January 26, 2022
Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash
Good morning! This Wednesday, if you want to compete with YouTube, you’ll have to do a few things well. And making an awesome video player isn’t one of them. I’m David Pierce, and my YouTube recommendations all have to do with Formula 1, coffee and “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” It’s perfect.
The word "creators" shows up 52 times in Susan Wojcicki's annual letter detailing YouTube's priorities for 2022. (The only word that shows up more often is "YouTube.") Over and over, Wojcicki made clear that the thing she cares about most — the true secret to keeping YouTube growing and rich and earth-shatteringly successful — is keeping creators happy on YouTube.
How do you keep creators happy? One word: money.
YouTube has certainly done wrong by its creators over the years — confusing recommendation algorithms, overeager copyright enforcement, occasionally random enforcement of the rules — but it continues to be a virtually unstoppable machine in the creator economy. It might be easier to get famous on TikTok, and Instagram Stories might be a vastly superior product to Shorts, but they're still way behind YouTube as a platform on which to do business. And YouTube's lead seems to only be growing.
Monetization excellence gives YouTube enormous power. It can enter practically any space it wants and immediately become a power player, because it's writing bigger checks to creators. Wojcicki said in her letter that YouTube plans to invest in podcasting, for instance, which makes sense given that YouTube is already a popular podcast destination despite not being a great listen-only experience. But given how hard it can be to grow and monetize a podcast, would you be surprised if YouTube became a power player in the space just by letting podcasters sell memberships and merch and get a cut of pre-roll ads?
In that sense, there's no serious YouTube competitor out there. Vimeo is on to other things, Rumble is … around, and TikTok and Instagram compete with each other much more directly than they do with YouTube. None come close to offering the financial upside YouTube does.
But if you wanted to take down YouTube, the move isn't to try and build a better video player. The move is to build a better money funnel.
YouTube looks untouchable right now, as the world continues to shift to video of all kinds. But these are early days in the creator economy, and practically every company is looking for a way in. If you want to topple the Big Red Play Button, you’re going to need an even better way to get creators paid. And then you will, too.
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The IMF wants El Salvador to stop using bitcoin as legal tender:
Jimmy Fallon said he and Paris Hilton are Bored Ape buddies:
Stripe and Spotify are working together. They want to help podcasters on Spotify accept payments and create revenue streams.
The EU canceled a billion-euro antitrust fine against Intel. The fine was originally levied in 2009.
Carolee Gearhart is leaving Google Cloud. The head of worldwide channel sales is moving to the “startup world,” according to Business Insider.
Ryan Wyatt is leaving YouTube for Polygon. He oversaw gaming while at YouTube.
Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg is stepping back from Altice, and Keith Bowen is now the president of Altice News & Advertising.
Asher Levy’s departure from NSO Group was planned months ago, according to The AP. Levy said he resigned for reasons unrelated to issues with the company's Pegasus software.
Dallas Lawrence joined Samba TV to lead comms. Lawrence previously led platform communications at Roku.
Pinterest lost a bunch of execs recently, sources told The Information. The company lost at least seven leaders, including the heads of Creator Marketing and Core Product.
Tim Dardis is Alviere’s new VP of Business Development and Strategy. Dardis previously worked as a sales leader at PayPal and Venmo.
Google ditched FLoC and rolled out Topics, an API that’ll gather information about users’ interests over the course of three-week spans. The search engine will organize people’s interests into “topics” and feed them ads accordingly.
Apple accused a woman of stalking Tim Cook. The company said she emailed Cook pictures of a gun and ammunition, showed up at his house, and claimed the two were in a relationship.
The end of Diem? Meta is reportedly looking to offload its crypto assets, which would bring an end to a project that looked doomed from the start.
Tons of people are ordering free at-home COVID-19 tests, according to a new poll. Over 40% of Americans said they’ve picked up an at-home kit from the new government website.
The chip shortage is still a huge issue, the Commerce Department said. Officials said manufacturers had less than five days’ supply of chips at the end of 2021, leaving very little room for delivery problems.
All hail Master Chief. During Microsoft’s earnings call yesterday, Satya Nadella shared that Halo Infinite has more than 20 million players, making it the biggest Halo launch in the franchise’s history.
Truth Social is looking for influencers, Axios reported. A representative for the platform is asking creators, some of whom are Democrats and openly anti-Trump, if they want to reserve a spot for the site’s launch.
Raven Software is reshuffling its staff. This comes on the heels of QA testers voting to unionize at the Activision-owned studio.
Amazon’s cashierless tech is coming to convenience stores. The company will offer its Just Walk Out tech in a few months, with the first one opening in Mill Creek, Washington.
The SAT is going fully digital by 2024. When the College Board tried out an online exam, it found that most students considered it less stressful.
Bolt’s Ryan Breslow has a bone to pick with Stripe and Y Combinator. In a long Twitter thread, Breslow wrote that the companies will do “more than compete with you” if you get in their way. But isn’t that just a typical day in Silicon Valley?
The tech industry is brutal, and lots of the people replying to Breslow pointed that out. One called his tweets a marketing stunt, and another suggested that Bolt buckle down on competing with a good product instead of complaining. Just goes to show that in the cutthroat world of Silicon Valley, nobody is safe from getting piled on. Not even the underdog.
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Correction: The top story was updated Jan. 26, 2022, to clarify Dallas Lawrence's role at Roku.