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Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Social media is a mess right now, with Elon Musk is buying Twitter and Meta continuing to deal with the fallout from "The Facebook Files."
In the midst of this turmoil, TikTok—the Chinese-owned video-sharing app almost banned in the U.S. under the Trump administration—is continuing to dominate the social media landscape.
According to a recent study by digital analytics company Sensor Tower, which examined new app downloads across Apple's App Store and the Google Play store in the first quarter of 2022, TikTok was downloaded over 175 million times in the first three months of the year—making it the most-downloaded app worldwide and continuing a nine-quarter streak of 10 million-plus downloads.
When using international metrics, Culver City-based TikTok ranked at the top of Apple’s App Store but behind Instagram and Facebook in Google Play downloads worldwide. Despite being owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, it was only the third-most downloaded app in Asia.
In the US, however, TikTok led downloads across app store providers.
Based on new downloads, YouTube is currently one of TikTok’s largest competitors, placing second in App Store downloads worldwide in the first quarter. Each platform has attempted to mirror the other’s success; TikTok recently expanded its max video length to 10 minutes, while YouTube launched the 60-second video platform YouTube Shorts.
As TikTok continues to dominate the social media landscape, more brands are turning to the platform. This was confirmed by the results of another study by video analytics firm Conviva, which examined verified brands, media companies and sports leagues on the video-sharing app to determine which brands grew the fastest in 2021 in terms of follower growth. Two major global sports brands grew the most, according to the study, with Premier League soccer teams Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United taking the top two spots. Streaming also grew prolifically, with Netflix ranking third and Amazon Prime Video coming in sixth.
Competing social media platforms have found themselves having to contend with TikTok’s success. Instagram, which ranked second in worldwide app downloads in the first quarter, recently announced changes to its algorithm that will suppress content on its feeds reposted from TikTok. Snapchat, which was the seventh-most downloaded app worldwide in the first quarter, has seen its Spotlight short-form video feed gain popularity.
- TikTok Timeline: The Rise and Pause of a Social Video Giant - dot.LA ›
- TikTok Announces New Way For Creators to Earn Money - dot.LA ›
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On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Amanda Groves talks about how PLUS Capital advises celebrity investors and why more high-profile individuals are choosing to invest instead of endorse.
As a partner at PLUS, Groves works with over 70 artists and athletes, helping to guide their investment strategies. PLUS advises their talent roster to combine their financial capital with their social capital and focus on five investment areas: the future of work, future of education, health and wellness, the conscious consumer and sustainability.
“The idea is if we can leverage these people who have incredible audiences—and influence over that audience—in the world of venture capital, you'd be able to help make those businesses move forward faster,” Groves said.
PLUS works to create celebrity partnerships by identifying each client’s passions and finding companies that align with them, Groves said. From there, the venture firm can reach out to prospective partners from its many contacts and can help evaluate businesses that approach its clients. Recently, PLUS paired actress Nina Dobrev with the candy company SmartSweets after she had told them about her love for its snacks.
Celebrity entrepreneurship has shifted quite a bit in recent years, Groves said. While celebrities are paid for endorsements, Groves said investing allows them to gain equity from the growth of companies that benefit from their work.
“Like in movies, for example, where they're earning a residual along the way, they thought, ‘You know, if we're going to partner with these brands and create a tremendous amount of enterprise value, we should be able to capture some of the upside that we're generating, too’,” she said.
Partnering in this way also allows her clients to work with a wider range of brands, including small brands that often can’t afford to spend millions on endorsements. Investing allows high-profile individuals to represent brands they care about, Groves said.
“The last piece of the puzzle was a drive towards authenticity,” Groves said. “A lot of these high-profile artists and athletes are not interested, once they've achieved some sort of level of success, in partnering with brands that they don't personally align with.”
dot.LA Editorial Intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.
David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.
Rivian’s stock lost 7% yesterday on the back of news that the company could face delays in fulfilling Amazon’s order for a fleet of electric delivery vans due to legal issues with a supplier. The electric vehicle maker is suing Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) over a pricing dispute related to the seats that the supplier promised, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The legal issue could mean that Amazon may not receive their electric vans on time. The dispute hinges on whether or not Commercial Vehicle Group is allowed to raise the prices of its seats after Rivian made engineering and design changes to the original version. Rivian says the price hike from CVG violates the supply contract. CVG denies the claim.
Regardless, the dispute could hamper Rivian’s ability to deliver electric vans to Amazon on time. The ecommerce/streaming/cloud computing/AI megacorporation controls an 18% stake in Rivian as one of the company’s largest early investors. Amazon has previously said it hopes to buy 100,000 delivery vehicles from Rivian by 2030.
The stock plunge marked another wild turn for the EV manufacturer. Last week, Rivian shares dropped 21% on Monday after Ford, another early investor, announced its intent to sell 8 million shares. The next few days saw even further declines as virtually the entire market saw massive losses, but then Rivian rallied partially on the back of their earnings report on Wednesday, gaining 28% back by Friday. Then came yesterday’s 7% slide. Today the stock is up another 10%.
Hold on tight, who knows where we’re going next.
Some Snap Kit platform developers have skirted guidelines meant to make the app safer for children.
A new report from TechCrunch released Tuesday found that some third-party apps that connect to users’ Snap accounts have not been updated according to new guidelines announced in March. The restrictions, which target anonymous messaging and friend-finding apps, are meant to increase child safety. However, the investigation found a number of apps either ignore the new regulations or falsely claim to be integrated with Snapchat.
The Santa Monica-based social media company announced the changes after facing two separate lawsuits related to teen suicide allegedly caused by the app. Over 1,500 developers integrate Snap features like the camera and Bitmojis. Snap originally claimed the update would not affect many apps.
Developers had 30 days to revise their software, but the investigation found that some apps, such as the anonymous Q&A app Sendit, were granted an extension. Others blatantly avoided the changes—the anonymous messaging app HMU, which is now meant for adult users, is still available to users "9+" in the App Store. Certain apps that have been banned from Snap, like Intext, still advertise Snapchat integration.
“First and foremost, we put the privacy and safety of our community first and expect the products built by our developer community to adhere to that standard in addition to bringing fun and positive experiences to people,” Director of Platform Partnerships Alston Cheek told TechCrunch.
The news is a blow to Snap’s recent efforts to cast itself as a responsible social media platform The company recently announced Colleen DeCourcy would take over as the company’s new chief creative officer and CEO Evan Spiegel to recently made a a generous personal donation to graduates of Otis College of Art and Design. The social media company currently faces a lawsuit from a teenager who claims it has not done enough to protect minors from sexual exploitation. In April, 44 attorney generals sent a letter to Snap and TikTok urging the companies to strengthen parental controls.
Lawmakers are considering new policies that would hold social media companies accountable for the content on their platforms. One such bill would require social media companies to share data with independent researchers.
Snap Inc., Snapchat's parent company, is an investor in dot.LA.