The disappearance of the Snap Pixy drone marks another failure to build beyond the Snapchat app


Hi, Technical sheet readers. You may have noticed that Thursday’s edition never made it to your inbox. Due to an error on my part, yesterday’s issue was put online, but the newsletter was never sent to subscribers.

If you want to review Thursday’s dispatch, which covered TikTok’s fledgling efforts to expand its commercial reach, you can read it by clicking here. My sincere apologies for the error. And now here’s today’s edit…

RIP, Pixy. We barely robbed you.

In the latest blow to Snap’s hopes of making money from more than advertising, CEO Evan Spiegel recently told employees the company was remove all future updates from his Pixy flying camera drone, the the wall street journal reported Thursday. While the drone received largely positive reviews and appeared to sell for a pretty decent clip after its release four months ago, Spiegel reportedly viewed the project as a luxury amid Snap’s financial tumult.

Pixy’s disappearance adds to the frustration of Snap executives who still hope to diversify their business, a multi-year effort that has barely paid off. The lack of success of these efforts raises existential questions about Snap’s ability to grow beyond its core business, which faces immense pressure from larger competitors and ever-changing economic conditions. .

The company just had its worst quarter of sales growth since going public in 2017; the leaders refused in July to publish forecasts for the current quarter; and its stock is down 73% year-to-date. The upheaval stems primarily from a pullback in ad spending amid global economic uncertainty, as well as recent changes to Apple’s privacy protocols that have made it harder for social media companies to deliver highly targeted ads. .

In a nod to their diversification aspirations, Snap executives have gone to great lengths for several years to emphasize that their company is a camera company, not an advertising or social media company. This despite 99% of Snap’s revenue last year coming from ads on its Snapchat social media platform.

The camera has certainly been central to Snapchat’s evolution from a photo-sharing tool, to a video-sharing platform, to an augmented reality destination. But in Spiegel’s narrative, the focus on cameras opens up new avenues for Snap to grow.

This approach has, to date, manifested itself in two hardware products: Spectacles, a series of four pairs of glasses equipped with a camera, and the Pixy drone. And so far, none have taken off.

The first line of Spectacles, released in 2017, was an outright flop. The next two generations of Spectacles have also been disappointing, while the latest augmented reality-enabled pair is not available for purchase. (Only creators can receive a pair of Snaps.)

Snap executives were more circumspect in their hopes for Pixy, a high-tech flying selfie stick that retailed for $230. Spiegel told The Verge in April that he just wanted to “put it in people’s hands and have them play with it”. If customers liked the product, Snap would make a second version. Clearly, in this economic landscape, not enough.

Spiegel and his team deserve a pinch of praise for their ambition. Snap’s leaders weren’t afraid to roll out products with truly cutting-edge technology, even if they weren’t quite ready for prime time.

At some point, though, Snap needs to secure a homegrown product if it’s going to be more than a social media company.

While Spectacles and Pixy undoubtedly contained some great features, neither offered much utility. Insider reported in 2017 that Snap’s internal data only showed most Spectacles buyers wore the glasses for a few weeks before storing them. And Pixy is a fun little toy, but its light frame and minimal battery life have limited its functionality.

Snap could take lessons from both products and apply them to more utilitarian augmented and virtual reality efforts, a sector ripe for potential riches in the next decade.

Yet any head start Snap had is quickly shut down by competitors with deeper pockets. Apple, Google, Meta parent of Facebook and Microsoft are all developing some form of wearable mixed reality hardware, with each company able to easily spend Snap on research and development. Meta alone spent $3.2 billion in the prior quarter on its augmented and virtual reality division, six times more than Snap’s company-wide R&D spending for the quarter. Snap’s announcement in July of a substantial reduction in its hiring growth rate won’t help either.

Despite its best efforts, Snap simply cannot escape its reality as an advertising-driven, struggling app. With the Wall Street bailout and the rise of its rivals, the window for Snap’s perfect ending keeps shrinking. After Spectacles and Pixy, the third try, if there is one, had better be the charm.

You want to send thoughts or suggestions for Technical sheet? Write to me here.

Jacob Charpentier

NEW

Pushing them out the back door. Crypto.com has quietly dismissed hundreds of employees in recent weeks, in addition to the 5% reduction in its workforce announced in June, The Verge reported Thursday. Sources inside and outside the cryptocurrency exchange told The Verge that staff members were unexpectedly disappearing from the ranks of the company, without the remaining employees being informed of the incident. extent of layoffs. Crypto companies have been cutting costs and hiring sharply in recent months following a sharp drop in the value of digital assets.

Don’t ignore this update. Apple issued a warning to many iPhone, iPad and Mac users who security vulnerabilities could allow hackers to take control of their devices, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Apple officials did not reveal how many customers were at risk or how many users were hacked, although the company released software updates designed to fix the issues. The tech giant said an anonymous researcher discovered the flaws.

Join the fold. walmart is acquisition of the labor management company which propelled its gig economy delivery service into what is the retail giant’s latest move to integrate more logistics operations in-house, Insider reported Thursday. Delivery drivers has managed thousands of workers connected to Walmart’s Spark service over the past four years, facilitating nearly three-quarters of all Walmart delivery orders. The terms of the contract are not disclosed.

Always hanging around. Semiconductor equipment manufacturer Applied materials released better than expected outlook for the current quarter, adding to the mixed forecast for global chip sales, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Applied Materials officials said they expect sales of $6.7 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter, beating analysts’ estimates of $6.6 billion. Chipmakers provided a wide range of revenue estimates for the current quarter, reflecting the rapid shifts in semiconductor demand and supply affecting the industry.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Put heat on Celsius. When Enron and Lehman Brothers went bankrupt under suspicious circumstances, federal authorities successfully pressured bankruptcy judges to appoint an independent reviewer to investigate what happened. The US government is now seeking the same kind of investigation into Celsius Network, the cryptocurrency lender that crashed dramatically this summer, CoinDesk reported. The US Trustee Program, a division of the Justice Department that oversees certain bankruptcy cases, said many questions remain unanswered about Celsius’s operations, management and financial demise. Celsius, which reported $25 billion in assets under management in October 2021, filed for bankruptcy last month after its high-risk strategies backfired amid a dramatic drop in crypto values.

From article:

An independent investigation, which the judge hearing the case would have to approve, would answer questions about the company’s finances and address “significant transparency issues” in the bankruptcy filing, according to the filing.

“There is no real understanding among customers, interested parties and the public as to what type or real value of crypto debtors hold or where it is held,” the US fiduciary said.

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Theranos victims urged to weigh in on Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani sentencingby Joel Rosenblatt and Bloomberg

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

The less-than-the best of Hollywood. If you’re not satisfied with a quick shoutout from a C-list celebrity, Cameo has your back (again). The Celebrity Connect service, which allows users to receive recorded video or engage in live chat, is relaunch an extended video call option on its platform, The Verge reported Thursday. This time, groups of up to 10 people can spend 10 minutes online with an eclectic mix of fringe personalities. The latest line-up includes opinion-dividing saxophonist Kenny G, Happy Gilmore villainous Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald IRL) and NFL legend Brett Favre (he might need to money). And yes, american idol competitor William Hung and Seinfeld the antagonist Wayne Knight will be there, as William Hung and Wayne Knight are still there. Cameo has already tried and removed 10 Minute Chat, so it’s a bit unclear why the company is bringing the feature back. Although after fire about a quarter of its staff earlier this year, Cameo may also need cash.

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