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Last Week In Digital - 8th August 2017

Reddit reaches new valuation, Instagram Stories turns 1, and Bitcoin Cash handed a boost

8Aug

Instagram Stories surpasses Snapchat

After years of trying and failing to acquire Snapchat, Facebook went on the offensive and began trying to beat it at its own game. This, predictably, led to a number of failed copycats before it hit the jackpot with Instagram Stories, a well executed clone of Snapchat’s most popular feature. The ephemeral user-update feature was tagged onto an already wildly successful app, and in many ways was an improvement on Snapchat’s original. Now, as Instagram Stories celebrates its first birthday, its average daily usage has surpassed that of its rival.

With 32 minutes per day on average for those under 25 (compared with 30 minutes per day for Snapchat), Instagram is now well and truly cemented into the top 10 most-used smartphone apps. Instagram Stories also has 250 million daily users, against Snapchat’s 166 million, according to TechCrunch. Whatever we think about Facebook’s aggressive attempt at taking Snapchat down through copycat products, there’s no denying the strategy is paying off. Where Snapchat was once the future of social media, it’s now just one of many apps offering Stories features, and the overwhelming user base and capital of Facebook and its subsidiaries may just be able to see off the innovative, extremely popular LA challenger.

Reddit now worth $1.8 billion

Online discussion and sharing platform Reddit has completed its largest funding round to date, pulling in $200 million and growing its valuation to $1.8 billion. According to Recode, the funding round will likely be used to ‘expedite a number of internal product and business efforts’, which should include a foray into user-uploaded video, as well as a redesign of its homepage. The latter is in more dire need of attention - for a network that sees 300 million monthly visitors, the design is outdated and risks putting off new visitors.

But this is the problem that Reddit has - its existing user base is remarkably tribal and holds a lot of power given the company’s use of unpaid, volunteer moderators. Any significant change to the functionality or design of the site will undoubtedly be met with a backlash. And the decision-makers know this. Reddit’s incredible traffic has been historically difficult to monetize for other reasons, too, one being that the site gathers relatively little information about its users. If the company can update its product with enough sensitivity and find a monetization strategy that works, it has the potential to see that valuation balloon even further.

Coinbase to accept Bitcoin Cash after all

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has softened its position on the new fork ‘Bitcoin Cash’ and has announced that it will introduce support for it next year. After the fork was created and Bitcoin Cash came into existence at the very beginning of this month, Coinbase was among those that opted out of trading it due to the lack of proof that it was safe or would work. The company has clearly decided its initial reaction was wrong, though, and will support Bitcoin Cash by the beginning of 2018.

‘Once supported, customers will be able to withdraw Bitcoin Cash. We’ll make a determination at a later date about adding trading support,’ Coinbase said. TechCrunch expects that Coinbase’s lack of commitment to Bitcoin Cash trading will have angered its customers and had a negative impact on its business, but Coinbase is likely to continue with its conservative approach to bringing new currency on. As with most things in the world of cryptocurrency, it is extremely difficult to predict where Bitcoin Cash will be come January.

500 Startups suspends Canada fund

US startup incubator 500 Startups has withdrawn its Canada fund off the back of sexual harassment allegations aimed at founder Dave McClure. After admitting that he ‘probably deserved to be called a creep’, McClure stepped down as CEO, but investors were concerned about his continued involvement in the company. A number of further harassment claims have been made and it is reported that investors willing to put $25 million into the Canada fund have now been put off. The target LPs reportedly refused to invest in the event that McClure had any control over the fund or stood to benefit from it financially in any way.

‘We remain bullish on Canada’s startup ecosystem and deal flow. It’s why we invested in Canada before the 500 Canada fund, and why we will continue to do so going forward,’ the company said in a statement. For now, though, it will have to wait and attempt to move forward under new management. 

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