Features

Splice News: Tencent eyes Snap, Shanghaiist closes, Googles teams up with Salesforce

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week

Platforms

Snap’s shares plunged after a horrendous quarterly earnings report. It continues to burn through cash and it took a $40 million writedown on its Spectacles, which are still sitting in warehouses. Growth in daily actives were a mere 3%, while ad rates fell. It’s a mess.

 Tencent took advantage of the steep drop in Snap’s shares to buy a 12% stake in the company. It bought non-voting shares and has little control over Snap’s decisions since it doesn’t have a seat on the board. Still, there’s speculation that Tencent may be looking to acquire the company down the line.

Facebook tried another test in the News Feed. This time, it promoted comments containing the word “fake” to the top. Facebook said it wanted to feature comments that “indicate disbelief.” Unfortunately that also means that all comments on legit posts from publishers like BBC, NYT and Guardian began with “fake.” FB said the test has ended. Consider disbelief indicated.

Twitter officially put 280 characters into the hands of users. More room for rants. More room to make your case. Not necessarily more room for user acquisition. When was the last time you came across someone who doesn’t use Twitter because it’s too limiting?

China’s news giant Toutiao reportedly tried to buy Reddit last year, according to The Information. Nothing came of it. Toutiao offered private company stock, which Reddit’s shareholders couldn’t confidently value. They said Toutiao’s revenue and audience numbers were also too hard to verify.

This is some scary shit. There’s a sinister effort by some people on YouTube to create videos that scare and traumatise kids on the platform. It’s an alarming but important reminder about the dark corners of the web.

Dear Pinterest, rumour has it that platforms like yours can get in real trouble if you spread bad information. There’s been a rash of bogus health and science news all over the popular pinning site, but the company seems to be shrugging it off.

Governments

It’s a well-known fact that you can’t get Facebook in China. But here’s the interesting thing — NYT reports that the Chinese government, through state media agencies, spends “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on Facebook ads. It appears China is pushing stories on the stability of the country in the midst of chaos in the rest of the world.

Trends

Vice says it will open its Asia Pacific HQ in Singapore in January. It’s mainly for sales, but it’ll also produce content. They will also open offices in Mumbai and Delhi.

Media start-ups

Singapore is a tough place for news startups. If the government’s growl isn’t enough to tame their coverage, the term “alternative media” keeps advertisers at a distance. “Very few people are willing to put funds into a such projects because they don’t want to appear as anti-establishment.”

Tools

Google Analytics and Salesforce say they will roll out integrations that will allow for a better idea of how the customer journeys from discovery to conversion and retention. Powerful tools for newsrooms.

We’re being fanboy-like about Jayesh Easwaramony of inMobiHe’s inspired us to kick off this inaugural section called Splicewatch, where we’ll feature people we think you should be stalking just because they’re so wicked smart. Hire them, follow them, do the LinkedIn dance with them, and ask them for jobs, because they are your boss anyway. (No, we’re not going to feature your CEO here, even if she pays us.) We chatted with Jayesh about ad fraud and accountability at Mumbrella360 a couple of days ago, and he deadpanned “GooFace auditing themselves is like you grading your own homework.”

Transformations

Singapore is extending the deadline for moving to digital broadcasts by one year to January 2019. One in four households in Singapore, especially low-income homes, still haven’t gone off analog TV.

Thai property developer Sansiri bought a 12.5% stake in Monocle for $6 million. Baffling move. Does anyone know the context to this?

CNN plans to launch digital news subscriptions next year with exclusive content into specific verticals like CNN Money and CNN Politics. The company wants to bring in $1 billion in digital revenue by 2022. “We have to find more subscription products. We have to experiment with e-commerce. And I think we have to find ways to monetize mobile traffic.”

The China news site Shanghaiist.com will shut shop. The popular service, which gave people an inside look into life in China, was part of the Gothamist network owned by billionaire Joe Ricketts. He decided to shut Gothamist out of spite when they decided to unionise. Parting tweet from Shanghaiist’s Managing Editor @MrKennethTan: “FML.”

Safety

India is one of the most dangerous places to report the news. Harassment, abuse and death: several journalists explain what it’s like to do your job in India.

Mocha Uson, the celeb blogger-turned-aide in the Philippine presidential communications team, has long had an axe to grind with Rappler. She’s now trying remove Rappler from the presidential press corp and reclassifying the media company as “social media” so it comes under her jurisdiction. The press corp has slammed the move as an attack on media freedom.

No more Rappler – Philippines spin doctor wants to ban site from press corps

Talent

Good advice here from NYT’s Tom Fuller for young journos: “It pays to let conversations wander. Sometimes the best and most valuable information will land in the final, meandering minutes of an interview.” We’ve been collecting advice from veterans. Find them here. Send us yours.

Kumail Nanjiani, the actor on the runaway hit tv show Silicon Valley, has a thread about the tech companies they visit while researching their roles. “Only ‘Can we do this?’ Never ‘should we do this’” Sobering stuff.

Snark of the Week

“You could tell it wasn’t a full-time Twitter employee because they actually made a product decision.” — The Information on the 11-minute deactivation of Trump’s account by a contractor on his or her last day. Meow.

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