Meet the New Products From Snap's Inaugural Yellow Collabs Program

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Meet the New Products From Snap's Inaugural Yellow Collabs Program

Clay Weishaar and his sneaker-freaker colleagues designed Dropr, an AR app to recreate the experience of camping out overnight to score a pair of limited-edition kicks. Working with developers and engineers from Snap, they then gamified the experience and added a social component to help make it go viral.

Dropr debuted today alongside eight other companies' new products, all of them developed in conjunction with Snap as part of the company's inaugural Yellow Collabs program.

Snap has previously run three Yellow Accelerator programs, geared toward early-stage companies. In October, it launched Yellow Community, a year-round virtual and in-person (eventually) events circuit for L.A. entrepreneurs. Collabs augments these efforts to connect Snap with external minds and ideas.

The new program focuses on more established companies and helps Snap keep its finger on the pulse of innovation outside the company's walls. It also helps Snap distinguish itself from other social media companies – not only by creating new features for users, but by spreading recognition of Snap's development tools among external developers and designers who can use them for their own projects and companies.


Collabs began on September 21, with a cohort of companies creating games, experiences and other features that integrate with Snap. These integrations can live inside or outside the Snapchat app, and sometimes both, as when a user is ushered between two apps. Some integrations rely on Snap's developer tools, many of which were first announced at Snap's 2020 Partner Summit this summer.

The program focused on supporting companies using the following Snap integrations:

-Snap Minis: small apps that live within Snapchat, with no extra installation required

-Dynamic Lenses: augmented reality (AR) overlays – which Snap calls lenses – that respond to dynamically generated inputs, such as a user's location

-Scan: Computer vision technology that can match what a camera sees with relevant lenses

-SnapML: Lenses designed with machine learning neural networks

-Snap Kit: A wide suite of additional developer tools

The nine companies in the 13-week remote Collabs program worked with Snap employees and executives on product development, design and strategy. Five of the nine companies in this first cohort are based in Los Angeles.

Snap did not provide official applicant numbers, but said the "overwhelmingly positive" response has validated its approach of finding "companies with big ideas for how to leverage the Snap platform to create incredible experiences with the help of some of ours."

Introducing the Nine Projects from Snap's First Yellow Collabs Program

Almost Fun

A nonprofit that provides culturally-relevant, interactive educational resources for BIPOC and low-income students

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini designed to support users' learning, either individually or in groups with friends in their Snapchat network

Fake Artists

A Venice-based creative studio focused on using AR, ML and other tech to help brands engage fans through virtual experiences

Snap Integration: Integrates Snap's dynamic lens into its app, Dropr, which is meant to digitize fashion product-drops through AR try-ons and gamify the experience through challenges that unlock new items

"They were able to coach me on how people engage with Snapchat and the camera to create a better product," said Fake Artists co-founder Clay Weishaar, who is also one of Snap's official Lens Creators. "Originally it was just a virtual try-on...but Collabs helped us come up with gamified try-ons and using unlock mechanisms to reward people, which all comes together in this sharing loop that can reach millions of people."

The next step for Weishaar is to move from a dynamic lens Snap-integration that takes users back and forth between Dropr and Snapchat, and instead use Snap's Camera Kit to fully embed the experience into Dropr.

Givingli

Givingli

An L.A.-based gift-giving company for digital greeting cards and e-gifts

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini that helps Snapchat users share expressive greetings, celebrate special occasions and connect through giving

NewNew

NewNew

An L.A.-based social polling app, which helps groups of friends make everyday decisions

Snap Integration: Using Story Kit, one of the developer toolkits within Snap Kit, users on Snapchat and NewNew can create decision-making polls to turn their Snapchat messages into interactive content

"There was a real genuine interest in what we were building," NewNew co-founder Courtne Smith said. "They had a lot of questions and they were really interested to know how we were thinking about our products. I think they could see an immediate synergy between us and them."

"Collabs gave me insight into the inner workings of Snap and how they make decisions and what their values are," she continued. "They were really eager to teach us as much as possible...It's not every day that you get to pick the brains of people who work at these companies and do so so openly and freely."

QReal

QReal

Helps companies market and sell products through 3D and AR content with a focus on food, furniture and fashion

Snap Integration: Uses Snap's dynamic lens to import running workout data from a user's phone into a Snapchat lens, meant to help exercise apps and brands create marketing campaigns

SketchAR

SketchAR

An AI-based mobile app that helps users develop their creativity through tools like AR-assisted drawing and photo-editing

Snap Integration: A new tool that allows SketchAR users create and share their own AR lenses.

Snack Break

Snack Break

An L.A-based app-building company that focuses on "bitesize" communication to create shared experiences

Snap Integration: Arteest, Snack Break's newest app, uses Snap's dynamic lens to allow users to make drawings based on a friend's suggestions, then share their creations on Snapchat.

Stacks

Stacks

A social video studio that helps users to discover, remix and share video and gif memes

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini that enables users to share, edit and react to video and gif memes

Tastemade

Tastemade

An L.A.-based media company focused on food, travel, and home & design content; it reaches 300 million monthly viewers and has been working with Discover, Snap's curated content platform, since its launch in 2015

Snap Integration: A Snap Mini, "Tastemade Me Do It", that offers weekly recipe and DIY challenges, along with polls and stickers that users can share with friends

"We really see this as a huge opportunity to grow our audience and build an even bigger business through Snapchat," said Tastemade general manager of social, Lauren Arso.

"We love the work we do on Discover, and with the Mini platform, we were excited that we could have a little more control over the experience," she continued. "We're also working with the Snap team to create new ways to connect the Discover platform with the Mini platform."

Snap's Yellow ecosystem is now comprised of three programs – Collabs, Accelerator, and Community – but the company's developer and integration tools are not limited to program participants; most are available via a quick application process.

---

Sam Blake primarily covers media and entertainment for dot.LA. Find him on Twitter @hisamblake and email him at samblake@dot.LA

https://twitter.com/hisamblake
samblake@dot.la

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Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable
Evan Xie

The original dream of streaming was all of the content you love, easily accessible on your TV or computer at any time, at a reasonable price. Sadly, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have come together over the last decade or so to recognize that this isn’t really economically viable. Instead, the streaming marketplace is slowly transforming into something approximating Cable Television But Online.

It’s very expensive to make the kinds of shows that generate the kind of enthusiasm and excitement from global audiences that drives the growth of streaming platforms. For every international hit like “Squid Game” or “Money Heist,” Netflix produced dozens of other shows whose titles you have definitely forgotten about.

The marketplace for new TV has become so massively competitive, and the streaming landscape so oversaturated, even relatively popular shows with passionate fanbases that generate real enthusiasm and acclaim from critics often struggle to survive. Disney+ canceled Luscasfilm’s “Willow” after just one season this week, despite being based on a hit Ron Howard film and receiving an 83% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon dropped the mystery drama “Three Pines” after one season as well this week, which starred Alfred Molina, also received positive reviews, and is based on a popular series of detective novels.

Even the new season of “The Mandalorian” is off to a sluggish start compared to its previous two Disney+ seasons, and Pedro Pascal is basically the most popular person in America right now.

Now that major players like Netflix, Disney+, and WB Discovery’s HBO Max have entered most of the big international markets, and bombarded consumers there with marketing and promotional efforts, onboarding of new subscribers inevitably has slowed. Combine that with inflation and other economic concerns, and you have a recipe for austerity and belt-tightening among the big streamers that’s virtually guaranteed to turn the smorgasbord of Peak TV into a more conservative a la carte offering. Lots of stuff you like, sure, but in smaller portions.

While Netflix once made its famed billion-dollar mega-deals with top-name creators, now it balks when writer/director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday”) asks for $150 million to pay her cast of A-list actors. Her latest romantic comedy will likely move over to Warner Bros., which can open the film in theaters and hopefully recoup Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender’s salaries rather than just spending the money and hoping it lingers longer in the public consciousness than “The Gray Man.”

CNET did the math last month and determined that it’s still cheaper to choose a few subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime over a conventional cable TV package by an average of about $30 per month (provided you don’t include the cost of internet service itself). But that means picking and choosing your favorite platforms, as once you start adding all the major offerings out there, the prices add up quickly. (And those are just the biggest services from major Hollywood studios and media companies, let alone smaller, more specialized offerings.) Any kind of cable replacement or live TV streaming platform makes the cost essentially comparable to an old-school cable TV package, around $100 a month or more.

So called FAST, or Free Ad-supported Streaming TV services, have become a popular alternative to paid streaming platforms, with Fox’s Tubi making its first-ever appearance on Nielsen’s monthly platform rankings just last month. (It’s now more popular than the first FAST service to appear on the chart, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV.) According to Nielsen, Tubi now accounts for around 1% of all TV viewing in the US, and its model of 24/7 themed channels supported by semi-frequent ad breaks couldn’t resemble cable television anymore if it tried.

Services like Tubi and Pluto stand to benefit significantly from the new streaming paradigm, and not just from fatigued consumers tired of paying for more content. Cast-off shows and films from bigger streamers like HBO Max often find their way to ad-supported platforms, where they can start bringing in revenue for their original studios and producers. The infamous HBO Max shows like “The Nevers” and “Westworld” that WBD controversially pulled from the HBO Max service can now be found on Tubi or The Roku Channel.

HBO Max’s recently-canceled reality dating series “FBoy Island” has also found a new home, but it’s not on any streaming platform. Season 3 will air on TV’s The CW, along with a new spinoff series called (wait for it) “FGirl Island.” So in at least some ways, “30 Rock” was right: technology really IS cyclical. - Lon Harris

Here’s What Happened in LA’s Entertainment Tech World This Week 🍿

FaZe Clan is finally embracing women’s esports over a decade after its founding.

The future of hologram tech comes down to its price tag.

Social Media📱

TikTok users are finally talking about the ban.

Here’s how LA’s tech scene feels about the SVB collapse.

Small businesses are taking over TikTok live.

As TikTok faces a ban, competitors prepare to woo its user base.

Are influencers the key to fighting climate change?

Artificial Intelligence 🤖

The AI arms race hits college campuses.

AI is so cool. Why is the conversation around it so dumb?

We asked our readers how they’re using AI in a professional setting. Here's what they said.

Venture Capital & Finance 💰

The SoCal companies affected by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

Who’s to blame for the Silicon Valley Bank mess? The internet investigates.

The near miss apocalypse: predictions for post SVB collapse.

Also 💬

Want to fight climate change? Ask the influencers how to create a meaningful video.

SXSW transportation events heavy on hype light on details.

Get caught up on this week's career moves in L.A.'s tech world with our weekly roundup.

And check out our weekly 'Raises' roundup of L.A. startups that raised capital this week.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base
Evan Xie

This is the web version of dot.LA’s daily newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Another day, another update in the unending saga that is the potential TikTok ban.

The latest: separate from the various bills proposing a ban, the Biden administration has been in talks with TikTok since September to try and find a solution. Now, having thrown its support behind Senator MarkWarner’s bill, the White House is demanding TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sell its stakes in the company to avoid a ban. This would be a major blow to the business, as TikTok alone is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion—a significant portion of ByteDance’s $220 billion value.

Clearly, TikTok faces an uphill battle as its CEO Shou Zi Chew prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. But other social media companies are likely looking forward to seeing their primary competitor go—and are positioning themselves as the best replacement for migrating users.

Meta

Last year, The Washington Post reported that Meta paid a consulting firm to plant negative stories about TikTok. Now, Meta is reaping the benefits of TikTok’s downfall, with its shares rising 3% after the White House told TikTok to leave ByteDance. But this initial boost means nothing if the company can’t entice creators and viewers to Instagram and Facebook. And it doesn’t look promising in that regard.

Having waffled between pushing its short-form videos, called Reels, and de-prioritizing them in the algorithm, Instagram announced last week that it would no longer offer monetary bonuses to creators making Reels. This might be because of TikTok’s imminent ban. After all, the program was initially meant to convince TikTok creators to use Instagram—an issue that won’t be as pressing if TikTok users have no choice but to find another platform.

Snap

Alternatively, Snap is doing the opposite and luring creators with an ad revenue-sharing program. First launched in 2022, creators are now actively boasting about big earnings from the program, which provides 50% of ad revenue from videos. Snapchat is clearly still trying to win over users with new tech like its OpenAI chatbot, which it launched last month. But it's best bet to woo the TikTok crowd is through its new Sounds features, which suggest audio for different lenses and will match montage videos to a song’s rhythm. Audio clips are crucial to TikTok’s platform, so focusing on integrating songs into content will likely appeal to users looking to recreate that experience.

YouTube

With its short-form ad revenue-sharing program, YouTube Shorts has already lured over TikTok creators. It's even gotten major stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift to promote music on Shorts. This is likely where YouTube has the best bet of taking TikTok’s audience. Since TikTok has become deeply intertwined with the music industry, Shorts might be primed to take its spot. And with its new feature that creates compiles all the videos using a specific song, Shorts is likely hoping to capture musicians looking to promote their work.

Triller

The most blatant attempt at seducing TikTok users, however, comes from Triller, which launched a portal for people to move their videos from TikTok to its platform. It’s simple, but likely the most effective tactic—and one that other short-form video platforms should try to replicate. With TikTok users worried about losing their backlog of content, this not only lets users archive but also bolsters Triller’s content offerings. The problem, of course, is that Triller isn’t nearly as well known as the other platforms also trying to capture TikTok users. Still, those who are in the know will likely find this option easier than manually re-uploading content to other sites.

It's likely that many of these platforms will see a momentary boost if the TikTok ban goes through. But all of these companies need to ensure that users coming from TikTok actually stay on their platforms. Considering that they have already been upended by one newcomer when TikTok took over, there’s good reason to believe that a new app could come in and swoop up TikTok’s user base. As of right now, it's unclear who will come out on top. But the true loser is the user who has to adhere to the everyday whims of each of these platforms.

https://twitter.com/ksnyder_db

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said
Evan Xie

According to Pew Research data, 27% of Americans interact with AI on a daily basis. With the launch of Open AI’s latest language model GPT-4, we asked our readers how they use AI in a professional capacity. Here’s what they told us:

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