Twitter dips its toes in the pay-to-play waters
Hello, and welcome to this week's edition of the Insider Tech
- Twitter wants your money;
- Oracle's feared cloud boss;
- What it's really like working with angel investor Jason Calacanis.
Soundtrack: This week's newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to The Toasters' "Weekend in LA"
Perhaps you've noticed the expanding number of charges for video streaming subscriptions on your credit card statement. What started with a Netflix subscription has become monthly payments for a half dozen or more video services, from Apple+ and Disney+ to HBOMax and Peacock Premium.
Could the same pay-to-play fate await our social
- This week,
- Twitter Blue, which is currently available only in Australia and Canada, lets users "unsend" (but not edit!) tweets, get faster customer response for problems, and ... change the colors of the app.
- Twitter seems serious about figuring out how to get its users to pay; it also has efforts to let influencers sell tickets to audio chats (with Twitter taking a 20% cut) and it introduced a "Super Follow" feature that lets Twitters users charge their followers $4.99 a month or more for access to content.
Twitter will never get rid of the free version of its product - but there's precedent for a premium Twitter. Back in 2010 there was a thriving market of third-party Twitter "client" apps that connected to Twitter's API and offered power users extra options. Many of these client apps cost a few bucks to download, and charged additional a la carte fees for extra features.
But: Twitter kneecapped the third-party clients market starting in 2011 by restricting access ot its API - a controversial move that was necessary for Twitter to keep people on its own site so it could build an ad business. Now, ten years later, ads aren't enough, and Twitter is turning to a business model it once squashed.
In other social media news:
Trump is banned from Twitter forever. But he could be back on Facebook in less than two years, if he behaves and "conditions permit."
Profile: Angel investor Jason Calacanis
He's loud, brash, confident, and has a string of prescient startup investments under his belt, including early bets on Uber, Robinhood and Calm.
For many, Calacanis is someone who "cuts through the bulls---" and is shaking up Silicon Valley's stuffy venture-capital scene. But others said the swagger can quickly turn hostile, with some founders describing experiences with Calacanis that left them questioning whether he was more committed to their success or to his own image.
Read the full story here:
Jason Calacanis went from dotcom roadkill to early investor in Uber, Calm and Robinhood. Here's how he's reshaping venture capital with bluster, ego, and media-savvy.
"Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate."
- Apple CEO
Snapshot: Behold the clouds of Mars
Even Mars has cloudy days. And thanks to NASA's Curiosity rover, we can now see what it's like to gaze up at a Martian cloud.
The photo above, captured at sunset on the red planet on March 19, is one of several rare photos of Martian clouds recently released by the space agency. Mars doesn't get too many clouds because of its dry atmosphere and super thin air. But clouds do form around the Martian equator at a certain time of year, and Curiosity had its cameras ready for otherworldly weather this season.
Many of the clouds caught on camera by Curiosity had an iridescent, pearl-like color. That's because clouds on mars are made of frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, rather than water ice. Let's hope it doesn't rain.
Not necessarily in tech:
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