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Facebook Slingshot’s First Update Makes It Conversational With Reactions To Reactions


Facebook’s standalone photosharing app Slingshot is sidestepping its core “reply-to-unlock” mechanic by letting people send reactions to reactions that are instantly viewable, thanks to its first update for iOS and Android that just went out. This solves Slingshot’s biggest problem: the inability to carry on a normal conversation. Finding friends is easier now too thanks to an aggregated My People list, and it could get more viral thanks to the new option to send SMS invites to Facebook friends and your phone contacts.

As you can see in the example above, Joey slinged Drew a shot of a clothing store. To see it, Drew had to first sling a shot back to Joey. But then Drew could instantly react to Joey’s shopping pic with a question of “What shop is that?” Before, Joey wouldn’t have any way to directly respond. He’d have to react to one of Drew’s unrelated shots with a non-sequitur, or sling a new shot that Drew would have to unlock.

Now with the new reactions to reactions feature, Joey can immediately react to Drew’s question with text, photo or a video. In this case, he slung a photo of the store’s sign.

Reactions have easily been my favorite part of Slingshot, as I highlight in the hands-on video above. The ability to instantly send a laugh or terrified face back was what felt sorely lacking in Snapchat…that was until Snapchat made replies much easier. Last week it added the option to double tap someone who snapped you to immediately compose a reply that’s addressed to just them and skips the friend-selector screen.

But Slingshot’s split-screen reactions also permit fun experiences like face mashes, where you react to a selfie by replacing their chin with yours to make some silly/scary chimera. Users will surely come up with new tricks for reactions to reactions.

Still, the feature is a bit risky. Rather than sending a new shot to carry on a thread, which you might have sent to other friends as well, you might stick with one-to-one slinging. Fewer mass-slings means fewer people getting notifications that tempt them to re-engage with the app. Slingshot thrives when you get to unlock tons of photos and videos with a single one sent, and reactions to reactions could thin those stockpiles.

I’ve been surprised how sticky Slingshot is, but the question remains whether it can gain mainstream popularity. It’s steadily slipped on the charts since launch, though there’s been a little pickup in the last few days, according to App Annie.

Facebook quickly pushed the app internationally after the U.S. launch, but hasn’t been throwing much cross-promotion at it. That may be necessary sooner rather than later. Slingshot thrives on network effect, and feels hollow if only a few friends are using it. If Facebook can’t get new users hooked before early adopters churn out, Slingshot might fade from people’s memory, no matter how many shots they have waiting to be unlocked.

We’ll have more details on the update shortly.

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LinkedIn Beats The Street In Q2 On Sales Of $534M, EPS Of $0.51


With social networks Facebook and Twitter handily beating analyst estimates for Q2 earnings, LinkedIn today reported its Q2 results and showed that rising tides are lifting its boat, too. Revenue for the second quarter was $534 million and its EPS (non-GAAP diluted) was $0.51 as the company also raised its guidance for Q3 and the full year. The company’s stock is up by around 8% in after-hours trading to $195 a share.

Analysts expected LinkedIn to post earnings per share (EPS) of $0.39 (non-GAAP diluted) on revenues of $511 million. As a point of comparison, last quarter, LinkedIn beat analysts’ estimates on sales of $473 million and EPS of $0.38. Today’s revenue numbers are up 47% on a year ago, when LinkedIn posted revenue of $364 million in Q2 2013.

“LinkedIn delivered strong financial results in the second quarter while maintaining investment in our member and customer offerings,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, in a statement. “We made significant progress against several key strategic priorities including increasing the scale of job opportunities on LinkedIn; expanding our professional publishing platform; and continuing the strategic shift towards content marketing through Sponsored Updates.”

LinkedIn, however, also posted a GAAP net loss for the quarter of $1.0 million, versus net income of $3.7 million a year ago. Non-GAAP, the net income was $63 million, versus $44 million in Q2 2013.

On the back of its generally strong results, LinkedIn also raised its revenue guidance for the quarter ahead and the full year, above the estimates from analysts. It says it expects to Q3 revenues of $543-547 million, versus First Call and FactSet revenue estimates of $541m. For the full year, it bumped up numbers by $75 million to $2.140-2.150 billion; First Call and FactSet both estimate $2.12 billion.

LinkedIn, a social network built around people’s professional/working connections, passed the 300 million registered user mark in Q1. But while LinkedIn has evolved into the most ubiquitous of the “professional” social networking platforms in places like the U.S. and Europe, many have wondered how the company’s growth will fare in the future. (Indeed, LinkedIn’s stock has been punished in quarters past because of the slowing revenue growth, even when LinkedIn has actually beaten estimates. At market close today, it was at around $180 per share, down significantly from a 52-week high of nearly $258/share.)

LinkedIn’s growth question is focused on a few key areas: in terms of picking up new users beyond the white-collar workers who are its current bread and butter; moving into new geographies; and maximising revenues on users that the company already has.

In the last quarter, LinkedIn made some key moves to bolster the third of these areas, building revenue potential from its current user base. They included the acquisition of Bizo for $175 million. Bizo provides targeting and analytics for business — technology that LinkedIn intends to integrate with its current products to, in LinkedIn’s own words, breat a “more powerful tool for brands that want to build stronger relationships with professionals.”

In other words, this will help build out LinkedIn’s advertising and marketing business — one area that people will be scrutinizing when they compare LinkedIn with other publicly-listed social networks like Facebook and Twitter, who are pushing hard on their ad sales, specifically in the area of mobile.

Mobile, overall, is another area where LinkedIn has been working hard to build a bigger audience. It already has a large audience accessing the site from mobile devices — 45% of traffic from its 313 million users comes from mobile, Weiner noted today — so this is about trying to capitalize on that.

In addition to relaunching its main mobile app, it’s also been looking at ways of expanding its audience through different apps and services — for example through its Connected app, a relaunch of its Contacts app that hints at how the company wants to build leverage new technology and concepts like anticipatory computing and AI to make interacting and using LinkedIn less taxing and more seamless. (More use, after all, translates to more data and more revenue opportunities for social networks.)

This quarter, LinkedIn shifted around its accounting a bit and put its recruitment media products into talent solutions from their previous home of marketing solutions — which essentially makes sense since now it’s in the same category as LinkedIn’s other job-related businesses. Revenues for both of these categories, along with premium subscriptions, all rose by over 40% over last year, with talent solutions reaping the biggest growth (49%) and biggest sales of all at $322 million, keeping its position at an even 60% of revenues compared to last year.

Marketing solutions and premium subscriptions were roughly equal in their revenue contribution at $106 million and $105 million, respectively, both up 44% and each accounting for 20% of overall sales. We’ll listen in to the conference call in a bit to see whether LinkedIn or analysts have anything to say on this front. One thing I would point out is that although LinkedIn is trying to position itself as a community platform and a place to visit more than when you are looking for a job (or to hire someone), it seems like this remains at the heart of its business. (And to be clear it is not one that it is ignoring — witness the company’s acquisition of Bright to boost its job listings.)

In its non-recruitment business, another data point reported today: LinkedIn is now seeing 30,000 weekly long-form posts “after ramping posting capability to 15 million LinkedIn members,” the company writes. “Since launching in February, traffic to publisher and Influencer posts has risen more than 100%.”

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Tesla Beats In Q2 With Non-GAAP Revenue Of $858M On Delivery Of 7,579 Cars


Update: After initially picking up several percent, Tesla is now roughly flat in after-hours trading. 

Tesla just reported its second-quarter financial results, including non-GAAP revenue of $858 million, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.11. That non-GAAP revenue figure is up 55 percent from the year-ago period.

The company delivered 7,579 cars in the quarter, and built 8,763. Tesla indicated that it is “on track” to deliver more than 35,000 cars in the year, matching prior guidance.

Analysts had expected that the company would report non-GAAP revenue of $810.61 million, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.04.

Using normal accounting metrics, Tesla had revenue of $769 million in the period, and lost $0.50 per share. The company’s Model S leasing program makes determining its revenue less than simple. On a GAAP basis, Tesla lost $62 million in the quarter. Its non-GAAP net income totaled $16 million.

Tesla slipped nearly 2.5 percent in regular trading. The company is up more than 2 percent following its earnings beat.

Earlier today Tesla announced that it has partnered with Panasonic for its Gigafactory, an installation that will build large quantities batteries. The deal will see the two companies collaborate, with Panasonic bringing manufacturing assets and battery components. Investors shrugged at the news.

Following the company reporting its earnings, its shares initially, before recovering. I think that there is quite a bit of confusion regarding the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP figures.

Looking forward, Tesla intends to build 9,000 cars in the third quarter. The company stated in its letter to shareholders that a two-week planned cessation of production during the current quarter brought its potential production down from 11,000 units. The implication is that the company can ramp up delivery of its Model S sedans in the short-term.

Tesla expects to be “marginally” profitable using non-GAAP figures in the third quarter. If you had been hoping for traditional profit from the car company in the near-term, prepare for disappointment. But don’t worry too much. Tesla has around $2.6 billion in cash and equivalents, giving it more than ample runway to fund its own operations.

And now, for everyone’s favorite Tesla chart: The reconciliation of GAAP and non-GAAP financial performance:

Finally, Tesla expects its delivery rate to reach 100,000 per year on a run-rate basis by the end of the year. That would set the firm up for large revenue growth in 2015. It has to find buyers for all those cars, of course.

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LinkedIn Launches A Standalone Sales Navigator To Help Users With “Social Selling”


LinkedIn is fleshing out its tools for salesepople today with a new version of its Sales Navigator. The biggest difference — the Sales Navigator is now a standalone product rather than an additional set of features on the main LinkedIn site.

Vice President of Sales Solution Mike Derezin and Group Product Manager Sachin Rekhi walked me through the new product last week. The idea, basically, is to give you up-to-date information from LinkedIn about potential leads.

Rekhi argued that the Sales Navigator is part of “the transformation in how you buy and sell products,” particularly when it comes to business-to-business sales. The old system of cold calling is increasingly ineffective, he said: “Buyers are essentially saying, ‘I want you to find me if I’m the right person; I want you to be informed about me; I want you to go in through a warm introduction.’”

He added that social selling consists of four main steps — establishing a presence on social networks, finding the right people, engaging with those people, and building trust.

The Sales Navigator tries to cover all four points. It will recommend the sales leads you should be connecting with on the site, allow you to track updates and news related to important leads and companies (thanks to the recent acquisition of Newsle), and find mutual connections — including other people at your company — who can introduce you.

In the past, we’ve suggested that LinkedIn might become more competitive with Salesforce, but in this case, the familiar phrase about a product being complementary rather than competitive seems to be true. In fact, the Sales Navigator integrates with both Salesforce and (to a lesser extent) Microsoft Dynamics.

You may also have noticed that Rekhi’s outline of social selling doesn’t include actually making a sale. So how do you know if the Sales Navigator is worth the investment?

Well, Rekhi said that according to LinkedIn’s social selling index, salespeople who take this approach are 51 percent more likely to hit their quotas, compared to those who don’t. Plus, he suggested customers can always use their own products and systems to measure the return on investment.

The new Sales Navigator is currently available for desktop and mobile web, and the company has plans to launch mobile apps, as well. You can read more in this LinkedIn blog post.

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.@HiddenCash Revealed: Making Generosity Go Viral


Give away a dollar, and you’ll make someone’s day. Teach someone to give, and they’ll make a difference for a lifetime.The anonymous duo behind the @HiddenCash Twitter account didn’t quite realize that was the point when they started hiding envelopes of money and tweeting clues to their locations.

With over 700,000 Twitter followers, they’ve become de facto leaders of an accidental movement to remind people there’s some good in the world and inspire them to pay it forward. The previously unnamed half of @HiddenCash agreed to reveal his identity to me, along with the story of how it all started, on a cool night in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Behind The @

His name is Yan Budman, and he fittingly works a the Director of Marketing at Indiegogo, which lets people donate to creative projects. Budman’s eyes squinch up to make room for the giant smiles he’s prone to. It’s the contented grin of a thirty-something nice-guy who’s recently spent a lot of time watching people overwhelmed with glee thanks to his clandestine adventures. This Storify he made shows off a slew of HiddenCash missions and the people they touched.

@HiddenCash began after his longtime pal Jason Buzi (previously outed via voice recognition from a phone interview in May) came into a little money from a business deal. Buzi had always been generous, having donated to charities, done volunteer work, and organized The Great Waterballoon Toss in Dolores Park.

Driving through the Mission together around midnight, Buzi noticed a man who seemed down on his luck on the side of the road. He tried to hand some money to him, but scared him off. “There’s probably a better way to do this,” Budman said. “Like what? We’ll just hide money around?” Buzi replied.

It turned out to be that simple.

Buzi had never heard of Twitter but Budman had been onboard since 2008. He quickly snapped a photo of Buzi’s fist filled with money, and grabbed the handle @HiddenCash.

The duo hid the first few wads of dough near some of their favorite businesses like Yoga To The People and Sightglass Coffee, where they hoped people would donate to instructors or buy some strangers a cup of joe.

The positive feedback started rolling in immediately. Followers liked searching for the money, even if they didn’t find it. @HiddenCash started talking up the idea of people sharing the cash they found to make an impact on someone else. Several successful cash hunters pledged to pay it forward, with one planning to use the money they found to buy books for a community library. After few more “drops,” Budman tells me, “addiction set in.”

Suddenly, the whole thing took off. Within two weeks , the project had been featured on top news outlets like the BBC, and the Twitter account had boomed to a half million followers.

“People were just coming out and meeting each other and really connecting in a positive way. The majority of people weren’t even finding money. There were a lot of parents of kids who were like ‘I went to the beach and they didn’t find anything but they want to give their allowance to the homeless or someone on their way home’. It started creating this movement.”

Meet EVO, San Francisco’s Answer To The Ultimate Urban Utility Bike


Every couple of years, the Oregon Manifest launches a contest designed to surface new ideas in bike design from teams across the country. The project this year has tasked designers from five cities to build what they believe is the “ultimate urban utility bike.”

San Francisco’s entry into the contest is EVO, a collaboration between HUGE Design, 4130 Cycle Works, and PCH International’s Lime Lab. The team built a bike that took into account new 3D metal printing techniques, while also creating a flexible system for adding modular accessories.

The plug-and-play accessory system will enable cyclists to easily add and remove things like storage racks, baby carriers, or even surfboard attachments, depending on what they planned to do or where they wanted to go on any given day. With a quick-connect mounting system and a symmetrical frame design, EVO can be used for carrying different loads of cargo, more or less interchangeably on the front or rear of the bike.

Because the lugs are 3D-printed, EVO can be very quickly assembled by just welding together a few pieces of straight tubing onto them. That reduces a ton of the man hours associated with fitting various pieces of the frame together.

It’s worth noting that this is very much a concept design and the cost to build would probably be a little out of the price range for average consumers. However, if the EVO came to be, it wouldn’t be the first time a designer took an Oregon Manifest bike and built it for real.

A few years ago, a San Francisco-based team from IDEO built the first version of the Faraday Bike, which went on to a successful Kickstarter campaign and recently shipped its first production run of its urban utility e-bike.

Anyway, check out the video above for more info on EVO, and be sure to vote for your favorite design on the Oregon Manifest website. Voting ends August 3 at Noon PST.

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