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.
Thanks, Facebook, for incorporating another feature that’s already been available in app form for years.
The social network that brought you the “ask” button so creeps can inquire about the relationship status or phone number you’ve purposely been keeping private will soon allow you to detect songs, movies and TV shows in order to share what you’re listening to and watching with 800 of your closest friends.
It’s so simple, and yet so genius.
A band called Vulfpeck has devised a brilliant plan to reap major royalties from Spotify so they can fund their upcoming tour, Noisey reports.
Bitcoin’s value plummeted 20 percent last night after a major glitch hit trading exchange Mt. Gox. [CNBC]
Google laid the ultimate body slam against Russia’s anti-gay laws as it’s about to kickoff the Winter Olympics. The search giant changed its homepage into a colorful logo with a slam at the IOC for not addressing the problems. [Verge]
The FTC approved Google’s $3.2 billion deal to buy fancy thermostat maker Nest. [Recode]
Here’s an honest version of how those Facebook “Look Back” videos should really look like. [BI]
After being snubbed by Spotify, Tesla inked a deal with Rdio to include the service in its vehicles. [GigaOM]
Aereo CEO Chet Kanojila said he’s confident that the Supreme Court will rule in his favor. “I can’t imagine they won’t be on the side of innovation,” he said. [New York Times]
Uber launched an ad campaign mocking Lyft on Facebook in hopes of luring customers away from its lower-priced competitor. [AdAge]
Michael Sippey, Twitter’s VP of Product, is moving into an advisory role at the company then eventually leaving. [TechCrunch]
You can soon buy brands’ overpriced t-shirts through a new Spotify app. [Telegraph]
This happened: “Apple’s Phil Schiller unfollowed Nest CEO Tony Fadell on Twitter” [Verge]
Yahoo COO Henrique De Castro, who was called a “dead man walking” by coworkers, was finally fired yesterday. He was Marissa Mayer’s first major hire shortly after she was installed as CEO more than a year ago. [BI]
Aol is handing over control of Patch to Hale Global, essentially ridding itself of the flailing network of hyperlocal blogs. [Recode]
In what is seen as a preemptive move against Beats Music, Spotify has eliminated listening time limits it had enforced on its website for free users. [TechCrunch]
Skype carried an estimated 214 billion minutes of international calls between users in 2013–that’s up 36 percent since the year prior. [WSJ]
With Apple’s iPhone struggling to gain a foothold in China, a new deal with the country’s largest wireless network might turn around some of its fortune. China Mobile is expected to start selling the device beginning Jan. 17. [The New York Times]
Careful, sexters! A new Snapchat update from adds fancy filters, bigger text, and the ability to replay a snap. [Gizmodo]
Buoyed by conferences and video, Aol-owned Huffington Post is expected to be profitable next year. [Reuters]
Here’s an inside look at Google Ventures. [Fortune]
Spotify downloads have increased fourfold since its free streaming announcement. [CNet]
Bitcoin’s value sunk last night after a Chinese exchange stopped accepting deposits because of the country’s new regulations. [Daily Dot]
The latest Google Glass update includes the ability to upload videos to YouTube, expanded Google Hangouts support and the option of *winking* to take a picture. [The Verge]
Today, members of the City Council hope to persuade the Port Authority not to renew its contract with wireless provider Boingo. That might finally mean free Wi-Fi at the city’s three airports. [New York Post]
Spotify’s desktop client is getting an extreme makeover. [The Verge]
Let’s all shut up about this year’s Apple holiday ad because it’s stupid. [Gizmodo]
Emojis everywhere. Last night, Betabeat ventured to an emoji-inspired art exhibit at a gallery in Chelsea. The exhibit is a joint project between Forced Meme Productions, Eyebeam and GroupMe. It’s sure to have fans of the tiny Japanese icons texting rows and rows of thumbs up symbols.
We gazed at famous paintings that were reinterpreted with emojis and even touched a piece of concrete modeled after Facebook’s thumbs-up icon. There’s also a gift shop selling goodies embossed with emojis that will be perfect for any of your friends who only communicate using the icons.