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TikTok launches its first personalized annual recap feature, ‘Year on TikTok’

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Spotify users have Wrapped and Instagram users have their Top 9. And now TikTok users will have their own year-in-review feature, too. The company today announced the launch of its first personalized annual recap feature with the launch of “Year on TikTok,” a video highlight reel that showcases individual users’ own top TikTok moments. This includes things like how long you’ve been on TikTok, what sort of videos you watched most, your favorite tracks and creative effects, metrics on how often you commented and shared videos, and more.

The feature will also identify your favorite “vibes” — meaning, the sort of videos you like best, such as crafts, cooking, animals, travel, cottagecore, or any of the now numerous communities that have sprung up on the social video platform.

If users haven’t been on TikTok long enough to have developed their own “vibe,” TikTok says their “Year on TikTok” will include other top videos from its “Year on TikTok: Top 100” list instead.

Image Credits: TikTok

The content for the recap is presented in a familiar way. You’ll vertically scroll down through a video that details your 2020 interests and activities. You then have the chance to share that video directly to your own TikTok profile in order to receive a special profile badge that puts a “2020” on top of your profile photo.

The app’s “Year on TikTok” page also includes other TikTok highlights to browse through, including top memes, top creators, top viral videos, most impactful creators, top celebs, top songs, and other year-end trends.

TikTok users can access their “Year on TikTok” by tapping the icon on their For You feed — a prominent placement — or by scrolling to the banner at the top of the app’s Discover page.

The accuracy of TikTok’s recap is debatable. For example, even though every other video in my For You feed is related to politics and news (go figure!), TikTok informed me my top “vibes” were things like home, travel, and animal videos. That’s true too, but it’s an incomplete list and doesn’t match up with the majority of my past “likes.” It seems that TikTok may be curating the experience to focus on more positive “vibes” — and political videos and themes didn’t make the cut.

Regardless of its attempts at spin, social features that offer users a personalized retrospective of how they engaged with an app through the year have proven to be fairly popular — and a good marketing mechanism, as well.

Spotify’s Wrapped, for instance, has been so well-received that people began to complain that people’s Wrapped shares were dominating and overwhelming their social feeds at year-end. Spotify this year partially addressed this problem by offering new customization options for its 2020 Wrapped that let users adjust the color of their Wrapped card before sharing. This way, the flood of Wrapped shares wouldn’t look quite as homogenous as in prior years, and may be perceived as less of an annoyance.

The “Year on TikTok” feature will likely do well, too, though it’s hard to track. The hashtag #YearOnTikTok is up to 5.4 billion views, thanks to users who are adopting the tag in hopes of propelling their videos to a wider audience or getting on the For You page. The real test will be how many creators end up with the 2020 badge stuck on their profile in the days to come.

While TikTok’s feature is fun, if you find it somewhat lacking there are third-party alternatives.

One app, Retroplay, launched its own 2020 TikTok Year in Review this month. The app does more than just round-up your own stats and metrics. Users can also vote for their favorite creators and videos through Retroplay’s “Superlatives” awards, collect cards from favorite creators, and customize their own highlight reel. But the app is brand-new and struggling with bugs — the highlight reel is currently down while it’s being fixed, for instance, and the app couldn’t resolve a username that began with a period instead of a letter, we found.

“We wanted to focus more on the year-in-review for content creators, and over the past two weeks have been working with creators to get their ideas. We’ve temporarily disabled the Highlight Reel feature based on feedback,” the developers responded in an email to TechCrunch. They said creators will be able to create their Top 4 or Top 9 video compilations through a new feature launching at the end of the week.

Image Credits: Retroplay

The app also had difficulties pulling data as TikTok didn’t offer an API and cut them off from accessing public facing user videos and pulling stats.

But the app’s design is catchy and the interactive features are engaging, so hopefully the developer can address the other issues soon — and before year-end!

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Clubhouse announces plans for creator payments and raises new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz

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Buzzy live voice chat app Clubhouse has confirmed that it has raised new funding – without revealing how much – in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz through the firm’s partner Andrew Chen. The app was reported to be raising at a $1 billion valuation in a report from The Information that landed just before this confirmation. While we try to track down the actual value of this round and the subsequent valuation of the company, what we do know is that Clubhouse has confirmed it will be introducing products to help creators on the platform get played, including subscriptions, tipping and ticket sales.

This funding round will also support a ‘Creator Grant Program’ being set up by Clubhouse, which will be used to “support emerging Clubhouse creators” according to the startup’s blog post. While the app has done a remarkable job attracting creator talent, including high-profile celebrity and political users, directing revenue towards creators will definitely help spur sustained interest, as well as more time and investment from new creators who are potentially looking to make a name for themselves on the platform, similar to YouTube and TikTok influencers before them.

Of course, adding monetization for users also introduces a method for Clubhouse itself to monetize. The platform is free to all users, and doesn’t yet offer any kind of premium plan or method of charging users, nor is it ad-supported. Adding ways for users to pay other users provides an opportunity for Clubhouse to retain a cut for its services.

The plans around monetization routes for creators appear to be relatively open-ended at this point, with Clubhouse saying it’ll be launching “first tests” around each of the three areas it mentions (tipping, tickets and subscriptions) over the “next few months.” It sounds like these could be similar to something like a Patreon built right into the platform. Tickets are a unique option that would go well with Clubhouse’s more formal roundtable discussions, and could also be a way that more organizations make use of the platform for hosting virtual events.

The startup also announced that it will be starting work on its Android app (it’s been iOS only for now) and that it will also invest in more backend scaling to keep up with demand, as well as support team growth and tools for detecting and prevuing abuse. Clubhouse has come under fire for its failure in regards to moderation and prevention of abuse in the past, so this aspect of its product development will likely be closely watched. The platform will also see changes to discovery aimed at surfacing relevant users, groups (‘clubs’ in the app’s parlance) and rooms.

During a regular virtual town hall the app’s founders host on the platform, CEO Paul Davison revealed that Clubhouse now has 2 million weekly active users. It’s also worth noting that Clubhouse says it now has “over 180 investors” in the company, which is a lot for a Series B – though many of those are likely small, independent investors with very little stake.

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SpaceX sets new record for most satellites on a single launch with latest Falcon 9 mission

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SpaceX has set a new all-time record for the most satellites launched and deployed on a single mission, with its Transporter-1 flight on Sunday. The launch was the first of SpaceX’s dedicated rideshare missions, in which it splits up the payload capacity of its rocket among multiple customers, resulting in a reduced cost for each but still providing SpaceX with a full launch and all the revenue it requires to justify lauding one of its vehicles.

The launch today included 143 satellites, 133 of which were from other companies who booked rides. SpaceX also launched 10 of its own Starlink satellites, adding to the already more than 1,000 already sent to orbit to power SpaceX’s own broadband communication network. During a launch broadcast last week, SpaceX revealed that it has begun serving beta customers in Canada and is expanding to the UK with its private pre-launch test of that service.

Customers on today’s launch included Planet Labs, which sent up 48 SuperDove Earth imaging satellites; Swarm, which sent up 36 of its own tiny IoT communications satellites, and Kepler, which added to its constellation with eight more of its own communication spacecraft. The rideshare model that SpaceX now has in place should help smaller new space companies and startups like these build out their operational on-orbit constellations faster, complementing other small payload launchers like Rocket Lab, and new entrant Virgin Orbit, to name a few.

This SpaceX launch was also the first to deliver Starlink satellites to a polar orbit, which is a key part of the company’s continued expansion of its broadband service. The mission also included a successful landing and recovery of the Falcon 9 rocket’s first-stage booster, the fifth for this particular booster, and a dual recovery of the fairing halves used to protect the cargo during launch, which were fished out of the Atlantic ocean using its recovery vessels and will be refurbished and reused.

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Watch SpaceX’s first dedicated rideshare rocket launch live, carrying a record-breaking payload of satellites

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SpaceX is set to launch the very first of its dedicated rideshare missions – an offering it introduced in 2019 that allows small satellite operators to book a portion of a payload on a Falcon 9 launch. SpaceX’s rocket has a relatively high payload capacity compared to the size of many of the small satellites produced today, so a rideshare mission like this offers smaller companies and startups a chance to get their spacecraft in orbit without breaking the bank. Today’s attempt is scheduled for 10 AM EST (7 AM PST) after a first try yesterday was cancelled due to weather. So far, weather looks much better for today.

The cargo capsule atop the Falcon 9 flying today holds a total of 143 satellites according to SpaceX, which is a new record for the highest number of satellites being launched on a single rocket – beating out a payload of 104 spacecraft delivered by Indian Space Research Organization’s PSLV-C37 launch back in February 2017. It’ll be a key demonstration not only of SpaceX’s rideshare capabilities, but also of the complex coordination involved in a launch that includes deployment of multiple payloads into different target orbits in relatively quick succession.

This launch will be closely watched in particular for its handling of orbital traffic management, since it definitely heralds what the future of private space launches could look like in terms of volume of activity. Some of the satellites flying on this mission are not much larger than an iPad, so industry experts will be paying close attention to how they’re deployed and tracked to avoid any potential conflicts.

Some of the payloads being launched today include significant volumes of startup spacecraft, including 36 of Swarm’s tiny IoT network satellites, and eight of Kepler’s GEN-1 communications satellites. There are also 10 of SpaceX’s own Starlink satellites on board, and 48 of Planet Labs’ Earth-imaging spacecraft.

The launch stream above should begin around 15 minutes prior to the mission start, which is set for 10 AM EST (7 AM PST) today.

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