Apple Answers a Wake-Up Call From Taylor Swift

Originally posted on 24/7 Wall St.:

apple-logoThere are a lot of interesting issues surrounding the kerfuffle between pop music star Taylor Swift and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), not the least of which is how quickly the most valuable company on earth can change its tune when confronted by an individual with real star power. As she did when she withheld her latest album, “1989,” from music streaming service Spotify because the company offers a free stream, Swift withheld the album from Apple because it is offering a free, three-month trial of its new Apple Music service.

Swift’s argument is simple: if Apple or anyone else wants to stream my music, they have to pay me for the privilege. Apple did not plan to pay artist royalties for any tune streamed during the three-month trial period.

Calling Apple’s plan “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company,” Swift got the answer she wanted. Late…

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What Twitter Can Be.

Originally posted on LOWERCASE capital:

Disclaimers: 1) This is a very long read. Thinking about a company and using its product obsessively for nine years straight will do that to you. 2) My funds and I own a lot of Twitter stock. 3) I do not speak for Twitter. 4) I have no inside information about Twitter. The company could already be building all the stuff below. I sincerely hope they are.

Summary For Executives And Non-Executives Alike:

I believe in Twitter. The company itself is improving, not worsening. The stock market doesn’t get that because Twitter has failed to tell its own story to investors and users. Here is how I think that story could unfold:

Hundreds of millions of new users will join and stay active on Twitter, hundreds of millions of inactive users will return to Twitter, and hundreds of millions more will use Twitter from the outside if Twitter can:

  1. Make Tweets…

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It turns out Congrats Twitter is actually the most heartwarming form of social media

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Originally posted on Quartz:

In tech and media circles, where not even a ray of sunshine is exempt from cynicism, “CongratsTwitter” is the accepted name for the mass wishing of congratulations often occasioned by a peer’s new job or promotion. The term is a commentary, perhaps mixed with a tinge of jealousy, on the mindless back-slapping that pervades those industries.

Isaac Hepworth, an engineer who recently left his leadership job at Twitter after five years at the company (congrats!), had this much-maligned ritual in mind when he created @congratsbot. It’s an automated Twitter account that notices when someone is receiving lots of congratulations from people and chimes in with its own. 

Har har.

But the joke, it turns out, was on the bot.

Rather than skewer the mutual appreciation society, @congratsbot has mostly turned up genuinely touching moments of joy in the lives of people far afield from tech or media or, really, industry of any…

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The man behind Ikea’s world-dominating products has never been to design school

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Originally posted on Quartz:

Marcus Engman has been the chief designer at Ikea since 2012. But although he runs design at the Swedish furniture giant—which opens stores with as much floorspace as the Louvre, and is so widespread that it is said that one in 10 Europeans is conceived on a Ikea bed—Engman has no formal design education.

The man whose design sensibility rivals Apple design honcho Jonathan Ive for ubiquity in our lives is a product of Ikea itself. His father was also a designer for Ikea. “This is my speciality, I’ve learnt on the job,” the 47-year-old says in a profile by Le Monde’s magazine (link in French).

Everything in one place. Everything in one place.

Engman moved to Ikea’s hometown of Älmhult (pop: 5,000) after his father was hired by the company. “I started a job during the weekends” at 16 years old, he said. “I pushed carts all day.”

At 18, he became the personal assistant to two of…

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I Bleed Aqua.

Originally posted on LOWERCASE capital:

Disclaimers: 1) I own a lot of Twitter stock personally and in my funds. 2) I definitely do not speak on behalf of Twitter. 3) I do not have any inside information about Twitter. 4) I can’t think of a fourth thing to disclaim, but putting this here just in case.

Twitter has held a close place in my heart since Ev signed me up in 2006. It made me feel closer to people who I wasn’t actually near. It brought me more diverse perspectives than any blog reader ever could. I found myself in the center of events, sharing experiences, posing questions, passing along lessons learned, and making unexpected friends.

My initial investment in Twitter was relatively small, but as I grew increasingly confident the company would change the world, I bought more and more stock. At one point I had even exhausted all of my savings purchasing Twitter…

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How easy is it to cancel Netflix, HBO Now, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu?

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Originally posted on Quartz:

Canceling your cable TV subscription is a notoriously laborious process. You normally have to contact a customer service representative over the phone or via live chat, and they’ll do whatever they can to keep you as a customer.

In a high-profile incident last year, tech journalist Ryan Block tried canceling his Comcast subscription, but was met by a jittery customer service representative who really wanted to know why he was trying to terminate his service. (Comcast later apologized for its treatment of Block and says it’s working on improvements to customer service.)

For online video subscription services like Netflix and HBO Now, the painful process of canceling cable is an opportunity to distinguish themselves as friendlier services. Some even make a point of how easy they are to cancel. So Quartz took a look at four of the leading streaming services in the US to see what it takes to cut…

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Meerkat Launches Developer Platform To Differentiate From Periscope

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

How did it feel getting cut off by Twitter with just 2 hours notice? “It sucked” says Meerkat founder Ben Rubin. That’s why it’s determined to treat developers with more respect. In the nine weeks since Meerkat launched, 37 developers have built companion experiences to the livestreaming apps on its unofficial, private API, including stream discovery, automatic uploads of streams to YouTube, and audience analytics tools.

Today, Meerkat is legitimizing those developers by launching an official developer platform and APIs that it promises to never take away. By becoming a platform, Meerkat could allow outside developers to build tools for a much wider variety of use cases than its small, independent team build spawn itself. That might help it differentiate itself from fellow livestreaming app Periscope, which benefits from the massive team and deep pockets of its acquirer Twitter.

You can watch my TechCrunch Disrupt NY fireside…

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