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This Week in Apps: YouTube takes on TikTok, Spotify adds audiobooks, BeReal takes a dive

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy….

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Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.

Global app spending reached $65 billion in the first half of 2022, up only slightly from the $64.4 billion during the same period in 2021, as hypergrowth fueled by the pandemic has slowed down. But overall, the app economy is continuing to grow, having produced a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. Global spending across iOS and Google Play last year was $133 billion, and consumers downloaded 143.6 billion apps.

This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.

Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters

Top Stories

Now is the time to build new social apps

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Today’s dominant social networks are losing their grip on the youngest generation of internet users. Last month, we looked at how one of the world’s largest social networks, Facebook, had begun to fade in relevance — and was losing its position in the App Store’s Top Charts, as a result — while young people turned to apps like BeReal and TikTok instead. But there still seems to be this sentiment among a number of app makers that trying to compete in social is a lost cause. That’s not necessarily true anymore. Just as Instagram grew under Facebook’s shadow, there’s room for other apps to grow outside TikTok — an app that is today seen as more of an entertainment platform than a place to connect with close friends (though TikTok is pushing to change that).

BeReal’s rise is proof that alternative networks that prioritize real-world friendships can still find traction. In fact, younger people are hungry for a place to be themselves and keep up with their friends outside of feeds filled with creator content and targeted ads.

But BeReal’s long-term success is not a given at this point, even though the app currently has established itself as a leader in the App Store’s Top Five, and is often the No. 1 app, at times, in global markets. That’s a good start, but BeReal has yet to figure out key parts of its business, like monetization, and is struggling to communicate both with its own users and the wider public.

For instance, when the app went down this week, the company vaguely tweeted a statement — “yup, we’re on it” — that largely left its user base in the dark about what was going on. By comparison, when Instagram experienced a briefer, partial outage the following day, it spelled out that it understood the situation by noting that some people were “having trouble accessing Instagram,” and that it was working to fix things as quickly as possible and to stay tuned. It also added the #instagramdown hashtag to increase the visibility of its post.

The company is behaving poorly for an app in its position. There are times to be cute and cheeky with social media posts — but those times are not amid outages and other serious platform issues. BeReal’s misstep with users will be forgiven for now. But as the company scales, the team’s inability to communicate with its own users and the media could become a larger problem.

To date, BeReal has only offered off-the-record briefings with select press. It doesn’t have an in-house comms team. It doesn’t pitch or post to a blog to keep its users updated. It doesn’t even publish useful release notes on the App Store.

App Store release notes — so helpful! Image Credits: BeReal

And BeReal couldn’t respond to a series of simple questions about its outage — like what caused it or how widespread it was. This begs the question as to how the company will handle a more serious crisis — like a hack, data breach or another incident involving bad actors on its platform. It can get away with this for now — but not forever. Gaining the top spot on the App Store as Gen Z’s favorite social app also comes with responsibilities, and so far, BeReal has been dropping the ball on that front.

Remember that this is no longer some scrappy app maker, paying college students to download its new toy. The company raised a $30 million Series A, led by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel, followed by a Series B from DST Global, valuing the startup, pre-money at $600+ million. It’s time for BeReal to grow up.

BeReal’s missteps, however, could open the door to more social app newcomers who offer a service that’s built on more than a gimmick.

For what it’s worth, TikTok has realized this market still has tons of unclaimed territory. Last weekend, it rolled out its shameless BeReal clone, TikTok Now, as a standalone app in global markets outside the U.S. The new app already found some traction, moving into the Top 100 social apps on iPhone in five markets, and the Top 500 in 38 within roughly a day’s time. A couple of days later, it ranked in the Top 10 social apps in 39 countries and the Top 100 in 24. And it presents almost nothing new to users beyond a TikTok-produced version of the BeReal format with added support for video. (And maybe less horrible-looking selfies?)

If a complete knock-off like TikTok Now can climb the charts, imagine what a truly unique app could do. (Or even a newcomer that simply revives older social networking concepts for this modern era. Time to bring back Path?) There are few times when it would make sense to build a social app. But as the old guard is inching toward retirement, that time is surely now.

YouTube takes on TikTok with creator ad share for Shorts

Image Credits: YouTube

YouTube has stopped messing around. It’s taking on the TikTok threat in a way that not only benefits its competitive position in the short-form video market, but one that allows it to expand its ad load across a new surface. This week, the company announced Shorts creators will now qualify for its revamped YouTube Partner Program, which allows them to earn ad revenue from YouTube.

The existing Partner Program for long-form video requires YouTubers to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours. This won’t change. But starting in early 2023, creators will be able to apply to the program if they meet a new Shorts-specific threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 10 million Shorts views over 90 days. As members of the Partner Program, these creators will earn 45% of ad revenue from their videos. (Ads will run in-between Shorts and the money is pooled. Creators keep 45% of the revenue from the amount allocated to them, not to licensing. Some creators don’t think that’s a great deal, however.)

The changes are designed to onboard creators gaining traction or going viral on Shorts, whether it’s with original content or clipping from other people’s videos (which is totally okay with YouTube).

To further sweeten the pot, YouTube also introduced Creator Music — an online service where creators can choose music for their videos by examining the costs associated with licensing specific tunes or they can browse songs they can use without paying upfront. The latter opts them into a rev share with music rights holders.

Spotify gets into audiobooks

Image Credits: Spotify

Spotify believes audiobooks could be its next big revenue driver, so on Tuesday, the company launched its debut audiobook catalog in the U.S. with somewhere north of 300,000 titles to start. Initially, the selections in the app will be recommended by Spotify editors. But over time, the company says it plans to expand audiobooks to other markets, grow its selection and begin to use algorithmic recommendations to suggest books to users, as it does now with its other audio formats.

The company had earlier pointed to research indicating the audiobook industry is expected to grow from $3.3 billion as of 2020 to $15 billion by 2027. It forecast its audiobook sales could reach a gross margin of above 40%.

The books are found in a new Audiobooks hub in the app and are purchased à la carte at variable pricing — a move Spotify believes will allow lesser-known authors to find an audience. And notably, they’re not being sold via in-app purchases.

Instead, the app offers previews of the book’s content for free, but users will be directed to Spotify’s website to complete their purchases. Afterward, the purchased audiobook will be unlocked in the app and saved to the user’s library.

It’s worth noting Spotify’s ability to avoid in-app purchases on iOS follows a policy change Apple announced back in March which focused on “reader” apps — meaning those designed to provide access to digital content like music, books, videos or magazines. Apple said these apps could now use external links, if approved. Google, meanwhile, began piloting third-party billing earlier this year, with Spotify as its first customer.

Spotify didn’t clarify its agreements with the app stores, but says its model is “compliant.”

Image Credits: Spotify

Meta is sued for tracking users with a workaround to ATT

A new class action lawsuit claims Meta circumvented Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy protections to track its users, even after those users denied the company permission to do so via the ATT prompt. The plaintiffs allege Meta had followed its users’ online activity by injecting JavaScript into the websites they visited when using Facebook’s in-app web browser. This was effectively a way to work around the protections ATT supposedly puts into place, the suit alleges. Meta has denied the claims, calling the lawsuit “without merit.”

Users rightly believe that when they opt out of tracking on iOS, they simply won’t be tracked. But that’s not necessarily true. Companies had been looking for workarounds to ATT since it was announced, Meta included.

This isn’t the first time an app has been suspected of using the browser to track users without their consent. This summer, TikTok was also accused of injecting code to track users’ keystrokes when users visited third-party websites from within the TikTok app. The company denied those claims as well, saying the app’s code was used for debugging, troubleshooting and performance monitoring, and for protecting users against spam and other threats.

The case will likely be highly technical but will be an interesting one to follow as the extent of ATT’s ability to protect consumers is decided.

Weekly News

Platforms: Apple

iPhone 14 pro space black and deep purple colors

Image Credits: Matthew Panzarino / TechCrunch

  • Apple released the first major update to its iOS 16 operating system with fixes that address issues with the camera shaking in some third-party apps on iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max as well as the paste permissions bug which popped up a request to read the clipboard data too often, along with other issues. The company had earlier promised the fixes would be out next week, making Thursday’s launch ahead of schedule. Beta testers had noted the permissions bug and camera shaking issues had been resolved, suggesting Apple was nearing a public release.
  • Apple said it would raise app prices and in-app purchases on the App Store in countries using the euro and in some Asian markets, starting October 5.
  • Eagle-eyed iPhone owners noticed that Apple’s documentation said the use of the iOS 16 haptic keyboard feedback could impact your battery life.
  • A report by The Information takes a look at how Apple’s App Store rules are impacting NFT startups. The marketplace apps take a percentage of sales but Apple would charge them a 30% cut, leading them to largely use their apps as NFT showcases without support for transactions.

Platforms: Google/Android

  • Microsoft said it would expand Windows 11’s support for 20,000+ Android apps and games via the Amazon Appstore to 31 more countries within a few weeks.

E-commerce & Food Delivery

  • Spain fined the food delivery app Glovo €79 million ($78 million) for denying 10,600+ gig-workers a labor contract following the implementation of the country’s “riders law” in August 2021, which required food delivery platform riders to be made employees on formal labor contracts.
  • A new study ranked TikTok as the most valuable platform for DTC brands that are generating revenue of $1-5 million.
  • Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo’s overseas shopping app known as Temu managed to claim the top spot among Android shopping apps in the U.S. in mid-September before dipping to No. 15 this week.

Fintech

  • Robinhood’s fintech app added Circle’s USDC as its first stablecoin, as Binance and WazirX exchanges plan to delist USDC in favor of other USD stablecoins.
  • India’s central bank is working to expand UPI to several countries in Asia and the Middle East and elsewhere and is setting up an international subsidiary. In addition, a lighter version of the payments system, UPI Lite, is now live with eight banks, including HDFC, SBI and Kotak.
  • Cash advance apps grew 69% year-over-year, more than other fintech sectors, Apptopia reported. Meanwhile, new installs of top consumer fintech apps were down 14% year-over-year in Q3, but were are up 19.4% over Q3 in 2020. The economy has driven some categories’ downloads higher, including budgeting and tracking apps, buy now/pay later apps and even traditional banking apps, while demand for mobile banks and teen banks declined.

Image Credits: Apptopia

Social

Image Credits: BeReal

  • Gen Z’s new fav app BeReal experienced a multi-hour outage on Wednesday, tweeting vague things like “yup, we’re on it” and “all good now,” and refusing to answer further questions.
  • Facebook launched a Reels API which allows sharing to Reels from third-party apps.
  • Facebook added new Pages features designed to help creators get discovered and connect with their followers, including a way to make content exclusively available for top fans and subscribers, a way for creators to endorse other creators they like, a “rising creator” label and new post and story templates, among other things.
  • TikTok expanded its political content policy guidelines to limit the ability of politicians and political groups to engage in fundraising on its platform, with a ban on the use of tipping, gifting and other monetization features for soliciting campaign donations.
  • TikTok also launched a new feature for #BookTok fans in partnership with Penguin Random House that allows users to share and link to their favorite books within their videos. When clicked, the link directs viewers to a page with details about the book, including a brief summary and a collection of other videos that are linked to the same book.
  • TikTok also rolled out its comment “dislike” button to users worldwide. The button, similar to Reddit’s downvote, allows users to signal which comments they think are irrelevant or inappropriate.
  • Instagram is no longer breaking up Stories under 60 seconds into separate clips, it says. The change is rolling out worldwide.
  • Bloomberg takes a look at the 70+ lawsuits against Meta, Snap, TikTok and Google where parents are holding the software makers responsible for their products with liability claims, which include blaming the algorithms for kids’ mental health issues.
  • A Delaware judge ruled Elon Musk will be allowed to amend his counterclaims to argue that Twitter’s $7.8 million severance payment to whistleblower Peiter Zatko can be used to try to justify why Musk should be allowed to exit the acquisition deal.
  • According to findings from a new Pew Research report that examined Americans’ use of social media for news consumption, 33% of TikTok users now say they regularly get their news on the social video app, up from just 22% in 2020. Meanwhile, nearly every other social media site saw declines across that same metric — including, in particular, Facebook, where now only 44% of its users report regularly getting their news there, down from 54% just two years ago.

Image Credits: Pew Research

Photos

  • Microsoft’s updated Photos app for Windows 11 begins rolling out to Windows Insiders. The new app introduces a new photo managing experience, with a new gallery, backup to OneDrive support, a “Memories” feature and more.
  • Halide’s camera app for power users was updated with support for iPhone 14 Pro camera technologies, including 48MP ProRaw images, manual focus depth capture, the ability to switch between 48MP to 12MP capture quickly and other features. Obscura 3 also updated with support for the 48MP camera on iPhone 14.

Messaging

  • A new bill in India aims to regulate over-the-top communication apps, like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal, allowing the government to intercept encrypted messages in some circumstances, including in a public emergency or in the interest of public safety.
  • WhatsApp’s Indian payments business lead Manesh Mahatme stepped down after 18 months and will be rejoining Amazon.
  • Meta must pay the walkie-talkie app maker Voxer a royalty and $174.5+ million for violating two of its patents with Facebook Live and Instagram Live, a Texas jury ruled.
  • WhatsApp announced an expanded partnership with Salesforce to allow businesses to manage their WhatsApp conversations with their customers from the Salesforce platform.
  • Telegram announced a number of new features, including emoji statuses, dozens more emoji reactions available through a new panel, an expanded selection of custom emoji for Premium users, improved login flow and other updates.
  • Instagram confirmed it’s developing a feature that would protect users from unsolicited nude photos in their DMs. The feature will be opt-in when launched to the public, according to findings in the app’s code.
  • Signal is asking its community to run a Signal proxy if they can to help people in Iran reconnect.

Streaming & Entertainment

  • Spotify launched a new space-themed digital destination on Roblox called Planet Hip-Hop, which will soon feature up-and-coming female rapper Doechii. The company had already launched its first music experience in Roblox, K-Park — a K-pop themed world — in May 2022.
  • Sony Music pulled its catalog from Resso, TikTok’s sister app and music subscription service. The move follows reports that TikTok is developing a TikTok Music app that could bring a service like Resso to more markets, including the U.S.
  • Triller settled its lawsuit with Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. The latter two parties said they had not been paid when Triller acquired their Verzuz last year. Deal terms weren’t disclosed.

Gaming

  • Netflix added a new title to its gaming lineup based on its popular show “Nailed It!” The new game, Nailed It! Baking Bash, will launch on October 4, just before Season 7 of the bake-off competition series returns on October 5. The game is one of only a handful so far directly tied to Netflix’s TV shows, alongside its games for “Stranger Things” and the Exploding Kittens game, which will soon be a series. But the company intends to launch a number of games related to its shows, including those for “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Shadow and Bone,” “La Casa De Papel” and “Too Hot To Handle.”
  • Logitech launched its $350 G Cloud Gaming Handheld powered by Android, which offers a 7″ display, a Snapdragon 720G and Xbox and GeForce Now cloud gaming support. The handheld arrives on October 17.
  • The U.S. Dept. of Justice will be allowed to join the arguments in the Apple-Epic Games lawsuit, the court ruled. The Justice Department said it needs time to explain how the lower courts misinterpreted antitrust law. It’s also reportedly in the early stages of preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit of its own against Apple.

Health & Fitness

  • With the Apple Watch Ultra launch, the App Store gained two more Apple first-party apps: Siren and Depth. The former is designed for emergencies when you’re hurt or lost and need someone to find you. It causes the watch to emit an 86-decibel sound pattern that can be heard up to 600 feet away. Depth is for underwater diving up to 130 feet (40 meters). Both are exclusive to the Ultra.

Utilities

girl in wheelchair accessing Alexa

Image Credits: Amazon

  • Amazon announced it’s bringing a new accessibility option to its new line of Fire tablets with the addition of “Tap to Alexa” functionality — a way to interact with the company’s Alexa voice assistant without actually speaking.

Government & Policy

  • Former employees from the App Association (ACT), which claims to fight for developers’ rights, told Bloomberg that the advocacy organization receives the vast majority of its funding from Apple, which also plays a dominant role in shaping the group’s policy positions.

Security & Privacy

  • Swiss VPN app maker Proton VPN is pulling out of India over the country’s new rules requiring customer data collection. Others in the space have already left, including Surfshark and Nord.
  • Unsealed court documents in a Facebook privacy lawsuit indicate that a number of apps from Zynga, Yahoo and others had extensive access to users’ friends’ data, similar to what happened with Cambridge Analytica.
  • London-based fintech app Revolut confirmed a cyberattack had exposed the personal details of 50,150 of its customers, per a breach disclosure in Lithuania.

Funding and M&A

Fintech Portabl raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Harlem Capital Partners for its identity management and protection solutions for financial services, banking and consumer apps.

Alternative social network Parler restructured to operate under a new parent company known as Parlement Technologies and announced $16 million in funding to aid with infrastructure. Details of its backers weren’t disclosed, but previously the app had been backed by Republican donor Rebekah Mercer.

Seattle-based retail software maker Swiftly raised $100 million in Series C funding at a $1B+ valuation for its grocery store retail software and branded apps.

London-based fintech app Monese, which provides digital banking and remittance services to customers in Europe, raised $35 million from global banking giant HSBC.

Malaysia-based Respond.io raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Headline for its dashboard that helps businesses juggle multiple messaging apps to reach their customers.

OYE, a Spanish/English wellness app backed by Colombian Reggaeton artist J Balvin, raised a $4.1 million pre-seed round led by MasterClass and Outlier.org co-founder Aaron Rasmussen.

Tweets

This Week in Apps: YouTube takes on TikTok, Spotify adds audiobooks, BeReal takes a dive by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch

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Scientists reveal encouraging findings in first-in-human clinical trial evaluating HIV vaccine approach

NEW YORK and LA JOLLA, CA—While scientists have struggled in the past to create an effective vaccine against HIV, a novel vaccine design strategy being…

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NEW YORK and LA JOLLA, CA—While scientists have struggled in the past to create an effective vaccine against HIV, a novel vaccine design strategy being pursued by researchers at Scripps Research, IAVI, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch) and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center (VRC) shows new promise, according to data from a first-in-human clinical trial.

Credit: CHRISTOPHER COTTRELL, CREATED WITH BIORENDER.COM

NEW YORK and LA JOLLA, CA—While scientists have struggled in the past to create an effective vaccine against HIV, a novel vaccine design strategy being pursued by researchers at Scripps Research, IAVI, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch) and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center (VRC) shows new promise, according to data from a first-in-human clinical trial.

In a paper published in Science on December 2, 2022, the scientists reveal critical new insights into their novel vaccine strategy, which involves a stepwise approach to producing antibodies capable of targeting a wide range of HIV variants. 

“The data we are publishing in Science demonstrates for the first time that one can design a vaccine that elicits made-to-order antibodies in humans. We specified in advance certain molecular properties of the antibodies that we wanted to elicit, and the results of this trial show that our vaccine antigen consistently induced precisely those types of antibodies,” says co-senior author William Schief, PhD, a professor and immunologist at Scripps Research and executive director of vaccine design at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center, whose laboratory developed the vaccine antigen. “We believe this vaccine design strategy will be essential to make an HIV vaccine and may help the field create vaccines for other difficult pathogens.”

The Phase 1 trial, known as IAVI G001, tested the first stage in a multi-stage HIV vaccine regimen the researchers are developing. The trial results show that the vaccine had a favorable safety profile and induced the targeted response in 97% of people who were vaccinated. Importantly, the Science study also provides a detailed immunological analysis of the vaccine responses.

“HIV represents an area of dire unmet need across the world, which is what makes the findings from our Phase 1 clinical trial so encouraging,” says Mark Feinberg, MD, PhD, president and CEO of IAVI. “Through the close-knit collaboration of many different scientists, disciplines and institutions, we are that much closer to designing an effective vaccine that could help end the HIV pandemic.”  

Priming the Immune System

Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are a rare type of antibody that can fight and protect against many different variants of a virus—including HIV. This is why scientists have tried to develop an HIV vaccine that induces bnAbs, but thus far without success.   

The researchers in the study are using a strategy known as ‘germline targeting’ to eventually produce bnAbs that can protect against HIV. The first step of germline targeting involves stimulating the rare immune cells—known as bnAb-precursor B cells—that can eventually evolve into the cells that produce the bnAbs needed to block the virus. To accomplish this first step, the researchers designed a customized molecule—known as an immunogen—that would “prime” the immune system and elicit responses from these rare bnAb-precursor cells.

The overarching goal of the IAVI G001 trial was to determine if the vaccine had an acceptable safety profile and could induce responses from these bnAb-precursor B cells.

“Through extensive safety and tolerability monitoring during the trial, we showed the vaccine had a favorable safety profile, while still inducing the necessary target cells,” says study author Dagna Laufer, MD, vice president and head of clinical development at IAVI. “This represents a large step forward in developing an HIV vaccine that is both safe and effective.”

To determine if the targeted bnAb-precursor B cells were induced, the researchers carried out a sophisticated analytical process.

“The workflow of multidimensional immunological analyses has taken clinical trial evaluation to the next level,” says co-senior author Adrian B. McDermott, PhD, former chief of the Vaccine Immunology Program at the NIAID VRC. “In evaluating these important immunological factors, we helped show why the vaccine antigen was able to induce the targeted response in 97% of vaccine recipients.” 

IAVI G001 was sponsored by IAVI and took place at two sites: George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C., and Fred Hutch in Seattle, enrolling 48 healthy adult volunteers. Participants received either a placebo or two doses of the vaccine antigen, eOD-GT8 60mer, along with an adjuvant developed by the pharmaceutical company GSK. Julie McElrath, MD, PhD, co-senior author, senior vice president and director of Fred Hutch’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, and David Diemert, MD, professor of medicine at GWU School of Medicine and Health Sciences, were lead investigators at the trial sites.

A Deeper Immunological Dive

The study also carefully examined the properties of the antibodies and B cells induced by the vaccine antigen, in what Schief likens to “looking under the car hood” to understand how the immune system operated in response to the vaccine. One analysis showed that the vaccine antigen first stimulated an average of 30 to 65 different bnAb precursors per person vaccinated, and then caused those cells to multiply. This helped explain why the vaccine induced the desired response in almost all participants.

Other analyses delved into the specific mutations the bnAb-precursor B cells acquired over time and how tightly they bound to the vaccine antigen. These investigations showed that that after each dose of the vaccine, the bnAb-precursor B cells gained affinity and continued along favorable maturation pathways.

One concern for this type of vaccine approach is the notion of “competitors”—in other words, the B cells induced by the vaccine antigen that are not bnAb precursors. The researchers extensively studied the “competitor” responses, and the results were very encouraging. Although the majority of the B cells triggered by vaccination were, in fact, “competitors”, these undesired B cells could not match the binding strength of the desired bnAb precursors and did not seem to impede maturation of the bnAb-precursor responses.

“These findings were very encouraging, as they indicated that immunogen design principles we used could be applied to many different epitopes, whether for HIV or even other pathogens,” adds Schief.

With these promising data in hand spanning both safety and immune responses, the researchers will continue to iterate and design boosting immunogens that could eventually induce the desired bnAbs and provide protection against the virus. These findings also come shortly after two additional studies in Immunity published in September 2022, which helped validate the germline-targeting approach for vaccinating against HIV.

“Working together with IAVI, Scripps Research, the VRC, GWU, additional investigators at Fred Hutch and many others, this trial and additional analyses will help inform design of the remaining stages of a candidate HIV vaccine regimen—while also enabling others in the field to develop vaccine strategies for additional viruses,” says McElrath of Fred Hutch.

IAVI, Scripps Research, NIAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are partnering with the biotechnology company Moderna to develop and test mRNA delivery of these HIV vaccine antigens. Two Phase I clinical trials are underway that build on IAVI G001, one (IAVI G002) at four sites in the U.S. and another (IAVI G003) at the Center for Family Health Research in Kigali, Rwanda, and The Aurum Institute in Tembisa, South Africa. Both are testing mRNA delivery of the eOD-GT8 60mer that was evaluated as recombinant protein in IAVI G001, and the U.S. trial includes a boost antigen designed by the Schief lab and delivered with Moderna mRNA technology. A third trial (HVTN302), at ten sites in the U.S., is testing mRNA delivery of three different stabilized HIV trimers designed in the Schief laboratory that are candidates for late-stage boosters in multi-stage vaccines aiming to induce bnAbs. Using mRNA technology could significantly accelerate the pace of HIV vaccine development as it allows for faster production of clinical trial material.

This work was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery; the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center; NIAID; Scripps Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery and Scripps Consortium for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development; and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. Other collaborating organizations include Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Karolinska Institutet, and La Jolla Institute. 

Research at the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center that contributed to the development of the vaccine antigen eOD-GT8 60mer was also made possible by the government of the Netherlands through the Minister of Foreign Trade & Development Cooperation and through the generous support of the American people through PEPFAR through USAID. The contents are the responsibility of IAVI and Scripps Research and do not necessarily reflect the views of PEPFAR, USAID, or the United States government.

About IAVI

IAVI is a nonprofit scientific research organization dedicated to addressing urgent, unmet global health challenges including HIV and tuberculosis. Its mission is to translate scientific discoveries into affordable, globally accessible public health solutions. Read more at iavi.org.

About Scripps Research

Scripps Research is an independent, nonprofit biomedical institute ranked the most influential in the world for its impact on innovation by Nature Index. We are advancing human health through profound discoveries that address pressing medical concerns around the globe. Our drug discovery and development division, Calibr, works hand-in-hand with scientists across disciplines to bring new medicines to patients as quickly and efficiently as possible, while teams at Scripps Research Translational Institute harness genomics, digital medicine and cutting-edge informatics to understand individual health and render more effective healthcare. Scripps Research also trains the next generation of leading scientists at our Skaggs Graduate School, consistently named among the top 10 US programs for chemistry and biological sciences. Learn more at www.scripps.edu.


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40+ Spotify statistics 2022: SPOT stock, revenue and performance

Spotify Technology SA (NYSE: SPOT) is the leading on-demand music streaming company today, with more than 1 billion app downloads on Google Play alone….

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Spotify Technology SA (NYSE: SPOT) is the leading on-demand music streaming company today, with more than 1 billion app downloads on Google Play alone. The Sweden-based company was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, and has seen remarkable growth in the past few years as it expands across the globe.

Although it dominates the music streaming industry, Spotify faces tough competition when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining users. The Sweden-based company’s top global competitors include Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL)’s Google, all of which are leveraging their extensive reach and financial muscle to carve a bigger chunk of the market from Spotify.

However, 40+ Spotify statistics suggest further growth and potential for greater revenue and market performance could see the company continue to dominate the industry.

Find out more in this article, starting with our pick of the top Spotify facts and statistics 2022 below.

Spotify facts and stats – Editor’s pick

  • Spotify is the number one music streaming site, with more than 1 billion app downloads on Google Play.
  • There were 456 million monthly active users on Spotify as of September 2022, with growth expected to push MAUs to over 479 million by the end of 2022.
  • SPOT stock went live on the New York Stock Exchange on 3 April 2018 via a Direct Listing. The IPO share price of $165.90 valued the company at $29.5 billion
  • Companiesmarketcap currently ranks Spotify as the 1,050th most valuable company in the world with a market cap just above $15 billion as of December 2022.
  • The Spotify stock hit an all-time high of $364.5 per share in February 2021, and an all-time low of $69.28 in November 2022.
  • Spotify makes about 4.52 euros, or $4.71 from each premium account user in 2022, up from an average of €4.25 ($4.43) in 2021.

Spotify company overview, facts and trends

1. Spotify Technologies SA was founded in 2006

Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon founded Spotify in 2006 in Sweden. Despite the early threat to the business from established names such as Apple and Amazon, the music streaming company has grown to command nearly a third of the market share as of 2022.

2. Spotify is available in more than 180 countries

Expansion efforts, including across more than 80 new markets in early 2020 has seen Spotify reach users in 184 countries.

3. Over 9,800 people are employed by Spotify as of 2022

Spotify employees’ total count shot up by over 81% in 2021 to reach 6,617 and then grew to over 8,000 by March 2022. As of 30 September 2022, the company’s employee number worldwide was 9,808, despite plans to slow down on hiring by 25% as revealed in June.

4. Spotify has a leading 31% market share in music streaming

Spotify is the #1 music app on App Store and takes up 31% of the music and video streaming market worldwide. The app leads Apple Music (15%), Amazon Music (13%), Tencent Music (13%), and YouTube Music (8%). The Spotify: Music, Podcasts, Lit app first released in May 2014 has seen over a billion downloads on Google Play.

5. There are more than 82 million tracks on Spotify

As the number one music streaming app in the world, Spotify has seen the number of songs uploaded increase rapidly over the last few years. As of November 2022, there were more than 82 million tracks on the platform.

6. An average of 1.8 million songs are uploaded on Spotify every month

Over 1,800,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify every month, with an average of 60,000 sent to the streaming giant every single day.

7. There are over 4 billion playlists on Spotify

Spotify has over 4 billion playlists, variously curated to suit user preferences based on factors like age, gender, and theme. Spotify offers all types of songs, making it suitable for all kinds of users.

8. There are over 4.7 million podcasts on Spotify

There were more than 4.7 million podcasts on the Spotify podcast in 2022, with the increasing monthly active users and popularity of podcasting seeing a double-digit jump in creators.

9. Spotify has raised $2.1 billion over 18 rounds

Spotify closed its latest funding round on 25 February, with the Sweden-based company’s total funding rising to $2.1 billion over 18 financing rounds.

10. Spotify has acquired 27 companies/platforms

The last few years have seen Spotify consolidate its presence in the music streaming market with critical acquisitions. So far, the company has completed deals for 24 different companies and platforms within the industry, including Anchor FM for $166.3 million, Gimlet Media for $201.3 million, Megaphone for $238.44 million and Whooshkaa for $235 million. The latest acquisition was Kinzen, which was completed on 5 October 2022.

11. FC Barcelona agreed a €280 million deal with Spotify in 2022

Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona signed a €280 ($309) million sponsorship deal with Spotify. The multi-year deal saw Spotify become FC Barcelona’s main shirt sponsor and gave the audio streaming giant the naming rights for the legendary Camp Nou stadium.

Spotify stock market statistics

12. Spotify’s stock debut in April 2018 was the first ever Direct Listing on the NYSE

Spotify Technology SA made its stock market debut via a direct listing. The company’s shares were listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange on 3 April, 2018 at the share price of $ $165.90 for a valuation of $29.5 billion. Following Spotify’s successful IPO in 2018, Slack went public via Direct Listing in 2019. ZipRecruiter Inc. (NYSE: ZIP) and Roblox Corporation (NYSE: RBLX) also took the same approach.

13. Spotify has a market cap of $15.2 billion

As of 27 December 2022, Spotify has a market capitalization of $15.2 billion, which ranks the company as the world’s 1050th largest by market cap according to Companiesmarketcap.  The Sweden-based company’s market cap was around $23 billion in March 2022 with Spotify ranked the world’s 759th most valuable company by market cap.

14. 30 million shares were traded on Spotify’s first trading session

A highly anticipated SPOT stock debut saw nearly 30 million shares change hands during Spotify’s first trading session. At the time, around 178 million, or about 91% of Spotify shares were tradable on the first day, a greater percentage than what’s seen during typical traditional IPOs.

15. Spotify has 192,948,032 shares outstanding as of 2022

As per Spotify’s latest financial reports, the total shares outstanding as of December 2022 was 193,077,334. The company’s total shares outstanding was put at 192,948,032 by the end of 2022.

16. The Spotify stock price rose to an all-time high of $364.5 in 2021 

On February 19, 2021, Spotify stock price rose to an all-time high of $364.5 amid a bull market that also saw the S&P 500 rise to an all-time high. However, the bear market of 2022 has decimated stocks, and one can now buy Spotify shares at around $78 as of December 2022.

17. Spotify’s stock price has declined 68% year-to-date

After a brutal bear market for stocks, the SPOT price has declined nearly 68% as of 27 December 2022.  At current prices, Spotify shares are more than 46% down since its IPO in April 2018.

18. The Spotify stock touched the all-time low of $69.28 on 4 November 2022

The SPOT share price closed at $71.05 on 4 November 2022, after briefly falling to a 52-week low of $69.28 in intraday action. Despite this, a bear rally for the stock market in November helped push the Spotify stock price to highs of $85.11 on 15 November. The stock’s price is however more than 46% down on its debut closing price in April 2018.

Spotify revenue statistics

Spotify offers its service across two models: a premium membership where subscribers pay a fee to access uninterrupted content and an ad-supported model where content is punctuated with ads or commercials. Advertiser’s pay to reach users, more like on traditional radio. The largest percentage of Spotify’s revenue is from premium subscriptions.

19. Spotify’s generated more than $11 billion in revenue in 2021

Spotify generated 9.668 billion euros ($11.23 billion) in revenue in 2021, up from 7.880 billion euros ($9.15 billion) in 2020 and 6.764 billion euros ($7.56 billion) in 2019. According to the company’s latest financial documents, the company’s revenue for the nine months ending September 30, 2022 was 8.561 billion euros (about $8.92 billion), while trailing twelve month revenue stood at $11.99 billion (as of 27 December 2022).

20. Spotify generated $3.16 billion in Q3 2022

In Q3 2022, Spotify generated just over 3 billion euros (approximately $3.16), compared to 2.5 billion euros ($2.6 billion) during the same quarter in 2021. In this, premium revenue accounted for 2.7 billion euros while Ad-supported revenue made up 385 million euros. The largest segment in the ads revenue section was Podcasting.

21. 88% of Spotify revenue is from premium subscription

Most of Spotify’s revenue comes from its premium subscribers, with the latest financial records showing premium revenue accounted for 88% of total revenue as of September 30, 2022. Premium revenue increased 22% or by €1.36 billion (roughly $1.43 billion) in the nine months ending September 30, 2022. Total premium revenue by end of Q3 was 7.534 billion euros (about $7.85 billion) compared to 6.165 billion euros ($6.42 billion) in the nine months to the corresponding quarter a year ago. 

22. Spotify generated $1.26 billion from ads in 2021

In 2021, ad-supported users helped generate €1.208 billion ($1.26 billion) for Spotify, up from €745 million ($775 million) in 2020.

23. More than 38% of Spotify’s 2021 revenue was generated in the US

According to Spotify financial records for 2021, the company generated €3.692 billion (over $3.8 billion) in the United States. With Spotify revenue in 2021 at €9.668 billion, the US market accounted for over 38% of total revenue.

24. Spotify has averaged €200 million in positive Free Cash Flow for the past three years

Although the range of Free Cash Flow fluctuates from quarter to quarter, Spotify has averaged more than €200 million ($208 million) of positive Free Cash Flow on a trailing twelve month period since 2019.

25. Spotify made €4.52 from each Premium user in 2022

Spotify’s average revenue per user (ARPU) in Q3 was €4.63 ($4.82), an amount the company made from each premium account. According to the company, premium ARPU over the nine months ending September 30, 2022 was €4.52 ($4.71), up from €4.25 ($4.43) in 2021.

Spotify user statistics

26. Spotify has more than 195 million premium subscribers worldwide

Spotify makes most of its money from its premium subscribers and as of Q3 2022, the platform’s premium user base had increased to 195 million premium. The total premium user number increased by 1 million more than projected, illustrating the potential for further growth – particularly in LATAM.

27. Spotify had 456 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of October 2022

Monthly active users (MAUs) is a key performance indicator for Spotify and is the total count of the audience who engage with the service over the month.  MAUs include both Ad-supported users and premium subscribers who access content for more than zero milliseconds in the indicated thirty days. As of September 30, there were 456 million monthly active users on Spotify, with the figure representing a 20% Y/Y growth from 381 million in Q3 2021.

28. Spotify added a record 23 million monthly active users in Q3 2022, despite exiting Russia earlier in the year

23 million more users accessed Spotify in the three months ending September 30, 2022, the largest quarterly increase over the quarter in Spotify’s history. This came even with the company’s exit from Russia following sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

29. Spotify’s monthly active users were projected to hit 479 million by end of 2022

As well as Q3 2022, Spotify projected a net growth of 23 million in its monthly active users in Q4 2022. That forecast put the total MAUs at 479 million at the end of December 31, 2022.

30. 273 million of Spotify users are ad-supported

Spotify’s ad-supported user base grew by 24% in 2022 to 273 million, up from 220 million in 2021. Therefore, Spotify added 50 million more ad-supported users in the past year.

31. Spotify’s premium users are expected to grow by 7 million to 202 million by end of 2022

While Spotify reported 195 premium subscribers in its Q3 financial report, the company expects the number to grow another 7 million to 202 million by the end of 2022. Comparably, premium users grew 13% year-on-year in Q3 2022 to 195 million, up from 172 million.

32. An average of 15 million people access Spotify every day

Spotify records an average of 15 million users every day, with 44% of users using the streaming service at least once every day. Across regions, North America leads, with second-highest average daily usage in Europe.

33. Spotify users streamed 110 billion hours of content in 2021 despite COVID-19 disruption

The COVID-19 pandemic disruption did not impact Spotify users shown in the company’s financial records filed in earlier 2022. As of 31 December 2021, both premium and ad-supported users had streamed over 110 billion hours of content, up 20% on total hours streamed in 2020.

34. 56% of Spotify users are male

A slight majority of Spotify users are male, with data showing males account for 56% of users. As of December 2022, females accounted for 44% of the user base.

35. Europe accounts for 33% of Spotify’s monthly active listeners

Europe has 136 million Spotify monthly active users, accounting for 33% of MAUs globally. North America, in this case the United States and Canada, has the second-highest number of monthly active users at 23% share while Latin America and the rest of the world account for 21% and 22% respectively.

36. About 39% of Spotify’s premium users are from Europe

Like the monthly active users, Europe accounts for the highest percentage of premium subscribers. According to the latest details, 39% of premium users were from Europe. North America consisted of 28%, Latin America comprised 21% and the rest of the world accounted for 12%.

37. Millennials account for 29% of Spotify users

While people from all ages use Spotify, data shows that the biggest chunk is millennials. According to the latest statistics, 29% of the platform’s users are within the 25-34 year age bracket while 26% fall in the 18-24 years age group.

Spotify artist facts and stats

38. The Spotify app supports more than 11 million artists

Popularity has seen most of the world’s most celebrated music artists put their songs on Spotify. Currently, the platform has an estimated 11 million artists worldwide.

39. Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” has hit 3.3 billion streams, currently the most streamed song on Spotify 

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” hit has been streamed more than 3.3 billion times as of December 2022, ranking as the all-time most streamed track on Spotify. Ed Sheeran is also currently the most followed artist on Spotify at over 105 million users and tops the list of most followed artists on Spotify ahead of Ariana Grande (over 85 million), Billie Eilish (72 million) Drake (69 million) and Justin Bieber (67 million).

40. Spotify paid over $7 billion in royalties to artists in 2021

The music streaming giant paid a staggering $7 billion to artists in 2021, the most a music streaming platform has ever paid in a single year. According to Spotify, every song that plays on the platform earns its rightsholder royalties – be it from the premium or ad-supported service. As of the end of 2021, Spotify had paid more than 28.7 billion euros ($30 billion) in royalties since its launch.

41. Artists earn $0.003-$0.005 per stream on Spotify

The pay per stream on Spotify was between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream, with artists earning an average of $3.00 to $5.40 per 1000 streams.

42. More than 1,000 artists earned $1M or more from Spotify royalties in 2021

The number of artists who earned money from royalties on Spotify grew in 2021, with more than 1000 pocketing over $1 million in 2021. The number who earned more than $10,000 also grew to 50,000 artists in that bumper year.

Spotify statistics: Conclusion

Spotify’s music streaming service currently ranks ahead of Apple, Amazon and Tencent – all services from global companies. Despite the competition, Spotify has seen its  user base grow significantly over the past year. Monthly active users surpassed 456 million and premium subscribers hit 195 million in Q3, 2022, while revenue rose to over 3 billion euros in the same quarter for a 21% year-on-year growth.

In the market, the Spotify stock has traded lower amid the 2022 bear market. As of 2nd December, the Spotify stock is trading around $79.45, which puts its price nearly 68% down year-to-date. However, the SPOT share price climbed more than 5% in November and is likely to be attractive to investors going into 2023 given Spotify’s growth outlook.

The post 40+ Spotify statistics 2022: SPOT stock, revenue and performance appeared first on Invezz.

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Chevron will still be drilling in 2050: CEO Mike Wirth

Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) will most certainly be drilling about thirty years from now, says CEO Mike Wirth – in contrast with President Biden who…

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Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) will most certainly be drilling about thirty years from now, says CEO Mike Wirth – in contrast with President Biden who recently reiterated that the U.S. will pull out of drilling.

Chevron is continuing to invest

The oil and gas behemoth plans on spending $15 billion to $17 billion a year to meet the growing demand. Speaking with folks at CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, the chief executive noted:

We’re growing production because world’s growing in terms of demand. We have to look well into the future and invest to meet that demand. We’re up this year 15% in Permian versus same period last year and continuing to invest.

While that’s well-below what the multinational was spending before the COVID pandemic, the output, CEO Wirth added, remains the same as Chevron is now more capital-efficient.

For the year, Chevron shares are up more than 50% at writing.

CEO Wirth’s view of the future

It is noteworthy here that Chevron refused to cave in the face of pressure in recent years to lower production and that’s contributing to the ability of the U.S. today to help its allies fight the Russia-driven energy crisis.

Moving forward as well, CEO Mike Wirth sees future in a blend of clean energy and hydrocarbons.

Affordable energy is essential for economic prosperity, reliable energy for national security, and environmental protection is essential for a sustainable planet. We have to balance all three. If you over index one, you can create vulnerabilities.

In related oil news, OPEC+ is expected to reveal plans of further cutting production on Sunday.

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