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Google Paid 12% of its Search Revenue to Apple in 2022!

Google Paid 12% of its Search Revenue to Apple in 2022!

Now it’s official: Google paid Apple $20 billion in 2022 to be the default search engine on Safari.

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After many rumours, now it’s official: Google paid Apple $20 billion in 2022 to be the default search engine on Safari.

It represented 12% of Google’s search ads revenue! 😱

Instead of an anti-competitive agreement, it's a revenue-sharing deal.

Apple has used Google as its default search engine since 2002, initially for free. They simply wanted the best quality for their users.

However, with the rising popularity of Safari, Google could significantly boost its ad business. Therefore, it was only fair that Google shared some of its revenue with Apple, similar to how it does with YouTubers, or how Spotify does with artists.

Microsoft attempted multiple times to lure Apple away from its partnership with Google by offering up to 90% of its search ad revenue. It wasn’t enough!

As even Satya Nadella stated, being a browser's default search engine is "game changing". This is due to the URL bar that also functions as a search bar.

In practice, the default search engine has become the gateway to the internet as a whole. We typically don't bother to type out full URLs, but instead just input the website name and click on the first result.

I speculate that most people don't even realise they're using Google when they input queries in the search bar, confusing Google with the internet itself.

Not a bad position to be in! and totally worth 12% of revenue.

Much discussion surrounds the idea that new AI-based search engines are threatening Google's market share. However, a fundamental difference exists in how people use them, suggesting there is room for both.

While Google transitioned from a traditional search engine to the "gateway of the internet," AI search is a specialised tool for research and answering questions. These two can easily coexist as they serve different purposes.

Until Ai search transitions to a traditional search engine 🤣.

May 22
Perplexity Plans to Sell Ads on its Ai Search Platform. It is a Big Deal!

Perplexity Plans to Sell Ads on its Ai Search Platform. It is a Big Deal!

Perplexity plans to introduce sponsored suggested questions by the end of this year and will compete with Google.

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Perplexity plans to sell ads on its Ai search platform. This is a big deal!

In a conversation with AdWeek, Chief Business Officer Dmitry Shevelenko stated that the company plans to introduce sponsored suggested questions by the end of this year.

Rather than appearing in the initial answer, ads will likely surface when users seek additional information. It reminds me of Quora Ads.

Perplexity could potentially compete with Google and other traditional search engines for a portion of the highly lucrative search ads market.

Bing Copilot is already showing ads while Google Search Generative Experience is still testing them. See screenshots.

But the ads I spotted on Bing Copilot looked quite lame, resembling contextual display ads more than search ads.

Conversely, the sponsored suggested questions on Perplexity might give advertisers more control over the specific phrases or keywords associated with their ads.

For now, neither Microsoft nor Google offer advertisers specific tools to manage and monitor Gen-Ai ads. Instead, they include them in their popular automated solutions such as Performance Max and Multimedia Ads.

So I'm curious to see what kind of ad platform Perplexity will develop!

I’ve used Perplexity as my main search engine for several months now and I couldn’t be happier. But I don’t think it will replace Google any time soon.
In fact, it serves a different purpose.

According to Ahrefs, the top five Google searches in the U.S. consist of single-word website names, such as "youtube", "amazon", and "facebook". It's clear that users are just looking to visit these sites, not to find information about the companies behind them. This behaviour will hardly be altered by Gen Ai.

Instead, Ai search engines such as Perplexity and target users who are conducting in-depth research on specific topics or need quick answers to particular questions.

For instance, if you search for "how to take a screenshot on a Mac" on Google, you'll have to sift through numerous SEO-filled pages before finding a clear answer. However, if you do the same on Perplexity, you'll get the solution immediately.

To me, this latter scenario seems more favourable for ads, where advertisers can clearly address users' questions and needs.

May 22
TikTok Brings Back Universal Music's Songs

TikTok Brings Back Universal Music's Songs

TikTok and Universal Music have finally found an agreement over music royalties and UMG songs are back.

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TikTok and Universal Music Group have finally found an agreement over music royalties and UMG songs are back on the social platform.

The Background

Back in January, TikTok muted every song affiliated with Universal’s artists and authors, after falling out over royalty payments.

The Effects

It seems TikTok’s popularity and usage was not very affected by the move. However, it was bad publicity.

Especially after the news of the social app possibly being banned in the US, last thing TikTok needed was more bad publicity.

On the other side, UMG’s artists were very much impacted by their songs being muted on TikTok.

In fact, the Chinese app is currently the most popular music discovery and promotion engine on the net.

Because of this, there were exceptions.

Taylor Swift was still allowed to play on TikTok, to promote her latest album.

Not very nice to all other UMG’s artists ☹️

The Reality

Many artists started to ask for exceptions, like the one Swift got.

Quickly, it was clear the whole situation was a lose lose.

The two companies went back into negotiations and UMG songs were promptly brought back to TikTok.

Bottom Line

If you’re Taylor Swift nothing can stop you.

The music industry relies on social media more than ever, and on TikTok’s viral algorithm in particular.

Not great news for music enthusiasts for sure.

May 24
Americans Work Harder Than Europeans, is it Good or Bad?

Americans Work Harder Than Europeans, is it Good or Bad?

Americans work harder than Europeans, but many indicators tell we're better off in Europe, at least in some countries.

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Happy 1st of May my European fellows!

Speaking of labour, much has been said recently about the difference in work culture between Europe and the US.

Nicolai Tangen, boss of Norway’s titanic oil fund, recently told the Financial Times that Americans just work harder.

It is a factual statement. The average American works 1,811 hours per year, compared to approximately 1,500 hours across Northern Europe.

The Americans also make more money. Salaries are higher and workers are more productive.

As an economy develops and productivity increases, people can either maintain the same work hours and become wealthier, or work fewer hours for the same income.

The US clearly chose the former option, while Europe chose the latter.

But what is actually better?

Various indicators such as life expectancy, sustainability, health, and happiness suggest that Europe, particularly Northern Europe, is an ideal model to emulate.

I would add that it’s easy to choose to work shorter hours when you sit on a $1.6tn public fund, like it’s the case of Norway. The other Nordics share a similar situation with very small population and few huge profitable companies, like Novo Nordisk in Denmark.

Switzerland is also in a similar position, with many Swiss (maybe the majority?) choosing to work part-time, because why not.

But for all other Europeans the story is different.

You might be enticed by the Italian "Dolce Vita," lured by the promise of a great life with relatively small money. Spoiler alert, “La Dolce Vita” is not cheap and you’ll end up in broken dreams and misery.

The reality is, in today’s economy, the developed world must continue to work hard, not for improving its quality of life, but simply to maintain it.

However, the American model is also not the best example.

On average, Americans live to 77.5, while Spaniards to 83, despite being poorer. According to the Financial Times, only 30% of Americans are truly engaged with their work and willing to put in extra hours. 20% are just miserable, and the remaining 50% merely show up. Therefore, only a fraction of Americans work harder and earn more than the average European. In contrast, we all tend to work and earn roughly the same.

Which model would you prefer?

May 24
Introducing FOPO, the Fear of People's Opinion

Introducing FOPO, the Fear of People's Opinion

Good managers combat their employees' fear of people's opinion. Read more to know how.

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Familiar with FOMO? Meet FOPO, the Fear of People's Opinion.

A PGA professional, a local teaching pro, and an amateur compete on a golf course in front of an audience and cameras.

As expected, the PGA professional performs well.

The amateur golfer thrives on the excitement for the unusual challenge.

However, the teaching pro unexpectedly underperforms due to anxiety.


He was used to being “the expert”. Now his identity is threatened by the obvious superior skills of the PGA pro and the amateur's unexpectedly good performance.

He fears judgment from the audience and the other players, causing him to enter survival mode, limiting his potential.

Survival mode is when we focus our energy on surviving instead of thriving.

In the workplace, we enter survival mode when we just do what we’re told without contributing with new ideas or speaking up proactively.

Junior employees, like the amateur, have little to lose and are excited to share their opinion. Executives, like the PGA pro, already know how to handle pressure and office politics.

On the other hand, senior employees starting to climb the ladder can struggle, just like the teaching pro.

Good managers combat FOPO, by creating a shield around their senior employees and by fostering a purpose-driven culture.

Purpose-based teams, unlike performance-based ones, go beyond mere metrics and strict tasks.

Employees driven by a clear purpose aren't afraid to speak up or try new ideas because they aren't intimidated by the occasional performance dips.

They overcome survival mode and start thriving.

They are more engaged and proactive, ultimately delivering more value.

Read more: Free Your People from the Need for Social Approval

Apr 24
This is Why TikTok Might Be Banned in The US Soon

This is Why TikTok Might Be Banned in The US Soon

TikTok might be banned in the US soon, but not because of what you think. It's a matter of national security.

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TikTok might be banned in the US soon, why?

The background

The US is concerned that the Chinese government might access American users' data for intelligence purposes.

TikTok had already worked on a billion-dollar project to isolate American data, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy US regulators.

What’s happening

The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill to ban the app unless it's sold to a non-Chinese entity.

However, before it becomes law, it must be approved by the Senate and President Joe Biden. If that happens, TikTok will have 6 months to divest.

My take

The primary concern of the US regarding TikTok isn't about data privacy. In fact, there's no evidence that the Chinese government has used the app's data for intelligence or military purposes.

Plus, the vast majority of smartphones are either iPhones or run Android, both developed by American companies. It shouldn’t be too difficult to prevent TikTok from gathering certain types of data.

The main concern is the algorithm.

TikTok can influence what people see on its platform.

With its vast reach in America (170m users), it can steer public opinion on crucial geopolitical issues, such as the conflict in Palestine.

Worse still, it can foster extremism.

It's a proven fact that social media and their echo chambers contribute to the development of more extreme ideas.

Extremism is the enemy of democracy, the foundation of western society. Which in turn is the “enemy” of totalitarian societies like China’s.

Not by chance Trump has recently come out against the ban, despite his earlier opposition to the app while he was president.

What's your take?

Apr 24
Gstaad Guy, a Masterpiece of Branding and Influencer Marketing

Gstaad Guy, a Masterpiece of Branding and Influencer Marketing

The Gstaad Guy's double life as Constance and Colton encapsulates the essence of modern luxury.

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The Gstaad Guy is a masterpiece of influencer marketing and branding.

Here’s why:

With "only" around 800k followers on Instagram and TikTok, the Gstaad Guy has developed two distinct online personas.

First, there's Constance, a 30-something bastion of old money, living between high-society London and the luxurious ski-resort town of Gstaad in Switzerland. To quote him, “if you know how to pronounce Gstaad, you know”.

Then, there's Constance's American cousin, Colton, a Gen Z new-money obsessed with street fashion and matcha, splitting his time between LA and New York.

Both are parodies of real characters you might encounter in the private members clubs of Marylebone or at NYC fashion shows.

Although the Gstaad Guy has kept his true identity a secret, Constance and Colton have become influencers in their own right.

Constance has launched his own rosé wine brand, Palais Constance, which is served in upscale clubs and restaurants. He is officially dressed by Loro Piana and Audemars Piguet and has sunglasses collaborations with the Swedish brand CHIMI. Meanwhile, Colton has established himself as a Gen Z street-fashion icon.

People even text Constance for tips on where to eat in London, as if he were a real person.

The Gstaad Guy achieved the impossible task of representing, and likely becoming, the very individuals he mocks. Forbes reports that the rich love him and make up a significant portion of his relatively small following.

Thanks to his double life, the Gstaad Guy can appeal to different audiences and expand the range of brands for potential collaborations.

While Constance and Colton look antithetical, the brilliance lies in the fact that they actually represent two sides of the same coin. The contrast between old money and new, tradition and hype, encapsulates the essence of modern luxury.

The Gstaad Guy has understood this perfectly!

Apr 24
OnlyFans Claims It's Not a Porn Site. It's a Big Lie

OnlyFans Claims It's Not a Porn Site. It's a Big Lie

What do you know of OnlyFans? Have a read about the economics of OnlyFans and why it's definitely a porn site.

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What do you know of OnlyFans?

  • It’s one the most successful European tech companies, founded and based in London with no plans to move to Silicon Valley.
  • It’s a very private company with no plans to go public. 75% is owned by porn-billionaire Leonid Radvinsky (more on him later), with the rest owned by founder Tim Stokely, his father Guy and brother Thomas.
  • Founded in 2016, it has gone through spectacular growth since the pandemic. With almost 239m “fans” in 2022, it has tripled since 2020 and 18x since 2019.
  • It’s also doing very well financially, generating $5.55bn gross revenue in 2022, of which it takes a 20% cut. Revenue before taxes in 2022 was $525m, up 22% YoY and almost 9x vs 2020. Its owner reportedly took home dividends of $338m in 2023, the equivalent of $1.3m per working day. No wonder they don’t want to go public!
  • OnlyFans is trying to diversify from its core adult-content business by branching into non-adult streaming with OnlyFansTV and recruiting more non-adult celebrities.
  • The new CEO, Keily Blair, is a former lawyer specializing in cyber and data privacy. She has 15+ years of experience working with renowned law firms in London. Fan fact, she was recently denied the ability to open a bank account due to her association with the company.
  • She doesn’t like the word “porn”.
    In a recent interview with the Financial Times, she clarified that while OnlyFans is "open" to adult content, it doesn't necessarily represent its main offering. However, she explained they do not report on content category, hence they cannot determine the proportion of creators who do not produce any adult content. "Creators' performance is not an important metric."
    It's hard to believe, given that their entire business model relies on commissions from creators' revenue!
  • In the same interview, she states that they encourage all employees, including herself, to open an OnlyFans account and follow creators. She particularly likes Becky Goodwin and Whitney Cummings. This seems to be part of an effort to normalise the use of OnlyFans.
  • She also emphasises the strength of their monetisation strategy, which increasingly focuses on micro-transactions such as tips and "unlock content", rather than recurring subscriptions. This approach gives users more financial control. She notes that she herself has many subscriptions, for which she "probably watches three shows and yet still pays for the entire membership".

My take

OnlyFans is clearly a porn website.

Even the other categories available on the site, including OnlyFansTV, often serve just as a funnel to more expensive adult content.

The founder, Tim Stokely, was named "The king of homemade porn" by the Sunday Times, a reference to his other porn ventures like Customs4U. The current primary owner, Leonid Radvinsky, has a shady history with dubious adult websites dating back to the late 90s and early 2000s. Do you recall the endless chain of spammy links that ultimately led to porn sites? That was him. In fact, when he invested in OnlyFans in 2018, he pushed for a greater focus on adult content.

The monetisation model is highly profitable, but it is also evil.

Actress Bella Thorne earned $1m on her first day after signing up by promising to send nudes to her fans for $200. However, she ended up sending a photo in lingerie instead of “nudes”.

Many creators follow a similar strategy, enticing users with the promise of increasingly provocative content that often never materialises. It's a vicious cycle reminiscent of gambling, where people keep playing in the hope of winning big and recouping their losses, an outcome that almost never occurs.

OnlyFans is growing up, from a 90s-style scammy site to an adult big tech that drains its users, not of their personal data but directly of their money.

Not sure what is worse.

Slide showing the text "is OnlyFans a porn site?"
Timothy Stokely, founder of OnlyFans, poses with 5 young girls
Tim Stokely, founder of OnlyFans, was named "king of homemade porn" by The Sunday Times.

The chart shows the huge user growth experienced by OnlyFans in the last couple of years
The chart shows the number of content creators working on Onlyfans, around 3m in 2022
The chart shows OnlyFans profit before taxes for every year from 2019 to 2022. It made round 525m in 2022
Mar 24
Men and Women Are More Divided Than Ever. It's Time to Reassess

Men and Women Are More Divided Than Ever. It's Time to Reassess

Men and women are drifting apart, while media and politics capitalise on a polarised and confused youth.

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Houston, we have a problem!

Young men and women are drifting apart.

Two decades ago, young men and women generally shared similar world views. Now, there is a significant divide, with men tending towards conservative positions and women towards liberal ones.

The gap is widening at a worrying speed, as evidenced by herds of angry young men around the world. In South Korea, for example, nearly 80% of men in their 20s say they are discriminated against, leading to the election of an overtly anti-feminist president in 2022.

Political polarisation and extreme positions can be dangerous, as they may lead to violence and totalitarianism.

There are underlying issues that contribute to cause this divide.

Women tend to be more educated than men, with 46% of them holding a tertiary degree vs 35% of their men counterparts in the EU in 2022. In general, better education generates more liberal ideas and vice versa.

Men in the rich world tend to struggle at school, start working earlier and retire later than women, while dying younger. Therefore, better working conditions for women are sometimes seen as unfair.

However, neither the media nor politics aim to address these issues, instead they pour gas on the fire.

Mainstream media has leant “left” (far from the left I grew up with and still support), engaging in a daily bombing campaign against “toxic masculinity” and supporting a deranged politically-correct rhetoric. Both women and men avidly read these news, further solidifying their extreme positions, becoming more feminist on one hand and angrier on the other. And this is very good for business!

Meanwhile, the real world has gone in the complete opposite direction.

Right-wing and extreme-right-wing parties have massively grown in popularity in recent years. Some are even led by a woman, like Giorgia Meloni in Italy or Marine Le Pen in France. Hard to believe these parties were voted only by men.

Characters like Donald Trump urge angry men (and women) to take the “red pill”, feeding them with lies and conspiracy theories.

Both sides benefit from and capitalise on the situation.

People with moderate views, who are probably the majority, are left out of the equation.

Being a moderate young(ish) men today is harder than before, as he's frequently scrutinised and doubted. But the irony is that being a young women today is also harder than before!

Today's women often face immense pressure to meet expectations associated with their acquired rights. For instance, they are expected to have a successful career, which is challenging in itself, regardless of gender, while also having children, possibly at least 2.1 to support demographic needs. They are encouraged to freely express their sexuality, yet expected to establish a stable family, likely with a men who is less educated than them, see previous point.

This contradictory message harms our youth.

It leaves them in confusion due to a lack of clear role models. Increasingly, they are dropping out of school and struggling with commitment, while the level of violence rises.

Maybe it’s time to reassess?

The chart shows how men and women's political views are drifting apart.
Men and women's political views are drifting apart.

The charts shows how, when it comes to political views, the US is the country with the larger gap between men and women.
The US is the country with the larger gap between men and women.

The chart shows how differently men and women agree with the statement "feminism has gone too far".
Do men and women agree with the statement "feminism has gone too far"?

The chart shows how women are generally more educated than men, with 46% of them holding a tertiary degree in the EU in 2022.
Women are generally more educated than men, with 46% of them holding a tertiary degree in the EU in 2022.
Mar 24
Epic Battle Against Apple: Full Timeline and Awkward Details

Epic Battle Against Apple: Full Timeline and Awkward Details

The Epic battle against Apple continues, and it reveals awkward details about the mobile app market.

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The Epic battle against Apple continues, and it reveals awkward details about the mobile app market.

The Timeline so far:

  • Summer 2020: Epic Games introduces a direct payment system in its popular game, Fortnite, on iOS and Android, to bypass Apple’s and Google’s 30% cut on in-app purchases.
  • August 13, 2020: In response, Apple and Google remove Fortnite from the App Store and Play Store.
  • August 13, 2020: Epic Games files lawsuits against Apple and Google, accusing them of anti-competitive practices and monopolistic behaviour.
  • August 17, 2020: Epic Games launches the #FreeFortnite campaign, parodying Apple's famous "1984" advertisement.
  • May 3, 2021: The trial between Epic Games and Apple begins.
  • September 10, 2021: The judge issues her ruling. Epic loses the case as Apple is not a monopolist, and its 30% commission rate is lawful. Fortnite will remain out of the App Store. However, the ruling also mandates that Apple must allow developers to direct users to external payment methods.
  • November 2023: The trial between Epic Games and Google begins.
  • December 2023: Epics Games wins against Google; the search giant runs an illegal monopoly with the Play store. However, it’s still unclear what Epic Games exactly won (Epic never sued for monetary damages); the parties are still discussing. But one thing is certain, this victory will pave the way for increased freedom on the Play Store and Android.
  • February 16, 2024: The EU introduces its Digital Markets Act (DMA), which was effectively enforced on March 6th. Under this act, Epic Games plans to develop the Epic Games Store as an alternative app marketplace on iOS within the EU. This store will feature third-party apps, Fortnite, and other mobile games owned and affiliated with Epic. It's expected to resemble its existing desktop counterpart, charging a 12% commission to third-party apps. Epic Games applies for and obtains an Apple Developer Program account, needed to build native apps for iOS.
  • February 23, 2024: In a long email, Apple asks Epic Games for written assurance that, this time, they will “act in good faith” and will honour Apple’s terms of service.
  • February 23, 2024: Tim Sweeney, Epic’s CEO, personally responds to Apple with a brief statement. “[We are] acting in good faith and will comply with all terms of current and future agreements with Apple”.
  • March 2, 2024: Apple is not happy about Sweeney’s quick reply and terminates Epic’s developer account.
  • March 8, 2024: Following an inquiry from the EU, Apple reinstates Epic’s developer account.

On the one hand, Apple owns the hardware (the iPhone) and it should be free to manage it how it’s best for the business. Additionally, by maintaining tight control over iOS and the App Store, they can guarantee cyber safety and user privacy.

On the other hand, it's evident they're abusing their dominant position. They ban apps at their discretion, disallow advertising of external payment flows, and prohibit third-party stores.

At the same time, Epic Games is also a leader in its market. Ultimately, their objective is to circumvent Apple's 30% commission to boost their profit margin, not to make the world a better place.

This story isn't only about a legal battle. It uncovers awkward details on how Apple and Google operates in the app market.

Why did Google lose its legal battle against Epic Games while Apple won, even though they were sued for essentially the same reason?

Several factors contribute, but fundamentally, it's due to the market definitions used by the judges in the trials. For Apple, the market was defined as "digital mobile gaming transactions," where Apple isn't a monopolist and faces competition from companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, who also charge similar commissions on their stores. For Google, the market was defined as "Android app distribution and Android in-app billing services," where Google is the clear monopolist. Bear in mind that Android is an open-source platform.

Some uncomfortable details emerged from the trials.

Google has been making sweetheart deals with the largest apps on its store, notably Spotify and Netflix. Reports indicate that Spotify was permitted to pay 0% fees on the Play Store when using its own payment system, or only 4% (as opposed to the standard 15%) when using Google's payment system.

Netflix was offered a similar deal, but refused and kept subscription payments only available on the web version.

It seems that Google has made great efforts to conceal the details of these deals, even deleting some Google Chat messages from their records. This suggests that more revealing details may have been uncovered otherwise!

Apple reportedly followed this practice as well, offering special treatment to Netflix.

The truth is, without clear regulations and enforcement, big tech companies will continue to employ discriminatory and unfair practices.

Some might argue that as private enterprises, they should be free to conduct business as they wished. However, given their size, the consequences of their actions extend far beyond their target markets. In fact, big tech also serve as strategic, intelligence, and military assets for the governments where they're based, playing a crucial role in global affairs and ultimately on our lives.

It may be time to reconsider the extent of power that a private enterprise can wield.

Mar 24
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