Feb 21-2023: What Susan Wojcicki’s departure means for the creator economy, all about Instagram’s innovative new messaging feature that lets creators talk directly to their fans, how Roblox wants to turn everyone into a creator, the weird anthropomorphism roiling the chatbot wars, and TikTok’s efforts to keep creators and increase traffic. It’s the end of February 2023 and here’s you need to know.
YouTube CEO Wojcicki Steps Down: Lots of chatter about YouTube’s long-time CEO stepping back last week. Some of the best: OG Creator Economy exec Leslie Morgan decries the loss of women leadership in Silicon Valley and the more bro-ish content direction YouTube has seen recently. Longtime YouTube exec Priscilla Lau shares her experiences working with Wojcicki over the past 15 years and anticipates uncertainty to come. I took a look forward at YouTube under its new leader, former head of product Neal Mohan. I’m an optimist here, but I share Morgan’s concerns too – and hope Mohan is as creator-forward as Wojcicki was.
Instagram Messaging Arrives: Matt Navarra calls it “the best new feature in years”, as Instagram adds “Broadcast Channels” to the platform. Now creators can broadcast directly to followers with telegram-style messaging. Dylan Harari thinks this is a game-changer for creators who want to own their audience, because it works where that community already congregates. I agree, as it leans into the private communities that seem to be supplanting big unwieldy social platforms for GenZ and GenA. Alas it’s not broadly available yet – I tried to join Zuck’s “Meta Channel” but I’m still outside looking in. Related – Instagram and Facebook will start charging for verification. Uggh.
Everyone Will Be A Creator: That’s Roblox’s vision, as laid out by CTO Daniel Sturman. They plan on using generative AI to allow every user to create items, skins, clothing, and even full-on experiences on the platform. It’s not easy, given that items will need properties and characteristics that allow them to operate in a 3D world. I love the vision of pairing users with AI tools to turn everyone into a creator. Roblox is crushing it – their quarterly results were on fire with spending on Robux up significantly. And as we talked about last week, their daily usage among kids is almost 2x TikTok – and 17-24 year olds are using it more too.
Uncovering the Chatbots of Dawn: We need a word for AI anthropomorphism. Because that’s what this article is. And that’s what Ben Thompson, author of Stratechery, has spent countless hours falling victim to. From Bing to Sydney to Venom and Fury, Thompson has been uncovering NPCs inside of Microsoft’s chat engine. We definitely need the GenAI version of Asimov’s three laws of robotics. Because even anthropomorphism can get the vulnerable into trouble. Done right, though, these chatbots of dawn could be a tremendous force for good. How quickly the backlash has swelled.
TikTok Moves to Keep Creators, Boost Traffic: As the US rattles its sabers, TikTok doubles down on creators and hopes to forestall a traffic slump too. Kaya Yurieff posted a number of scoops last week, including how growth is slowing, the company is readying a new fund that promises higher payout and a new video paywall too. Creator Fund 2.0 will likely limit itself to mid-level and above creators and may add other requirements as well. And in a related development, TikTok is launching an HQ Trivia clone to help promote a new movie – and perhaps juice engagement too. My take? I’m not a fund fan and creator payout will likely disappoint. And probably won’t keep creators from defecting at scale. I’m also bearish on a $1 paywall, but perhaps longer videos will juice the ooze. I do like the trivia feature – one that Lionsgate probably paid a boatload for.
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- Last week I asked “why didn’t Elon just build a “heating” button“? Shortly afterwards Twitter did.
- Pinterest expands video length to 5 minutes.
- It’s about time – Discord FINALLY supports video streaming on its “stages”
- What’s old is new again. The “UGC Creator” movement is just one way to build a creator middle class. And now UTA’s subsidiary DBA has launched a UGC network too.
- Flawed #BookTok rant shows that some people just can’t put the internet down.
- TwitchCon is headed to Paris and Vegas! – fun fact, the Paris venue used to host Apple Expo Paris. I saw Steve Jobs present there once.
- TikTok is working on a “Refresh” button for your FYP page.
- Epic launches new portal for Fortnite game-play video, apparently built by the Houseparty team.
- New research from Tubular shows that only 7% of viewers – at most – comment on a video. Part of the company’s pitch to use its data for social listening.
- TikTok experimenting with in-feed shopping, while Instagram backs away.
- The argument for why creators are essential to your marketing mix (send this to your CMO or VC).
- A deepfake ad of Joe Rogan flooded TikTok exposing a DoubleT vulnerability that’s hopefully being fixed.
- Geekalert: The weird ten year evolution of Facebook’s IOS app
- Developers are now stuffing videos, images, burned apes and love letters onto the Bitcoin blockchain. Called “Ordinals”, it’s the next big thing. Or maybe not.
- Shopify adds new blockchain tools for digital collectibles, experiences, fandom and more.
- The next beauty influencers will be digital AI metaverse creations.
- Must read analysis from Troy Young on how chat will fundamentally disrupt media and the internet. TLDR, video wins because it “cannot be flattened into a semantic pancake by the AI… (and becomes) the last surface for a brand advertising message.
- GenAI Chat is like a bad JPEG – great analogy in this essay.
- Cory Doctorow on how ChatGPT exposes Google’s fundamental flaws.
- The positive side of GenAI from legendary VC Ashu Garg.
- New GenAI short-form video editing app that clips and captions. And Capsule raises nearly $5M for its enterprise AI video editor too. We’ve also got RunwayML doing interesting video transmogrification too. HT to Ben’s Bites.
Tip of the Week: If you care about the intersection of legal and creators, definitely subscribe to the “Creator Law” newsletter on LinkedIn. It’s always fascinating.
What I’m Watching:
- A bit narcissistic to say I’m watching myself, but ICYMI my latest “How to Moderate Like a Pro” focuses on organizing chairs on stage. Such a little thing – but it can make a big difference.
Thanks so much for reading and see you around the internet – and at Creator Square in Vegas in April! Send me a note with your feedback, or post in the comments. Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here!
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