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Dating app Hinge is ditching the Facebook login requirement

Hinge, the dating app that promised a better set of prospects by suggesting matches who share Facebook friends, is about to radically change its course: it’s ditching its requirement that users log in with Facebook. The change will go into effect on Monday, June 5th on Android, followed by a June 12th release on iOS.
While the option to use Facebook won’t be fully removed, users will instead be able to choose to authenticate using their phone number, the company says.
The decision was prompted by ongoing requests from users who have asked for a non-Facebook login option, Hinge founder and CEO Justin McLeod says. This is especially important to the company as people “move away from Facebook and onto other platforms,” he notes.
This may refer to younger users’ preference for different social platforms, as reflected by a Pew Internet survey released this week, which found that teens are dumping Facebook proper for YouTube, Snapchat and (Facebook-owed) Instagram. 
But Hinge isn’t the first dating app to go this route. Bumble also recently said it was removing the Facebook requirement, in response to user feedback.

In Hinge’s case, however, the decision changes the dating app’s fundamental value proposition, which was focused on matching singles with people they were already connected to by way of Facebook friends, up to three degrees away. The premise was that this would make online dating feel less creepy. And, because you shared mutual friends, you’d be less concerned that the person was a total nut.
This also helped Hinge stand out in a space that’s dominated by Tinder, which could often seem random and filled with those not in search of “real relationships,” let’s say.
Over the years, Hinge doubled down on this brand position with call-outs like “meet friends of friends, not randos” in its marketing materials.
Its user profiles, meanwhile, focus less on users’ looks — unlike the Hot or Not-ish Tinder. Instead, users answer getting-to-know-you questions and share fun, personality-revealing facts on their profile, along with photos and videos. But the goal is to present not just the person’s face or body, but their goals, interests and way they view the world.
Hinge had also experimented with features that make online dating less frustrating, ranging from anti-ghosting reduction features to an app that allows your friends to take over for you. (This has since shut down.)
It’s unclear how well these moves have paid off for Hinge in the long run, as the company won’t share user numbers. It will only say the active member base has doubled since the beginning of the year. However, Sensor Tower estimates Hinge has more than 3 million worldwide downloads across both iOS and Android, 94 percent of which are in the U.S.
The removal of the Facebook requirement, not at all coincidentally, comes at an interesting time for dating app businesses in general, which have just learned Facebook now aims to compete with them directly.
In May, Facebook announced a new dating feature that would allow people to meet non-friends. Hinge took notice, as did others.
“Facebook Dating Looks a Whole Lot Like Hinge,” wrote Wired, for example.

Our team watching the #f8 conference: pic.twitter.com/vCwP3qpgzE
— Hinge (@HingeApp) May 1, 2018

“It’s interesting to see a company facing so many privacy concerns enter one of the most intimate spaces in tech today,” McLeod says of Facebook’s dating plans. “We’re flattered they chose to copy our designs, but ultimately we’re not worried about them as a competitor – our members are increasingly moving away from Facebook as a platform.”
The updated Hinge app will offer users three ways to use Hinge: 1) they can continue to log in with Facebook as usual, 2) they can log in with their phone number, or 3) they can log in with a phone number, but use an option in the app to import select bio information from Facebook, for convenience.
After filling in the profile, users can disconnect from Facebook without losing the imported information, Hinge notes.
Hinge doesn’t believe the move away from Facebook as the underlying network will have an ill effect. Because of its robust profiles, which allow for the liking of individual pieces of content, it thinks its machine learning algorithms have advanced to the point where they can surpass “friends of friends” as a predictor of compatibility, the CEO says.
“Friends of friends is a symbol for what Hinge truly stands for: humanizing modern dating and fighting against the culture of shallow swiping,” says McLeod. “As the Hinge community continues to grow and evolve, we’re not relying on a single feature to best match our members; instead we’ll remain at the forefront of product development and double down on giving our members’ the best offline experience,” he adds.
It’s not hard to get on board with Hinge’s overall vision, but its app is still dwarfed by Tinder, which is now estimated to have more than 50 million users. Rival Bumble is growing as well, with some 22 million+ users. And because dating is ultimately a numbers game, Hinge needs the no-Facebook-needed policy to really boost its own.

Dating app Hinge is ditching the Facebook login requirement

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits Facebook due to privacy intrusions

“It is time for me to move on . . . I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee,” WhatsApp co-founder, CEO and Facebook board member Jan Koum wrote today. The announcement followed shortly after The Washington Post reported that Koum would leave due to disagreements with Facebook management about WhatsApp user data privacy and weakened encryption. Koum obscured that motive in his note that says, “I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly commented on Koum’s Facebook post about his departure, writing “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.” That comment further tries to downplay the idea that Facebook pushed Koum away by trying to erode encryption.
The move comes 3.5 years after WhatsApp’s acquisition, meaning Koum may have vested much of his stock and have fewer financial incentives to stay. It’s currently unclear what will happen to Koum’s Facebook board seat that WashPo says he’ll vacate, or who will replace him as WhatsApp’s CEO.
One possible candidate for the CEO role would be WhatsApp business executive Neeraj Arora, a former Google corporate development manager who’s been with WhatsApp since 2011 — well before the Facebook acquisition. A source described him as the #4 at WhatsApp.
Values misaligned
Koum sold WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014 for a jaw-dropping $19 billion. But since then it’s more than tripled its user count to 1.5 billion, making the price to turn messaging into a one-horse race seem like a steal. But at the time, Koum and co-founder Brian Acton were assured that WhatsApp wouldn’t have to run ads or merge its data with Facebook’s. So were regulators in Europe, where WhatsApp is most popular.
A year and a half later, though, Facebook pressured WhatsApp to change its terms of service and give users’ phone numbers to its parent company. That let Facebook target those users with more precise advertising, such as by letting businesses upload lists of phone numbers to hit those people with promotions. Facebook was eventually fined $122 million by the European Union in 2017 — a paltry sum for a company earning more than $4 billion in profit per quarter.
But the perceived invasion of WhatsApp user privacy drove a wedge between Koum and the parent company well before the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. A source confirms that Koum had been considering leaving for a year. Acton left Facebook in November, and has publicly supported the #DeleteFacebook movement since.

WashPo writes that Koum was also angered by Facebook executives pushing for a weakening of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption in order to facilitate its new WhatsApp For Business program. It’s possible that letting multiple team members from a business all interact with its WhatsApp account could be incompatible with strong encryption. Facebook plans to finally make money off WhatsApp by offering bonus services to big companies like airlines, e-commerce sites and banks that want to conduct commerce over the chat app.
Jan Koum (Photo: TOBIAS HASE/AFP/Getty Images)
Koum was heavily critical of advertising in apps, once telling Forbes that “Dealing with ads is depressing . . . You don’t make anyone’s life better by making advertisements work better.” He vowed to keep them out of WhatsApp. But over the past year, Facebook has rolled out display ads in the Messenger inbox. Without Koum around, Facebook might push to expand those obtrusive ads to WhatsApp as well.
The high-profile departure comes at a vulnerable time for Facebook, with its big F8 developer conference starting tomorrow despite Facebook simultaneously shutting down parts of its dev platform as penance for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Meanwhile, Google is trying to fix its fragmented messaging strategy, ditching apps like Allo to focus on a mobile carrier-backed alternative to SMS it’s building into Android Messages.
While the News Feed made Facebook rich, it also made it the villain. Messaging has become its strongest suit thanks to the dual dominance of Messenger and WhatsApp. Considering many users surely don’t even realize WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, Koum’s departure over policy concerns isn’t likely to change that. But it’s one more point in what’s becoming a thick line connecting Facebook’s business ambitions to its cavalier approach to privacy.
You can read Koum’s full post below.

It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best…
Posted by Jan Koum on Monday, April 30, 2018

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits Facebook due to privacy intrusions

Titans Talking Turkey? Larry Page, Tim Cook Reportedly Discussing Patent Issues

Page / Cook

It sounds like the setup to a weird, utterly geeky joke — “So Apple’s CEO calls up Google’s CEO…” — but according to a new report from Reuters, the situation is anything but. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page have recently spent time chatting with each other over the phone, and they plan to continue doing so at least for the time being.

Exactly what the two titans of tech are talking about isn’t totally clear yet, but it’s probably safe to assume that they dispensed with the pleasantries pretty quickly.

No, these supposed conversations were all about patents — how they could they not be, given Apple’s recent legal triumph over Samsung — and Reuters’ sources pointed to the possibility of an arrangement between the respective companies that could help ease some tension:

One possible scenario under consideration could be a truce involving disputes over basic features and functions in Google’s Android mobile software, one source said. But it’s unclear whether Page and Cook are discussing a broad settlement of the various disputes between the two companies – most of which involve the burgeoning mobile computing area – or are focused on a more limited set of issues.

Truce? That’s a far cry from the “thermonuclear” approach that the late Steve Jobs prescribed, but it’s not entirely a shock to see the word bandied about — I’m sure neither company is afraid of pulling the legal trigger should it prove necessary, but words can sometimes settle issues in a way that pure legal might can’t. While it’s good to see these companies on speaking terms though, it’s hard not to imagine what would happen should these talks wind up being less than fruitful.

Consider the situation — Samsung was found to have infringed on a number of Apple’s technical and design patents, and is being asked to cough up $1.05 billion in damages. While it’s true that most of the infringements (whether you think they’re valid or not) are centered on Samsung-specific design choices, that’s not to say that Google is completely in the clear. The company was quick to point out the “most” of the patent claims in question didn’t “relate to the core Android operating system” after the landmark verdict was delivered, but that may not be such a huge issue anyway. As The Verge’s Nilay Patel adroitly points out, it may not be too difficult to design around Apple’s specific implementation of certain patents, and the newest version of Android dodges that rather nicely.

In the wake of the multi-week trial, some wondered whether or not Google would lend its collaborator a helping hand. It wouldn’t be the first time, after all — HTC sued Apple last year for infringement against patents that Google had sold to it just a week prior, and the company stepped into the midst of another copyright infringement debate when Lodsys sued 11 app developers in 2011. If Cook and Page both walk away unsatisfied, it wouldn’t be impossible to imagine Google trying to help out in one way or another.

The precedent is there, but it seems like the sort of option that Google saves as a last resort. In any case, while Apple and Google’s head honchos continue to talk things out, Samsung is also reportedly gearing up for yet another legal battle. I’m not talking about the appeals process or the preliminary injunction hearing — The Korea Times reported earlier this morning that Samsung is planning to sue Apple should it release an LTE-enabled iPhone. Considering the tone of recent leaks and rumors (not to mention that there’s no way Apple would release an LTE iPad and fail to follow up with an LTE iPhone), Samsung should soon get the fight it’s looking for.

Titans Talking Turkey? Larry Page, Tim Cook Reportedly Discussing Patent Issues

Ebay Beats Forecasts On Strong Growth From Marketplaces, Q2 Revenue Up 23 Percent To $3.4B


eBay has just released its second quarter 2012 earnings report, in which the eCommerce giant outpaced expectations for yet another quarter. Revenue increased 23% to $3.4 billion, compared to the same period of 2011. Non-GAAP earnings came in at $0.56 per diluted share, while eBay posted Q2 net income of $692 million — up from $283 million in Q2 2011. In terms of benchmarks, analysts had been expecting earnings of $0.55 per share on revenue of $3.36 billion.

For reference, we can compare this to Q2 2011, when (excluding one-time items) eBay earned 48 cents per share with revenue posted at $2.76 billion — both of which were, at the time, above estimates. Now, as it was then, eBay continues to operate as one of the largest eCommerce companies in the world, so many look to the health of its principal businesses as an indicator of how eCommerce is faring overall. And although the economic pains over the last few years have wreaked havoc on traditional retailers and brick and mortars, it seems that eBay and online commerce seem to be more than weathering the storm.

“We delivered a great second quarter, driven by eBay Marketplaces’ best performance in years, strong growth at PayPal and strong same-store-sales growth for GSI’s large retail customers,” said eBay President and CEO John Donahoe. “Our entire company is strong, but we’re particularly pleased with eBay Marketplaces, which delivered its strongest organic growth in gross merchandise volume, excluding vehicles, since 2006. And mobile continues to be a game changer. We now expect eBay and PayPal mobile to each transact $10 billion in volume in 2012 — that’s more than double 2011, a staggering surge in mobile shopping and payments on devices that did not exist just a few years ago. Retail is at an inflection point, and we are helping to reshape how people around the world shop and pay.”

Analysts were also looking to PayPal, which had an extremely active first quarter (with numerous additions to its product set) and ended Q1 with 109.8 million active registered accounts for signs of growth. PayPal didn’t disappoint, with registered users jumping to 113.2 million in Q2.

The company has been moving to take its payment solution beyond the Web, bringing it to local merchants in brick-and-mortar stores and to mobile devices with its recently-launched Square competitor. PayPal’s revenue increased 26% year, and the platform’s net total payment volume grew 20% year over year to $34.5 billion. (This report follows, by the way, PayPal’s acquisition of Card.io yesterday.)

But the biggest contributor to the company’s continued growth in the second quarter came from Marketplaces, which saw the strongest “organic growth rate in gross merchandise volume, excluding vehicles, since 2006,” eBay said in a statement. GMV grew at a 15 percent year-over-year basis (excluding the effects of foreign currency), while international GMV increased 15 percent to $16 billion. In all, Marketplaces revenue grew 9 percent year-over-year to $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, sold items increased 20 percent in the second quarter, a 2.5 percentage point acceleration, which the company said reflected “a better customer experience and improved selection.”

Also of note: eBay’s suite of mobile apps surpassed 90 million downloads globally since it launched mobile in Q3 2008 — up from 78 million global downloads in Q1. As Donahoe mentioned, the company is now expecting both eBay and PayPal mobile to generate $10 billion in mobile transacted volume in 2012, which, for those keeping track at home, is more than double what it saw in 2011.

The company’s GSI business, which was acquired in the second quarter of 2011, saw $221 million in revenue for the quarter and generated $674 million in global eCommerce (GeC) merchandise sales, a slight drop from $237 million in revenue and $715 million in global sales in the first quarter. However, same store sales grew 21% year-over-year (compared to 26 percent year-over-year growth in Q1), which is an indication of strong eCommerce sales from the company’s retail clients.

As for looking forward, eBay is expecting more of the same, maintaining the guidance it set forth in April. The company forecasted net revenues in the range of $3.3 to $3.4 billion in the third quarter, with non-GAAP earnings per diluted share expected in the range of $0.53 to $0.55. In turn, it held firm on guidance for the year, expecting revenues in the range of $13.8 to $14.1 billion with GAAP earnings per diluted share in the range of $1.91 to $1.96 and non-GAAP earnings per diluted share to be between $2.30 and $2.35 — exactly on par with guidance at the end of Q1.

Remember, too, that eBay posted a solid first quarter, in which it was remarkably active, especially when it came to PayPal. The company put a good deal of resources into ramping up payment options for large and small merchants, debuting an in-store payments platform for large retailers; PayPal Here, a card swiper that attaches to a mobile phone for small businesses, with hints at a brand new PayPal wallet.

And, of course, there were a number of leadership changes at the e-commerce company in Q1. After former president Scott Thompson departed for the CEO role at Yahoo, PayPal named David Marcus, the former CEO and founder of mobile payments startup Zong and PayPal Mobile VP, as President (PayPal acquired Zong last year for $240 million).

X.commerce CTO Neal Sample also left eBay to join American Express, while PayPal product VP Sam Shrauger left for Yahoo and Alyssa Cutright took off for Square.

Q2 earnings highlights below:

Ebay Beats Forecasts On Strong Growth From Marketplaces, Q2 Revenue Up 23 Percent To $3.4B

Google TV Needs To Decide: Platform Or Closed Ecosystem


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Andy Liu, CEO of BuddyTV Guide, a channel guide app available on iOS, Android and Google TV.

There is no debating that consumer adoption of Google TV is extremely disappointing.

Logitech has dropped out of the business, several online publications including this one have declared the platform dead. While some new OEMs like Vizio, Sony, and LG have launched new devices with Google TV, it’s not clear that any meaningful customer adoption will come as a result of these deals.

I believe there is one big reason it hasn’t taken off. It’s that Google TV is straddling a dual-strategic approach when it needs to pick one strategy and double down on it.

Google TV needs to be building a platform that embraces a strong developer ecosystem or it needs to close it down and focus on a closed ecosystem like Apple TV and iterate until it has the right consumer product not both.

The problem with Google TV is that it claims that it is a developer friendly platform and embraces the developer community.  It does not. Time and time again, Google TV has chosen the route of straddling between building their own apps and trying to engage the developer community to build a killer app for its platform.

For example, there are over 90 second screen startups building apps that could be an extremely compelling use case for Google TV users. Instead of pushing 3rd parties to succeed, Google TV has taken the approach of building its own second screen app without being very transparent with its partners about its intention of building its own.

There is an inherent disadvantage for a 3rd party to build a second screen app, when there will be one that exists native and developed by Google. This is an extremely dangerous position to take with the development community as it takes real investment by companies to build for this nascent platform.

Companies will quickly realize that anything successful will be copied by Google TV and relegated to second class status as Google TV promotes its own apps ahead of those by 3rd parties. Instead of having potentially 90 companies innovating and building compelling second screen apps on the Google TV platform to find a killer use case, Google TV has taken a poor short-term approach of competing against its own developer community.

Google TV in their v2 OTA update last year launched an app called TV & Movies, it’s native to the platform and pre-installed with every install of the update. This update was in direct competition with first screen apps like BuddyTV Guide which Google TV had early versions of internally. While disappointing, it would have been nice to know that Google TV was developing TV & Movies in advance, so we could have built another app focusing on areas that would be complementary to TV & Movies. Instead, we invested a ton of resources to build on a nascent platform only to see a very similar app on Google TV.

Most recently, TV & Movies have updated the app to include favorite channels, one of the most popular features on BuddyTV Guide. As a third party developer on the platform, we have significantly reduced our investment in the first screen app primarily due to the lack of support from Google TV to promote third party apps and the lack of transparency regarding its roadmap that may be competitive to third parties.

Strategically, Google TV needs to pick a strategy and focus on it exclusively.  If it is to build a developer ecosystem which allows thousands of developers the ability to innovate and to find that killer app or two, then Google TV needs to re-think its product roadmap to enable developers to be successful. Focus on building great developer tools and listen to the developer community.

If Google TV must compete against a 3rd party developer since it is a “core” feature, then be transparent and work with the 3rd party to cover other white space that might be compelling. Google TV’s platform could focus on in-app purchases, subscription services, developer tools, developer outreach, OEM relationship building, and design resources for 3rd parties would be a great start. Work with developers to develop marketing strategies to get app adoption. Build momentum with the developer community such that more developers come on board. Be transparent about what’s working and what’s not. Help developers avoid pitfalls and use cases that work and don’t work. Identify customer holes for 3rd parties to tackle before they become impediments to adoption. Focus on becoming a real partner for developers.

Or, conversely, shut down the developer ecosystem to get the product right. It’s ok to focus on getting the product right and iterate until there is critical mass before going back to the developer community. Build great apps and find the killer app internally. This, in itself, is a great strategy as well since the developer ecosystem won’t be wasting time potentially competing against Google TV and can wait until there is real market traction to go after.

We want Google TV to succeed. I’ve been a long-term user of Google TV and it’s a good product with a good vision. However, I bought a Google TV for my parents a while ago and it’s still gathering dust –- the product is just not ready for mass consumer adoption. Google TV needs a killer use case and either they need to enable developers to find it or they should focus all their energy on finding it themselves. The success of Google TV is good for consumers and developers; it’s disruptive and will force the TV ecosystem to evolve quicker. I know we’ll be watching closely with anxious anticipation that Google TV will eventually get it right.

Google TV Needs To Decide: Platform Or Closed Ecosystem