This Week – 1/30/2026: More analysis and fallout from TikTok’s “Heater” scandal as short-form video eats the world, experts debate the future of AR and VR in the wake of Apple’s headset news and the Buzzfeed pivot to AI that has everyone talking Plus, the latest research on influencer marketing, the new Google anti-trust suit, Twitch’s 2023 plans, and much more!
Plus join me in Paris this Thursday February 2nd for a fun Inside the Creator Economy Meetup that I’m throwing with Hugo Amsellem. 18:30-20:00 – Address is 38 rue de Malte, Paris 11 – Code: 41963 / Ring at Intello / 5th floor. Can’t wait to see you all there!
It’s (practically) the beginning of February and here’s what you need to know.
- Apple sparks navel-gazing and optimism among Metaverse experts: As we talked about last week, Apple shelved its AR “glasses” indefinitely. But its VR headset (with some AR) seems on track to launch next month, and release in the fall. Apologists and realists are digesting and exploring what it all means. The always clear-headed Matthew Ball explores how AR and VR tech have a long way to go, compares it to game consoles and muses on what will come first – the chicken or the egg. Gordon Midwood has a more upbeat assessment, arguing that the Metaverse is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed and mostly in Roblox. I think the metaverse will be like mobile – we spent ten years wondering when “The Year of Mobile” was going to happen, and then woke up in 2020 to realize it already arrived. I’ll bet the same thing happens with the metaverse. See you in 2030!
- TikTok “Heating” is the Beginning of the End: We also talked in last week’s newsletter about the “Heating” button, which lets internal employees promote videos directly to your FYP feed. This circumvents TikTok’s USP, the awesome algorithm that just gets you. But it’s worse than I thought. Legendary blogger Cory Doctorow writes a scathing analysis of how big tech platforms die, tracing their history from serving users, to serving advertisers, to screwing over both. And now it’s TikTok’s turn. Forget Josh Hawley’s upcoming bill to ban Double-T in the US – corporate greed will do it instead.
- Short Form Video is Eating the World: It won’t replace longer form – no “new” media ever obviates the old – but the move to short form is inexorable. However, the road to redemption is bumpy at best. Axios calls it a “creativity crisis”, while Centennial Beauty openly decries the lack of influence among short-form creators. Valid points, but they miss the forest. Yes, short-form hinders parasocial relationship development. But for top-of-funnel and cheap “TikTok Made Me Buy It” products it’s already a winning. And with a Final Cut Pro equivalent in every phone today, a profusion of creativity is already blooming. But just like any other new media it requires “live with” expertise, not bolt-on adoption.
- Buzzfeed’s Perilous Pivot to GenAI: The much maligned media company says it’s embracing AI tools in a way that will “benefit both content creators and audiences”. Their beleaguered stock tripled. The Platformer’s Troy Young called it a sign of digital media’s “existential quagmire” as it embraces that which might kill it. It reminds me of when print magazines used to celebrate cutting the paper and moving to the web. Or pivoting to video. I hope it works, but I fear it’s just one step closer to death. Also is Buzzfeed now a Facebook MCN?
- Latest Influencers.Club research looks at top products sold by creators, along with ranking the creator-genres and platforms leading the way.
- This could be real trouble – The Platformer explains why the new Google anti-trust suit is serious.
- How YouTube plans on calculating Shorts revshare – TLDR, it’s complicated.
- TikTok releases its 2023 holiday calendar for marketers. Good stuff for creators to be aware of too.
- TikTok expands DM capabilities as it drifts towards the carcinization of the “everything app”.
- Policy or posturing? US Senator Josh Hawley to introduce bill to ban TikTok.
- Cory Doctrow’s must-read post on how TikTok (and other platforms) will die.
- Twitch lays out its product plans for 2023.
- Remember when we all thought “NIL” would upend college sports? It has, just not how we envisioned it. Check out this NIL earnings report for the surprising details.
- Wired writer Lauren Goode vows to spend a whole week searching only on TikTok. By day four she becomes “polysearcherous”.
- The “De-influencing” trend explained – I kinda like this one.
- Instagram continues to say it’s re-emphasizing photos. It’s a good thing.
- For kids that grew up on CrashCourse and SciShow, now Hank and John Green will edutain them with accredited college courses too!
- Rex Woodbury talks to a handful of GenZ, draws broad conclusions. Directional, not projectible.
- Canva presents 6 design trends for 2023, and its custom templates. “Pastel Maximalism” anyone?
- Want to grow on LinkedIn? Check out these cool posting tips.
- Congrats to Coyote Peterson and Jellysmack for hooking up!
- Hackers are targeting high-profile crypto/NFT execs – Kevin Rose was the latest to be hacked.
- Metaverse pioneer Cathy Hackl just started a great Whatsapp news feed about the metaverse. Worth following!
- The horrible really bad hangover in the art world as crypto implodes.
- Amazon reportedly leaning into gaming NFTs.
- Good recap from Passionfruit on the Logan Paul CryptoZoo NFT disaster.
- Comdex Is Back!
- New technology democratizes 3D scene creation by dynamically rendering from text input. Super cool.
- Methinks he doth protest too much – Meta AI boss derides ChatGPT as “not particularly innovative”.
- Related – Google has a lot of research underway in AI – and arguably developed the foundations of today’s breakthrough apps. But just saying you can do it reminds me of the playground braggart. Time to put up or shut up.
- A16z on where the value will accrue in GenAI – spoiler, it’s not the apps or models.
- Tech inspires wonder again! Why GenAI is so exciting (this is how I feel).
- Part II of Tanay Jaipuria’ State of GenAI explores speech, video and music – very useful, but he misses augmented video app AugXLabs, who just went into beta.
- ChatGPT pricing arrives and it’s expensive. Some are not happy.
Tip of the Week: I “borrowed” this from Tim Schmoyer and the awesome weekly Video Creators newsletter that Tim and VidIQ put out.
- Biggest Time Waster – The biggest thing creators can waste their time on in 2023 is metadata optimization. Focusing on keywords and tags does nothing for you. It’s amazing how we constantly still interact when people who haven’t learned this yet. You don’t need to fit in all the right keywords in your description. Optimize for PEOPLE not robots.
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