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The most online concert ever

Image: Global Citizen

Taylor Swift performs during the "One World: Together at Home" concert

Taylor Swift​

Good morning! This Monday, the coronavirus benefit concert that was literally everywhere, how an online therapy company is trying to help more people, and how two guys and a bunch of glitter broke YouTube.

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People Are Talking

Marc Andreessen offered a call to action for entrepreneurs, officials and people everywhere:

  • "I think building is how we reboot the American dream. The things we build in huge quantities, like computers and TVs, drop rapidly in price. The things we don't, like housing, schools, and hospitals, skyrocket in price. What's the American dream? The opportunity to have a home of your own, and a family you can provide for. We need to break the rapidly escalating price curves for housing, education, and healthcare, to make sure that every American can realize the dream, and the only way to do that is to build."
  • This, by the way, was Tech Twitter's favorite thing to talk about. All. Weekend. Long.

Startups won't feel the worst of this crisis until early next year, Upfront Ventures' Mark Suster told Protocol's Biz Carson in the first edition of her new must-read Protocol Pipeline column:

  • "Come Q1, a bunch of companies won't have been able to raise money — not all, but a bunch. And you're going to see a lot more bankruptcies."

Terrorism now "moves at the speed of social media," former FBI director Christopher Wray said:

  • "It's not just the ease and the speed with which these attacks can happen, but the connectivity that the attacks generate. One unstable, disaffected actor hunkered down, alone, in his mom's basement in one corner of the country, getting further fired up by similar people half-a-world away. That increases the complexity of domestic terrorism cases we have in a way that is really challenging."

The Big Story

The benefit concert you couldn't miss

On Saturday, the "One World: Together at Home" concert raised $127.9 million for virus-related charities. It was very cool! There are worse ways to spend a quarantine day than with eight hours of musicians playing from their bedrooms, living rooms, and wherever it was that J.Lo was sat.

The concert was a unique thing: a massive, worldwide event, viewable from virtually every platform and device you could think of. And the numbers are gaudy. Global Citizen, one of the event's organizers, said only that it reached "billions of people in 175 countries," across almost as many different platforms:

  • 14.6 million people watched a two-hour special on ABC, NBC and CBS — with a slightly larger portion going to NBC.
  • The full concert's eight-hour YouTube stream has more than 22 million views. Individual performances from artists like Andrea Bocelli have gotten millions more.
  • A Twitter stream of the event had 8.6 million viewers; an abbreviated stream on Lady Gaga's Facebook page another 8.5 million.
  • And the show was broadcast everywhere from iHeartRadio to Amazon Prime Video to inside the Roblox universe.

The numbers here aren't exactly repeatable — good luck getting Oprah, The Rolling Stones and Michelle Obama to do your event. But the night was a perfect example for anyone who wants to understand how content is changing:

  • There were official streams, artist streams, pirated streams, and who knows what else. And all of it worked because the show was what mattered, not how you saw it.
  • The whole thing was designed to be remixed, chopped up, shared. There's already a "Together at Home" album available on streaming services, compilations of everybody's favorite moments on YouTube, Twitter and elsewhere, and GIFs of seemingly every second of the show.
  • As a result, the concert is likely to linger in YouTube Trending and on Twitter far longer than your average live event.

If you missed it, here's the best roundup I've seen of the night's best moments.

Startups

Talkspace is still figuring out therapy at scale

As we get further into these isolated, uncertain times, there's a mental health crisis happening — one that Oren Frank, the CEO of online therapy service Talkspace, is seeing first hand. But for Talkspace, helping more people isn't as simple as turning on more servers.

"It's significantly more affordable than face-to-face therapy," Frank told me. "But it's still a big investment." So Talkspace has been working on ways to help people find each other and get support beyond a one-on-one session:

  • There are Facebook groups moderated by Talkspace therapists, Frank told me, with more than 5,000 members in them. Therapists are also running live Q&As on Instagram, and curating stories and information on Talkspace's social accounts that they hope will help people.

Talkspace has seen a big uptick in business in recent weeks, which is hardly surprising. Frank said he's mostly seeing people who have some experience with face-to-face therapy, who are looking for a way to keep going from quarantine.

  • One new thing is that more patients are using video than before. "I think the last month taught us that video conferencing is going to be a mainstream, mainstay feature," Frank said.

Frank said he's struggling with the tension of this being a particularly horrible moment for so many people, and it also being a huge business opportunity for Talkspace, a venture-backed and for-profit company.

  • He said the best answer he's found is to stay focused on what people need right now.
  • "We had a lot of plans for extending our services, which we'll probably revisit when this is all done, but for now we're focusing on our core thing, which is offering access to talk therapy for as many people as possible."

A MESSAGE FROM EXCELLA

Excella

If you can't see how AI makes its decisions, how can you trust the results?

The answer lies in Explainable AI or XAI.

Explainable models provide transparency — so you can stay accountable to customers, build trust, and make decisions with confidence.

Learn more about Explainable AI (XAI)

Gaming

Facebook takes a swing at Twitch

Speaking of people doing stuff together online: Facebook excels at getting people onto its platforms, but it's never had much luck building stuff for them to do beyond basic socializing. Notes isn't a huge blogging platform; Watch is a feature you only ever find by accident. Facebook's only true on-platform success? Gaming. And so Facebook, smartly, continues to double down.

Facebook's newest app is called Facebook Gaming, and it's … well it's Twitch. You can stream yourself playing games, or watch others do so.

  • Facebook's been working on the platform for years, The New York Times reported. It originally planned to launch Gaming in June before speeding up the launch thanks to coronavirus.
  • "People are watching streams and they're like, 'I want to be a streamer,' and with Go Live it's literally just a few clicks and then live, you're a streamer," Facebook VP Vivek Sharma told the NYT.
  • The app also lets users casually play the Words With Friends-y games that are already popular on Facebook, but its main job is to make the process of livestreaming easier.

There are a couple of intersecting trends here: Live-streaming has become a powerful way for people to congregate in these otherwise lonely times, and Facebook surely feels left out of the Twitch / Houseparty / Netflix Party chill times. (It may also not like the idea that Instagram's a better go-live platform than the Big Blue App itself.)

  • Facebook's also betting on mobile-first streaming. That could separate it from Twitch and other streaming services, which tend to start from someone's super-high-end gaming PC.

Coming This Week

Protocol's next Virtual Meetup is Thursday. I'll be talking with YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan about all sorts of things: the ad business, entertainment, streaming, misinformation, and what it's like to run a global product team from home. Sign up now and join us live!

Netflix, IBM, Snap, and Intel all report earnings this week. It's the beginning of an uncommonly interesting earnings season, as the tech industry details the good, bad and ugly of business in coronavirus.

In Other News

  • Today in coronavirus: As much as 4% of Silicon Valley may be infected. San Diego Comic-Con is officially canceled. Instacart workers were promised masks and other safety supplies, but there aren't enough to go around. Ola is working with the Indian government on tracking tech. The U.K. government has $1.6 billion in loans ready for startups. Facebook now has a "Care" option next to the Like button. Having everyone at home has made tech companies fast-track parental controls for their platforms. And here's a timeline of how Bill Gates became coronavirus conspiracy theory suspect #1.
  • Tech Twitter's other favorite subject this weekend, after Andreessen's post, was an in-beta app called Clubhouse. It's an audio-only social network, where you jump between chats and either participate or just listen. As TechCrunch pointed out, it's one of a number of "spontaneous social apps" catching on in these isolated times.
  • Google is reportedly working on its own debit card, a physical manifestation of Google Pay not unlike the debit cards you can get from Venmo or PayPal. Google's had big banking aspirations for years, so this is a long time coming.
  • Don't miss this story from The Washington Post about the suddenly very real race to build a complete virtual world — and why game companies might do it before big tech.
  • Oliver Schusser is leaving Apple Music and taking over at Beats, which only further complicates the relationship between the Apple and Beats brands. Apple said, basically, it loves all its children equally.
  • Zoom weddings are now legal in New York. Incidentally, I went to a Zoom wedding this weekend. It was wonderful, I highly recommend it. (Congrats Lydia and Kat!) Just make sure everybody mutes.
  • Mary Meeker published another unmissable report, this time on coronavirus trends. She makes a convincing case that coronavirus will change everything — but that it might not be as bad as we think.
  • Facebook and Google will have to be better partners to Australian media companies, the country's government found, which will include paying them for their content.

One More Thing

Glitter 1, YouTube 0

Two guys known as "The Slow Mo Guys" on YouTube recently tried to make what they called "the most watchable unwatchable video." The goal: use super slow-motion glitter to break YouTube's video compression. What they came up with is, indeed, somewhere between can't-look-away beautiful and ahh-my-eyes horrible. It's also a lesson in how cameras work, what you don't see when you stream, and why it really sucks to drop a giant glitter bomb all over yourself.

A MESSAGE FROM EXCELLA

Excella

If you can't see how AI makes its decisions, how can you trust the results?

The answer lies in Explainable AI or XAI.

Explainable models provide transparency — so you can stay accountable to customers, build trust, and make decisions with confidence.

Learn more about Explainable AI (XAI)

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me, david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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