Financial Times CEO John Ridding explains how to make people pay for media

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Financial Times CEO John Ridding

Techies pooh-poohed online subscriptions a decade ago. My, how things have changed.

When the Financial Times began putting its online content behind a paywall, John Ridding recalls that reactions in the tech world ranged from skeptical to “pretty hostile.” After all, the conventional wisdom of the time went, “the internet wants to be free.”

“Which I always thought was kind of weird and a little ridiculous because, clearly, the internet doesn’t want anything,” Ridding said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “It’s a channel.”

Now the CEO of the FT is feeling vindicated: Subscriptions to online reporting from the Nikkei-owned London-based business newspaper start at $ 350 per year, and readers are buying. Ridding said two-thirds of the FT’s 900,000 subscribers are digital customers, and subscriptions have overtaken advertising as the chief source of the company’s revenue, also representing about two-thirds of the total.

“A lot of the industry was too quick to dismiss the ability to charge for content. My view is that if you have something that differentiates you, something that makes you special — it could be a brand identity, it could be a columnist, it could be a sector of coverage — you have the ability to charge.”

“If you don’t have anything that is any way different or special, you’ve got some bigger questions to ask,” he added. “What are you doing?”

You can listen to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Ridding talked about the resistance the FT had faced from some of the big tech platforms that were intent on distributing content for free, noting that now he hopes they might start to be “more helpful, in terms of subscription model development.” One of the big fights was with Google, which used to insist that readers clicking on a link in search results should get the “first click free” — meaning they would be guaranteed to not see a paywall right away.

“We felt all along that the throttle, the terms of access, should be down to the publisher,” Ridding said. “There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and Google came to accept that position.”

He also discussed how the FT’s own thinking has changed over time. Rather than giving readers a certain number of free articles per month — the “metered” business model practiced by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Wired, among others — it has shifted in recent years to just give them unfettered access for free for the first month.

“We thought, what do we really want to do?,” Ridding recalled. “We really want to achieve the habit in digital that people used to have in print. A metered model kind of goes against that because you’re, by definition, rationing … Ideally, you spend a month with the FT, you get to appreciate it, you become a subscriber.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, also hosted by Kara Swisher, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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Tim Cook talks MLK’s legacy & the power of young people at Alabama leadership conference

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Apple CEO Tim Cook traveled to his home state of Alabama this week to talk coding and reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Cook also stopped in at the Birmingham Metro Southern Christian Leadership Conference to talk to a group of students and take their questions…



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Facebook restricts how you can search for other people

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Facebook is attempting to make things right with its users after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In a blog post, the social network's CTO Mike Schroepfer admitted the fiasco may have exposed 87 million individuals' data — and he outlined how that w…
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Facebook says Cambridge Analytica may have collected data on up to 87M people

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Cambridge Analytica may have harvested the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users, Facebook’s CTO said on Wednesday, a number far higher than original media estimates.
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Facebook will stop sharing as much of your personal data with people outside of Facebook

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Facebook is making sweeping changes to many of its most important APIs.

Facebook is aggressively cutting down on the amount of personal data third-party developers can collect from users as part of its response to Cambridge Analytica, the third-party data firm that collected personal information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced sweeping changes to many of its APIs — software plugins that allow outside businesses and developers to collect data directly from Facebook.

The changes are broad, and you can read all of the specifics at Facebook’s blog, but the gist is that Facebook will limit the types of data available through each API so that outsiders can’t see as much about people on Facebook.

“We believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer wrote in a blog post.

A few of the highlights:

  • Facebook will now need to approve every app that uses its login feature to collect information beyond basic profile data, like a user’s name and email. It will also stop apps from asking about ideological information, like a user’s religious or political views.
  • Facebook is expediting a plan to close its Instagram Platform API, which was originally planned to happen gradually over the next few years. Facebook says the “deprecation” of that API will take place “effective today.” Developers started noticing this earlier in the week, without a heads up from the company, but Facebook declined to comment on the changes until now.
  • You can’t search for people on Facebook using their email or phone number anymore. Facebook says “malicious actors” were abusing that feature, so it’s disabling it.
  • Facebook will start alerting users that their data may have been part of the Cambridge Analytica data set beginning Monday, April 9. The company will put a link at the top of every Facebook user’s News Feed to help them understand which third-party apps have their data. That alert will also include whether or not your data was part of the set obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

It will be interesting to see how these changes impact Facebook’s relationship with third-party developers just weeks before the company’s annual developer conference, F8. Many developers rely on Facebook APIs to sign up new users, or scale their own audience by asking people to share their Facebook friends list.

Almost all developers will find out about these changes today, and though the writing has been on the wall for weeks, it’s likely many will be caught off guard.

Wednesday’s update is just the latest in what has been an incredibly busy three-week stretch for Facebook. The company already rewrote its terms of service, is in the middle of a media blitz with CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer press questions and is cutting out data partners the company no longer wants to associate with.

Zuckerberg will also testify next week before a House Congressional committee to answer questions about the company’s data privacy practices.

Recode – All

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Four people have been shot at YouTube HQ in Silicon Valley

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The San Bruno facility is separate from the Google campus further south.

Four people have suffered gunshot wounds following a shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., according to authorities. One of those people is believed by police to be the suspect, who has been killed.

San Bruno police chief Ed Barberini said at a news conference that officers encountered three victims who are “being treated for injuries that are treatable.” Two of the victims had fled into a nearby business, the police later said.

The suspected shooter, a female, suffered a fatal wound that Barberini said “may have been self-inflicted.”

Barberini said police arrived to the scene after 911 calls shortly after 12:45 pm PT and then “immediately began a search for a possible shooter or suspect.” He described the scene on arrival as “chaotic” and said that the building was eventually evacuated.

Stanford University Medical Center spokesperson Lisa Kim told Recode that they are expecting four to five patients to arrive shortly but that she did not have any news on their conditions. Update: Kim now says her information was incorrect and that no patients were treated at her hospital.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he was briefed on the shooting.

In a note to staff obtained by Recode, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote: “Pls stay secure as police clear building and pls follow police instructions to safety. We have full team here to get you to safety.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told his employees: “I know you are in shock right now” and called the incident an “unimaginable tragedy.”

Previously:We are responding to an active shooter. Please stay away from Cherry Ave & Bay Hill Drive,” San Bruno police tweeted.

Google, which owns YouTube, tweeted that it is “coordinating with authorities and will provide official information here from Google and YouTube as it becomes available.

But sources close to the situation said that several people had been shot and that the shooter has been shot, too. It is unclear how seriously anyone has been injured.

Employees at the scene are also reporting the shooting and are trying to protect themselves there. Photos posted to Twitter show YouTube employees being led out of the building with their hands up. There are helicopters on the scene, as well as police SWAT teams.

The YouTube building is in a busy area of San Bruno, which is near the San Francisco airport. It is run in a separate location from the campus of Google in Mountain View, which is further south. The huge video platform is a unit of the search giant, which, in turn, is part of Alphabet.

Unlike the more college campus-like setting of Google, YouTube is a building right on the street, and its main lobby is relatively accessible — there is security, of course, but it is not noticeably present — in comparison to other tech firms. The site often gets many fans, who want to visit the popular YouTube.

Recode – All

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Mailchimp is Shutting Down ICO and Blockchain-related Emails, and People Are Freaking Out

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Consider this a shot across the bow of the entire ICO and blockchain-related sector: email marketing service Mailchimp recently enacted a policy shutting off Blockchain and ICO related accounts. Now, the first victims of this policy are getting the news, and responding in kind by attempting to read the riot act to a Twitter account whose avatar is a monkey with a hat.

Mailchimp announced the policy by alerting its customers on Thursday over email. Its customers freaked out. Like so:

We reached out to Mailchimp to see what the deal was. A rep for the company explained:

We’re looking into this particular account, but if an account holder believes there’s been a mistake, they are encouraged to reach out to with the details, and MailChimp’s Legal team will take a closer look.

The company then reiterated its updated Acceptable Use Policy, which states that the company “does not allow businesses involved in any aspect of the sale, transaction, exchange, storage, marketing, or production of cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies, and any digital assets related to an Initial Coin Offering, to use MailChimp to facilitate or support any of those activities.”

In other words: If you’re making money on an ICO or blockchain, you won’t be doing it on Mailchimp. But talking about blockchain or ICOs? Totally fine:

The promotion and exchange of cryptocurrencies is too frequently associated with scams, fraud, phishing, and potentially misleading business practices at this time. It’s important to note that this update to our policy does not prevent the discussion of related topics in messages sent through our platform. For example, journalists and publications may send cryptocurrency-related information as long as they’re not involved in the production, sale, exchange, storage, or marketing of cryptocurrencies.

Also, it’s not that they hate blockchain or your specific ICO, they just hate the con artists:

We recognize that blockchain technology is in its infancy and has tremendous potential. Nonetheless…

Nonetheless, indeed! We asked a few more questions about how MailChimp can actually delineate between emails from people involved in the shilling and profiteering of blockchain and ICOs versus people having news-related discussions of blockchain and ICOs (because, LOL, in the current moment, most non-algorithmic humans have a justifiably tough time distinguishing between the two). We’ll update here if they respond.

In the mean time, it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch (1) which companies follow MailChimp’s lead, (2) which companies capitalize off of the fact that they nixed this entire segment of people from their platform and go all in on blockchain, sweeping ’em up in Mailchimp’s place, and (3) watching all of blockchain and ICO Twitter collectively lose their minds about feeling censored and repressed. Confidential to everyone in crypto: Mailchimp isn’t the Democratic Republic of North Korea (which you don’t live in).

They’re not even the only email marketing company in the world! It’s just the only one with adorable and ubiquitous podcast mid-roll ads. You’ll live another day, we swear.

The post Mailchimp is Shutting Down ICO and Blockchain-related Emails, and People Are Freaking Out appeared first on Futurism.


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Snap is laying off around 100 more people, this time in sales

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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel

It’s the third round of cuts already in 2018.

Snap is laying off about 100 people, primarily from the company’s sales org.

It’s the third round of layoffs for Snap since the beginning of the year; the company also restructured its content teams in January and laid off around 120 engineers earlier this month.

Imran Khan, the company’s chief strategy officer and the head of all its business operations, said in a statement that these layoffs were part of a planned downsizing that started late last year. Here’s his full statement:

“Over the past two years our company has grown a tremendous amount. Late last year we asked senior leaders across Snap to look closely at their teams to ensure they had the right resources and organizations to support their missions. As a result, new structures have been put in place for Content, Engineering, Sales and many other parts of Snap. These changes reflect our view that tighter integration and closer collaboration between our teams is a critical component of sustainably growing our business. While this process has required us to make some really tough decisions, we believe that rigorously ensuring our team structure always aligns with our goals will make us stronger.”

A source inside the company told Recode that this is the last big cut planned as part of that restructuring. Bloomberg first reported the news.

It’s been just over a year since Snap went public, and it’s clear the company is still finding its footing. It’s business has been inconsistent, but Snap just had its best quarter at the end of 2017, and CEO Evan Spiegel has said internally that he wants to get to profitability by the end of the year. Cutting head count should help with that.

Investors don’t seem concerned with Snap’s layoffs. The stock is up less than 1 percent.

Recode – All

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Apple Wants to Launch 13 New Emojis for People with Disabilities

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Apple is thought to be working on a string of new emojis for disabled people, according to a report from the BBC. The firm is allegedly preparing to launch new emojis representing people with disabilities, including a guide dog, a person in a wheelchair and a prosthetic limb. At the moment, Apple said there is […]
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