A Week’s A Long Time #13


No Place Like Home

When Facebook launched Home, its super-app, many people (me included) suggested that thay had done so to get the benefit of having their own phone and operating system, but without the hassle or cost of building one. Based on the success to date of Home, it’s probably lucky that they didn’t.

According to reports, the app has only been downloaded 1 million times in the month or so since it launched, with many of those who have downloaded it unhappy. To put that in context, when Instagram launched its Android app, it added 1 million users in a day, and they didn’t have an existing user-base of over 1 billion. At the same time, the phone on which Facebook Home was initially installed, the HTC First, has seen its price slashed to $0.99 in order to clear stock.

This doesn’t mean the end of Facebook Home; when the social network launched its early advertising system Beacon it was widely panned,  and was eventually withdrawn after a costly law-suit. Fast forward 6 years and many of the elements of Beacon are now to be found in many of Facebook’s, and many other platforms’, products. It may well turn out that the same thing happens with Home.

Hire And Hire

At times over the last week the tech giants of Silicon Valley have resembled desperate bargain hunters, still throwing things into the shopping trolley as their other half drags them towards the check-out. Yahoo alone has bought or aquihired 4 start-ups, primarily in the mobile space, Twitter bought an analytics  company as well as a big data start-up, and enterprise outfits Salesforce and Box also got in on the act. Many of these deals were around mobile, as are a couple that haven’t come off yet.

Apparently Facebook is planning to doubledown on the $1 billion it (sort of) spent on Instagram and offer a similar amount for Waze, a company that crowd-sources the data to power sat-navs. In the words of Waze founder Noam Bardin:

What search is for the Web, maps are for mobile

Although a rather trite statement, it’s also kind of true. Ironically, the deal is supposedly stalled over an argument about location.

At the same time there were rumours that Microsoft was considering whether to buy Nook, the e-book business launched by Barnes & Noble. Whilst there have since been counter rumours saying that no deal is imminent, it was an interesting suggestion and one that got investors excited.

Maybe they could have done the deal with Bitcoin, the virtual ‘currency’, which received a shot of respectability when UVC, one of the first investors in Twitter, pumped $5 million into a Bitcoin related start-up. Whilst Fred Wilson, the man behind the investment has had an incredible run of investments, it’s hard not to think that he’s backed the wrong horse here.

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