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This Week In Digital - March 10 2017

New startup incubators, another Snapchat clone from Facebook, and International Women’s Day

10Mar

Justin Kan’s Zero-F Launches

Justin Kan - the entrepreneur behind Twitch, Justin.TV, and Socialcam - has launched a new startup incubator. The decision means that Kan leaves Y Combinator to start his own venture, which will see him much more involved in the development of startups. The incubator - named Zero-F - will take on three companies initially, including Q&A app Whale which Kan himself was involved in launching last year.

According to TechCrunch, Kan is funding the venture entirely by himself and will bring in two or three new businesses every year. The hands-on approach will see Kan help with everything from initial team assembly to building prototypes. Kan’s track record is prestigious, and any startup lucky enough to be thrown into his accelerator program will be earmarked for success.

Tinder Select Revealed

Ever felt like you belong to an elite group of dating app users and only want to be shown people on your level? Tinder has you covered. The oddly secretive Tinder Select has been revealed thanks to screenshots acquired by TechCrunch, a project the company has reportedly been working on for six months.

The app is designed for users Tinder considers ‘elite’ - the super rich, celebrities and the most ‘swiped right’ users. Some users are permitted to invite just one other to join and the growth of the app has been deliberately slow. The app is just the next in a long line of exclusive dating apps. The League accepted users based on their education and job title and Bumble’s VIBee featured only ‘verified’ users that were active and popular on the app. As the world tuts and Tinder remains silent, the users of the sleekly designed Tinder Select will be swiping away.

Facebook Messenger Day launches

Facebook is coming for Snapchat. Again. Messenger Day aims to combine Facebook’s useful events feature with Snapchat’s Stories function. The app is less about sharing what you’ve done that day and more about arranging to do things in the future. Filters will be used to invite users to join others, and Facebook hopes it will encourage more people onto the Messenger app.

Initially, the app was tested in countries like Australia and Poland, and users numbered in the millions relatively quickly. If Facebook can successfully roll it out worldwide, it will cause another dent in Snapchat’s already much-mimicked product. Despite Facebook’s protestations otherwise, Messenger Day is essentially a standard Stories feature - the idea that users will use it to arrange plans is notional, and its likely it will be used in much the same way as Instagram and Snapchat’s already wildly popular Stories features. With over 1 billion users worldwide, though, Messenger is poised to make Day a success.

International Women’s Day

Of course, Wednesday marked International Women’s Day, a day when women were celebrated the world over and women’s issues were thrust rightfully to the forefront of national conversations. The day also saw mass strikes, though, as ‘A Day Without Women’ saw women emphasise their value by withdrawing labour for the day. Tech is disappointingly behind on issues of equality. Only 26% of computing jobs are held by women, and issues of harassment and misogyny are rife in tech hubs like Silicon Valley.

Much more must be done to encourage young women to pursue careers in tech, and the industry itself must take some responsibility for women being put off. Women in computer science roles have ‘dropped from 37% in the 1980s to less than 18% today’, according to TechCrunch - International Women’s Day will have helped to highlight the issues at hand, now it’s time to set about solving them.

Snapchat’s IPO

Perhaps the biggest news of last week was Snapchat going public. The long-awaited IPO saw the stock open at $24, 41.2% higher than its initial offered price of $17. This week has seen Snapchat’s shares fall from a high of $28.17 on Monday to a low of $20.80 on Tuesday. The dip in price has taken some of the sheen off of what was initially a successful public offering.

The IPO was the largest in tech since Alibaba’s in 2014, but professional analysts have warned investors away from heavy investment in the five-year-old company. User growth has somewhat slowed and the competition from the likes of Messenger and WhatsApp (in terms of messaging apps) is fierce. It’s still early days for the stock, and any interested investors should keep an eye on the company’s trading to see if it’s worth parting with any cash. 

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