Alphabet is thinking of selling its Skybox satellite business
Instagram hits the 700-million member mark, is growing faster than ever
Instagram has announced that it now has 700 million unique monthly users. The fact that it's gotten there is not exactly a shocker, but what's noteworthy is that it's celebrating this milestone so soon after revealing last December that it had 600 million monthly members. The six-and-a-half-year-old service isn't just continuing to attract new recruits but is accelerating its pace.
Some of that growth can be attributed to new features such as the wildly popular, Snapchat-esque Instagram Stories, which I covered in a story in our April issue. Instagram says that it's also improved its sign-up process and made it easier to find friends, so newbies can get up, running, and enjoying the experience with a minimum of friction. HM
Twitter scored 9 million new users during Q1 2017
We haven't seen this kind of user growth in two years, when Twitter added 14 million new users in Q1 2015. That's not the only area where the beleaguered company exceeded expectations: Twitter earned $548 million in revenue, an 8% decline year-over-year and the first revenue drop since its IPO—but higher than the $512 million analysts had predicted.
As Twitter has struggled to add new users, it has focused more on the daily user metric, which also increased by 14% year-over-year. In other words, people are checking Twitter more often—likely due to a combination of its emphasis on combatting abuse, the live video push, and the tweaks made to the timeline.
All this means Twitter's stock is up. When's the last time that happened after its earnings call?
Twitter wants to broadcast video 24/7
The social media network apparently liked the little taste it got from broadcasting NFL games last year, so now it plans to embrace the medium all day, every day, reports BuzzFeed News. Twitter is now planning to broadcast live sports, news, and entertainment videos 24/7 in the future. That's in both its app and desktop versions. Twitter COO and CFO Anthony Noto told BuzzFeed News: "We will definitely have 24/7 content on Twitter. Our goal is to be a dependable place so that when you want to see what's happening, you think of going to Twitter." MG
Google cofounder Sergey Brin has secretly been building a massive airship
The zeppelin-like airship is reportedly being built inside Hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center, reports Bloomberg. There's no word on whether Brin feels like the future is in airships, or if he just wants to have one of his own to fly around. When contacted by Bloomberg, Brin said: "Sorry, I don't have anything to say about this topic right now." MG
Uber violated transport laws, says South Korean court
The company was found guilty of using private vehicles for commercial transportation by a South Korean court, report Reuters. However, Uber won't suffer major consequences. Uber suspended its UberX service in the country back in 2014 after prosecutors brought their case forward. As a result, the South Korean judge said Uber "admitted and repented" its illegal act and only fined the company 10 million won, or about $8,863. MG
The latest bad news for Chipotle doesn’t involve food
Chipotle beat earnings expectations today, with same-store sales growing 17.8% and revenue rising to $1.07 billion over the last quarter. But there was an asterisk pinned on that good news: The company is investigating "unauthorized activity" on a "network that supports payment processing" at Chipotle restaurants.
The investigation centers around in-store transactions that took place between March 24 and April 18. Since then, a spokesman said, the company has "implemented additional security enhancements."
Chipotle plans to alert affected customers "as we get further clarity about the specific timeframes and restaurant locations," he added.
Shares climbed nearly 7% after Chipotle first published its earnings report, but dropped back to around $471 after the company disclosed the investigation.
Here are the painful steps J.Crew is taking to get back in the black
The J.Crew Group has seen declining sales for several years now. It is currently going through drastic cost-cutting measures in an effort to reverse the trend. In several cases, the J.Crew brand is poaching talent from Madewell, its younger, more successful sister brand. Here are some of the changes on the horizon, as reported by Bloomberg:
• The company will cut 150 full-time positions and 100 open slots, a move expected to save $30 million a year. (Although it will generate a one-time cost of $10 million for termination fees in the first quarter.)
• COO Michael Nicholson, who joined J.Crew last year from Ann Inc., will start managing the marketing and design decisions at the J.Crew brand.
• Lisa Greenwald will become chief merchandizing officer for the J.Crew brand; she previously oversaw merchandising at Madewell.
• CEO Mickey Drexler is discussing ways to restructure the company's debt.
• Three weeks ago, the company announced that J.Crew's longtime creative director Jenna Lyons would be leaving the company at the end of 2017. Somsack Sikhounmuong, who previously served as Madewell's chief creative officer, will take on Lyons's role.
That giant DJI drone overhead is shooting 100-megapixel imagery with a Hasselblad camera
Drone photography just got real. Like 100-megapixel, super-stabilized real. All thanks to Chinese drone giant DJI and its partnership with the camera superstars at Hasselblad.
Today, DJI announced what it said is the world's first 100-megapixel integrated drone-imaging platform. Featuring the company's six-rotor M600 Pro drone, a Ronin-MX gimbal, and Hasselblad's H6D-100c camera, the aerial photography powerhouse is meant to appeal to filmmakers, as well as landscape and fine art photographers, surveyors, mapmakers, and others with industrial or scientific needs. In 2015 DJI acquired a minority stake in Hasselblad and this is the second collaboration between the two companies. DT
Netflix is finally going to China
After years of trying to enter the massive market—and basically giving up on the idea—the streaming powerhouse has finally inked its first deal to bring its content to China. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has secured a licensing agreement with iQiyi, the streaming platform controlled by Baidu. This is a pretty big deal given that China's box office is expected to become the world's largest very soon, and Hollywood studios are increasingly trying to create content that appeals to both markets (though not always successfully). Here's more context from THR and TechCrunch. CZ
Breitbart has been denied permanent government press credentials
Breitbart has a clear ideological bent, but a committee that hands out congressional press credentials fears it may lean even further—to outside organizations that jeopardize its editorial independence. The US Senate Daily Press Gallery has concluded that it couldn't be certain of Breitbart's independence, due to outside ties of former staffers like managing editor Wynton Hall and Breitbart chief Steve Bannon. BuzzFeed News reports that three Breitbart journalists with temporary press passes will have to give them up at the end of May. Without passes, a news outlet doesn't have unfettered access to Congress and misses out on invitations to some government events. It's also unlikely to have a shot at joining the White House Correspondents' Association, which travels with the president.
The committee of five journalists hasn't outright rejected Breitbart's application, but it has tabled further action indefinitely. Members are concerned about several ties to outside groups, such as between Hall and the Government Accountability Institute. GAI itself is tied to the Mercer family that bankrolled the Ted Cruz and Donald Trump campaigns. Breitbart claims that Hall stepped down in February, but the Daily Press Gallery is skeptical that ties have been cut. It also raised the issue of Bannon, whose White House financial disclosure listed a different date of separation from Breitbart than the company had originally reported.
Visual effects powerhouse Digital Domain’s new app aggregates VR content–no matter who made it
There's no end to the number of companies that want to be seen as leaders in the still-sort-of-nascent consumer virtual reality industry. From Hollywood studios like 20th Century Fox to well-financed startups like Jaunt to Samsung, Facebook, and Google, there's a thirst to be a go-to place for VR content.
Today, Digital Domain, a leading visual effects house, jumped on the bandwagon, announcing an app that aggregates VR content that it's created itself, as well as created by others. Available for Samsung's Gear VR, Google's Daydream, and for Android and iOS devices, the app features projects from Digital Domain's Teleport series, which showcases culture and landscapes of places like Hong Kong, Istanbul, and New Zealand, as well as trailers for the company's own VR content, and projects from the VFX studio's partners. It'll also feature live-streamed 360-degree events. DT
Beyoncé is starting a scholarship fund to send women to college and then run the world
Okay, ladies, let's get in formation and start filling out scholarship applications. Beyoncé announced a new scholarship fund this morning on her website, writing that the scholarships are meant "to encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident." In short, she wants to make sure girls continue to run the world.
The new "Formation Scholars" grants are specifically aimed at students pursuing "creative arts," music, literature, or African-American studies. (Note: If you write your thesis on Beyoncé it just might check all of those boxes.) Incoming or current undergraduate or graduate students at Boston's Berklee College of Music, Howard University in Washington, D.C., Parsons School of Design in New York City, and Atlanta's Spelman College are eligible to apply. It's unclear if the scholarship is a full ride or just a partial grant. But then the ability to tell everyone that Beyoncé is putting you through school is priceless.
[Photo: Brooks Kraft/ Getty Images] ML