Snap Launches Bitmoji TV, Starring Your Friends — and Randy Jackson
Snap Inc. is launching itself anew into the short-form videosphere in 2020 with Bitmoji TV, upping its popular avatar feature to present personalized live-action comic strips of you and your friends. A spokesperson says Thursday that their global release will start in February; it's an effort that may help Snap counter the surging use of TikTok, especially among Gen Z users.
The Santa Monica-based company launched its precursor Bitmoji Stories, which included personalized stories of you and your friends in November 2018. Snap said it found that the stories were a hit, with more than 130 million users watching them since their debut, that they decided TV was the next big thing.
It remains to be seen whether people will want to see themselves cast in "every show, movie, and commercial," as Snap describes it in their advertising. But a University of Texas at Austin study indicates this is likely. The study found that human beings crave personalization and were more likely to interact with content customized for them rather than a standard experience.
After all, the short-form video featuring one's self is having its moment, with China-owned TikTok app users moving into houses in Los Angeles to specifically create content. Meanwhile, users have also taken to Facebook and Instagram to post their own stories. But Snap is betting that personalized short-form video content that you can't find anywhere else will drive users to Bitmoji TV.
Screenshot courtesy of Tami Abdollah
Each season will be made up of 10 episodes averaging roughly four minutes in length, that air weekly on Saturday via the app's "Discover" page. Snap selects you and the friends you've most recently interacted with on Snapchat and features them in television episodes. Snap has also arranged to have Randy Jackson guest star in a reality show-themed episode. Other comics will be heard in the first season, including Andy Richter, Jon Lovitz, and Riki Lindhome.
Bitmoji TV was created entirely in-house by the same Toronto-based team that's behind Bitmoji and its stories. Characters in Bitmoji TV talk, but a Snap spokesperson notes that you won't see yourself talking because the engineers haven't yet figured out how to capture the user's voice.
A spokesperson said the self-described camera company wants to be a leader in mobile storytelling, and envisions having a person's Bitmoji represent themselves digitally across more experiences in the future.
Snap's stock price has rebounded in the last 12 months, from a 52-week low of $6.31 to a high of $19.76.
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It's never been a better time to "murder your thirst."
Seven months after raising more than $9 million in Series A funding, Santa Monica-based canned water startup Liquid Death has raised $23 million in Series B funding.
The round was led by an unnamed consumer-focused family office and participated in by Convivialité Ventures, Fat Mike (NOFX), Pat McAfee, existing investor in Velvet Sea Ventures and others.
Sometimes it's better not to raise money. I know this sounds strange coming from me. I'm an angel investor in over 50 startups, my Twitter is essentially a ticker for funding news and I've always been a huge proponent for going public, which requires a long road of investments along the way. But there are great reasons to turn down venture capital investment and bootstrap it yourself or take just a small amount of funding. This was the crux of my discussion the other day with a founder facing this big decision on whether to raise a seed round.
This founder's company is getting great customer traction within a niche of a skyrocketing industry that has some very powerful players. He's at a fork in the road. If he pursues funding, he'll likely be able to raise a round. But is it the right thing?
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Amazon unveiled a new lineup of spherical Echo devices, an autonomous flying indoor Ring security camera, a new cloud gaming service, and new features to help Alexa converse and interact more naturally with users.
The flurry of news came Thursday morning during the company's annual Devices & Services event, a virtual version of a fall tradition in which the company typically shows its newest Echo speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices.