🚀 Is TikTok tracking users?
Plus, a new model in the fertility space!
🕵️♀️ TikTok battles surveillance claims. Forbes reported this week that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, was planning a project that would allow it to “surveil individual American citizens” using location data. It’s unclear whether this technology was actually deployed. TikTok responded that it is unable to track U.S. users via mobile GPS, and that the platform “has never been used to target any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures, or journalists.”
ByteDance is also currently working on an agreement with the Biden administration to allow TikTok to continue to operate in the U.S.. More to come… 👀
💰 Kanye buys Parler. Kanye West is acquiring conservative social media platform Parler, for undisclosed terms. The move comes shortly after West had his accounts restricted on Instagram and Twitter for antisemitic content. Parler launched in 2018, and according to Apptopia data peaked at 2.9M daily active users, before falling to 40k as of this week. Apple and Google had both banned Parler from their App Stores post-the January 6 Capitol riots, but restored the app’s service in April 2021.
🛑 Elon plans layoffs. Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is nearing the finish line, with an October 28 deadline to close before Twitter’s lawsuit against him proceeds. The Washington Post obtained documents this week showing Musk plans to reduce the size of Twitter’s team from 7,500 to 2,000 people (a 75% cut). Musk said on a Tesla investor call that while he is “obviously overpaying” for Twitter, his long term vision for the company is “an order of magnitude greater than its current value.”
📉 Snap stock takes a tumble. Snap’s stock fell 25% on Thursday after missing Q3 estimates. While DAU count exceeded expectations (363M v. 358M estimate), the company’s revenue grew only 6% YoY to $1.13B. This is Snap’s first single digit annual revenue increase since IPO in 2017. It may come as a surprise that the company missed on revenue while beating expectations for DAUs - this is because average revenue per user (ARPU) fell 11% due to a broader pullback in the ad market.
what we’re following 👀
Taylor Swift as SaaS companies - an amazing and timely thread.
How regulation has created opportunity for fintech startups in Brazil.
Prepare yourself: Netflix is serious about charging for password sharing in 2023.
The enduring changes to restaurants in the wake of COVID (hint: more tech!).
This week in interesting startup announcements: Cofertility announced its $5M seed round. It joins a group of startups tackling the fertility space from various approaches - Carrot enables companies to offer fertility benefits, Kindbody has brick-and-mortar fertility clinics, and Gaia provides financing & insurance for people going through IVF (just to name a few!).
Many of these companies are trying to make fertility testing and treatments more affordable and accessible. A single cycle of IVF in the United States typically costs $10k-25k, depending on where you’re located. This is prohibitively expensive for many women, and comes into direct conflict with a major demographic trend: women are getting married and having children later. For the first time in 2022, the median age of U.S. women giving birth hit 30 years old.
If you’re planning to have kids later but are worried about the quality of your eggs declining or not being able to get pregnant in your late 30s or 40s, you might think about freezing your eggs and conceiving via IVF when the time is right. This has led to a 1,000% (!!) increase in the number of U.S. women who froze their eggs between 2009 and 2016. But for many, cost remains a barrier - freezing your eggs typically costs $10k-20k upfront and another ~$1,000 per year to store them.
Enter Cofertility. They offer egg freezing FOR FREE, with a catch: you have to donate half of your eggs to another family that can’t conceive. It’s a fascinating proposition, especially in the age of at-home DNA tests - even if you try to make an anonymous donation, there’s always a chance that the child finds you later on (which you may or may not want). Cofertility offers both disclosed and undisclosed donations, but warns potential donors that it’s impossible to remain fully anonymous.
We’ll be interested to see how many people take Cofertility up on this offer. The financial incentive is undoubtedly compelling, and this program could make egg freezing accessible to women who have been “priced out” in the past. However - donating your eggs is also a big ask, especially if you haven’t been considering it. And even though the program removes the financial considerations of egg freezing, it’s still a multi-month process that involves injections and a surgical procedure.
Wheel - Product Manager (Remote)
Cash App - Strategy & Business Operations* (SF, Remote)
Atomic - Business Operations Associate (SF, Miami)
Ribbit Capital - Investment Associate (SF, NYC)
Portage Ventures - Fintech Associate (SF, NYC)
Lyra Health - Strategic Finance Analyst (Burlingame)
Dundee Venture Capital - Analyst (Chicago)
Bumble - Strategy & Ops Manager, Studio (NYC)
Pumpkin - Associate Product Manager (NYC)
Carta - Strategic Partnerships Associate (NYC)
*Expects 3+ years of experience.
Toyota Ventures - VC Intern, Climate Fund (SF)
Intercom - Market Intelligence Intern (SF)
Benchling - Product Design Intern (SF, Boston)
Founder Collective - MBA Associates (NYC, Boston)
Bevi - Spring 2023 UX Intern (Boston)
Galaxy Ventures - Summer Intern (NYC)
NBA - Gaming & New Business Ventures Intern (NYC)
puppies of the week 🐶
Meet Shelby, a two-year-old cocker spaniel who lives in NYC.
She’s already in the Halloween spirit - she participated in the Tompkins Square Dog Parade this weekend, dressed as the princess AND the frog (the range!).
Follow her on Instagram @shelbyfroggy.
All views are our own. None of the above should be taken as investment advice. See this page for important information.