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TikTok taps Atmosphere to bring TikTok videos to out of home screens in commercial venues for the first time

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TikTok — the hugely popular mobile video app with more than 1 billion users — has been taking its first steps to break into a new screen, the TV screen, launching and integrating a new app called TikTok TV first with Amazon Fire TV, and then Google TV and other Android TV OS devices, LG Smart TVs, and Samsung Smart TVs. Today comes news of another front in that strategy: TikTok has inked a partnership with Atmosphere, the startup that provides licensed and curated streamed video content for commercial venues like Westin, Taco Bell and Texas Roadhouse, as well as doctors’ offices, gyms and other venues where people spend dwelling time.

Initially, the partnership will see Atmosphere develop a new channel on its platform dedicated to curated TikTok videos. It will be the first time that TikTok content is being used for an out-of-home video service.

“TikTok has become a destination for more than a billion people to be entertained, get inspired, and find community,” said Dan Page, head of global business development, new screens at TikTok, in a statement. “By partnering with Atmosphere, we’re excited to make it easy for people to experience TikTok together by bringing the joy and creativity of our platform to new screens, venues, and audiences.”

Atmosphere has been using the CES tech event to announce a series of milestones. Earlier this week, it revealed that it had raised $100 million on the back of very strong growth in the last year: it doubled the number of venues using its ad-supported streaming services to 19,000, covering some 20 million monthly unique users.

Although Atmosphere already repurposes content from platforms like YouTube in channels that it builds, this will be the company’s first channel dedicated to a single social media brand. Leo Resig, the co-founder and CEO of Atmosphere, said his company and TikTok have been working on this deal and how the channel would look for eight months.

“They are the largest internet social media platform right now, and so they are very particular about how their brand and content are distributed,” he said. “But they see the power of our platform.”

To be clear, TikTok has confirmed to TechCrunch that the Atmosphere partnership is not another outlet for, or a repurposing of, TikTok TV, as TikTok’s consumer-focused TV app is called. Instead, it’s an example of how, as TikTok continues to mature, it’s diversifying in how to reach new audiences, and build different revenue streams to complement advertising and other revenue models in its main app.

In this case, a team of people from Atmosphere will have access to a library of TikTok content, from which they will select videos they believe might work well on an Atmosphere channel. The team then connects with the individual creator to get the okay to use the video, and to work out how to credit said creator. Atmosphere then strips out all the audio, overlays it with its own optional audio (or none at all — many of the venues that are Atmosphere customers use the service on mute by default), adds its own captions, and collates all that into its own video stream. The commercial arrangement in this deal is between TikTok and Atmosphere, which will run ads in the channel. That is to say, creators themselves — at least for now — do not get paid.

The financial details are not being disclosed but generally it sounds like content providers are paid, and Atmosphere makes its revenues from the advertising it runs alongside the content. As as for a basic guideline on payouts to providers, Resig said that currently the company pays “low millions of dollars per year” to content creators, but, he added, “We get most of our content for free,” instead giving creators attribution to help them grow their audiences and brands. TikTok is not an investor in Atmosphere, the startup pointed out (it said that avoiding confusion is why it chose to separate its funding news from the TikTok news).

From what we understand, Atmosphere will be able to access a selection of TikTok videos — tens of thousands of videos — rather than the much bigger catalogue.

For a first foray into partnering with a social media company to bring content from that platform to Atmosphere, TikTok is something of a bullseye for the startup. TikTok was already looking for more opportunities to expand to a wider variety of screens (and specifically TV screens), and this gives it an opportunity to repurpose and give new life to the long tail of its back catalogue of videos that might no longer get picked up for viewing via TikTok’s algorithms on its main app. On top of that, TikTok already had some parallels with Atmosphere in terms of how the two are being used, starting with audio consumption.

Atmosphere’s Resig told TechCrunch that more than 99% of its customers were already streaming its services with the sound off, which led the company to building out more content with the audio removed altogether. TikTok, as it happens, also has an audience that consumes videos on its platform with the sound off, so much so that TikTok has built its own captioning technology to let creators on the platform either add their own words as graphics or use TikTok’s AI to do this for them. Resig said that in the initial integration, the videos that Atmosphere will be curating from TikTok are not necessarily going to be these, and it will be overlaying its own captioning around them for TikTok’s Atmosphere channel.

TikTok last year scored a notable point during the US Olympics, where it carved out a place for itself not as a destination for official Olympic event streams, or even official clips (these could be found on there from official accounts, yet they were elsewhere, too); but as a place for user-generated content from people on the ground — athletes, audience, others involved in the Olympics — that was either a complement to the official coverage, or sometimes (such as with the news of Simone Biles facing challenges in her exercises) ahead of it altogether.

Atmosphere also has carved out a place for itself in providing sports content that is complementary to what a bar or other venue might already be showing. In fact, so far it has eschewed trying to provide its customers with a direct replacement for premium sports channels, which comprise some of the most popular content that they broadcast in their venues, bringing in customers and often the driver for a venue paying a premium for a commercial pay-TV subscription in the first place. These days, an Atmosphere customer — such as a bar — that has TVs installed broadcasting sports on them will continue doing so even as they bring in Atmosphere on other TVs.

“Right now, we coexist with sports,” Resig said, noting that on average, Amosphere will be on 25% of a venue’s screens, with the other TVs broadcasting more traditional content. “We don’t want to be on every screen.”

That’s slowly changing. As Atmosphere scales, it is starting to have more conversations with sports media organizations — the companies that broadcast and manage the rights for teams, leagues, and so on — and is now thinking more about what shape Atmosphere premium sports content might take. Interestingly, it seems like this is precisely the place with TikTok is with sports, too.

This is just an early and first move into a partnership between the two. If it clicks, down the line there may also be more questions about how it will evolve as a business relationship. Right now, Resig confirmed that the commercial relationship it has here is with TikTok, not the creators on the platform, who are not being paid individually. Their compensation, such as it is, is currently coming in the form of promoting the creators and providing links to find them elsewhere.

One option down the line might be if creators one day start to build content specifically for TV rather than mobile formats. This would make some sense, considering how many of the videos now appear in awkward formats that need large areas of blurring on either side of the action to fill out the space on the horizontal TV screen.

“Will creators create content specifically for TikTok’s TV activities in the future? Absolutely,” predicted Resig. “Once it becomes ubiquitous those who create content will see value in the native app, and separately the TV format.” He said this is not something being discussed right now, but with any platform, “you know you’ve made it when people are creating content specific for that platform.”

Source: Tech

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Dashworks is a search engine for your company’s sprawling internal knowledge

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As a company grows, the amount of important information employees need to keep track of inevitably grows right along with it. And, as your tech stack gets more complicated, that information ends up split up across more places — buried in Slack threads, tucked into Jira tickets, pushed as files on Dropbox, etc.

Dashworks is a startup aiming to be the go-to place for all of that internal knowledge. Part landing page and part search engine, it hooks into dozens of different enterprise services and gives you one hub to find what you need.

On the landing page front, Dashworks is built to be your work laptop’s homepage. It’s got support for broadcasting company wide announcements, building out FAQs, and sharing bookmarks for the things you often need and can never find — your handbooks, your OKRs, your org charts, etc.

More impressive, though, is its cross-tool search. With backgrounds in natural language processing at companies like Facebook and Cresta, co-founders Prasad Kawthekar and Praty Sharma are building a tool that allow you to ask Dashworks questions and have them answered from the knowledge it’s gathered across all of those aforementioned Slack threads, or Jira tickets, or Dropbox files. It’ll give you a search results page of relevant files across the services you’ve hooked in — but if it thinks it knows the answer to your question, it’ll just bubble that answer right to the top of the page, Google Snippets style.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Right now Dashworks can hook into over 30 different popular services, including Airtable, Asana, Confluence, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, Intercom, Jira, Notion, Slack, Salesforce, Trello, and a whole bunch more — with more on the way, prioritized by demand.

Giving another company access to all of those services and the knowledge within might be unsettling — something the Dashworks team seems quite aware of. Kawthekar tells me that their product is SOC-2 certified, that all respective data is wiped from their servers if you choose to disconnect a service, and that, for teams that are equipped to host the tool themselves, they offer a fully on-prem version.

This week Dashworks is announcing that it raised a $4M round led by Point72 ventures, backed by South Park Commons, Combine Fund, Garuda Ventures, GOAT Capital, Unpopular Ventures, and Starling Ventures. Also backing the round is a number of angels, including Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear and Gusto co-founders Josh Reeves and Tomer London. The company was also a part of Y Combinator’s W20 class.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Source: Tech

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Daily Crunch: Google will offer G Suite legacy edition users a ‘no-cost option’

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PST, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 28, 2022! It’s nearly blizzard o’clock where I am, so please enjoy the following newsletter as my final missive before hunkering down. In happier and better news, TechCrunch Early Stage is coming up in just a few months and not only am I hype about it, I’ll hopefully be there IRL. See you soon! – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Google invests up to $1B in Airtel: With a $700 million investment and $300 million in “multi-year commercial agreements” with Airtel, and Indian telco, Google has made its second major bet on Indian infra. Recall that Google also put money into Jio, another Indian telco. The deal underscores the importance of the country in the future of technology revenues.
  • What’s ahead for Europe: On the heels of news that European startups had an outsized 2021 when it came to fundraising, TechCrunch explored what’s ahead for the continent. Some expect a slowdown from peak activity, while others anticipate further acceleration. Regardless of which perspective you favor, European venture investment is expected to remain elevated for some time to come.
  • Zapp raises $200M: And speaking of European startups, Zapp, the U.K.-based quick-convenience delivery startup, just raised a massive Series B. The company previously raised $100 million, meaning that this round was big in absolute and comparative terms. As we see some consolidation in the fast-delivery space, this deal caught our eye.

Startups/VC

  • Are charter cities the future for African tech growth? TechCrunch’s Tage Kene-Okafor has a great piece up on the site noting that “African cities have the fastest global urban growth rate,” which is leading to overcrowding. Some folks think that “charter cities offer a solution.” Special economic zones of all types have been tried before – will they offer African tech a faster route forward?
  • Personalized learning is hot: Our in-house edtech expert Natasah Mascarenhas has a great piece out today on personalized learning startups – Learnfully, Wayfinder, Empowerly, and others – that are taking the lessons of remote schooling to heart and working to make products that work better for our kids. It’s an encouraging, fascinating story.
  • Rise wants to remake team calendaring: There is no shortage of apps in the market to help individuals and teams work together. But we might not need as many as we have. That’s why Rise is making me think. The team calendaring app just raised a few million, and could replace a few tools that myself and friends use. I wonder if the solution to the Tool Overload of 2022 is tools that do less, intentionally.
  • Canvas wants non-tech folks to be able to squeeze answers from data: Developers are in short supply, so no-code tools that allow folks who don’t sling code to do their own building are blowing up. Similarly, a general dearth of data science talent in the market is creating space for tools like Canvas, which “is going all in with a spreadsheet-like interface for non-technical teams to access the information they need without bothering data teams,” TechCrunch reports.
  • Zigbang buys Samsung IoT business: The IoT promises of yesteryear are coming true, and not. Samsara recently went public on the back of its IoT business. That was a win for the category. That Zigbang, a South Korean proptech startup, is buying Samsung’s IoT unit feels slightly less bullish.
  • Series F-tw? Once upon a time I would have mocked a Series F as indication that the company in question had failed to go public. But that was then. Today Series Fs are not that rare. Indian B2B marketplace Moglix just raised one, which doubled its valuation to $2.6 billion. Tiger co-led the $250 million round.

And if you are looking down the barrel of a blizzard, TechCrunch’s Equity podcast has your downtime covered. Enjoy!

European, North American edtech startups see funding triple in 2021

Image Credits: Bet_Noire (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Pre-pandemic, VCs were notoriously reluctant to invest in education-related companies. Today, edtech startups are seeing higher average deal sizes, more seed and pre-seed funding from non-VC investors, and an influx of generalists.

According to Rhys Spence, head of research at Brighteye Ventures, funding for edtech startups based in Europe and North America trebled over the last year.

“Exciting companies are spawning across geographies and verticals, and even generalist investors are building conviction that the sector is capable of producing the same kind of outsized returns generated in fintech, healthtech and other sectors,” writes Spence.

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Northern Light Venture Capital’s He Huang says the Chinese robotics market is overheated: Per the investor, robotics in China is “riddled with speculation and overvalued companies,” calling the situation a bubble. It’s worth noting that China’s central government is working to retool where its tech investment dollars flow.
  • Robinhood goes down, back up: This morning, in the wake of the company’s lackluster earnings report, TechCrunch dug through why Robinhood’s stock sold off in after-hours, pre-market, and early trading sessions yesterday and today. And then Robinhood turned around and gained ample ground during the rest of the day. It’s a weird market moment, but good news for the U.S. fintech all the same.
  • Google to allow legacy G Suite users to move to free accounts: After angering techies still using the “G Suite legacy free edition” by announcing that it was ending the program and requiring payment, the search giant has decided to ”offer more options to existing users,” TechCrunch reports. Somewhere inside of Google, a business decision just met the market and was flipped on its head. Makes you wonder who is calling the shots over there, and if they previously worked for McKinsey.

TechCrunch Experts

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

Source: Tech

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3 experiments for early-stage founders seeking product-market fit

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At Human Ventures, we have a fund for pre-seed and seed-stage investments, a venture studio and an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program.

Through this work, we’ve discovered a lot about how different founders fulfill their journey of customer discovery and product-market fit. One of the largest challenges for pre-seed and seed stage founders is determining where to start: There are a million things to do. What should you do at each stage?

We interviewed three founders from our portfolio, all of whom ran discovery experiments to find their product-market fit at different stages of their company’s development.

Here’s what they had to share:

Pre-MVP/customer discovery phase: Tiny Organics

Tiny Organics is a plant-based baby and toddler food company on a mission to shape childrens’ palates so they’ll choose and love vegetables from their earliest days. The company raised $11 million in their Series A in 2021 and is growing at over 500% annually.

Founders Sofia Laurell and Betsy Fore joined our venture studio as EIRs and went through a six-week discovery sprint. As Sofia explains, they knew they wanted to build something to make parents’ lives easier and threw a lot of initial ideas at the wall from the Finnish baby box 2.0 (Sofia is Finnish) to an easier way to create Instagrammable baby pictures.

They went through multiple exercises to test the viability of new parents’ most pressing and urgent needs:

  • Conduct a “Start with Why” exercise
  • Define the “Jobs to be Done”
  • Create a lean canvas for each (viable) concept
  • Define the user journeys
  • Conduct user surveys using platforms like pollfish.com and 1Q (instant survey tool)
  • Identify and define their customer personas
  • Conduct customer interviews and synthesize them
  • Construct concept prototypes

They also met prospective customers, conducting a focus group of 10-15 moms. When the founders asked them to text them what they were feeding their children along with pictures for a week, they realized the lack of healthy finger foods in the market, thus sparking the idea for Tiny Organics.

Source: Tech

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