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Snapchat shrinks by 3M users to 188M despite strong Q2

The Stories War has officially killed Snapchat’s growth, leading to its first user count decline ever. In Q2 2018 earnings today , Snapchat’s daily active users number shrank 1.5 percent to 188 million this quarter, down from 191 million and positive 2.9 percent user growth last quarter. Snapchat did beat earnings expectations with $262.3 million in revenue and a loss of $0.14 while Wall Street estimated an EPS loss of $0.17 with $249.8 million in revenue. Snap’s net loss decreased by 20 percent year-over-year, so it only destroyed $353 million this quarter compared to $385 million last quarter. Snap will have some extra cash to extend its runway despite its still-massive losses thanks to a $250 million investment from Saudi Prince  Al-Waleed Talal in exchange for a 2.3 percent stake in the company. Snapchat gets $250M investment from Saudi prince for 2.3% Despite its user count shrinking for the first time since its launch in 2011, the improvement to revenue (up 44 percent year-over-year) and reduced losses led Wall Street to give Snap’s shares an immediate 11 percent pop in after-hours trading. But after dodging multiple questions about how it would improve revenues and when its optimized Android app would arrive, shares fell back to just below the day’s closing price of $13.12. Snapchat is coming off a disastrous Q1 earnings with its slowest-ever user growth rate that led to a 24 percent plunge in its share price in May. But the company has been highly volatile, seeing a 37 percent boost in its share price after surprisingly positive Q4 2017 earnings. Now it’s proving that Facebook isn’t the only social network with growth troubles. In hopes of distracting from the shrinking DAUs, Snapchat shared a monthly active user count for the first time: 100 million monthly active users in the U.S. and Canada. Snap says this is the highest it’s ever been, yet the reveal highlights that teens are as addicted to daily Snapchat use as they once were. DAUs are a much more accurate way of measuring engagement and ad revenue potential, as opening a single notification and never returning can still register someone as an MAU. CEO Evan Spiegel blamed the DAU shrinkage on “a slightly lower frequency of use among our user base due to the disruption caused by our redesign.” But since, he believes “we have now addressed the biggest frustrations we’ve heard” so he’s optimistic about future growth.

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Snapchat launches its first speech recognition lenses

Snapchat is today launching ne w  lenses that respond to voice commands. The company says it’s now rolling out a series of lenses that will animate when users speak simple, English words like “hi,” “love,” “yes,” “no,” and “wow,” as opposed to taking some other action – like opening their mouth or raising their eyebrows, as has been the trigger for some of the company’s prior lenses that animate with special effects. For example, saying “hi” in the new lens will launch an animation that surrounds you with a flock of chatty birds; “love” will play cheesy jazz music; “yes” creates a zoom effect; “no” puts you in an infinite photo tunnel; and “wow” puts a bow on your head and surrounds you with the word. While the company has offered lenses that involve audio before, this is the first time it has created lenses that actually recognize words, then use its understanding of what was said as a marker that kicks off the lens animation. Snapchat says it will begin to make around five to six of these new lenses available to users within the next week. They’ll appear periodically in the Lens carousel along with the others, starting today, Wednesday August 1st. The lenses will prompt users how to trigger the animation, when launched, Snapchat says. Unique lenses have always been one of Snapchat’s biggest differentiators. And it has continually pushed the bar forward in this area by creating those that take advantage of camera technology and augmented reality in new ways. For example, it has launched things like World Lenses that add AR elements to any scene – including, more recently, Bitmoji – plus selfie games , lenses that can change the sky , paint the world around you, and more. In May, it also launched the first lenses that react to sounds – but not particular words

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Snap has lost its Spectacles division chief

The head of Snap Lab, the hardware team behind Snap's camera-equipped Spectacles, has recently left the company following a restructuring that affects his division. Cheddar got its hands on the internal email Mark Randall sent, wherein he revealed th...

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Snapchat debuts a library of selfie filters

Piece by piece Snap is trying to eek a developer platform out of Snapchat Lenses and give users something extra at the same time. Today, we’re seeing the most user-facing of these efforts as Snapchat debuts a new Lens Explorer section which will give the user base greater access to scouting out new face filters beyond what’s sitting in the oft-refreshed Lens Carousel on the app’s central camera screen. The new update will be rolling out to iOS users slowly, the company says. There are 70 million daily active users of Snapchat Lenses (more than one-third of total Snapchat DAUs) who spend an average of about three minutes playing around with them per day but up until now discoverability hasn’t been too extensive. It’s honestly pretty surprising that its taken so long for Snapchat to gain this type of discovery feature, Lenses have long been a distinguishing feature of the platform though Facebook has been aiming to catch up with their own efforts. Why now after all this time? Well, Snap is likely hoping for a bit more of an influx of Lenses now that they’ve begun more heavily building up feature functionality in its Lens Studio software for third-party devs to create their own filters based on Snap’s face-tracking tech. The company says that over 100,000 Lens filters have been submitted since the launch of Lens Studio and that these creations have been seen some 2.5 billion times by users as they explore. While many of these have undoubtedly been Sponsored Lenses — Snap’s own unique AR ad product — these filters will not be found in the Explorer section at launch, with the hub sticking to the freebies for the time being. In the long-game as Snap looks to own their revamped vision at a bona fide camera company, something like Lens Explorer may offer a novel way to stack AR functionality into the app’s camera, allowing users to curate what sort of augmented reality functionality they want their device to have. Users can shop for what functionality they might like and the camera could have those abilities readily available. As the company looks at e-commerce and gaming verticals, it’s clear that there could be much more to their future plans than selfie filters alone.

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Benchmark’s Mitch Lasky will reportedly step down from Snap’s board of directors

Benchmark partner Mitch Lasky, who has served on Snap’s board of directors since December 2012, is not expected to stand for re-election to Snap’s board of directors and will thus be stepping down, according to a report by The Information . Early investors stepping down from the board of directors — or at least not seeking re-election — isn’t that uncommon as once-private companies grow into larger public ones. Benchmark partner Peter Fenton did not seek re-election for Twitter’s board of directors in April last year . As Snap continues to navigate its future, especially as it has declined precipitously since going public and now sits at a valuation of around $16.5 billion. Partners with an expertise in the early-stage and later-stage startup life cycle may end up seeing themselves more useful taking a back seat and focusing on other investments. The voting process for board member re-election happens during the company’s annual meeting, so we’ll get more information when an additional proxy filing comes out ahead of the meeting later this year. Benchmark is, or at least was at the time of going public last year, one of Snap’s biggest shareholders. According to the company’s 424B filing prior to going public in March last year , Benchmark held ownership of 23.1% of Snap’s Class B common stock and 8.2% of Snap’s Class A common stock. Lasky has been with Benchmark since April 2007, and also serves on the boards of a number of gaming companies like Riot Games and thatgamecompany, the creators of PlayStation titles flower and Journey. At the time, Snap said in its filing that Lasky was “qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors due to his extensive experience with social media and technology companies, as well as his experience as a venture capitalist investing in technology companies.” The timing could be totally coincidental, but an earlier Recode report suggested Lasky had been talking about stepping down in future funds for Benchmark. The firm only recently wrapped up a very public battle with Uber, which ended up with Benchmark selling a significant stake in the company and a new CEO coming in to replace co-founder Travis Kalanick. Benchmark hired its first female general partner, Sarah Tavel, earlier this year . We’ve reached out to both Snap and a representative from Benchmark for comment and will update the story when we hear back.

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Instagram takes on Snapchat and YouTube with IGTV

Where there's smoke, there's fire. For Instagram, that smoke recently came in the form of rumors about it launching a feature to host curated, long-form videos in its app. And well, there's fire, alright. Today, at an event in San Francisco, Instagra...

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