Kids These Days
Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week, and tell you what you need to know, and why it matters.
This week’s deal: Oyster, the Netflix for books, signed a deal with Simon & Schuster that will give Oyster subscribers access to Simon & Schuster’s entire backlist.
Oyster, a service that charges $10 a month for all-you-can-read access to a library of half a million books, just added heavyweight Simon & Schuster to their list of publishers. That makes two of the Big Five companies that dominate the publishing game, and if Oyster can sign on the remaining three publishers, they could take their place among companies like Spotify and Netflix as one of the great subscription titans of the decade.
Epic!, a subscription app for children’s books, just closed a deal with HarperCollins that will give its subscribers access to over 1000 books, including classics like The Chronicles of Narnia, Frog and Toad, and The Secret Garden. This comes on the heels of last night’s announcement that Oyster has signed a similar — but much larger — deal with Simon & Schuster.
Epic! has only been available for two months, and has already landed deals with two of the five top publishers, the other being Simon & Schuster. Epic! cofounder Kevin Donahue says that the appeal of book subscription apps for big publishers is that they can make money off of older books that otherwise wouldn’t even find their way onto shelves.
The one thing more depressing than spending your weekend nights alone in bed watching Sherlock is falling asleep before you even find out how he solves the murder, amiright?
Some Netflix employees have figured out a possible way to solve the highly pressing problem, The Week reports. At an internal company Hack Day last week, a team of five Netflix-ers presented their invention: a customized FitBit wristband that detects when you’ve fallen asleep, pauses whatever show you’re aggressively binge-watching and replaces it with a friendly “Looks like you’ve fallen asleep!” message. When the user returns to Netflix (presumably after a night of Benedict Cumberbatch-filled dreams), they can resume their show from the point at which they previously dozed off.
Gilt Groupe is rumored to (finally) go public in the third quarter of this year. “The company is in a good place and the market is a good place,” said a source. [Recode]
How funny is HLN’s pivot in becoming the “first TV home for the social media generation”? [LostRemote]
Netflix created House of Cards Against Humanity, a set of “inappropriate” cards, to promote the show’s second season. [Verge]
Hulu announced it’s adding several CBS classics, like Happy Days and The Brady Bunch, and newer programs such as Everybody Loves Raymond to its platform soon. [Engadget]
“Instead of bridging the gap between social news and real news, Paper’s creators unintentionally highlighted it.” [Forbes]
Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt is doing such a good job that he’s receiving $100 million in stock options as a bonus. [New York Times]
Microsoft is pumping $15 million in to Foursquare and signed a licensing deal to use the app’s location data. [AdWeek]
There’s lots of guessing about Twitter’s first earnings report that’s coming out later today. [Recode]
Here’s everything you need to know about new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. [Verge]
Taking another page from HBO’s playbook, Netflix has ordered a third season of House of Cards before the second season has even premiered. [USA Today]
Yahoo’s Q4 earnings were bad. Revenues dipped 2 percent to $1.2 billion and the stock tanked as a result. [BI]
Medium, which is not Tumblr, has raised $25 million in another round of funding. [Recode]
Apple added a TV section to its online store so that means everything in your life is going to change. [New York Times]
Netflix could finally expand to Germany and France. [Verge]
The Daily Dot has acquired the British version of themselves, The Kernel. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. [TechCrunch]
In this week’s issue of the New Yorker, there’s an intriguing profile about Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his company’s boom.
The lengthy piece, penned by Ken Auletta, is an interesting deep-dive on how the streaming site maneuvered away from the edge of irrelevance to the dominant, Emmy-winning, Robin Wright-purveying entertainment powerhouse that it is.
It might not happen immediately, but it’s all but certain Netflix is going to jack up its prices. “It’s not clear that one price fits all,” said CEO Reed Hastings. [Bloomberg]
Nerd fight! Facebook is debunking that Princeton University study that it’s going to lose 80 percent of its users in the next few years. A researcher wrote it’s “utter nonsense.” [TechCrunch]
Rap Genius has come to a licensing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group to keep annotating their songs. [The 405]
Twitter has expanded analytics to its “Cards” feature. [Recode]
Here’s how Imgur became Reddit’s go-to image sharing service for pictures of dogs in fedoras. [Businessweek]
Netflix had a strong fourth quarter. It added 2.3 million subscribers and revenue rose to $1.18 billion. [New York Times]
Aol has purchased New York-based “personalization startup” Gravity for $90 million. [Recode]
Snapchat’s new security feature is unsurprisingly very shitty. [Gizmodo]
Whoops! NPD Group is temporarily pulling its negative report about subscriber declines for premium cablers after the channels complained about its inaccuracies. [The Wrap]
TiVo (who?) laid off a ton of employees from its hardware unit yesterday. [CNet]
HBO is soon going to have a bigger breakdown than Amy Jellicoe: a new study reveals that consumers are spending their money on streaming video on-demand services (like Netflix and Hulu Plus) and getting rid of their subscriptions to premium cable movie channels, reports Variety.
In the past 18 months, total U.S. households that subscribe to Netflix and similar services increased four percentage points to 27 percent. However, during the same time, the number of households who shelled out roughly $10 a month for the pay movie channels dropped six points to 32 percent.