Hope you enjoyed the long weekend - despite the rough storm for us here in The Six - and you got your dose of patios and sunrays.
This week we have Snaps’ canary moment; the text-to-image arms race; chips giant dipping into software; and WhatsApp’s long awaited monetization.
Analytics, Digital, Design In Action
As of this writing, Snapchat parent Snap is seeing its worst trading day and is down 40% from yesterday’s close. The collapse followed Snap’s dismal Q1 report and updated expectations.
“Since we issued guidance on April 21, 2022, the macroeconomic environment has deteriorated further and faster than anticipated,” Snap said in an SEC filing.
Fears around inflation, interest rate concerns, continued supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine have forced some advertisers and brands to rethink ad spend in the current quarter. Companies, including Snap, have been pressured into slowing hiring and cutting back costs in an effort to make up for losses. Indeed, online ad platforms to feel some impact of a significant consumer pullback as advertising is highly cyclical.
Text-to-Image Arms Race
To date, DALL-E, a program created by commercial AI lab OpenAI, has led the forefront of text-to-image technology. (We wrote about DALL-E here). Yesterday, though, Google announced its own take on the genre, Imagen, and it rivals DALL-E in the quality of its output.
The advances Google’s researchers claim with Imagen are several. They say that existing text models can be used for the text encoding portion, and that their quality is more important than simply increasing visual fidelity. That makes sense intuitively, since a detailed picture of nonsense is definitely worse than a slightly less detailed picture of exactly what you asked for.
There’s much work to be done as often, images generated by text-to-image models look unfinished, smeared, or blurry.
Chips Dipping Into Software
Broadcom could announce an agreement to acquire cloud-computing company VMware as soon as this week, according to people familiar with the matter, setting up a tech deal that would vault the chipmaker into a highly specialized area of software.
Broadcom makes a wide range of electronics, with its products going into everything from the iPhone to industrial equipment. Data centers in particular are a vital source of growth, and bulking up on software gives the company more ways to target that market. VMware makes virtual software that allows users to access systems remotely. The companies don’t have overlapping products, but are often used together to manage data centers.
VMware, founded in 1998, is a pioneering Silicon Valley company that has already changed hands more than once. It invented so-called virtualization software, which consolidated applications and workloads on a smaller number of server computers by using each server to handle more than one program.
WhatsApp Would Like to Charge You Now
WhatsApp has launched WhatsApp Cloud API to all businesses worldwide. The new developer tool is a cloud-based version of the WhatsApp Business API — WhatsApp’s first revenue-generating enterprise product — but hosted on parent company Meta’s infrastructure.
Businesses will still only be able to message people who contacted them first, but the API will help them programmatically send shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets. Clients also can use it to manually respond to customer service inquiries through their own tool or apps like Zendesk, MessageBird or Twilio. And small businesses that are one of the 3M users of the WhatsApp For Business app can still use it to send late replies one-by-one for free.
After getting acquired by Facebook for USD19Bn in 2014, it’s finally time for the 1.5 billion-user WhatsApp to pull its weight and contribute some revenue. If Meta can sell the WhatsApp Business API as an alternative to customer service call centers, the convenience of asynchronous chat could compel users to message companies instead of calling.
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