🕹Zomato's IPO || Govt's online censorship || Apple's privacy update and much more.

The most important tech news of this week.

This week, Zomato announced its plans for an IPO💰. The Indian govt was accused of censoring tweets related to COVID🦠. Apple’s revolutionary privacy update🛠 rolled out. And Basecamp is at the center of a controversy⚡ after it announced it banned employees from discussing politics at work.

Hi friends👋 I’m Shreyans and welcome back to another edition of my newsletter Integral- a place where we get smarter about the tech industry.

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Today I’m experimenting with a new format for my newsletter. Instead of the usual long article, I’m doing a recap of the 10 most important tech news of this week.

Let’s get started🚀🚀

🕹Zomato's IPO- Another step in "shaping the future of food":

Zomato's IPO is finally here! The company has filed a DRHP (Draft Red Herring Prospectus) this week with SEBI. Now, this is one company whose IPO we were eagerly awaiting for one simple reason- we have seen this company grow right in front of our eyes. So without any further ado, let’s get into it!

Business Model:

Zomato has 4 main sources for revenue:

  1. The obvious source- commission on food delivery

  2. Advertisements revenue from restaurants

  3. Hyperpure- supplying raw materials to restaurants

  4. Zomato Pro- paid membership program for customers.

The company has 55 million users, 3.5 lakh restaurants, and 1.6 lakh delivery boys. Their revenue has increased 5x in 3 years. For 2020, their revenue was Rs. 2605 crore. Sadly, their expenses also increased 22x in 3 years. Their expenses in 2020 were double the revenue. Moreover, the company has said that the losses will keep increasing for the next few years, owing to increased investments and expansion of business.

Deep Dive:

Opportunities and Strengths:

  1. Zomato has strong network effects- more people → more restaurants → more people. And it has shown to increase its customer base year after year!

  2. Zomato is building a vertical business model- supplying raw materials to restaurants(Hyperpure), dining(Zomato Pro), and food delivery.

  3. The online food delivery industry has potential for growth, coupled with increasing penetration of the internet means Zomato has huge scope to grow.

Threats and Weaknesses:

  1. COVID

  2. The food delivery space is affected by low barriers to entry, intense competition, and low switching costs for the customers, as well as the delivery partners.

  3. The entry of Amazon poses a major threat to the future profitability of Zomato. It has been able to offer its services at a discount than Zomato and Swiggy.

Burning question: Given that Zomato isn't profitable, and will continue making losses for the next few years, will its IPO be successful?

🕹Indian govt accused of censoring criticism on social media:

India is going through a crisis of massive proportion in terms of Covid cases rising exponentially. We have been recording 3 lakh + cases on an average for the past 7 days and in these dire times, netizens have taken to social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter to amplify calls for help and also voice their opinion on the Government's handling of the pandemic. The Government, meanwhile, has been accused of censoring posts and hashtags critical of its handling of the pandemic.

Facebook, on Tuesday temporarily blocked hashtags calling for Prime Minister Modi's resignation. Meanwhile, Twitter was ordered by the Indian Government to remove more than 50 posts that were critical of the Government in its handling of the pandemic. The Government issued clarifications in respect to the events that took place on Facebook and Twitter.

Deep Dive:

In both cases, the social media companies and the Government have clarified that the hashtag and the tweets have not been blocked and removed respectively to suppress criticism. However, the timing was very sus. Seems like the Government is more focused on removing tweets rather than dealing with the pandemic.

Moreover, these incidents also highlight how the Big Tech companies and the Governments have the massive capabilities to shape and influence public opinion through artificial echo chambers. We should start moving away from the Big Tech models of exchanging and gathering information that is more democratic and not controlled by social media corporates and the Government.

Decentralized social media🚀

🕹Apple's privacy update is a nightmare for ad companies:

Apple's new privacy update for iPhones finally arrived last week. But why am I announcing device updates here? Weird for a tech newsletter to call "device updates" news, right?

But this update is unique and revolutionary- it has the potential to single-handedly disrupt the entire ad industry. Let's see how.

Earlier, apps used to assume that you have their permission to access device data, and used that data to show targeted ads to you. Apple's new update changes this. Now, every app has to ask for user permission before accessing their data.

When iPhone peeps will open any app, the app will ask their permission to collect their data. The user can choose whether to give permission or not. Every app out there is afraid that no user will ever permit them to collect their data.

That's why this small update is so revolutionary- it has the potential to upheave the entire ad-tech industry. Adding user data makes an ad very effective- that's why collecting user data is so lucrative.

Deep dive:

Apple is painting this update as a victory for user privacy, and users really appreciate this. But companies don't. Some companies have filed an antitrust case against Apple for this update. These companies will lose up to 70% of their revenue. And Apple isn't as innocent as it seems- it has its own tracking network that companies will be forced to use.

🕹Basecamp banned politics-talk at work. The tech industry pushed back.

Basecamp, a company that makes software for the enterprise market, announced on Monday that it was banning discussing politics at work. Founder and CEO Jason Fried said that political discussions are "a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It's not healthy, it hasn't served us well".

Basecamp's announcement sparked a huge controversy in the tech world.

Soon after the announcement, 34% of employees left the company. All of them cited the new company policy as the reason for leaving.

Deep Dive:

The company faced a huge backlash from everyone in Silicon Valley for this decision. The main criticism of the new policy is this- employees should be able to talk whatever they want. It's their basic right to free speech. Why is a company telling its people what to talk and what not to talk?

This is the whole crux of the matter- Basecamp says political discussions distract from work. Critics say employees should have free speech.

Basecamp did have one supporter- Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. But that is understandable since he also banned political discussions at Coinbase last year.

🕹FB goes big on the creator economy:

Yesterday, FB announced plans for a new feature inside Instagram called Marketplace. This will make it easier for creators and brands to connect for sponsorship deals.

Instagram also has a big benefit- it can record all these sponsorships and transactions. Maybe in the future, it will take a cut of the sponsorship deal.

FB also announced 2 more features- creator shops(where you can buy merchandise of your fav creator), an affiliate marketplace(helping creators get a cut from affiliate links)

Do you notice a funny thing about the evolution of social media companies- at first they were mostly "social" companies. But now, with so much focus on creators, they look more like "media" companies. Another strong indication that we are moving towards the creator economy🔥

🕹Did anyone even watch the Oscars🏆?

The Oscars recorded an all-time low in terms of viewership and ratings. This tweet details a pattern- it has been decreasing for a few years now

The main reasons would be the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the movie industry and also a changing pattern- "The Death of the Best" as explained in this wonderful Facebook post by Alok Kejriwal. Democratization of content is the way forward!

🕹Spotify vs Apple in the battle of podcasts:

In response to Apple's announcement of paid podcasts, Spotify announced its own paid podcasts. The concept is very simple- the creator presses a button, and that podcast episode will become paid. While Apple will take 30% of podcast revenue from creators, Spotify will take 0%, for the first 2 years. This will help in attracting podcasters to Spotify. The podcast space is heating up very fast, and both Spotify and Apple want to dominate it.

🕹The wait for robo-taxis🤖 continues:

On Tuesday, Lyft sold its self-driving unit to Toyota for half a billion dollars. This is another blow to the dream of robo-taxis. Uber also sold its self-driving unit to Aurora last year. For both Uber and Lyft, having a self-driving fleet of cars would be a boon- right now they rely heavily on human drivers to serve their customers. Reducing the human component would have greatly improved their service. But self-driving tech is still in the development phase and hasn't gained mass adoption as they expected.

🕹FAANG earnings to the moon 🚀:

Big tech companies had another blockbuster quarter: their earnings beat expectations once again. Google parent Alphabet's profits doubled. Microsoft posted strong revenue. FB revenue increased 48% but it said that Apple's new privacy update will reduce revenue next time. Apple posted strong revenue growth for every product line.

The most surprising thing I learned from the earnings report was about LinkedIn: it has more revenue and users than Snapchat/Twitter/Pinterest. wow🔥

🕹Apple faces yet another antitrust lawsuit:

EU is filing an antitrust case against Apple specifically targeting the App Store. EU believes there are 2 main reasons why Apple is the bad guy-

  1. All apps have to use Apple's payment system compulsorily and Apple will take a 30% cut of their revenue.

  2. Apps can't even inform users about any other payment options.

This wraps up the week’s most important tech news⭐

Thanks to Adwait Pisharody for his valuable inputs to today’s newsletter💯

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