Equity Monday: What if no one gets to buy TikTok?

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode.

This weekend was a welcome reprieve from last week’s insane news cycle inside the world of technology and money. If you are still catching your breath from the Great IPO Wave of last Monday, we feel you. Here’s what we got into this morning:

  • The TikTok sale could be in trouble, this time due to China changing its rules on sales of tech firms that have certain algorithms. TikTok parent company Bytedance intends to comply with the rules, but what impact the news could have the sale of the social service is unclear as of yet, though the developments are not good if you were in favor of a deal.
  • American tech shares are set to rise once again after setting records last week.
  • Equity is back on YouTube, hell yeah!
  • From the weekend: Medium’s growth in both traffic (pageviews) and income (paying subscribers) is super impressive according to its latest reporting. And the publishing platform and media company is doubling-down on product to fend off upstarts like the popular Substack. Per a Bloomberg report, tech IPO fundraising could set a record in 2020. And, to ground us in a macro-economic sense, Chinese banks are being forced to take a profit hit to support other companies.
  • In the funding round domain, Semalytix raised €4.3 million in Series A funding according to TechCrunch for its pharmaceutical-AI service. And India-based Eruditus raised $113 million for its executive-focused education service. That’s a lot of money, but like we’ve been saying, edtech is hot.
  • And, finally, will there be enough horns for all these hot SaaS rounds that are getting done in a blur today? What if SaaS revenue multiples slip by 20%? Then what? When deals go so fast that due diligence suffers, the hangover can last a bit.

And that is the week’s Monday ep, thanks for sticking with through our super-busy week last week. Whew!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

Google launches Google Kids Space, a ‘kids mode’ feature for Android, initially on Lenovo tablets

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Streaming services have built-in kids’ profiles, so why not devices? Google today is responding to parents’ demand for a better way for their children to interact with technology with the launch of the new “Google Kids Space,” a dedicated kids mode on Android tablets which will aggregate apps, books, and videos for kids to enjoy and learn from. The feature will launch first on the Lenovo Smart Tab M10 HD Gen 2, but Google aims to bring Kids Space to more devices in time.

The concept is somewhat similar to Amazon’s FreeTime, Amazon’s own well-built system for parental controls and access to approved and curated children’s’ apps and media. But in Google’s case, its new kids’ mode is building on top of the company’s earlier efforts focused on designing a safer, more controlled Android experience for families with children.

These efforts began with Family Link, a series of parental control features that’s now built into the Android OS. Family Link already allows parents to set screen time limits, engage content safety filters, set privacy controls, and more. Google then expanded into kids’ app curation with the launch of a Kids tab in Google Play where it can showcase “teacher-approved” mobile apps and games.

Image Credits: Google

The new Kids Space leverages Google’s earlier work in evaluating Android apps for its “Play” tab, and has expanded its curation to now include other types of quality content. For example, Google worked with publishers to make popular children’s books free of charge in Kids Space, and at launch offers over 400 free books in the “Read” tab for users in the U.S.

In the Kids Space’ “Watch” and “Make” tabs, Google is pulling in creative content from YouTube Kids that encourage off-screen activities.

Image Credits: Google

The feature is ultimately meant to be a selling point for Android devices and a way to lock families into the Google ecosystem. This differentiates it from Amazon’s FreeTime, which only partially has this aim. Amazon’s FreeTime is largely meant to a subscription offering, and it’s one that works across platforms — including Amazon devices like Fire tablets and Echo smart speakers, but also on iOS and Android devices. Google’s Kids Space, meanwhile, is only designed for Android.

Google Kids Space is initially available on on the Lenovo Tab M10 HD Gen 2. The company said it worked with Lenovo to ease the setup process for parents and to ensure that Kids Space is a pre-loaded feature. Google says it aims to bring Kids Mode to more Android tablets soon.

August 31st 2020 Android, Google

The 3 Women Who Started BLM; Ryan Reynolds Joins Brandweek: Monday’s First Things First

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Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here. Meet the 3 Women Who Founded Black Lives Matter–and Started…

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

5 Case Studies on How to Optimize B2B Influencer Engagement on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn Influencer Engagement

LinkedIn Influencer Engagement

With over 700 million community members in 200+ countries and territories, LinkedIn is without question the place for businesses to do business. With 91% of marketing executives using LinkedIn as a content source (SocialPilot) it’s easy to understand why 94% of B2B marketers using LinkedIn to distribute content (CMI). In fact, there’s been a 50% year over year increase in content shared on the LinkedIn platform (LinkedIn).

With many social network options, LinkedIn has proven to be an effective choice for B2B marketers. A study from HubSpot showed that traffic from LinkedIn generates the highest visitor to lead conversion rate, 277% higher than Facebook and Twitter.

While there are robust opportunities to connect with potential customers on LinkedIn, the platform is busier than ever, making it hard to stand out. There are also challenges in terms of reduced organic visibility and the trend towards distrust of sales outreach and what brands publish directly. With so much information, many buyers are suffering what I call Content Attention Deficit.

One of the most promising growth areas within the B2B marketing mix is working with influencers. In our research we found that 77% of marketers say their prospective customers rely on advice from industry experts. and 96% of marketers that engage influencers consider their program to be successful.

Trusted experts that have the attention of customers can help B2B brands attract and engage potential customers in more meaningful ways. But what are the best ways to engage with B2B influencers on LinkedIn? How are B2B brands successfully working with influencers to achieve marketing goals using the LinkedIn platform?

To help B2B marketers think about how they can better engage with influencers on LinkedIn, here are several examples of how TopRank Marketing and a few clients are doing just that:

1. Give the Gift of Recognition to Influencers

Give Gift Recognition Influencers
For small B2B brands and those of any size that do not have relationships with influencers, a good starting point to warm up the influencer community is to recognize them. When you come to a party bearing gifts, it makes an impression and with influencers, it’s no different except instead of a bottle of spirits, you’re giving the gift of recognition.

For our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report, we followed our own best practices and identified 20 top B2B influencer marketing professionals working for B2B brands and published a list in the report and as a blog post. Sharing that list on LinkedIn while tagging each person along with a small infographic featuring the group provided relevant and credible recognition. The result was tens of thousands of views on LinkedIn, hundreds of reactions and over 50 comments. More importantly, the post helped generate goodwill among those mentioned, inspiring new connections, conversations and engagement opportunities.

2. Grow Credible Awareness of a Brand Solution

Build Credible Awareness with Influencers

Mitel wanted to create awareness, credibility and consideration of their Remote Working Solutions and what better way to do that than by engaging remote work experts in conversations around topics that highlight the issues and solutions so many companies are considering in today’s new normal. A variety of remote work influencers and content formats were used to accomplish program awareness including a livestream video broadcast on LinkedIn. To showcase the topic of remote work with credibility, several paid influencers were engaged to share their expertise along with a Mitel executive on a LinkedIn Live. With an audience of professionals, Linkedin was the perfect place to highlight remote work conversation and in a format that is increasingly important for B2B engagement  – live video.

While there were multiple influencers and content formats involved with this program, the LivesStream on LinkedIn had the highest engagement of all, helping Mitel achieve meaningful their awareness, credibility and consideration goals.

3. Increase Brand Engagement with Authentic Stories

Stories Influencer Engagement

While LinkedIn is the most relevant platform for reaching business decision makers, reaching and connecting with both marketers and sales professionals has become increasingly difficult due to  information overload. LinkedIn also faced this challenge, even on their own platform. 

In order to reach business decision makers in a meaningful way, LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Solutions set out to create a social influencer content campaign characterized by:

  • Increasing engagement and help humanize LinkedIn as a brand by partnering with well respected industry experts to share real-life struggles, stories and obstacles with a focused audience. 
  • Driving new audiences to targeted Showcase Pages via the influencer’s audiences (that were not already following or engaging with the LinkedIn brand).
  • Continuing to nurture and grow relationships with sales and marketing influencers as part of an ongoing influencer program.
  • Engaging the audience in-channel on the LinkedIn platform (versus sending to alternate content elsewhere).

Since much of B2B marketing is more mechanical than meaningful, LinkedIn decided to forego marketing and sales tips content and emphasize stories from respected influencers about experiences they’ve had in their careers. Influencers were asked to share:

  • A defining moment in your career and how it shaped you as a marketer or sales professional.
  • One thing NOT on your LinkedIn profile that people should about you?
  • One rising star in your field that you’d like to recognize? What makes them amazing? 

By making the shift to a combination of professional and personal content, we were able to better engage the audience around their own professional opportunities and provide them a platform to engage directly with people that they respect. 

With the goal to drive authentic engagement, on platform, between LinkedIn and their customers, the reach from influencers’ brand mentions exceeded 54 million and there was a 1,000% increase in post engagements over the previous 12 months. This tactic was also part of an ongoing influencer marketing program that won the ANA B2 Marketing Award. 

While it would be expected that LinkedIn working with a top B2B influencer marketing agency like TopRank Marketing and a premium group of influencers would achieve results like these, the overall story about the opportunity with B2B influencer marketing is a bit different. The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report found that while 12X more marketers who run ongoing influencer engagement efforts are very successful compared to those who run periodic campaigns, only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer programs.

4. Improve Reach of a Brand Webinar

LinkedIn Carousel Promotion
Prophix software was looking for more more interesting ways to get the attention of LinkedIn followers of the brand to help promote an upcoming brand webinar about the 2020 CFO Benchmark Report. Since the amount of content being published on LinkedIn has risen 50% year over year, the competition for organic attention has too. Fortunately, LinkedIn offers an opportunity for members or brands to upload vertical PDF files to create a carousel of messages that can tell a story or communicate a series of connected messages very different than what the normal feed can.

For the webinar in question, a key financial industry influencer, Jack McCullough of the CFO Leadership Council was engaged to collaborate on the report highlighted in the webinar and was also featured in the carousel promotion. The same 3rd party credibility effect that helped the report and webinar also provided validation to the LinkedIn post which had over 1,500 organic impressions and referred nearly 200 visitors to the registration page.

5. Connect Brand Executive with Influencers

Brand Executives and Influencers
Research has show that B2B buyers favorably view brands with senior executives that engage on social media. In an effort to connect with customers while also creating relationships with respected industry influencers, the CEO of HRS engages in content creation and sharing on social networks like LinkedIn. In this example, Tobias Ragge posted an article on his LinkedIn profile page featuring a group of travel and tech industry influencers to provide them with recognition in the context of topics important to the HRS brand and customers.

By featuring relevant industry influencers in content from the CEO of the company, HRS was able to inspire meaningful engagement and goodwill with these respected voices as well as to build influence for the CEO as well.

Before you get started with B2B influencer engagement on LinkedIn, it’s essential that you have a documented influencer marketing strategy. For the most successful B2B influencer marketers, our research found that having a documented strategy (68%) is one of the key differentiators over less successful marketers (25%) so it’s a very important step. Here are some basic questions to get you thinking about developing your own B2B influencer marketing plan:

  • Topic – What topic do you want to be influential about?
  • Influencers – Identify, and qualify relevant influencers
  • Collect – Activate influencers for a project or program
  • Co-Create – Collaborate on content: text, audio, video, interactive, live
  • Publish – Will content live on LinkedIn, off or both?
  • Promote – Promote via brand LinkedIn page, influencers, ads
  • Optimize – Monitor tracking URLs, LinkedIn engagement, adjust

Of course if you are looking for assistance in understanding what role influencer marketing can play in your B2B marketing mix, be sure to reach out.

The post 5 Case Studies on How to Optimize B2B Influencer Engagement on LinkedIn appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

How To Successfully Manage A Remote Team

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How To Successfully Manage A Remote Team

Team performance is inextricably linked to leadership – that much has not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the lockdown-induced shift to remote work did transform the particular challenges of leadership. How to keep up productivity while being mindful of members’ physical and mental health? How to hold effective meetings and minimize technological vagaries? 

According to a recent Forbes article, work-from-home (WFH) arrangements don’t automatically impair employee engagement. Rather, it depends on leaders whether team potential is harnessed during WFH.

Here is a closer look at the big issues business leaders – from team supervisors to CEOs – face during the pandemic. And how to best tackle them. 


With employees unable to meet in hallways, stop by each other’s offices, or have a quick chat at the water cooler, ensuring communication is a core challenge leaders face. 

A recent survey by Microsoft published in the Harvard Business Review found that managers took on a more active role in communication, both within and across teams. Overall, they sent 115% more instant messages after the transition to remote work, while other employees sent 50% more.

The key, however, is not to communicate simply more – but more effectively. This means communicating succinctly, with clear goals and expectations in mind, and choosing your channels wisely. 

Email is the default avenue of communication for many leaders. It is also terribly inefficient, as another recent Forbes analysis outlines.

Generally, email is fine for asking quick questions, sharing a file, or responding to a scheduling request. But as soon as something requires more complex discussions, a nuanced understanding, or creative input, having a (video) call is more efficient.

Choosing a communication platform for your team is one of the most crucial WFH decisions. 

Overall, it is best to centralize communication. Instead of juggling notifications from five different apps, team members just have to keep their eye on one or two. For this, team collaboration apps, conference calling services, and Unified Communications platforms are invaluable. 


Online meetings are an integral part of WFH – but leaders need to make sure that they are both necessary and efficient. 

The number and duration of meetings – and the strictness of the schedule – are within the purview of managers and team leaders. 

Microsoft’s researchers found that while meetings increased overall, they were considerably shorter than before, averaging 30-minutes. Other articles also suggest that meetings lasting between 20 and 30 minutes are optimal for keeping engagement high and proceedings efficient. 

Steve Jobs’ cardinal rule of meetings was to have only essential people present, which cut down on explanatory ballast and tech troubles. Each item on the agenda – well-defined in advance – should have a participant responsible for it.


Trust is an integral component of leadership, now more so than ever. 

While it’s natural to be curious about how your staff handles their work projects and timelines during WFH, it’s crucial to show confidence in them. Resist the temptations of surveillance and micro-management. 

Assume that your team is doing their best. In some cases, this may not be on par with their normal performance at the office – especially if they are facing added challenges at home, such as childcare. 

In general, it’s best not to focus on inputs – exactly which tasks each team member is tackling at a time. Instead, concentrate on team accomplishments – the overall outputs. 

Remote Team Building

Fostering team spirit and building rapport among physically distanced staff is currently a central leadership task. 

Microsoft’s survey found that virtual social meetings increased by 10% within a month of the transition to remote work. Team members wanted to connect with each other on a human basis. 

Leaders can harness this need and take the initiative. Organize virtual ‘casual Fridays’, encourage ‘water-cooler’ chat spaces, schedule digital coffee breaks, or set up a Slack channel dedicated to swapping baby pictures, memes, and cat videos. 

Balance Work And Life

Finally, it’s a manager’s responsibility to ensure that remote team members can successfully balance their work and personal lives. 

When working from a home office, it’s only too easy to let sales figures or annual reports encroach on otherwise relaxing evenings. Especially if it seems like other team members are constantly online.

Managers need to discourage always-on culture in the interest of their team members’ mental and physical health. 

Removing incentives for 24/7 availability, discouraging messages at all hours, strictly limiting meetings to daytime, and implementing a virtual out-of-office policy go a long way towards achieving this balance.  

Adapt And Succeed

Recent statistics show that two thirds of companies are planning to keep a distributed workforce model post-pandemic. That means that leading a remote team will no longer be a temporary emergency measure. It will become a standard requirement and essential leadership skill. 

The sooner managers find sustainable solutions to the challenges of heading a distributed team, the better they will be able to operate in a business world transformed by COVID-19. And the larger their success will be – both for themselves and their team. 

How To Successfully Manage A Remote Team
Brian Wallace

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

United Permanently Cuts the Dreaded Ticket Change Fee

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At the height of the 2008 economic recession, American Airlines became the first major carrier to charge for a checked bag. More than a decade later, travelers now almost expect to be nickel and dimed for everything short of using the lavatory (though Ryanair floated that idea in 2010). But now, in the midst of…

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

Explore Kids Space: A way to nurture your kid’s curiosity

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Parents have told us that they’re constantly wrestling with the role of technology in their children’s lives, and this is especially true for the many families who are spending more time at home. But kids are natural explorers and when they have access to great content, it can be a magical experience–they can read up on their favorite dinosaur, watch videos on how to bake a treat or discover new hobbies.

Family Link was created and built into our core products to give parents the tools they need to stay involved and help manage their child’s online experiences, from setting screen time limits to content safety filters, privacy controls and more. But we’ve heard that parents want more than just parental controls; with so much content out there, they also need help finding things that are enriching and engaging for their kids. To help meet this request, we took a first step with the launch of a new kids tab in Google Play that helps parents easily find and pick “teacher-approved” apps for their kids.

Today, we’re continuing to build upon these efforts with Google Kids Space, a new kids mode on select Android tablets that features apps, books and videos for your kids to explore, learn and have fun.* Kids Space will be available globally on certain Lenovo™ tablets first, including the new Lenovo Smart Tab M10 HD Gen 2, and will be coming to more Android tablets soon.

Designed for nurturing your kid’s curiosity and creativity

Kids Space is designed with your kid at the center of the experience and made for them to become explorers of the things they love. By selecting their interests, your kids will see new and engaging content to read, play and make. Kids can even customize their experience by creating their own character.

Recommended library of free books, apps and videos 

To evaluate and select “teacher-approved” apps in Google Play, we worked with academic experts and children’s education specialists to define rubrics. For Kids Space, we’ve built on that foundation and applied our quality standard to an ever-expanding library of apps and books in the Play and Read tabs. We worked with top publishers to make popular children’s books free of charge, and have over 400 free books available in the U.S. alone. In the Watch and Make tabs, your kids can view creative and fun videos from YouTube Kids that are engaging and encourage off-screen activities. And if you’re looking to customize even more, parents can download additional content from Google Play.


Access content that’s age-appropriate, thoughtfully designed and fun or inspiring. 

Join us in our journey as we continue to create productive and healthy experiences for kids that adapt to the evolving world and needs of your family.

* Kids Space requires a Google Account for your child. Parental controls require the Family Link app on a supported Android, Chromebook, or iOS device. Books and video content not available in all regions. Video content subject to availability of YouTube Kids app. Books content requires the Play Books app. Availability of apps, books and video content may change without notice.

† Google Assistant not available in Kids Space.

August 31st 2020 Android

Human Connection Is Key for B-to-B Brands

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Miles Davis introduced new innovation and creativity to a generation of musicians. He didn’t just influence the sound of jazz trumpeters–he changed the direction of American music. This quote from the jazz legend sums up his key to success: “It’s not about standing still and becoming safe,” Davis said. “If anybody wants to keep creating,…

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

Vlog #82: Kevin Lee Of Didit on Digital PR & Why It Rocks For SEO – Part One

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This is the first interview I did after New York went on lock due to COVID in March – hence the lack of the haircut. Kevin Lee came to my home to do an outside vlog interview, socially distant, to discuss SEO and SEM. Kevin Lee is the CEO is the Executive Chairman and Founder of DidIt, a digital marketing company founded in 1996 – yes, pre-Google. He has founded and acquired numerous companies over the years, and has given a tremendous amount of his time to the industry through publishing books, presenting at hundreds of conferences, helping industry groups and so much more.

Kevin Lee explained how digital PR, public relations, helps you accomplish PR goals and SEO goals at the same time. Some call it barnacle SEO, but he loves to dominate the search results – he calls it SERP domination. The strategy of creating articles and PR with or without links, with nofollow or dofollows, in order to dominate the search results is something Kevin is passionate about. It is not too far off from the strategies used by reputation management companies but it is much broader than those tactics.

Part two to come next week.

You can learn more about Kevin Lee on LinkedIn.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking here so you don’t miss the next vlog where I interviews. I do have a nice lineup of interviews scheduled with SEOs and SEMS, many of which you don’t want to miss – and I promise to continue to make these vlogs better over time. If you want to be interviewed, please fill out this form with your details.

Forum discussion at YouTube.

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized

Can Apple Search Compete Against Google Search?

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In 2015, Apple first revealed information about AppleBot, its search engine crawler. This was after about a year of SEOs noticing AppleBot in their logfiles. Then a few months ago, Apple updated its information around web search to list its web ranking factors.

Jon Henshaw last week published a very comprehensive blog post on Apple’s behind the scenes efforts in launching a search engine to compete with Google. A lot of the stuff we covered in short form, but with more details that make it look real.

Will Apple launch a search engine? I hope so. But will it succeed in taking away real market share from Google?

When Bing launched its search engine in 2009, years before that I thought Microsoft could destroy Google. Keep in mind that was in 2004 and if Microsoft did it in 2004, maybe it would have been true. But that clearly is not the case in 2020. While Bing has some market share, it seems like it took it away from Yahoo and other search engines and very little from Google.

Can Apple take away share from Google? Maybe a little. But you just have to look at the launch of Apple Maps. 🙂

Here is the poll from Mark Traphagen asking the SEO community about if they think it is something to be excited about:

It seems like about 22% feel like this will be a “game changer” but the rest are not too concerned about it.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

August 31st 2020 Uncategorized