TIME Crowdfunding

More Than 4 Million People Visited the Potato Salad Kickstarter

Scandinavian potato salad from Silver Palate. (Bob Fila/Chic
Chicago Tribune—MCT via Getty Images Scandinavian potato salad from Silver Palate.

Forget Oculus Rift and the Reading Rainbow reboot—a bowl of potato salad was better able to hold the attention of the Internet this summer.

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter today revealed a bevy of stats related to what has become one of its most famous (or infamous) projects, an initiative by a random guy to make his first-ever bowl of potato salad. The project gathered widespread media attention and ultimately attracted 4.1 million visitors to its web page, making it the fourth most-viewed Kickstarter project of all time:

 

tater sald views

 

Unlike many widely-viewed Kickstarter projects, almost everyone who viewed the potato salad project got a hearty laugh and then went about their business. In the end, the project earned just $55,492 from 6,911 backers. Oculus Rift, for comparison, made $2.4 million, and Reading Rainbow racked up $5.4 million, though both attracted fewer visitors than potato salad.

On the other hand, though, a guy made a cool $55,000 just by saying he wanted to make potato salad. This is the great, democratizing force of the Internet.

Unsurprisingly, most of the project backers came from the U.S., with the United Kingdom and Canada being the next-biggest potato salad backers. Among U.S. states, the most backers hailed from Ohio (potato salad connoisseur Zack Brown’s home state), California and New York.

tater salad map

Brown is planning to host a festival called PotatoStock2014 in Columbus, Ohio with live music and, of course, lots off helpings of the tasty side dish. Proceeds will benefit a charity aimed at ending homelessness in Ohio. A portion of his potato salad money will also be used to start a for-profit venture to “spread humor and joy around the world,” he said on his Kickstarter page.

TIME Television

Dish Just Signed a Deal To Bring More TV to the Internet

Ride Along With During A Dish Network Installation Amidst A Pay-TV Merger Speculation
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Justin Preziosi, field service specialist for Dish Network Corp., installs a satellite television system at a residence in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

The deal brings Dish a step closer to making its streaming TV service a reality

In the race to deliver traditional television via the Internet, Dish Network has just reeled in another major entertainment company for its upcoming streaming service. The satellite TV provider announced Tuesday that it has secured the rights to deliver content from A&E Networks “over-the-top,” or via the Internet, rather than through cable or satellite service.

A&E Networks owns several well-known television channels, including A&E, Lifetime and The History Channel, among others.

The new pact follows a deal Dish signed with Disney earlier this year to get over-the-top rights to five of the entertainment giant’s channels, including ABC and ESPN. Dish has said it plans to launch an Internet-based TV service later this year that bundles about 20 to 30 channels together for between $20 and $30 a month. The offering will be aimed at adults aged 18 to 35, a cohort that is less likely to subscribe to traditional cable and satellite services than older consumers.

Many companies have tried and failed to deliver an over-the-top TV service that mimics traditional TV. Such a service could potentially be highly disruptive to the pay-TV industry, since it could be offered nationwide and introduce new competition in areas that have only a single cable provider. Intel abandoned plans to launch such a service, while a long-rumored Apple service has faced numerous reported delays. Other tech companies, like Sony and Verizon, have announced similar services, but have not publicly disclosed deals like the Dish-A&E arrangement. As the company in the space with the largest number of traditional pay-TV subscribers — 14 million — Dish may be best positioned to work out the necessary deals with networks to get their live content online once and for all.

 

TIME facebook

Facebook’s New App Gives Free Internet Access in Developing World

So far, the app is only available in Zambia.

Facebook is taking another big step toward fulfilling its vision of bringing the Internet to the entire world.

 

On Thursday, the company launched its first app for Internet.org, a partnership among tech giants to beam wireless service to developing markets. The new app, which is debuting first in Zambia to subscribers of local wireless carrier Airtel, will allow users to access a select number of services without racking up data charges. The sites and apps include Facebook, Messenger, Google Search, Wikipedia, a weather service and an app promoting women’s rights.

“By providing free basic services via the app, we hope to bring more people online and help them discover valuable services they might not have otherwise,” Facebook said in a blog post announcing the app.

Facebook seems serious about using Internet.org to spread Internet connectivity. Earlier this year the company unveiled a plan to use drones, satellites and lasers to provide Internet access in remote places. So far, Facebook says it has brought 3 million people online who previously had no Internet access.

There are obvious reasons for the altruism — Facebook’s growth rate is slowing in Western markets, so the company sees developing countries as its biggest opportunity for new users. But the company has to get people in those countries online before it can convince them to join Facebook. Google is implementing a similar strategy through Project Loon, a plan to provide Internet access in remote areas via balloons.

Facebook says it plans to bring the Internet.org app to other parts of the world in the future.

TIME Amazon

Amazon Will Pay You to Accept Slower Deliveries

Amazon.com Warehouse Tour
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A worker watches as boxed merchandise moves along a conveyor belt to a waiting truck for delivery at the Amazon.com Phoenix Fulfillment Center in Goodyear, Arizona, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009.

Possibly in an attempt to drive down costs

Amazon really wants its Prime members to stop using its speedy shipping service, so much so that the company is willing to pay customers to accept slower deliveries.

The online retail giant is now offering a $1 credit toward Prime Video to customers who choose “No-Rush” shipping for their deliveries. Instead of arriving in two days, items are delivered in five to seven days. The credit can be used for TV shows and videos on Amazon’s download service, though certain Prime Instant Video titles are excluded, including HBO titles. The offer will be available for a limited time.

The deal may be an effort by Amazon to lower expenses after the company posted a larger-than-expected loss of $126 million in the second quarter. The company spent $2.4 billion fulfilling deliveries during the quarter, up from $1.8 billion in the same period a year ago. Allowing for a longer lead-time on shipments could help drive down costs, while the company still gets to keep the extra revenue it’s generating by boosting the price of an Amazon Prime subscription from $79 to $99 in March.

Of course, since Prime subscribers are primarily paying for free, fast shipping, it’s not clear whether the offer of discounted movies will appeal to a large number of them. But Amazon is in the midst of turning Prime into a broader entertainment service with features like the Netflix competitor Prime Instant Video and an on-demand music streaming service Prime Music.

TIME Tech Policy

Netflix Is Paying AT&T To Make Movies Stream Faster

Netflix Garners Two Top Show Nominations With 'Cards,' 'Orange'
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Netflix Inc. application (app) displays the "Orange is the New Black" series on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014.

After already making similar deals with Comcast and Verizon

Despite its public war against interconnection fees, Netflix has signed another paid peering deal with an Internet Service Provider to improve the quality of its streaming and reduce buffering for its subscribers.

“We reached an interconnect agreement with AT&T in May and since then have been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience of our mutual subscribers,” Netflix spokesperson Anne Marie Squeo said in an emailed statement. “We’re now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days.” AT&T spokesperon Mark Siegel offered a nearly identical statement. Netflix will pay AT&T for this additional capacity, but the payment amount hasn’t been disclosed.

Such fees have become a hotly debated topic among Internet giants this year. Netflix believes it shouldn’t have pay ISPs like AT&T to deliver its video content because consumers are already paying for Internet access. The streaming service argues that these tolls could be used to discriminate against certain Internet companies, and it has conflated the issue with the ongoing debate about net neutrality.

The ISPs disagree. In a March blog post, AT&T executive Jim Cicconi called Netflix “arrogant” for trying to dump its cost of doing business on all subscribers to an ISP. “When Netflix delivered its movies by mail, the cost of delivery was included in the price their customer paid,” he wrote. “It would’ve been neither right nor legal for Netflix to demand a customer’s neighbors pay the cost of delivering his movie.”

For now Netflix has come to an uneasy truce with AT&T in a deal similar to those already established with Verizon and Comcast. But the company is lobbying to get these tolls outlawed when new rules for net neutrality are drafted by the Federal Communications Commission later this year.

TIME Earnings

Nintendo’s Financial Struggles Continue, Even With Mario Kart 8

JAPAN-COMPANY-EARNINGS-NINTENDO-GAMES
Yoshikazu Tsuno—AFP/Getty Images Customers play with Nintendo's videogame console Wii U at an electronics shop in Tokyo on July 30, 2014.

Even the smash hit Mario Kart 8 doesn’t seem to be able to save Nintendo and its Wii U. The Japanese video game giant posted a loss of 9.92 billion yen ($96.7 million) between April and June, according to its first fiscal quarter earnings report. Nintendo had a profit of 8.62 billion yen ($84 million) during the same period last year.

It’s not a great start to the fiscal year for a company that posted an annual operating loss during its last three. Sales for the company were also down, with revenue of 74.7 billion yen ($728 million) falling 8 percent from last year’s figure of 81.5 billion yen ($794 million).

The Wii U recovered at least somewhat from its disastrous 2013. It sold 510,000 units in the quarter, more than triple the 160,000 it sold during the period last year. Software sales were also way up, mostly thanks to Mario Kart 8, which sold 2.82 million copies and is already the third best-selling Wii U game of all time. But the 3DS, Nintendo’s true moneymaker, is on a precipitous decline, especially in Japan. The handheld gaming device sold just 820,000 units during the quarter, down from 1.4 million during the same quarter last year. Software sales also declined 22 percent to 8.6 million units.

Nintendo is still projecting that it will sell 3.6 million Wii Us and 20 million Wii U games over the fiscal year, while making almost $20 million in profit. That forecast will rest heavily on the performance of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, which is slated to launch in the fall, as well as titles like the Legend of Zelda spinoff Hyrule Warriors.

TIME Earnings

Twitter Shocks Wall Street With Big Growth in Revenue, Users

Twitter Goes Public On The New York Stock Exchange
Andrew Burton—Getty Images (L-R) Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone applaud as Twitter rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while also celebrating the company's IPO on November 7, 2013 in New York City.

Stock shoots up 25% in after-hours trading

Updated July 29 at 6:18 p.m.

Twitter shares leapt more than 25 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday following stellar results in the company’s latest quarterly earnings report.

The social network posted greater-than-expected growth in both revenue and monthly active users during the second quarter. Twitter added 16 million monthly active users to bring its total to 271 million, the biggest period of user growth since the first quarter of 2013. Revenue for the quarter was $312 million, blowing past analysts’ estimates of $283 million. Adjusted earnings for the company were 2 cents per share, beating expectations of a 1 cent per share loss. Overall, the company posted a net loss of $145 million for the quarter when including stock-based compensation expenses and other line items.

Pundits have been writing Twitter’s eulogy for months as its user growth slowed in the last year and the company has regularly posted losses. But the latest report shows that Twitter’s plan to make its platform more user-friendly may be paying off. Features such as a more Facebook-like profile pages and a mute button that lets users remove certain users’ tweets from their timelines are aimed at making Twitter novices feel less overwhelmed by the deluge of messages.

The World Cup, which became the most tweeted-about sporting event in Twitter history, was also likely a big boost for the social network during the quarter. Twitter organized conversations around individual matches, featured real-time score updates and attached countries’ flags to hashtags representing each team. “We made progress on multiple fronts across the business and our financial performance was truly exceptional,” CEO Dick Costolo said in a conference call with investors.

A negative point for the quarter were timeline views. At 640 per monthly active user, they were down 7% year-over-year. In the U.S., views are also down from the first quarter. Twitter regularly attributes these drops to changes in its interface that make it easier for users to see interesting tweets without scrolling through a deluge of messages. Also, some of the content on Twitter’s specially curated World Cup pages didn’t count toward the metric.

As Twitter works to differentiate itself from Facebook in the eyes of investors, Costolo spent a lot of time discussing the audiences Twitter serves outside of its monthly users. He said the total number of people who visit Twitter each month is two to three times its official user base when including those who don’t log in. He also touted what we called syndicated viewers, people who see tweets while reading news sites or watching television broadcasts.

Eventually, the company hopes to monetize these less dedicated users somehow, though Costolo said for now the company is just focused on improving the user experience of Twitter’s many casual visitors. He also wouldn’t rule out the idea of a version of the timeline that selected tweets based on an algorithm, like Facebook’s News Feed, rather than showing them in chronological order. “We’re not ruling any any kinds of changes that we might deliver in the product in service to bridging that gap to signing up for Twitter and receiving that value,” he said.

Challenges still remain for Twitter, which won’t have another World Cup to goose its metrics for another four years. But the company reversed some ominous trends this quarter and proved it can take advantage of global events tailor-made for the Web’s water cooler.

TIME Video Games

Xbox One Owners Can Now Pay $4.99 Month for EA Games

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana
Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana (L) walks on stage to join the head of EA Sports Andrew Wilson (R) as they introduce the new EA Sports Madden 13 game with Kinect voice functionality at the Microsoft Xbox E3 2012 media briefing in Los Angeles on June 4, 2012.

Only four games are available so far

Electronic Arts is adapting the subscription service model to the video game industry with a new offering for Xbox One. The new service, called EA Access, will allow Xbox One owners to download and play hit EA games for an unlimited amount of time for $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. A release date was not announced.

Netflix this is not, so far. EA Access will launch with four games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4. Combined, the games retail for more than $150, so the offer is a steal if you happen to enjoy some combination of sports games, first-person shooters and puzzlers. EA says more games will be added to the lineup in the future.

In addition to the catalog of older titles, EA Access members will get a 10 percent discount on the digital version of upcoming Xbox One games like Dragon Age Inquisition and NHL 15. Members will also have access to free trials of upcoming games five days before their official release.

Video game makers are keen to get gamers used to buying and downloading games online because they get to avoid manufacturing and distribution costs while often charging just as much as versions sold in brick-and-mortar stores. So far, there’s no word on a PS4 version of EA Access, but Sony is currently rolling out a new service called PlayStation Now that will allow users to stream older games to a variety of Sony devices.

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles

TIME facebook

Get Ready to Download an Extra App to Send Facebook Messages

A view of and Apple iPhone displaying th
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images A view of an Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen, May 10, 2012 in Washington.

If you enjoy messaging with friends via Facebook’s primary mobile app, you’re soon going to need an entirely new app to keep chatting. The social network is quietly eliminating the ability to chat with friends on its iPhone and Android apps. Instead, users will have to download Messenger, a dedicated chat app from the company, in order to have real-time conversations (to be clear, users can still write on each other’s profile pages and communicate in other ways via the regular Facebook app).

The change was announced earlier this year and has already rolled out in Europe, much to the consternation of many users. Some users have griped that they don’t want to juggle two Facebook apps to perform functions that were easily done in one app before. But the social network says the transition from Facebook proper to Messenger is seamless and that people using Messenger respond about 20 percent faster, boosting usage.

“In the next few days, we’re continuing to notify more people that if they want to send and receive Facebook messages, they’ll need to download the Messenger app,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “As we’ve said, our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences.”

In the last year, Facebook has sharply increased its focus on Messenger, which now has more than 200 million active users. The app has gotten a bevy of new features, such as the ability to send videos, and a redesigned interface that allows for visual conversations, a la Snapchat. The company is also keen to divine a way to make money off its Messenger users—recently, a former PayPal exec jumped ship to Facebook to lead the company’s mobile messaging business.

News of the wider rollout of the Messenger requirement was first reported by TechCrunch.

Facebook’s plan mirrors a similar effort over at Foursquare to force users to download a new app called Swarm to check-in to locations. Unlike Swarm, though, Messenger is already a popular standalone service in its own right.

For now, the Messenger requirement will primarily affect smartphone users. People who access Facebook on the iPad, on desktop computers, on the Windows Phone and through web browsers on their phones won’t be affected.

TIME Transportation

Uber Rolls Out ‘Uber for Business’ To Help You Expense Rides

Barcelona Cabs Strike Against Uber Taxi App
David Ramos—Getty Images In this photo illustration, the smartphone app 'Uber' shows how to select a pick up location on July 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.

Uber doesn’t want to be just a service for people on vacations or late-night benders — the company is launching a new business portal to target customers traveling for work.

The new platform, called Uber for Business, will let companies set up corporate accounts through which employees can charge their rides directly to their employers rather than having to keep track of receipts.

“A centralized billing system helps administrators, team leads and small business owners by providing trip information in place of receipts and helps employees by connecting with the same safe, reliable Uber ride they are used to without the hassle of having to file expenses,” Uber said in a Tuesday blog post announcing the new feature.

In addition, Uber has partnered with Concur, the corporate expenses management company, to include Uber rides directly in Concur’s expense options. Concur’s 25 million users will be able to link their Uber and Concur accounts and add Uber charges to their expense reports seamlessly.

The new focus on business could help Uber tap into a large pool of wealthier customers. The startup is growing fast and recently earned a valuation of $17 billion.

Airbnb, another hot startup that lets people rent out their homes to guests, announced a similar business portal on Monday aimed at corporate travelers.


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