🚀 A new age of water-cooler content
Why is "Couch Guy" the future of entertainment?
TikTok hit 1B MAUs, becoming one of only a few social media companies to ever reach this milestone. The app saw 42% user growth over the past year - TikTok last shared numbers during its battle against the U.S. government in summer 2020.
Many news outlets shared graphs similar to the one above ☝️, but they may not be entirely accurate. While TikTok launched in August 2018, the app didn’t start from scratch. ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, and Musical.ly’s 60M MAUs formed the foundation of TikTok’s initial user base.
If you include Musical.ly, TikTok reached 1B MAUs in seven years - still incredibly impressive, but in line with WeChat and Instagram in terms of timeline!
👓 Warby Parker goes public. D2C eyewear brand Warby Parker had a successful direct listing! The stock debuted 36% above its reference price, and the company ended the week at a $5.3B market cap. Warby is now trading at 14x 2020 revenue - high for a retail brand, as eyewear giant Luxottica currently trades at a ~5x multiple. Check out my teardown of the company’s S-1 if you want to learn more.
💻 Ozy winds down. Millennial media startup Ozy shuttered this week following a bizarre series of events. A New York Times exposé revealed that the company’s COO attempted to fake customer calls during investor diligence. This prompted the chairman to step down, and advertisers to cancel deals. Then, former producers (and even Sharon Osbourne!) shared stories of alleged fraud by Ozy. On Friday, the CEO informed employees that the board had voted to shut down the company.
⏸️ IG pauses kids’ product. Instagram is postponing plans to release an app for kids under 13 - not a surprise given the past few weeks. To recap: The Wall Street Journal reported on how IG negatively impacts teen mental health, and Congress questioned the company about its policies to protect minors. IG head Adam Mosseri said he still feels the kids’ product should exist, as pre-teens are already on the app using fake birthdays - which is even less safe. However, the company will work with “parents, experts, policymakers and regulators” before launching it.
🛑 Five9 turns down Zoom. One of the year’s largest M&A deals has been called off. In July, Zoom announced that it was acquiring cloud contact center Five9 for $15B. This week, Five9 shareholders officially rejected the offer. Why? Zoom’s stock fell 28% since the announcement. Because the transaction was all-stock, this represented a meaningful drop in value to Five9 investors - many of whom already felt that the acquisition premium was too low.
Also, whoever wrote this TechCrunch headline is having way too much fun.
South Korean horror series Squid Game is on its way to being the most-watched Netflix show ever! Overall, U.S. viewership of non-English shows on Netflix is up more than 70% since 2019, driven by hits like Money Heist (La Casa De Papel), Lupin, and Elite.
Netflix global TV head Bela Bajaria said the platform’s ability to launch shows in 200M households and 37 languages instantaneously is a huge advantage in generating viral shows. Squid Game was barely marketed in the U.S., but surged on TikTok and Twitter to become an organic hit - taking Netflix completely by surprise.
what i’m following 👀
“Will you commit to ending Finsta?”
A DeFi platform accidentally gave away $90M of crypto - and is now trying to get it back.
How Google geolocation data helped the FBI catch the Capitol rioters.
Vox hosted the first big IRL tech conference post-COVID - how did it go?
Media execs often claim that streaming killed “water-cooler TV.” The argument is this: before the rise of Netflix and Hulu, we used to watch whatever was actually on TV. There were a limited number of channels, and audiences tended to converge on a few big shows. This created “water-cooler” moments - everyone saw the same thing (think The Office or Breaking Bad) and would talk about it.
Streaming platforms gave us countless options of what to watch, which fractured viewership. Many point to Game of Thrones as the last water-cooler show - can you think of a series that has fully captured the public consciousness since then? Even live events that everyone used to watch (award shows, the Super Bowl, the Olympics) have seen massive declines in audience size.
But water-cooler content isn’t gone, it just shifted online (more specifically, to TikTok). The platform is built on communal viewing, and it’s incredibly easy to talk to people worldwide who are watching the same thing - just open the comments.
One recent example? Couch Guy! In a week, 37 million people saw the original video (read a primer here), which sparked thousands of reaction videos and parodies. Every Gen Zer has an opinion - should Lauren dump him, or was it blown out of proportion? And this isn’t unique. There’s at least one viral storyline on TikTok every week (last week was Berries & Cream).
This positions TikTok as the first real competitor to “peak TV.” Users aren’t just on TikTok because it’s entertaining, they now can’t afford to miss moments or memes that their friends will be talking about. If you skip a few days, your FYP (and IRL conversations) will probably be filled with references you don’t understand.
Even after hitting 1B MAUs, TikTok still feels underestimated among people who aren’t “extremely online.” The vast majority of adults aged 30+ aren’t on it, and it’s completely undersaturated in terms of paid ads. My take? Doubt TikTok at your own risk. It’s no longer an app for videos of teens dancing - it will likely own the future of entertainment.
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Cameo - Social Media Intern (Remote)
Harlem Capital - VC Intern (Remote)
Fandom - Project Management Intern (Remote)
FINESSE - Marketing Intern (Remote)
Club Feast - TikTok Content Intern (Remote)
IDEO - Summer 2022 Business Design Intern (SF)
Zendesk - Finance & Strategy Intern (SF)
Ironclad - Data Analyst Intern (SF)
Daloopa - Strategy & Ops MBA Intern (NYC)
Ro - Summer 2022 Product Analyst Fellow (NYC)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Winnie, an almost one-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog who lives in Boston.
Winnie enjoys traveling around New England, hanging out at the Cape Cod dunes, and listening to Beethoven on the violin.
Follow her on Instagram @winniethebostonberner!