What’s next? The top media executives on the job market

Keep an eye out for the next moves by these entrepreneurs and executives. A number of the biggest names in media left their jobs over the last year (or announced they will be leaving soon), including a handful of now-billionaires who have resources, ambition, and time on their hands to explore something new.

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Most notably, there are Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch (with rumored plans to launch a VC firm), Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, VICE founder/CEO Shane Smith (who transitioned to a Chairman role), Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe, and Oath’s CEO Tim Armstrong.

There’s also a long list of other names you may not recognize but should keep on your radar in the months ahead as they found new startups or take key leadership roles at top media/tech companies.

Today, Snap’s VP of Content Nick Bell announced he will be leaving the company by the end of the year. He oversaw all media partnerships and content operations for the Snapchat Discover section over the last 5 years. The 34-year old sold his first company, Teenfront.com, at age 16 and started multiple ventures afterward until joining global media conglomerate News Corp (where he became SVP of Digital Product). As a serial entrepreneur and one of the most sought-after experts in digital video, expect Bell’s next move to be noteworthy.

Here are 12 other leaders at the intersection of media and technology who are currently available (publicly, at least) and plotting their next endeavor:

Joanna Coles, Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Joanna Coles, former Chief Content Officer at Hearst
Joanna Coles, who oversaw all editorial operations for the 300-title global publishing group Hearst since September 2016, announced with a fun video on August 6 that she would be stepping down. The former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire (as they shifted into a digital-first era) said she would announce her next adventure sometime this fall after taking a break. Coles has been a board member of Snap since 2015 and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Rich Battista, former CEO of Time Inc
Time Inc’s CEO left the helm of the publishing group upon its $2.8 billion acquisition by Meredith Corp in the spring. Battista held a range of major publishing, TV, and digital media roles before then, from leading Fox’s cable networks to running Mandalay Sports Media to turning around Gemstar-TV Guide and selling it for $2.3 billion. At various points in his career Battista has been a big company executive, an investor, and an entrepreneur.

Joel Stillerman, former Chief Content Officer at Hulu
Stillerman was one of several executives who departed Hulu in May in a leadership reshuffle by the company’s new CEO. Stillerman was previously President of Original Programming and Development for AMC and SundanceTV. At a time when nearly every major TV company is vying to compete with Netflix through another streaming video platform (on their own or in partnership with others), there’s a lot of expertise to be had from the executive to oversaw all content for Netflix’s top competitor.

George Strompolos, Founder and former CEO of Fullscreen
After AT&T acquired The Chernin Group’s remaining stake in Otter Media (Fullscreen’s parent company) in September, Fullscreen’s George Strompolos stepped down as CEO of the multi-channel network he founded in 2011. According to his LinkedIn profile, LA-based Strompolos in advising and investing in startups for the time being.

Erik Huggers, former CEO of VEVO
Huggers stepped down from VEVO in April after 3 years. He was previously an SVP at Verizon and President of Intel Media (which Verizon acquired). As a supervisory board member of Germany’s largest broadcasting group, ProSiebenSat.1, Huggers has also recently joined the board of ProSiebenSat.1’s streaming TV service 7TV, which is a joint venture with Discovery Inc.

Photo courtesy of Sophie Watts.

Sophie Watts, former President of STX Entertainment
Sophie Watts joined investor Robert Simonds in 2011 to develop a new film/TV studio with backing from TPG Growth. According to the WSJ, STX Entertainment has been planning a $500 million IPO in Hong Kong. As president, she primarily oversaw unscripted TV, digital, and VR operations. She left in January to explore new opportunities. Watts—who started her career in London producing videos for Beyoncé, Elton John, Madonna, Mariah Carey, and others—was named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40 in 2016 and is still just 32.

Jonathan Carson, former President of Mic
Carson founded 3 startups (music social network Outer Sound, interactive media consultancy Intercities, and social media intelligence company BuzzMetrics) before becoming the “CEO of Digital” at Nielsen and then the Chief Revenue Officer at VEVO. In July, he stepped down from VC-backed news startup Mic after one year as President. Expect his next move to be within the same realm of video, social, mobile, and data that he’s worked in thus far.

Colin Carrier, former Chief Strategy Officer at Twitch
Carrier joined Twitch in 2013, leaving the Eversport Media startup he co-founded to become General Manager of Justin.TV which operated independently from the rest of Twitch. He transitioned to become Twitch’s Chief Strategy Officer in 2014 upon Amazon’s $1 billion acquisition of the live-streaming platform. While CSO, he oversaw the acquisition of CurseMedia and ClipMine and developed a personal angel investment portfolio of over 30 startups (including Cruise, which GM acquired for over $1B). He departed Twitch over the summer.

Troy Carter speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Troy Carter, former Global Head of Creator Services at Spotify
A career talent manager in the music industry who worked with artists like Lady Gaga, John Legend, and Meghan Trainor, Carter joined Spotify in June 2016 as the face of the streaming service within the music industry. Having stepped down in September, he is among several top executives who have left Spotify in 2018 before and after it listed on the NYSE. Carter—who also built an angel investing portfolio of over 40 startups—hasn’t announced his next endeavor but appears to still be making investments through the VC fund he co-founded, Cross Culture Ventures.

Stefan Blom, former Chief Content Officer of Spotify
Blom left Spotify early this year just before the music streaming service went public with a $29 billion market cap. He had been Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Content Officer over the prior 4 years, working in part on Spotify’s early steps into original video (which it retreated from). Before Spotify, he was CEO of the Nordic division at EMI (a notable record label group).

Matthew Ball, former Head of Strategy at Amazon Studios
Ball joined Amazon Studios as Head of Strategy in 2016 after working within The Chernin Group as Director of Strategy & Business Development for Otter Media (which is now fully owned by AT&T). Since leaving Amazon earlier this year, he has continued to publish widely-read blog posts about the future of media for MediaREDEF—which he has been doing since 2014—and, according to his Twitter bio, is currently “tinkering away on a small idea that could be more”.

Matt Pincus, Founder and former CEO of SONGS Music Publishing
Last December, Pincus sold his innovative music publishing firm SONGS Music Publishing, which had become the largest independent publishing of contemporary music in the US, to Kobalt for a rumored $150 million. He departed in March and has since become a Special Advisor to Snap Inc and taken an Entrepreneur-in-Residence title at leading digital media merchant bank LionTree.

Who are other top executives at the intersection of media + tech who are launching new companies or available to fill open CEO roles? Let me know on Twitter at @epeckham.

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Facebook Portal needs more. At least it just added YouTube

To offset the creepiness of having Facebook’s camera and microphone in your house, its new Portal video chat gadget needs best-in-class software.  Its hardware is remarkably well done, plus Messenger and the photo frame feature work great. But its third-party app platform was pretty skimpy when the device launched this week.

Facebook is increasingly relying on its smart display competitors to boost Portal’s capabilities. It already comes with Amazon Alexa inside. And now, Google’s YouTube is part of the Portal app platform. “Yes, YouTube.com is available through an optional install in the ‘Portal Apps’ catalog” a Facebook spokesperson tells me. You can open it with a “Hey Portal” command, but there currently seems to be no way to queue up specific videos or control playback via voice.

The addition gives Portal much greater flexibility when it comes to video. Previously it could only play videos from Facebook Watch, Food Network, or Newsy. It also brings the device to closer parity with Google’s Home Hub screen, the Google Assistant-powered smart displays from JBL and Lenovo, and the Amazon Echo Show 2 which Google blocked from using YouTube before Amazon added a web browser to the device to reopen YouTube access.

Read our comparison of the top smart display gadgets

YouTube makes the most of the $349 Portal+’s 15.6-inch 1080p screen, the biggest and sharpest of the smart display crop. Whether for watching shows or recipe videos while making dinner, instructional clips while putting together furniture, or Baby Shark to keep the kids busy, Portal becomes a lot more useful with YouTube.

But we’re still waiting for the most exciting thing Facebook has planned for Portal: Google Assistant. A month ago Facebook’s VP of Portal Rafa Camargo told me We definitely have been talking to Google as well. We view the future of these home devices . . . as where you will have multiple assistants and you will use them for whatever they do best . . . We’d like to expand and integrate with them.” Now a Facebook spokesperson tells me that they “Don’t have an update on Google Assistant today but we’re working on adding new experiences to Portal.”

The potential to put both Google and Amazon’s voice assistants on one device could make Portal’s software stronger than either competitor’s devices. Many critics have asked if Facebook was naive or calloused to launch Portal in the wak of privacy issues like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its recent data breach. But as I found when testing the Portal with my 72-year-old mother, not everyone is concerned with Facebook’s privacy problems and instead see Portal as a way for the social network to truly bring them closer to their loved ones. With Amazon and Google racing to win the smart display market, Facebook may see it worth the tech insider backlash to have a shot at mainstream success before its boxed out.

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Disney to invest in more original content for Hulu, expand service internationally

In addition to plans to launch its own Netflix rival, Disney+, next year, the company says it also plans to increase investment in its other streaming service, Hulu. Thanks its buyout of 21st Century Fox, Disney now own 60 percent of the TV streaming service, which it gives it “considerable say” in how Hulu is run, noted Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger on this week’s earnings call with investors. He said the plan now is to invest in more original content for Hulu and expand the service internationally.

Disney would also be open to acquiring more of a stake in Hulu, the CEO later said.

Disney sees the value in both Hulu’s IP and talent, particularly on the television and movies side, Iger told investors. And it plans to use the television production capabilities of the now combined company to “fuel Hulu with a lot more original programming,” he added. This, Disney believes, will help make Hulu more competitive in the marketplace.

“Given the success of Hulu so far in terms of subscriber growth and the relative brand strength and other things too like demographics, we think there’s an opportunity to increase investment in Hulu notably on the programming side,” Iger said.

Currently, Hulu has had only a handful of breakout original hits – most notably, the timely dystopian spectacle that was  “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But its originals output has paled in comparison with Netflix, which projected it would spend $8 billion on content this year, with plans to increase that in 2019. Hulu has spent considerably less – around $2.5 billion, per analyst estimates.

With Fox, however, Disney gains access to the Fox studio and FX, and more, which will help it fuel Hulu with more original content. Iger declined to say if that content would be exclusive to Hulu in the future, but did confirm the studios are part of Disney’s plans for Hulu.

Iger also spoke of other changes ahead for Hulu, including possible adjustments to Hulu’s pricing, and its plan to bring Hulu to more international markets.

“After the deal closes and after we have the 60 percent ownership, we’ll meet with the Hulu management team and the board, and discuss what the opportunities are in terms of both global growth and investing more in content. But that’s something that we have to do after the deal closes,” Iger added.

The acquisition is expected to close in 2019.

In a follow-up interview with CNBC, Iger also said that Disney would be interested in acquiring more shares of Hulu, if the opportunity arose.

“It is premature really except to say that if Comcast is interested in divesting, or if Time Warner or AT&T Time Warner is interested in divesting, we certainly would be interested in buying their stake. But with 60%, which is what we will own, we’ll have enough control to manage Hulu in a way that is consistent with – the strategy of the company is deploying,” he said.

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David Attenborough to voice Netflix’s nature conservation series, Our Planet

Netflix has persuaded everyone’s favorite naturalist, David Attenborough, to voice its forthcoming original nature documentary series, Our Planet, which is slated to put conservation squarely in the frame, not just offer glorious animal eye-candy.

It’s a timely moment to focus on conservation with climate change posing existential threats to global biodiversity — unless humans act to limit temperature rises.

Since the 1970s Attenborough has voiced and fronted myriad major BBC nature documentaries, including the recent critically acclaimed Blue Planet series.

Some of his output has been available to stream on Netflix. But now the on-demand video platform has signed the 92-year-old to voice an eight-part original nature series it’s been creating in collaboration with Silverback Films — whose director, Alastair Fothergill, was the creator of both Blue Planet and the also critically acclaimed Planet Earth documentary series — and conservation charity WWF .

Our Planet is due to premiere on Netflix on April 5 next year and is slated to showcase the planet’s “most precious species and fragile habitats”, making use of “the latest in 4k camera technology”.

Netflix said yesterday it is “delighted” that Attenborough will voice the series which will be made simultaneously available to its subscriber base, spanning more than 190 countries.

Filming for the series has been taking place in 50 countries across all continents of the world, with 600+ crew members capturing more than 3.5k filming days to bring the project together.

Speaking at WWF’s State of the Planet Address event in London yesterday, Attenborough said: “Our Planet will take viewers on a spectacular journey of discovery showcasing the beauty and fragility of our natural world. Today we have become the greatest threat to the health of our home but there’s still time for us to address the challenges we’ve created, if we act now. We need the world to pay attention. Our Planet brings together some of the world’s best filmmakers and conservationists and I’m delighted to help bring this important story to millions of people worldwide.“

“We hope it will inspire and delight hundreds of millions of people across the world so they can understand our planet, and the environmental threat it faces, as never before,” added Fothergill in another supporting statement. “By launching on Netflix at the same time all over the world, this series will enable people to connect to and understand the shared responsibility we all have. We are genuinely all in this together.”

Netflix’s says the partnership with WWF means the series will be part of a wider global project that’s intended to promote conservation awareness, including via online resources and educational programmes for schools.

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Roku expands its free streaming channel with entertainment and live sports

Roku’s ad-supported free streaming channel is expanding. No, not to more platforms — it already did that. But rather, it’s expanding its content lineup. While before the channel offered free-to-stream movies and news, it will now feature live and linear sports and entertainment content, the company says.

As of earlier this year, The Roku Channel added live news from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, Yahoo and, most recently, The Young Turks, from the TYT Network.

It will now add entertainment content from partners including TMZ, AFV, FailArmy, People Are Awesome, Pet Collective and more. As with the channel’s other offerings, none of these streams will require a subscription.

Meanwhile, the channel will also begin to stream live sporting events from the Adventure Sports Network, COMBT GO, EDGEsport, Stadium and Wham Network, among others.

The additions come on the heels of Roku’s Q3 earnings, which saw the company beat Wall Street expectations on hardware, but saw platform revenue falling short — causing the stock to drop.

The company has been trying to move beyond being only a hardware device maker selling TVs and streaming players, to grow its platform business and advertising revenues. A key part of that strategy is The Roku Channel, which opens up Roku’s platform to a wider audience, and allows the company to sell ads against content.

The plan may work in the long run, but it’s taking time to ramp up, it seems.

However, Roku did report a growing user base with 23.8 million active users, streaming 6.2 billion hours in the quarter. That was ahead of expectations of 23.1 million users and 5.8 billion hours.

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White House shares manipulated Infowars video to justify CNN press ban

Read this slowly: The White House’s press secretary has tweeted a manipulated video shared by the editor-at-large of conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars to attempt to justify its decision to suspend the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent.

CNN’s Jim Acosta had his press pass pulled by the White House earlier today after press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed he had “plac[ed] his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job”.

Acosta disputes this.

The journalist had being trying to continue asking president Trump questions during a contentious exchange at a White House press briefing.

During this exchange Trump cut over him verbally — saying “that’s enough” — at which point a female White House intern moved towards Acosta and attempted to take the microphone out of his hands.

The journalist dodged and then blocked several attempts to take the microphone by using his arm and the side of his hand against the intern’s arm, addressing her with “pardon me ma’am” as he did so, and indicating that he was trying to ask Trump another question.

You can see what happened in a video shared by NBC News which captured footage of the incident (below). In the footage the intern can be seen stopping trying to remove the mic after Acosta speaks to her. He goes on to ask Trump if he is “worried about indictments coming down in [the Russia] investigation”.

Trump does not answer, repeating “that’s enough” and “put down the mic”.

Getting no answers, Acosta does then relinquish the mic.

Far right conspiracy theorist outlet Infowars quickly spun into action after this episode — publishing a couple of posts on its website couching Acosta’s actions as a “physical confrontation with female White House staffer”, and asking in a lengthy video post whether Acosta “assault[ed] a woman?”.

In the video Infowars editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson can be seen following the modern political disinformation playbook — avoiding personally claiming the incident constituted an assault while repeatedly showing manipulated, slowed down footage, stripped of its audio, to make it look like an assault — all the while suggestively reframing what happened to whip up hyperpartisan sentiment (‘what if this had been a conservative reporter ranting at Obama’ etc) in order to manipulate his audience to side with the president against CNN. 

Watson was also active on social media, seeding a further doctored version of footage on Twitter — which includes a repeat close crop that zooms in on the CNN reporter’s hand against the intern’s arm, making it look as if Acosta is giving her a karate chop.

This is very clearly not what the unedited video shows.

In the unedited footage Acosta can be seen essentially brushing off the intern’s attempt to grab the mic — and addressing her politely at the crucial moment, when the side of his hand is resting on her arm. She responds to his polite “pardon me ma’am” by stepped back and stopping trying to take the mic away.

Acosta then asks Trump more questions which Trump does not answer.

Now Infowars conspiracy theorists creating doctored videos to try to spin hyperpartisan junk news is not new or news. Their business model is based on manipulating viewers’ emotions to flog them, er, junk supplements.

But what is new is that three hours after Sanders issued her series of tweets accusing Acosta of inappropriately placing his hands on a young woman, the White House press secretary tweeted again — this time appearing to share the exact same doctored video that had been shared earlier by Watson, as he worked to put the Infowars’ divisive alternative spin on reality.

Sanders referred directly to the video in her tweet, claiming that “inappropriate behaviour” had been “clearly documented in this video”:

So the White House is using video footage that’s been manipulated through a conspiracy theorist lens to justify a free speech-chilling ban on an actual journalist.

I’ll say that again: The White House is using a manipulated video shared by conspiracy theorists to justify suspending the press credentials of CNN’s chief white house correspondent.

And once more: The White House is using lies to justify pulling the press credentials of a genuine journalist.

Trump has made no secret of his hatred for CNN — repeatedly badging the cable news network ‘fake news’ in myriad vitriolic tweets since taking office.

Now his administration has gone a step further in seeking to stamp out reality by using manipulated video to bar a genuine news outlet from presidential press briefings. A news outlet that the president especially hates.

Let that sink in.

It’s not just conspiracy theorists who use this kind of information manipulation playbook of course. Authoritarian regimes, terrorists, criminals, racists… the list goes on.

Now you can add the White House press secretary to that ignominious list.

We’ve reached out to the White House to ask why Sanders chose to share the Infowars video — rather than sharing unedited footage of the incident. We’ll update this post with any response.

Meanwhile, on the list of people being allowed into White House press briefings these days…

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Sling TV’s growth further slows in Q3, but still leads rivals in terms of subscribers

It appears Dish’s live TV streaming service, Sling TV, has been impacted by the increased competition from rivals like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, and others. Sling TV still leads the market with 2.37 million subscribers for its TV service aimed at cord cutters, Dish reported in its Q3 2018 earnings, but its momentum is slowing.

In the first quarter of the year, Sling TV added 91,000 subscribers, followed by 41,000 in Q2, and now just 26,000 additions in Q3, according to Dish’s earnings results out today.

That allows it to retain its first place position, but that lead may not last for much longer.

AT&T’s DirecTV Now had been catching up to Sling TV in recent months, leading some to believe it would surpass Sling TV by year-end.

Launched two years ago, DirecTV Now added 49,000 subscribers in its Q3, it reported in October – much worse than the 247,000 added last year, when the service was newer and promos were more plentiful. But its price hikes, technical issues, and poor customer service have turned some customers off, leaving it still shy of 2 million subscribers by the end of the third quarter.

Meanwhile, newcomer Hulu with Live TV just topped a million subscribers in September – growth that may have come at the expense of Sling TV and others, it seems.

In addition, YouTube TV hit 800,000 around May, while Sony’s PlayStation Vue is trailing with somewhere over half a million.

Sling TV’s slowing growth may not be all chalked up to the competitive landscape, either. Its price increases introduced this June may have also impacted sign-ups. And there’s the fact that streaming TV services simply may not ever see the sort of demand that subscription VOD offerings, like Netflix, do.

Sling TV’s too-small gains were only one blip in an otherwise dismal quarter for Dish, which saw its worst net subscriber losses to date thanks to the loss of satellite TV customers. The company dropped 367,000 satellite customers to end the quarter with 10.29 Dish TV subscribers. It also recently saw HBO and Cinemax removed from Dish and Sling TV lineups, due to a programming fight. That was the first time HBO had ever gone dark, too.

One thing that is clear from Dish’s earnings, and AT&T’s prior to this, is that the market for traditional pay TV is still in decline thanks to cord cutting – and the “TV” landscape in the future will look very different, as a result.

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China’s obsession with short videos has its internet giants worried

Take a subway ride in China and expect to see a lot of commuters’ eyes glued to TikTok videos on their phones.

Video clips like TikTok’s are now consuming nearly nine percent of Chinese people’s time online, a 5.2 percent jump from 2017, according to app analytics firm QuestMobile.

Apps such as TikTok — which is operated by ByteDance, the world’s highest valued startup at $75 billion — have become popular among previously camera-shy users. Those who lack editing experience can now easily add beautifying filters and music to spice up their work.

tiktok gif 1

Elderly couple having a moment on Douyin / Credit: Douyin ID @淘气陈奶奶

It also helps that smartphone data became cheaper and internet penetration kept growing in recent years — China now has 800 million smartphone users, according to government data. In 2013, just under 40 percent of China’s online population streamed videos on their phones, according to database CBNData. In 2017, that ratio surged to 80 percent.

Initially geared towards Chinese youth, short-video apps have increased in popularity across all age groups – including the elderly. Over a third of the country’s 1.4 billion people are active on these apps every month. People above the age of 50 now spend as much as 50 minutes on them every day, compared to only 17 minutes a year ago.

And TikTok, called Douyin in China, is spearheading the short-video game.

Tencent’s nerves

In recent years, few mobile apps in China have captured as many stares as WeChat, Tencent’s messaging app that’s evolved into a one-stop platform allowing people to shop, order cabs, book hotels, and complete other daily tasks.

Then short video apps came along, eating people’s eyeball time away. Apps like TikTok do not compete directly with WeChat as they serve different purposes, but data suggests that use of instant messaging services has waned amid the fledgling video scene.

This year WeChat and its peers occupied 30.5 percent of people’s online time, a 3.6 percent drop year-over-year per the QuestMobile report.

It comes as no surprise that Tencent is fretting over the clip craze and in particular, ByteDance’s rise. In May, Tencent’s usually low-profile boss Pony Ma got in a rare online spat with ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming over plagiarism and WeChat blocking TikTok content.

Typical miming and finger dancing performed by teens / Credit: Douyin ID @李雨霏2007

Elsewhere, Tencent took action. Since April, the tech giant has rolled out a number of TikTok rivals but so far none has gotten close to the latter’s lion’s share: 500 million monthly active users worldwide. That’s excluding the 100 million total users on Musical.ly, which ByteDance acquired in late 2017 and merged into TikTok this August.

Tencent’s got other backup plans, though. It owns shares in TikTok’s China archrival Kuaishou, which had a 22.7 percent penetration rate in September according to data service provider Jiguang. That’s however, dwarfed by TikTok’s 33.8 percent, which means the app was installed on over a third of all mobile devices monitored by Jiguang. Plus, ByteDance’s other short-video apps for different niches, Huoshan and Xigua, are also faring well, commanding 13.1 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively.

Alibaba: not quite an ally

Until recently, ByteDance appeared to be making nice with China’s other internet giant — Alibaba. The companies kicked off a partnership in March that saw TikTok using Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao to process ecommerce transactions on its app. Authorized TikTok users, usually those with a big following, can link videos to their Taobao shops. This money-making setup allows TikTok to lure more quality content creators. Alibaba, on the other hand, gets traffic from the fledgling social media app that could absorb some of the loss from WeChat blocking its ecommerce apps.

Things can go south anytime, however, as ByteDance makes forays into Alibaba’s territories. The startup recently introduced an ecommerce platform and entered the business of long-form video streaming, an area where Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu’s iQIYI dominate.

tiktok douyin

Life hacks are popular, too: guy sharing his gardening tips / Credit: Douyin ID @速效三元化合肥

ByteDance seems set to grow independently. Unlike many of China’s promising startups, six-year-old ByteDance hasn’t accepted financing from any of the tech trio of Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent — known as the BAT such is their dominance in China’s consumer technology.

ByteDance’s moves into new space may also signal the firm’s urge to explore additional monetization channels besides advertising on feeds. It lifted its revenue target to $7.2 billion for 2018, well above the $2.5 billion it earned last year, according to Bloomberg.

At home and afar

Despite the boom, China’s short-video market faces increasing regulatory headwinds. In recent months, authorities have been clamping down on Kuaishou, ByteDance’s video apps, and smaller players on account of eradicating content that’s deemed illegal or inappropriate.

Violation could result in app store bans and those that underwent such severe punishment like Miaopai, which is backed by China’s Twitter equivalent Weibo, suffered from a tumble in app installs.

tiktok douyin

Sometimes Douyin does get serious – a Beijing TV channel has its own account and it covers news here / Credit: Douyin ID @BTV新闻

ByteDance didn’t get a ban – yet, but it came under fire for its AI-driven recommendation algorithms. It’s something the startup prides itself on but has irritated media watchdogs who reprimanded TikTok for showing users “unacceptable” content, such as videos depicting adolescent pregnancies. ByteDance’s popular news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, or “today’s headlines,” received similar criticisms for giving its 120 million daily users “fluff”.

In response, ByteDance added thousands of censors to screen content on top of AI-driven recommendation across its apps.

ByteDance’s expanding territory through TikTok goes well beyond China. This year, the short-video platform has been climbing app store rankings around the world, an ascend accelerated by its incorporation of Musical.ly. Now it’s not just Tencent that’s taking note; Facebook is also building a TikTok clone, TechCrunch reported recently.

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Original Content podcast: We’re left a little cold by Netflix’s new ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’

It seemed like the ingredients were there for “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” to win us over.

After all, at least one of the hosts of the Original Content podcast is a fan of “Riverdale,” and this comes from the same creative team, with a similar approach — instead of a noir version of Archie, it’s a show that takes the “witch” side of Sabrina the Teenage Witch a little more seriously, with genuine spookiness and scares.

We didn’t hate the show, but we didn’t love it either — too many of the characters felt flat, there were some annoying visual tics and it’s just not as much fun as “Riverdale.” Our guest host Jon Shieber probably liked it the most, finding rich thematic material (and surprising parallels with “The Haunting of Hill House”) hidden beneath the monsters, the mythology and the teen angst.

We also offer some tentative thoughts on the controversy over how the show treats its characters of color, and we recap recent streaming and entertainment headlines, including Netflix’s new theatrical release strategy, the latest streaming growth numbers and details about “Game of Thrones” season eight.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You also can send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

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