Facebook has messed up again

Also in today's edition: FinMin summons Infy, World's first DNA vaccine, and Disney earns big bucks online from Black Widow.

Good morning! It’s a new week. Full of hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Zetwerk is going to be building more dreams after it raised $120 million to become India’s 25th unicorn of 2021. Some things are difficult to imagine. 2021 seems to be one of those years. 

On to the day’s stories:

  1. The Afghan robot girls get out, but crypto can’t.

  2. You might have to wait for your fave super app.

  3. OnlyFans is asking its performers to cover up.

Olá to all our new readers. Welcome. We hope you enjoy the ride.

The Market Signal

Stocks: One of the most important events to look forward to this week would be the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium that will be attended by central bankers, finance ministers and economists. Highly anticipated by global markets, it was at this event in 2005 that economist Raghuram Rajan famously warned of an impending economic crisis.

OnlyFans Puts On Some Clothes

Sex sells, but investors would bite only if it’s covered up, it seems. OnlyFans, one of the creator economy’s biggest pandemic-time hits as a platform for sexually explicit content, won’t host such content starting October. 

Past success: About 20 years ago, Daily Planet, an Australian brothel operator, went public. Although those who bought the company’s shares were clearly betting on the sex business, they were technically buying a company that rented out rooms. The share sale was a hit. Two decades later, investors are more woke.

Skin in the game: OnlyFans is looking for a $1 billion valuation and is under pressure—from banking partners to payment providers—to find investors. An Axios report revealed that “the company never once mentions porn on its pitch deck”, perhaps well aware that “some VC funds are prohibited from investing in adult content”. The announcement also came after a BBC investigation showed OnlyFans may be a bit easy in handling “illegal content” on its platform.

So what does it do? Goes kosher with a “Safe For Work” app called OFTV. The new app features many of its biggest stars but without the nudity. This also comes at a time of reckoning for the pornography industry.


Gen Z’s New FOMO

Generation Z is having a Her-like moment: a whole life’s experience only through operating systems. This is the first group of people to have an entire work life online. While it may sound relieving to some to be able to work in PJs, many younglings don’t really feel the same way.

Office perks: Not being in the same room physically as colleagues means no more spontaneous brainstorming sessions, no I’ll-show-you-how-to-do-this, and no strong mentorship programs. For newbies, missing all of this at the start of their careers can stunt the learning curve, productivity, networking, and socializing opportunities.

A survey found that just 30% of those below 40 want to continue a WFH setup.

A whole new world: With many big companies such as Google and Facebook postponing a return to base, managers will have to find a way to make remote and hybrid work experiences more fulfilling for the younger generation. Think more engagement programs, monthly meetups, and a free-flowing channel of communication.

Government Blows Up Super App Master Plans

While neighbour China cracks down on its e-commerce, edtech, and fintech giants, India is making it tough for its fledgling e-commerce sector. The government plans to tighten its e-commerce policy, which will disrupt the super app game of the likes of the Tatas and Adani even before launch. The rules have already unravelled Amazon’s strategy.

Snapping ties: New draft regulations seek to bar “related parties” from grouping on the same platform. E-commerce entities of the same brand will also be stopped from sharing consumer data with each other.

What this means: No selling subsidiaries’ products on the same platform. Also, no super apps, which are popular in China as a way to bring a large brand’s different products on one floor. If the new draft rules go through, Tata won’t be able to sell Starbucks coffee, Croma electronics, and Tata Salt on one app. Adani’s plans for a super app will also suffer.  

The Signal

The policy could impact Indian e-commerce the way China’s tech sector has been affected, although the sector has just begun to bloom here. Conglomerates with a range of business interests would be the worst affected. While Reliance is supporting this move, its strategy is also different from the others and will face the least disruption. JioMart plans to host only third-party sellers on its platform. The Tatas have the most skin in the game so far. It has already started testing its super app among employees. Adani’s aim to be “the Ferrari of the digital world” will also be quashed. Amazon has had to break up its joint venture to comply with government policy.


Desperate Afghans Bet On Crypto

Technology can be a lifesaver in many ways. A recent global cryptocurrency adoption index revealed a surprise: war-torn Afghanistan was 20th among 154 countries in crypto adoption in 2021. It didn't even make the list last year. 

Why? A cash shortage, a rapidly plunging currency, and shuttered banks have pushed many young Afghans towards digital currencies as safe-havens. Some even report a Bitcoin mining operation in Herat, a surprise considering Afghanistan’s patchy Internet and electricity. 

A case in point: The most uplifting story of the past week may also have a Bitcoin connection. The all-girls Afghan Robotics Team that participated in several competitions globally was funded partly by Bitcoin. Fearing for their safety, they have now fled to Qatar. War may well have created an opportunity for cryptocurrency in the unlikeliest of places.


Facebook Does It Again

Mark Zuckerberg went into the weekend talking up the company’s future. By Sunday, however, Facebook crashed back into the present with a public relations disaster. Read more.

But why? Last week, one of its officials touted Facebook as being one of the “most transparent platforms on earth” when it released its first-ever quarterly report on “widely viewed content”. Turns out it was not so transparent in the previous quarter (Q1). It did prepare a report but simply not release it because it may have shown the company in poor light, the New York Times reported.

So what happened? The most viewed content for that quarter was a factual article that raised concerns about the covid-19 vaccine and its link to a doctor’s death. The White House had publicly shown its exasperation at platforms such as Facebook for their role in spreading misinformation, slowing down vaccination rates.

What Else Made The Signal? 

Why the crash? On Sunday afternoon, the Ministry of Finance tweeted saying it’s calling upon Infosys CEO Salil Parekh to explain why the Income Tax e-filing portal is still down.

Vaccine update: The world’s first DNA vaccine against Covid-19 has got its approval from India’s drug regulator for widespread use in the country. The US’s Food and Drug Administration could grant Pfizer’s shot full approval on Monday. 

$125 million: The online revenue earned by Disney from Black Widow, according to court filings. Disney also claimed it outperformed other Marvel films like Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of The Galaxy.

Moolah pours in: India is only next to China when it comes to venture capital funding this year. So far, the country’s startups have raised $16.9 billion.

Green signal: Twitter will now face charges for profiting from child pornography. A court in California has given two men permission to pursue the charges. 

Missed chance: Royal Enfield owner Eicher Motors has removed Siddharth Lal as managing director after he asked for a 10% hike on his salary.

Payback: The Swedish government had to reimburse more than $1.5 million in Bitcoin to a drug dealer after his 36 Bitcoins soared tenfold in value during his time in custody.


Bot of the future? Tesla has a new trick up its sleeve – a humanoid robot that will be able to screw on bolts on cars and pick up groceries at the store. Elon Musk envisions its prototype launch next year.  

Fruit power: A group of researchers at the University of Sydney are trying to hit two birds with one stone by creating batteries from durian and jackfruit waste. The inedible core of these fruits can store large amounts of energy and this is what the researchers want to use to power phones and laptops. 

Bloody goodbye: Expletives in a British accent are swoon-worthy. The English now have a new favourite – the f-word has overtaken “bloody” to become the nation’s favourite cuss word.

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