All Ears on Spotify
ABD Weekly Digest - 11/23/2021
Hi All!👋 The holidays are right around the corner and we have the hottest scoops to go with that warm cocoa. Meanwhile, we would love your feedback as we plan our annual year in review.
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Analytics, Digital, Design In Action
All Ears on Spotify
Spotify acquired audiobook company Findaway. Findaway distributes audiobooks to various platforms and offers audiobook creation services under its business Findaway Voices. It also makes Spotify both a commercial bookseller and a publisher of audiobooks, a title the company has been hesitant to accept for its podcasting efforts.
Spotify will now play an integral role in the audiobook world — major publishing houses entrust Findaway to distribute their content to retailers, libraries, and listening platforms. Unlike in podcasting where hosts have an RSS feed they can input wherever they want their show to populate, audiobook publishers and authors generally work with a distributor to get their content to storefronts and make sure all the data is properly inserted, among other things.
Spotify has been working to diversify its business away from its core music streaming platform. It wants to move beyond music and own audio. Findaway echoes Spotify's acquisition of Anchor, a podcasting platform.
Cut You Off the Net
It is not a surprise that e-Commerce giants think credit card processing fees are too high, but the news about Amazon refusing to take Visa as a payment method in the U.K took the market by a storm. Amazon blamed Visa for its “high fees” and escalated the situation from charging the 0.5% extra for using Visa in Singapore and Australia early this year. Amazon is also considering replacing its co-branded Prime credit card from Visa with Mastercard.
In 2020 alone, merchants in the U.S spent $110 billion in card-processing fees. With increasing supply chain pressures, we will see more tension between e-Commerce retailers and card networks. Regardless, “customer choices and ubiquity are paramount”, but it all comes down to at what price tag. Happy Shopping!
No Words for Goodbye
Daniel Lee, the chief designer at Bottega Veneta, the Italian luxury brand known for its signature intrecciato weave, stepped down abruptly, a few hours before the Council of Fashion Designers of America nominated him for two categories - International women’s wear designer of the year and international men’s wear designer of the year.
There have been speculations towards Daniel Lee’ departure. Some think it was due to financial performance as Kering - which also owns Gucci, YSL and Balenciaga among many others, reported a modest growth of 9.3% over 2020. Well, others argued that the strategic direction of the brand is the main reason behind the parting.
Earlier 2021, Mr. Lee wiped out Bottega Veneta’s social media accounts to maintain his focus on “design”. Personally, Lee - a protege of the ultra-private Phoebe Philo, former chief designer at Celine, does not have a personal social media account. In an era that is full of social influence driving an attention economy, it was a counterintuitive move. It is a fine balance between commercial success and artistic achievement.
More importantly, Daniel Lee’s department also fuels speculations about the power dynamic between creative versus corporate.
Crypto Breakthrough - Paradigm debuts Monster $2.5 Billion Venture Fund
Paradigm, a crypto VC firm founded in 2018 by Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam and former Sequoia Capital partner, Matt Huang has closed its latest fund at $2.5 billion venture fund, the largest crypto fund, beating Andreessen Horowitz crypto fund at a record of $2.2 billion.
Paradigm’s recent investments include Solana-based lending protocol Jet Protocol, and nonfungible token (NFT)-based battling game AI Arena. The firm has recently increased its exposure to NFT platforms, investing in Royal and Fractional during August.
The world of fintech is gradually leaning towards crypto being the most exciting frontier in technology. Both Andreessen and Paradigm are attempting to profit from ethereum, a blockchain-based software platform for creating and using smart contracts and distributed apps. It is believed that Paradigm’s massive venture fund capital will be invested in the next generation of crypto companies & protocols.
“The journey is just the beginning, and the potential of crypto has never been more clear”, Fred tweeted.
Unlocking the Power of Small Datasets
Landing AI secures its $57M Series A funding to continue building tools that enable manufacturers to more easily and quickly build and deploy artificial intelligence systems. Landing AI was started by former Google and Baidu AI guru Andrew Ng.
Ng says industries should adopt a data-centric approach to building AI, which provides a more efficient way for manufacturers to teach an AI model what to do, using no code/low code capabilities, which include just a few mouse clicks to build advanced AI models in less than a day.
McRock Capital led the investment and was joined by Insight Partners, Taiwania Capital, Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, Intel Capital, Samsung Catalyst Fund, DRIVE Catalyst, Walsin Lihwa and AI Fund.
“You don’t always need big data to win with AI. You need good data that teaches the AI what you want it to learn,” said Ng, Founder & CEO of Landing AI. “AI built for 50 million data points doesn’t work when you only have 50 data points. By bringing machine learning to everyone regardless of the size of their data set, the next era of AI will have a real-world impact on all industries.”
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