Andrew here. As you do every day, you probably received the DealBook email newsletter today. You probably also received a lot of junk mail and spam in your email.
Many of us now send our most important messages via text message. The "text inbox", which is far more intimate than social media, has become the new holy place for brands.
Ashton Kutcher (the actor who turned into a venture capitalist) and Guy Oseary (Bono and Madonna’s manager, turned investor), made this bet when they founded a text messaging company called Community in 2019 with Guy Oseary. It was initially marketed towards celebrities who wanted to inform their fans of tour dates and upcoming projects.
Over the past year, Community has quietly expanded to power text messages for some of the biggest brands like McDonald's. HBO, New York Yankees, and Conde Nast. Community powered the advertising campaign for this month's Hollywood blockbuster "The Super Mario Bros. Movie".
Next week, the company will announce that it has raised an additional $25 million. This brings its total fund-raising up to $110 millions, and comes from investors like Morgan Stanley Next Level Fund, Verizon Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures. It did not reveal its latest valuation.
Robert Wolf, the former chairman of UBS Group Americas and informal advisor to President Barack Obama was also appointed as its new chairman. Over the last year, Robert Wolf has been helping sign up large corporations customers. The total number of clients now stands at over 8,000. Diankha Linear is the company's CEO. She has been a senior executive for many years and was formerly an Army Logistics and Transportation Officer.
The latest funding for Community comes as more and more questions are being asked about the reach of social media, including how businesses can control their digital relationships with customers without using intermediaries like Facebook or Twitter.
Kutcher has 16,8 million Twitter followers. "I began with Twitter, and I built up a large following," he said. He added, "But Twitter is very different today than when I first started using it." "The click-through rate is severely degraded – the number of people who actually see the posting is severely degraded."
Kutcher stated that at Community, "we get about 45 percent of click-throughs and 98 percent of open rates." You don't see that in social environments, because the majority of people aren't even seeing what you're posting.
The Community is in competition with many different services, from Attentive and Twilio to Zendesk. Many of the software platforms used by companies to manage their customer relationships now include features that allow texting.
What makes Community unique is the dialogue between celebrities and brands and their customers. These people provide the brand with a wealth of information, and this is not shared with other Community clients.
Oseary said that he was initially drawn to Community by his role as music manager.
"I don't know who attended the concert tonight." Once they leave the concert, I can't speak to them anymore. "I have no idea who purchased the album", he said. We can now stay in contact directly with Community once the person texts us their number. This information belongs to the artist or talent, not the business owner.
Companies will advertise a number to text if you want to receive updates. McDonald's just posted its number in Times Square on a billboard. This service allows brands to segment their customers that sign up for text messages. For example, if an Atlanta-based artist is holding a concert, only Atlanta residents will receive the texts.
Text messaging to reach out to customers is a promising way of connecting with them, but it also poses some unique challenges. Brands must convince their customers to opt-in to receive messages. This is difficult to achieve unless they are well established. Customers may prefer to receive messages from fewer brands via text than through email.
Kutcher explained that, unlike email, where you must scroll down to the bottom and click the link to unsubscribe to stop receiving text messages, with SMS you can simply write the word Stop. You can make use of this information.
Rupert Murdoch strikes another deal. Fox News settled its defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $788m at the last moment. Fox Corporation also settled this week a separate lawsuit for defamation against an Australian publisher.
Return to sender Netflix has ended its DVD-delivery service after 25 years. The original business model of the streaming company was to send discs via mail. At its peak in 2010, around 20 million subscribers utilized the service. The company announced its changes at the same time it reported a first-quarter profit of $1.3 billion – up 4 percent from last year.
Gary Gensler is grilled. In an appearance before House Financial Services Committee, Republicans hammered the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission over its handling of cryptocurrency. Gensler defended his regulator by saying he'd never seen a industry break securities laws so frequently. He was accused of failing to notice problems at FTX prior to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange.
China's economy is rebounding, sort of. China's economy has surpassed expectations in its first quarter after Beijing lifted the Covid restrictions. This was due to a surge in consumer spending, increased exports, and infrastructure spending by the government. Youth unemployment reached 19.6 percent - the second highest mark in history - suggesting that businesses still aren't convinced that Beijing has finished experimenting with the private sector or that economic uncertainty has ended.
Goldman Sachs accelerates its retail banking U turn. Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs reported a lackluster first quarter and has accelerated its withdrawal from consumer banking. It also put its GreenSky unit on the market just one year after purchasing it for $2.2 billion. A new account was launched with Apple, which offers an annual interest rate of 4.15 percent -- 10 times higher than the national average.
BMW in hot water for ice cream. After being accused of discriminating Chinese visitors at the Shanghai auto show, the German carmaker had to apologize. Social media in China was flooded with images of workers appearing to give ice cream for free to a Western man after telling an ethnic Chinese attendee that they were out.
Since Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, businesses have promoted their green initiatives every April 22. You might see less companies promoting their green credentials in the coming year, as many Republicans are now strongly against corporate environmentalists and target companies that publicly announce their climate-change related goals. Some businesses have resorted to "greenhushing" instead. An analysis of 1,200 firms published by South Pole, an international consultancy, last fall found that 1 in 4 planned to go "green", but kept their green goals hidden.
A.I. was used to create a song. A murder mystery novel written using A.I. Preorders are now available for a murder-mystery novel written using A.I. One of the biggest photography awards in the world was won by A.I. DealBook reported last week that A.I. A.I. was causing thorny issues with copyright, but also raised questions about the nature and purpose of human creativity.
Companies have attempted to draw a line between machine-generated and human-generated work. Spotify and Apple Music pulled the song created by tech from their platforms last week. Universal Music Group also urged streaming services to stop A.I. Universal Music Group urged the services to block A.I.
Some artists are more interested in the creative potential than the threats. Stephen Marche wrote the novel "Death of an Author", which was titled in a cheeky way. He used three A.I. He compared it to hip-hop composition: "You don’t need to know the basics of drumming, but you do need to understand how beats and hooks are put together, in order to make them meaningful," he said to The New York Times. Marche told The New York Times that he was the "100% creator" of the work. "But, on the contrary, I did not create the words."
Who is the artist? Boris Eldagsen of Berlin, whose A.I. generated "Pseudomnesia The Electrician", won the creative category in the Sony World Photography Awards for the Sony World Photography Awards Creative Open, told DealBook the process was like directing a movie.
He said: "On a film there are a set director and a cameraman and an actress and story writer. I tell them what direction to go." "I'm the artist who has to link all of this with the world and the human condition."
He entered the contest to start a discussion about the separation of the art of photography and A.I. generated art, which he views as co-creation.
Who should get credit for such a collaboration? Generative A.I. Reference material created by artists human is used to inform the generation of A.I. The situation becomes even more complex when A.I. It can be used to mimic a certain performer or artist's style of drawing. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) launched last month a campaign called "human artistry" which advocates that A.I. makers should license copyrighted work. They must license the copyrighted works they use for training. Holly Herndon is a musician who started a business to develop consent guidelines for this technology. She told The Times that the creative possibilities are "fascinating" and would change art forever. "We have to learn the terminology and technology."
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