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Image: Dubsmash

The future looks like TikTok

Dubsmash

Good morning! This Monday, Reddit's buying Dubsmash, Roblox and Affirm are delaying their IPOs and everybody's still moving to Austin.

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The Big Story

Everything's coming up TikTok

Reddit announced this morning that it's buying Dubsmash, one of the more successful TikTok competitors. (The Information had the scoop last night.) The entire Dubsmash team is joining Reddit, and from the sound of things, this is not one of those "it will remain independent" acquisitions. Which means Reddit wants Reddit to look a little more like Dubsmash.

  • An underrated feature of TikTok is how well it creates communities. There's a TikTok universe for everything, from gardening to cottage living to anime to literally just videos of rugs. People are making videos, remixing others' stuff, filming duets, commenting and promoting each other across the platform.
  • Dubsmash offers a lot of the same tools, but doesn't have the network effects. Reddit has sub-communities coming out of everywhere, but most of its creative tools are straight out of 2005. (Message boards FTW!)
  • Reddit's announcement also praises Dubsmash for its user diversity: 70% of its users are female, it said, and 25% of all Black teens in the U.S. are on the app.

The match here actually seems to make a lot of sense. Reddit has been pushing video for years, and tools from Dubsmash could make its video feel more personal and fun. But the most interesting thing here? It's yet more confirmation that the future of social is video, and the future of social video is bite-sized, on demand, and endlessly remixable.

  • Livestreaming isn't the future, outside of a few specific uses like video games. It looks like Twitter may be getting ready to shut down Periscope, for instance. Real-time chat continues to be a big thing, of course — Twitter just bought Squad for exactly that purpose — but one-to-many sharing is leaning away from live.
  • Good ol' writing into a text box isn't going away, but most of the fun is happening in front of a camera.

Reddit will be an interesting case study in social dynamics going forward. The mechanics of the platform haven't changed much in the last 15 years, so can the company teach an old network of users some new tricks? Or will the people who want to do TikTok things just go do them on TikTok?

IPOs

Mo' money mo' problems

The public market is so hot for tech stocks right now that tech companies are staring billions in the face and deciding to wait. Over the weekend it was reported that both Roblox and Affirm are delaying their IPOs to next year as they try to figure out how to price their shares and value their companies.

  • Roblox's David Baszucki told his staff, per The Wall Street Journal, that "we feel there is an opportunity to improve our specific process for employees, shareholders and future investors both big and small."
  • It's certainly true that the market's hard to read right now. And some would argue that the pops tech stocks are seeing mean that some companies risk theoretically leaving billions of dollars on the table when they go public. (Not that it's quite that simple.)
  • Canaan Partners' Nandu Anilal may be as right as anybody: He tweeted that Stripe should "just double whatever IPO price you guys wrote down."

As the markets continue to froth, the chorus of doomsayers is starting to get louder. As Biz Carson said in this week's Source Code Podcast, it's fair to worry whether these companies are going public at the peak of their powers. BlackRock's Larry Fink agrees. "The question is," he said at a conference last week, "is the market pricing in too large of a forward growth rate for these companies?"

Real Estate

Tech's bigger in Texas

If you haven't signed that lease in Austin yet, all you're doing is costing yourself money. At this rate, the whole of Silicon Valley is going to have 512 phone numbers before Christmas.

  • Oracle joined the companies and executives moving to Austin, though in this case "move" is a bit of a stretch. Oracle isn't making anyone move and has had a big office in Austin since 2018, so the change here is mostly symbolic.
  • Still, Oracle joins Elon Musk, Drew Houston, HP, 8VC and others in ditching the Bay Area for more Texan shores.

Miami seems to be the second choice on everyone's mind, which shares a lot of Austin's appeal: lots of amenities, good weather, plenty of good music and culture and food, and no income tax. (That last one turns out to be pretty important, even if nobody will admit it.)

Where you'll live next is the hottest topic in tech right now — and we'll have more on the subject later this week. But right now, can we all agree on one thing? We can't call them Silicon Hills and Silicon Beach. They're called Austin and Miami. Silicon Valley is an industry and an idea, not a place.

A MESSAGE FROM SALESFORCE

Salesforce

Join us this Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET for a deep dive discussion into what lies ahead for this unprecedented medical, logistical, technical and political challenge. Protocol will host a panel conversation with ESRI's chief medical officer Este Geraghty, Yale's director of Yale's institute for global health Saad Omer and Direct Relief's VP of research and analysis Andrew Schroeder, as well as a sponsored keynote interview with Salesforce's Dr. Ashwini Zenooz. This event is presented by Salesforce.

RSVP today.

People Are Talking

At the Climate Ambition Summit, Tim Cook called on every company to do more to combat climate change:

  • "This is an important gathering, and we at Apple don't take our presence in this group lightly. We wear it as a badge of duty. At this moment of historic urgency, every leader of nations, of companies, and of communities has a particular burden to act."

Tesla ditching its PR team actually makes sense, said longtime comms exec Mary Ritti:

  • "They have all of these customers who are super passionate, love the car and the brand, and will, by word of mouth, tell other people."

There's a silver lining for other chipmakers in Apple's M1 being so good, Qualcomm's Cristiano Amon said:

  • "Once you make it ARM native, performance increases as you have now app compatibility. So that overall is a very good sign. The ecosystem is going to move and it showed that Microsoft and Qualcomm were in the right trajectory."

Facebook's Oversight Board is ready to take on election-fraud questions, said Nic Suzor:

  • "Clearly everyone's watching this everywhere … We're not blind to the fact that political disinformation and hate speech is an important issue. We're not going to shy away from that."

Coming Up This Week

COVID vaccines are making their way to people across the U.S., which is just unbelievably fantastic news. To find out more about the medical, logistical, technical and political challenge of getting the vaccine to everybody, sign up to attend our event, Distributing the Vaccine. It kicks off Dec. 15 at 9:30 a.m. PT.

There's supposedly a TikTok appeals hearing today. Personally I am continuing my practice of not caring at all because nothing's ever going to happen.

Wish is the last remaining unknown IPO candidate, and if the company's going to list this year it's almost certainly going to do it this week. But given Roblox and Affirm have postponed, there's some chance Wish will, too.

In Other News

  • Russia might have been hacking … everyone. For months. The Cozy Bear unit seems to have installed a vulnerability in SolarWinds' Orion software, which FireEye thinks may have happened as early as this spring. The Treasury and Commerce departments announced breaches, and FireEye said technology companies worldwide have also been affected.
  • Google employees might work from home two days a week when they return to offices next September. Sundar Pichai reportedly told employees that the company is testing the idea.
  • Spotify unions staged a work stoppage. Unionized Gimlet, The Ringer and Parcast employees stopped working for two hours on Friday over demands for better contracts.
  • Twitter "inadvertently" limited engagement on some flagged Trump's tweets. It later reversed the action. Meanwhile, the U.K. is set to introduce a law preventing social media companies from "arbitrarily" removing controversial posts and comments.
  • California asked to join the Google antitrust lawsuit. It's the first Democratic state to do so. Meanwhile, the Facebook antitrust suits were assigned to Judge James E. Boasberg and Judge Christopher Cooper, both Obama appointees.
  • Tim Cook personally stopped an Apple TV show about Gawker from being made, The New York Times reports. Layne Eskridge, who bought the show, has since left Apple.
  • China took its first antitrust action against tech companies. Regulators are investigating Huya's $6 billion DouYu acquisition, while Tencent and Alibaba were given small fines for not seeking regulatory approval for some acquisitions.
  • Employees attacked a Wistron iPhone facility in India, reportedly smashing windows and cars due to unpaid wages. As a result, 149 people were arrested, and Apple said it was investigating Wistron. Meanwhile, Facebook's security team reportedly said that banning an Indian nationalist organization might lead to physical attacks against staff.

One More Thing

Code, broken

A group of code-breakers managed to crack a 51-year-old cipher, from a note sent to the San Francisco Chronicle by the Zodiac Killer. The message is weird but boring, and there's no new hint of the killer's identity. Obviously, I don't want to make light of a series of horrible crimes. But it's pretty impressive that it took 51 years for anyone to break this person's handwritten code? Cryptographers may have a thing or two to learn from all those weird symbols.

A MESSAGE FROM SALESFORCE

Salesforce

Join us this Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET for a deep dive discussion into what lies ahead for this unprecedented medical, logistical, technical and political challenge. Protocol will host a panel conversation with ESRI's chief medical officer Este Geraghty, Yale's director of Yale's institute for global health Saad Omer and Direct Relief's VP of research and analysis Andrew Schroeder, as well as a sponsored keynote interview with Salesforce's Dr. Ashwini Zenooz. This event is presented by Salesforce.

RSVP today.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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