Facebook Battles Snapchat Over Future of the Camera – Mathew Ingram Apr 18, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg Delivers Keynote Address At Facebook F8 Conference

SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 18: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. The conference will explore Facebook’s new technology initiatives and products. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Snapchat’s name didn’t come up during Mark Zuckerberg’s address at Facebook’s annual developer conference on Tuesday, but the company’s presence was still felt regardless, since Facebook’s strategy consists largely of colonizing the ground already staked out by its smaller competitor.

This became immediately apparent even before the Facebook CEO started his keynote, when Snapchat’s parent, Snap Inc., announced that it had added 3D “lenses” or filters to its Snapchat app, which lets users add virtual elements like rainbows to real-world locations.

Just hours after that news broke, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was rolling out similar 3D add-ons that combine the real world and the virtual, including ways of adding animated effects to real objects. Plants can be given virtual flowers, 3D games can be played on real tabletops, and virtual notes can be left in real locations.

The key insight behind all of this, the Facebook CEO said, is that augmented reality’s near future is one in which smartphone cameras are the key interface, not the bulky headsets or eyeglasses used for full-scale virtual reality.

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Snapchat Releases First Hardware Product, Spectacles – By  Seth Stevenson Updated Sept. 24, 2016 9:56 a.m. ET

Evan Spiegel, CEO of renamed Snap Inc., calls the video-sharing sunglasses “a toy” but sees an upside to freeing his app from smartphone cameras

VISION PLAN | Spiegel, CEO of the newly christened Snap Inc., wearing Spectacles. “We’re going to take a slow approach to rolling them out,” he says of the device, which records up to 10 seconds of video at the tap of a button.ENLARGE

VISION PLAN | Spiegel, CEO of the newly christened Snap Inc., wearing Spectacles. “We’re going to take a slow approach to rolling them out,” he says of the device, which records up to 10 seconds of video at the tap of a button. Photo: Karl Lagerfeld for WSJ. Magazine

IN AN UNMARKED BUILDING on a quiet side street just off the beach in Venice, California, 26-year-old Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel stands in a small conference room. He’s draped a towel over a mysterious object sitting on a table. He is eager to the point of jitters.

“You wanna see it?” he asks, grinning widely. There’s drama in this reveal: I’m about to join an exceedingly small circle of people whom Spiegel has shown the object to. As he lifts the towel, he breaks into a delighted laugh. “Boom!”

What initially appears to be a normal pair of sunglasses turns out to be Spectacles, the first hardware product from Snap Inc., as the firm has been newly christened (Spiegel is refreshing the company name because its offerings now go beyond the Snapchat app). When you slip Spectacles on and tap a button near the hinge, it records up to 10 seconds of video from your first-person vantage. Each new tap records another clip.

Why use a pair of video sunglasses—available this fall, by the way, one-size-fits-all in black, teal or coral—instead of holding up your smartphone like everyone else? Because, Spiegel says, the images that result are fundamentally different. Spectacles’ camera uses a 115-degree-angle lens, wider than a typical smartphone’s and much closer to the eyes’ natural field of view. The video it records is circular, more like human vision. (Spiegel argues that rectangles are an unnecessary vestige of printing photos on sheets of paper.) As you record, your hands are free to pet dogs, hug babies or flail around at a concert. You can reach your arms out to people you’re filming, instead of holding your phone up, as Spiegel describes it, “like a wall in front of your face.”

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How Facebook won a bidding war with 2 other companies for a hot new app that could help it beat Snapchat – Jillian D’Onfro March 23 2016

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook/BI ScreenshotMark Zuckerberg trying out MSQRD

When the small team behind MSQRD, the face-swapping selfie app that Facebook bought earlier this month, saw that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had posted a video using its Iron Man mask on his timeline, it sparked a frenzy of joy.

“We didn’t know if there would be any public welcome or anything,” Nikolay Davidov, partner at Masquerade investor Gagarin Capital, tells Business Insider of the sale. “And then the way he did it was so cool. Everyone was so excited — like ‘freaking out’ excited.”

The team had two other concrete offers from “tier-one” companies — one abroad and one in the US — and interest and conversations with three or four other companies, says angel investor Yuri Gurski, but Facebook had been his target for the Belarus-based company from the beginning.

“It is the Russian dream,” he says, explaining that one of the top tech sites in the country actually used to be called “Zuckerberg calls,” alluding to the fact that a call from Zuck would be the epitome of startup success, before it changed its name. Besides being an investor, Gurski is currently the vice president of product of Russian company Mail.ru.

Although Gurski declined to add specifics, a person familiar with the situation tells Business Insider that Twitter was one of the interested parties.

Other than the initial freak-out at Zuck’s message, the team didn’t take time to celebrate. One of the stipulations of the acquisition was that the MSQRD app would live on in the app store as well as getting its tech integrated into Facebook products, meaning that all hands were on deck hustling away on its next update.

“I think that once the update is out, they’ll celebrate the deal with eight hours of sleep,” Davidov joked.

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Sorry Snapchat, But You’re Not Winning This Election – ISSIE LAPOWSKY. 08.20.15. 6:40 AM

Every election season has its shiny new toy, and this year, Snapchat is most definitely it. We’ve already seen Rand Paul  take a chainsaw to the tax code on Snapchat. Jeb Bush announced his campaign on the platform. And, most recently, Hillary Clinton cheekily gushed to Iowans about how much she loves Snapchat because “those messages disappear all by themselves.”

On the surface, having a presence on Snapchat makes these candidates appear forward-thinking and committed to connecting with millennials, Snapchat’s core demographic. And yet, even as candidates and their young teams play with the platform, behind the scenes, many of the digital teams on presidential campaigns say it’s far too early to dub 2016 the Snapchat election, as many in the media have already breathlessly claimed. Compared to other advertising platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and most importantly, TV, they say, the ephemeral messaging app has a long way to go toward proving its worth.

‘Advertisers are getting the individual level targeting on Facebook and Twitter, so how can Snapchat compete?’

The fact is, Snapchat’s entire business model is built around keeping user data private, a fact one Republican digital strategist called “antithetical to advertising.” That may explain why, as financial documents reportedly leaked to Gawker show, Snapchat is struggling to make money. But while sophisticated targeting capabilities are critical to any digital ad platform these days, they’re particularly important in political advertising, where campaigns must connect ads to voters—whose phone numbers they plan to call and on whose doors they plan to knock next election day.

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I’m Too Old for Snapchat, Which Is Exactly Why It Should Be Worth $19B BY MARCUS WOHLSEN 02.23.15 | 8:20 PM

As I get older, I’m starting to think the best way to predict a tech trend’s success is by how little I understand it. Right now, the app at the top of that list is Snapchat. I’ve tried to use its disappearing messages a few times, and I’ve watched a few “Snapchat Stories,” which—as best I can tell—are like Vines except they go away. And I honestly don’t get it.

snapchat-ads WIRED

But Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel isn’t losing sleep over my lack of comprehension. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Snapchat was seeking to raise as much as $500 million in a financing round that would value the company as high as $19 billion. The amount may seem vast to aging pundits like myself whose memory banks include dim recollections of the 1970s. But it’s exactly my fast-approaching irrelevance as a tech consumer that makes 11 figures a totally reasonable sum for a startup run by a 24-year-old that has only the dimmest plans for making money

Tech is about the future. And judging by the recent past, the future looks like Snapchat.

Before Snapchat’s valuation, $19 billion stood out in Silicon Valley lore as the price Facebook paid for messaging service WhatsApp. The figure was later revised upward to about $22 billion. Either total seems like a ridiculous amount for another company that hardly made any money. But a year later, the deal is starting to look like a steal.

At the time it was bought, WhatsApp reported 450 million users on the service. Just after New Year’s 2015, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum said his company now had 700 million monthly active users—an increase of nearly 56 percent. Sure, WhatsApp lost $138 million last year. But that’s less than a dollar spent for every user gained. In all, Facebook spent about $49 per user at the time it bought WhatsApp. At WhatsApp’s current user base, that cost goes down to less than $32 per user.

If Snapchat really does reach critical mass with teen users just coming into their own as digital consumers, the network effect could be explosive.

That price puts WhatsApp in the vicinity of two of the greatest bargains in recent tech history. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, or a little less than $29 per user. At the time, the photo-sharing app had about 35 million active users. It now has 300 million.

The other most relevant point of comparison is YouTube, which Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Shortly before the purchase, YouTube was reportedly seeing 19 million visitors to the site monthly, or nearly $87 per visitor. Today, YouTube reports more than 1 billion visitors, and estimates peg its ad revenue at $1 billion annually.

As a private company, Snapchat doesn’t reveal how many users it has. The Wall Street Journal puts the number at more than 100 million. That would peg the price of each user at the valuation Snapchat is currently seeking at $190, or a lot more than WhatsApp, Instagram, or YouTube. But Snapchat shares with all three a product that appeals to a global audience of millennials and teenagers and that works best on the mobile devices that audience prefers.

To be sure, Snapchat could hit a saturation point like Twitter and level off below the 300 million user mark. But Twitter is where oldsters such as myself like to play. If Snapchat really does reach critical mass with teen users just coming into their own as digital consumers, the network effect could be explosive.

Sure, me and my fellow fuddy-duddies might not be there. But to Snapchat and its investors, our attention doesn’t matter that much. They’re looking to the eyeballs of the future, a market that over the past decade has made billions look like a bargain.