherently volatile. No one will hold onto a dollar bill thinking it will be worth more in the future. But people will hold onto Bitcoin, which means they are extremely hesitant to liquidate and actually use their Bitcoin or Ethereum — thereby reducing usage and exposure.

Once Bitcoin starts to even out and adoption becomes more universal, the desire to keep hoards of wealth will change. But there will still be concerns relative to the technology itself that need to be addressed.

The Next Evolution of Crypto: Where Does It Go From Here?

Fern Murias points out, “Crypto has a long way to go in terms of usability, and in order to expedite widespread adoption, I think it is crucial to build a bridge to legacy payment systems.” Adding Bitcoin to ATMs, Cash App, and other payment apps is one step. But Bitcoin still has to be easier to use.

When people get used to using things such as Apple Pay (tapping their phones rather than using a credit card or cash), then Bitcoin can become virtually indistinguishable from paying with US dollars. There will still be issues of volatility, but people will find themselves using Bitcoin seamlessly; that’s when adoption will increase.

Cryptocurrencies aren’t necessarily required to disrupt the world currency standard. They can simply provide an alternative currency standard. When alternative currency standards are introduced into the mix, it becomes vastly less likely that global powers can influence the world markets — and more likely that people themselves can be in control of a decentralized currency network.

And whether cryptocurrencies remain a niche investment or become a powerful financial instrument, they aren’t going away. At Colure, the success of our agency is built upon the success of our clients. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development team today to build your blockchain app. Let’s grow!

What is IDFA? Can Apple Disrupt the Advertising Industry? And Why is Facebook Afraid of the IDFA changes?

What is IDFA? Can Apple Disrupt the Advertising Industry? And Why is Facebook Afraid of the IDFA changes?

Why does Mark Zuckerberg want to inflict pain on Apple? 

Apple’s making some significant changes to IDFA, the utility that app developers use to get information about who someone is. Understandably, some consumers take issue with being tracked. But IDFA is essential to the way that a lot of advertising works.

Advertisers aren’t going to be able to target audiences as effectively once Apple initiates its changes; they’ll have to ask customers to provide access. 

So, Apple could really disrupt Facebook, because Facebook isn’t really in the social media industry; it’s in the advertising industry. Facebook makes most of its money through ads and the less effective ads are, the less money it will make. But Facebook is not the only company that will be disrupted it will ripple through the whole advertising industry. We reached out to Ankit Minocha at Shop2App to get his thoughts on if he thinks IDFA trend will disrupt the advertising industry, and he stated “It certainly will, what this is doing is putting all players, small or big, on a level field. Because there’s a big unanswered question of what percentage of people are going to opt-out of that data privacy pop-ups, it’s hard to say how extensive this change is going to be.”

Advertisers will have until mid-Spring 2021 to adjust to these changes. With location sharing being more opt-in, the effectiveness of ads can go down considerably. Even if ads are able to target audiences they may not be able to track their success.

Google in response to the pressure from Apple has announced similar changes, as reported by Wired that they will be phasing out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2022. These IDFA and Cookie changes are both beneficial for the end user’s privacy, bit it radically changes the way advertisers and apps have historically worked.

Ultimately, the fact is that users are becoming more concerned about security and more wary about sharing data. Users are increasingly eschewing services like Google in favor of Duck Duck Go, to improve their own security and anonymity online. This represents significant disruption in how advertisers will function.

The success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of our clients. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team to discuss your next project or to be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus”.

Can Progressive Web Apps disrupt the titan App Store and Google Play Stores?

Can Progressive Web Apps disrupt the titan App Store and Google Play Stores?

What does an app do if it gets kicked off the app store?

Become progressive.

In some ways, a lot of ways, the iOS and Google stores run the app market. And they have a host of requirements. A lot of apps have gotten kicked off the app stores; see, in recent news, Parler and even the video game giant EPIC, the maker of the global sensation game Fortnite.

But app stores aren’t the only answer. Apps can also be designed as Progressive Web Apps and they’re increasingly being used. Instead of a native app, a PWA is a website that operates like a mobile app.

So, it can be the best of both worlds. Users don’t have to download anything. Developers don’t have to build multiple platforms 

And, like the web, it’s not moderated. It doesn’t require any approval from the web app stores.

App stores can be notoriously difficult to get into, and there are publishing and licensing fees. This is one reason devs have been moving toward PWAs but it isn’t the only reason.

PWAs also cost less to maintain in terms of time and energy because they’re built into the website.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides. They don’t have the same functionality as a native app. They can’t be used offline. But they’re also not a trend. They’ve been growing very consistently. With progressive web apps, the apps don’t need to worry about meeting specific criteria and they remain under full control for the developer.

The success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of our clients. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team to discuss your next project or to be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus”.

Can One Little Mobile App Disrupt the Podcast Industry? Why did China block Clubhouse?

Can One Little Mobile App Disrupt the Podcast Industry? Why did China block Clubhouse?

China blocks their citizens from using Clubhouse as AP reports. Android users are upset that the mobile app is not in the GooglePlay Store yet. Podcasters are screaming out that the app can’t disrupt the Podcast industry because Podcast are permanent evergreens that live in the cloud forever. Hmmmmmm I think we have a case of disruption brewing. 

Where do you go for your podcasts? Apple, Spotify, and even Amazon have had a hard lock on audio media up until now, but there’s a new contender. Clubhouse is disrupting the way that media works and it’s an important watch for investors, at least those who don’t want to miss the boat on another big disruption. 

What’s the Clubhouse App and why does it matter?

An invitation only application that’s been available since 2020, most people hadn’t even heard of Clubhouse until Elon Musk used it as a platform. And he wasn’t even releasing another tribute to Harambe.

Clubhouse is a drop-in audio app, in which users are able to connect to live audio streams and broadcasts en masse. If you’ve ever wanted to connect with and potentially hate the other fans of your fav podcast, this is for you.

Why is Clubhouse the Future of Podcasts?

It’s not a terrible idea….

Imagine live radio shows with all the excitement and interactivity it implies, along with the ability to preserve the content for later. Clubhouse has been described as Medium for podcasters, letting anyone build their content and their following readily. And because it’s invitation only for now, it’s creating a high-quality platform that can only get more popular from here.

There are a lot of podcasts out there. But people are increasingly looking for more engagement and interactivity. For once, podcasts could cease being a solo and even antisocial experience and become something people enjoy together.

To investigate this further we reached out to a social media guru Nicky Saunders to get her take on this disruption. She not only run her own podcast but also is an active Clubhouser. We asked her if she thinks Clubhouse will disrupt the Podcast industry and she stated, “I think it can add on 2 it! its a great addition to connect with your listeners and extra exposure to it 2”. What about the monetization strategy once they gain mass market?  “I believe tipping speakers… access to certain rooms….. paid event will be something they can really maximize on if they play it right.” Do you think Clubhouse will eventually let users save and archive discussions? “I don’t think they will allow that… that’s was makes them unique.” More to come…. 

The Excitement of a Live Community 

Clubhouse is far more than just podcasting. It creates a live event with all the fervor that this implies. It’s a highly social experience that makes it more compelling to follow podcasts. As people look for more digital, social venues, this becomes even more important. 

But what about the curse of COVID? Confounding the valuation is the fact that it’s hard to gauge what interest will be following the pandemic and if numbers and activity could be inflated.

Clubhouse is valued at $1 billion currently after rounds of investment funding. Some have wondered if an IPO might be coming in the next year, but there are some concerns. Primarily, some worry about how content moderation may be handled, as it’s become increasingly difficult on Twitch — and no one knows whether COVID will have longstanding impact on the digital social world.

The success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of our clients. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team to discuss your next project or to be interviewed and featured in our next series of “Project Venus”.

What the heck is r/WSB? How did a small mobile app called Robinhood disrupt the Titan’s on Wall Street?

What the heck is r/WSB? How did a small mobile app called Robinhood disrupt the Titan’s on Wall Street?

When was the first time you heard about r/WallStreetBets or RobinHood? If you’ve been following financial disruption at all, it was about two years ago, when the “infinite leverage” glitch catapulted the Reddit sub and the app into fame.

The stock trading platform for “the little guys,” the RobinHood app makes it easy for anyone to trade. Not just stocks, but options. And that means that at-home, single-person traders (like Redditors) have the ability to place trades (really, bets) that can get them practically infinite income… and practically infinite losses.

YOLO: The Culture of r/WSB

The denizens of WallStreetBets call themselves “autists.” This isn’t as denigrating as it sounds; it’s praise, to them. While not politically correct, it’s their way of saying that they focus on one thing and only one thing. Sometimes to the detriment of the rest of their life.

And sometimes they’re horribly wrong. But often they’re horribly right. Either way, they disrupt.

r/WSB users focus on “YOLOing” stock. In other words, they place very large positions on things that are essentially gambles. But the beauty and complexity of WSB is that they often aren’t gambles. Usually, the people on r/WSB are trading on news, which are entirely valid ways to trade.

Moreover, r/WSB takes advantage of a cyclical effect. While they aren’t organized (and therefore aren’t illegal per the SEC), they have significant visibility. When someone posts that a stock is “winning” for them, others will fall in line. From r/WSB, it eventually gets into the mainstream media. This all crystallized with GME.

But again, this isn’t anything that anyone else hasn’t been doing for a long time, such as stock reports on the news.

GME: WE LIKE THE STOCK

Tune into r/WSB and you’ll see everyone saying something very simple about GameStop: “We Like The Stock.” This is about more than just defying SEC’s collusion standards.

Way back in the before times of “a couple of weeks ago,” GameStop brought in a couple of executives from Chewy. Investors became bearish on the stock, expecting these executives to turn the retailer around.

This was around when people noticed that GameStop was incredibly over-shorted.

People started investing in GME because they genuinely did “like the stock”; they saw that it was undervalued because of the shorting. Essentially, hedge fund managers were trying to drive GME into bankruptcy by selling over 100 percent of its available stock.

RobinHood: Steal from the Poor, Give to the Rich?

However, the very same company that started the GME surge is the one that ultimately betrayed its own users. At the height of GME hysteria, RobinHood decided to restrict trading, so investors could only sell GME and not buy it. GME plunged to half its value before starting to recover again. And RobinHood wasn’t alone. Many other brokerages restricted trading GME for high volatility.

This is now being investigated, by such high-profile individuals as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz. Essentially, brokerages were able to fix the price, because they only allowed for selling — theoretically to help hedge fund managers.

GME, AMC, BB: To the Moon

GME isn’t the only one that’s being promoted by r/WSB. AMC and BB are other stocks that those on WSB appear to have a consensus about: They think they’re undervalued. AMC was nearly driven to bankruptcy but received a cash infusion, and its problems are likely to be over after COVID. BlackBerry is leaning hard on privacy at a time when privacy is being questioned on almost every frontier. While some believe that these are distractions (the more people invest in AMC and BB, the less they’ll invest in GME), they’ve been on Reddit’s collective mind for a while.

GME was unique because it was so incredibly over shorted. It was over shorted by nearly 150 percent. Comparatively. AMC is over shorted by only about 50 percent (which is still a lot). But a short squeeze actually isn’t critical for market disruption; this was seen with TSLA’s explosive performance over the course of 2020.

What’s Next for r/WSB?

So, r/WSB is moving its money off RobinHood’s mobile app and there are a few new contenders for the crown. While the mobile app Cash App doesn’t allow purchases of GME, it does allow AMC — and it allows for the purchase of fractional shares. Stockpile still allows the purchase of fractions of GME. And other brokerages, like E*Trade and Fidelity, never stopped. 

r/WSB is still leaning into GameStop. After all, they like the stock. And now it’s become not just an investment but an ideological mission; a way to say “F-YOU!” to the Wall Street fatcats.

This isn’t illegal. It’s not even strictly frowned upon. r/WSB is just a collection of like-minded people discussing stocks and determining whether they like a stock. They have absolutely no inside knowledge; they only know what is reported from the outside. They then independently decide on whether they want to invest.

This is something that’s baked into the market. But never before has it been so easy for someone to invest directly into the stock market. People today can manage their own retirement accounts, buy their own stocks on their lunch break, and otherwise invest freely — and quickly.

Right now r/WSB is pumping up GME, AMC, BB, and… you probably won’t believe it… Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency based on a Shiba Inu meme. And as crazy as it might sound, there are millionaires being made overnight… and billions being lost… all on a mobile app.

The success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of our clients. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team to discuss your next project and disrupt next industry.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

How does your mobile app stand out from the millions in the app stores?

How does your mobile app stand out from the millions in the app stores?

Question: How well does your mobile app stand out from the competition? According to a Statista study, today there are more than 1.8 million apps in the Apple App Store and almost 2.5 million in the Google Play App Store. After the first mobile application appeared in 2008, the information marketplace faced a dramatic shift. How do you make yours stand out by leveraging mobile analytics? The demand for instant access to data forever changed the expectations of the public.

Here at Colure Media, we understand the market movements and growth.  We take pride in being one of the best mobile app development agencies in New York City. Our team excels in helping our clients stand out in the marketplace. We help them drive mobile application downloads with in-app marketing, app store optimization, mobile marketing and search engine marketing. We use these tools, crystal clear ideas and a systematic approach in defining our tradecraft.

What’s unique about Colure’s approach is our ability to develop native applications which are very strong, from a technology point of view. At the same time, we never lose focus while engaging your target audience with your brand identity. UI/UX are crucial components of any app development.  Our focus upon the total user experience, project goals and overall functionality is our signature upon our client’s projects.

Mobile application developments are divided into two different categories: Android apps and iOS apps (which include iPhone apps and iPad applications). We design apps tailored to meet the needs of the enterprise and consumer markets.

The Android services we render include:

  • Designing and developing Android apps (SDK)
  • Java for Android development
  • GPS and Location Services
  • Push notifications
  • SOAP, RESTful, XML Parsing
  • Webkit, HTML5
  • MPEG4 AND H.264 over HTTP/RTSP streaming video
  • Market research
  • Product launches in app stores

Our iOS app developments are secure and scalable. They work comfortably on the ever-upgrading series of Apple mobile devices. These apps are crafted to achieve smooth functionality.

Our iOS development services include:

  • Application UI/UX designing and development
  • Redesigning apps for iOS compatibility
  • Porting for Android and Blackberry apps
  • Wireless networking
  • iPhone SDK XCode IDE
  • Superior quality Graphic Standards and Protocols
  • Objective-C Programming
  • Customized iPhone apps
  • iPhone enterprise software development

The success of our agency is built upon the success and growth of our clients. Contact Colure’s Mobile App Development Team to discuss your next project.

Mobile App Marketing With Indexing & Deep-linking

Mobile App Marketing With Indexing & Deep-linking

Mobile search has been transformed from a simple search of the Internet’s content to an index that includes downloadable mobile applications into the results. The evolution is called mobile app indexing. Although Google introduced app indexing in 2013, businesses are only now realizing the advantages it produces. The benefits of app indexing do not only pertain to businesses, but to the entire marketplace, especially mobile users. As the awareness and understanding of app indexing increases, the installation of apps by businesses and users will skyrocket.

In prior years, the results of a Google search (via a mobile device) would primarily be a list of recommended website links. Due to the introduction of app indexing, the results will now include suggested applications pertaining to the search terms. Just as users can click on and connect to a web page link, users can also launch the app directly from the results page if that app has been installed on the device prior to the search. However, if the app is not downloaded onto the device, there will be an option to install the app to receive the desired content. This addition opens up a whole new and innovative way of mobile searching.

If your business does not have an app, it may be smart to adopt one, if you have a valid need. If your business does have an app, make indexing a priority. Since the majority of businesses have not yet adopted app indexing, this act will immediately set you apart from the competition. Now is the best time to take advantage of the numerous opportunities and benefits mobile app indexing will generate for your business. Advantages of app indexing include an increase in customer loyalty, app installations, and user traffic. Additionally, your business will become more visible to the eye of the user through the presence of the app on the results page.

For mobile users, app indexing has created an improved and advanced search experience. The indexing of both websites and apps broadens search results. The expansion of search potential will result in an increase in the amount of useful information that can be utilized by the mobile user. Not only a development in marketing for businesses, app indexing is also a way for mobile users to access information more effectively and efficiently. To help you define your mobile app indexing experience, contact Colure’s project management team. 

Personally identifiable information

Personally identifiable information

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any digital data that can locate, contact or identify a specific individual, either by itself or combined with other easily accessible information. It includes information that is linked to an individual through financial, medical, educational or employment records.

PII is mainly used in information security (IS) services to search, locate and identify specified individuals.

PII is considered sensitive information that can consist of information such as fingerprints, biometric data, names, telephone numbers, email addresses, passports or social security numbers to identify a certain person.

It does not include public information that is lawfully made available to the general public from federal, state, or local government record. It is up to federal agencies to safeguard personally identifiable and other sensitive information. It should only be accessed on a need-to-know basis and handled with care.

It is important to protect PII and even personal health information (PHI), which also contains certain aspects of PII that relate to the medical field. People are required to sign statements that specifically allow health care providers to access their records or share the information with a person of choice. The data can help when needed but can be dangerous when misused.

If a data breach were to occur, it can be devastating to a company and its employees. Not only would the loss of a reputation for the company be an issue, but also the thousands of people whose data was stolen would be at risk.

It goes without saying that PII data that is transmitted must be secure and encrypted so that outsiders of the organization or company cannot decipher it.

Mobile app retention rates

Mobile app retention rates

Mobile app retention rates decrease by more than 75% within the first three months of downloading an app. By the one-year mark, only 4% of users still engage with an app they downloaded the year prior. Numbers like these highlight the importance of retention rates when dealing with mobile marketing.

Retention can be defined in different ways. Some companies choose to focus on simply getting users to revisit the app. Others look for engagement with specific features. How you decide to measure retention rates depends on your industry and the nature of the app. For example, an e-commerce app might emphasize user engagement more than a music-playing app. Either way, the goal is to get users to come back.

Mobile app retention is vital to the growth of a company. A high number of users is useless if they churn early on. Instead, a small number of users that repeatedly return to the app offers reliability and lead to stronger relationships between the business and the customers.

Ways You Can Increase Retention Rates

  • Target your mobile audience. Casting a big net to catch a bunch of users will yield a very low percentage of returns to your app. Instead, focus on marketing your app to a segmented group of consumers who are more likely to engage with the app continually.
  • Evidence has shown that push notifications can increase retention rates by at least 20%. Personalizing those push notifications to the individual user increases retention rates even further.
  • Give special attention to users within their first month of downloading the app. By developing a consistent engagement early on, you create a habit in the user that they’re more likely to continue.
  • Invest in beta testing your app to make sure you’ve developed a quality product. If the app isn’t user-friendly, all the marketing strategies in the world aren’t going to make it appealing to users.

User acquisition has consistently been the emphasis in mobile marketing, but the attention needs to be shifted to retention. Mobile app retention rates ensure consistent engagement with loyal customers, which means a longer lifespan for the app and the company.

Use object-based targeting to reach your audience

Use object-based targeting to reach your audience

Object-based targeting allows companies to focus the content of an advertisement to match the content posted by a consumer. If you post pictures of dogs, this technology will marry canine-themed advertisements to appear in your social media.

With real-time social media playing such a big role in the lives of consumers, it was only a matter of time before somebody grabbed ahold of the reigns on real-time advertising. Snap Inc. took a big leap last year by patenting a new technology that will change real-time advertisements in a central way. The technology will allow advertisers to target Snapchat users in a uniquely personal way.

Snap Inc.’s object-based targeting will enable advertisers to promote their product based on the content that Snapchat user posts to their account. If a user snaps an image of a new pair of Nikes, they’re likely to see ads for footwear.

Snap Inc. has yet to enable the technology on Snapchat, but it’s expected that the new features will bring in a significant revenue increase and user growth. In fact, they made $1.2 Billion in 2018 — a big jump from the $59 million they made in 2015.

Consumers repeatedly respond more to image-based advertisements than to written content, so object-based targeting offers a way to speak the language of your consumer audience. Behind Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top social media sites. Both of these rely almost completely on visual content. Not only is it more engaging, but visual content makes your advertisement more memorable. Research shows that when people listen to information, they’ll remember 10% of the information three days later. If that information is paired with a relevant image, they’ll remember 65% of the information three days later.

Snapchat’s new feature will mean that advertisements can be targeted even more specifically than they already are. Advertisers will be able to respond to users automatically and instantaneously, virtually serving up a user’s interests on a silver platter.

What is influencer marketing?

What is influencer marketing?

The emphasis of digital marketing has continually shifted over the past three decades. For the last few years, our industry has been consumed by content marketing. Now, a marketing shift toward influencer marketing has grasped our collective attention. The product or service is falling subordinate to the salesman’s sales-pitch.

Influencer marketing relies on the individual’s popularity or reputation to draw market share to a company’s bottom line. A person’s online persona can sway the choice of thousands of followers in an instant. Their popularity enforces the value of the product, encouraging followers and fans to buy the product. If a consumer finds the influencer enticing, often all that is needed is a simple Tweet to bend a market.

The rise in social media has created a far stronger illusion of intimacy between big names and average people. Instead of relying on traditional media, consumers can go directly to a politician’s Facebook page, or see pictures of a celebrity’s child on Instagram. This direct connection between influencer and follower deceives the follower to trust an influencer in the same way that they might trust a friend or family member. Influencer marketing offers a new type of digital and mobile advertisement that appears far more organic and natural.

Goals when engaging influence marketers:

  • Plan in advance. The use of influencers requires research and focus. A scattered, shotgun approach to marketing runs contrary to the use of influencers.
  • Be strategic in your selection of individuals. Each influencer has a specific audience that follows specific individuals. Each audience has its own habits and tastes. Select a palette of influencers to facilitate your goals.
  • Allow the influencer to use his or her own voice. Influencers have a following because of their brand; they speak with their own voice. This is why you hire them. Let them do their job.

Influencer marketing allows the company to step deeply into the consumer’s circle of trust. In the same way that we are more likely to listen to a good friend, consumers rely on social media to construct their reality. As marketers take hold of this opportunity, consumers become less hostile and more accepting of endorsement by influences.

If you want guidance selecting the elements of you next marketing campaign, contact Colure’s advisory team.

Digital proofing aids content development

Digital proofing aids content development

For both agencies and their clients, the proofing process can often be more strenuous than the actual creation of the content. In the digital realm, it has become much more simplified. Today many online tools exist that make for a faster exchange of information. Rather than having to shuffle through multiple emails, the project content exists in one space. A digital interface often allows the project to be more collaborative. Even if the two parties never meet in person, a quality product can still be crafted.

Another benefit of the move to online proofing is that it erases the hassle of scheduling conflicts. An agency can send content out to the client whenever it is finished, and they are able to review it at their leisure. They do not have to be confined to an appointment time. The possibility of 24/7 communication means that a client will have the opportunity to give as much feedback as they want.

If a client likes a Japanese agency’s work, it does not matter if that client is based, for example, in Texas. Efficiency and quality can take precedence over proximity.

The switch to online proofing also saves the client money, as it is less expensive to edit digital content than to produce an entirely new physical copy. In fact, it is estimated that online proofing is up to 97% cheaper and twice as fast as reviewing the work face-to-face.

The process eases the workload on both ends. Therefore, it is becoming more difficult to find an agency that does not do most of their work digitally. In addition, improving technology means that it does not have to be as impersonal a process. Digitizing one’s work also establishes interactive working relationships. In the future, it is more easily shareable for whatever purpose the client desires.