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#171 – YouTube ads on pause, Apple hates DMA, & TikTik Lite

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Recent Newsletters

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In this week's edition I cover:

  • The staggering amount Microsoft, Meta, and Google are spending on data centers
  • YouTube's new “non-interruptive” ad type
  • Meta's AI advertising tool should be called “Blank Check”
  • What it means for Shein to be a VLOP
  • Stripe's will they, won't they relationship with crypto
  • Klarna's Buy Now Pay Now deal with Uber
  • Apple doesn't care about Digital Markets Act rules
  • Walmart's One bank launches a BNPL service
  • TikTok's Lite app is leading to heavy addiction
  • Amazon told a former exec to ignore copyright law
  • Plus, someone shipped a live cat to Amazon?

All this and more in this week's 171st Edition of Shopifreaks. Thanks for subscribing and sharing!

Stat of the Week

Microsoft, Meta, and Google spent a combined $32B on data centers and other capital expenses in just the first three months of the year. The companies all said in calls with investors that they had no plans to slow down their A.I. spending.

1. YouTube will display ads while your video is paused

Google is experimenting with ads that display while your videos are on pause. The ads pop up when viewers pause a video midstream, shrinking the video with the ad appearing next to it. The company calls it a “non-interruptive ad format.” The ads don't play video or sound, but sometimes have animation effects. 

Chief business officer Philipp Schindler said on Google's recent earnings call that “In Q1, we saw strong traction from the introduction of a pause ads pilot on connected TVs, a new non-interruptive ad format that appears when users pause their organic content.” He also noted that these types of ads “are commanding premium pricing from advertisers.”

The program first rolled out last Spring, and so far the ads have only run on YouTube's TV app. However it's likely that the ad type will eventually roll out to mobile apps and desktop view.

Pause ads aren't new. Just new to Google.

Hulu, Peacock, and HBO Max have had them for several years, with Hulu calling them “a nonintrusive, viewer-initiated ad experience that is both delighting to viewers and effective for brands” back in 2019 when they first launched on the platform.

Phil Nickinson of digitaltrends made a good point about the ad type. He wrote, “If I pause a video — whether it’s on YouTube or any other service — it’s almost certainly because I need to stop focusing on the screen for a minute and do something else. The minute I hit the pause button, what’s on the TV ceases to be important in that instant. That’s why I paused it in the first place. That goes for the show or movie I was watching. And it goes for any advertising on the screen. I just. Don’t. Care.”

I guess he's right — with exceptions. Have you ever been watching an educational YouTube video and paused the video to take notes about what's on the screen? Suddenly in that scenario, pause ads aren't so “non-interruptive”. 

But hey, Google will be Google. And at the end of the day, if we hate the ads that much (and pause ads are just another way to get us to that point), we can always buy YouTube Premium. 

2. Meta's AI ad tools are blowing through advertiser cash

Meta advertisers are reporting that costs per impressions on the automated ad platform Advantage Plus have skyrocketed and performance has dropped. There are also several reports of Meta spending the majority of an advertiser's daily ad budget within a couple of hours.

RC Williams, the co-founder of the marketing agency 1-800-D2C, told The Verge that ads he was running for two separate clients had CPMs roughly 10x higher than normal — jumping from under $28 to around $250 (which is way above industry average). To make matters even worse, the revenue earned from those campaigns was nearly zero. 

Other small businesses have experienced similar issues with their shopping campaigns on Advantage Plus, an ad tool that's part of Meta's AI-enabled advertising services, which Meta pitches to businesses as a faster and more efficient alternative to manual ad campaigns.

Meta has previously hyped the service as a carefree “set it and forget it” automated solution to online ads, but marketers are having a hard time with the “forget it” part after they see their ad budgets flushed down a digital toilet. 

Karl Baker, founder of meditation startup Mindfulness Works, wrote in a message to The Verge, “Meta’s unwillingness to be transparent or accountable with the performance issues and glitches is causing mass uncertainty.”

The only thing Meta acknowledged was that there was a platform bug on February 14th, which they apologized for and promised to make right in regards to advertisers' lost ad spend. However they never told anyone what actually happened, causing many to believe, as a result of the problems they've been experiencing, that the issues were never actually resolved. For now, it's back to manual campaign creation for many advertisers. 

Have you experienced similar problems with Advantage Plus campaigns? Hit reply and let me know. 

🔥 Partner News

OpenStore is welcoming Regen Health to its portfolio of stores. Regen Health, which generated over $1M in net sales over the last year, was one of the first brands to join OpenStore Drive, an offering under which founders can transfer management of their business to OpenStore for 12 months, while receiving monthly passive income payments. After running Regen Health for 10 months, OpenStore extended an offer to the founder to acquire his business and he accepted.

3. Shein is granted VLOP status and all the regulation that comes with it

Shein will be required to comply with the regulations under the EU's Digital Services Act for having more than 45M average monthly users in the EU, which earns it the designation of a “very large online platform” and comes with strict rules around content moderation, user privacy, and user safety. Shein now joins tech giants like Amazon, AliExpress, Meta, and TikTok in earning the VLOP status. 

Getting designated as a VLOP is a double-edged sword in most cases. On one hand, it means the company is doing extremely well and has a huge user base. On the other hand, the designation comes with a whole lot of new rules when it comes to operating in the EU. It's kind of like how Robin Williams describes being the genie — “Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space!”

The European Commission specifically noted new requirements for Shein around illegal products for sale on its site, giving the company four months to submit a risk assessment report and requiring it to introduce mitigation measures against “the listing and sales of counterfeit goods, unsafe products, and items that infringes on intellectual property rights.”

Shein said in a statement that the company “shares the Commission's ambition to ensure consumers in the EU can shop online with peace of mind, and we are committed to playing our part.”

The European Commission isn't singling out Shein by any means. AliExpress is currently already under investigation by the Commission for suspected breaches of the DSA, and Amazon is challenging its designation as a VLOP, but remains subject to the rules in the meantime. 

So far no platforms or services have been found to have breached the DSA — they're just under investigation so far — so it remains to be seen how penalties will carry out in practice.

4. Crypto is back on Stripe!

After a six year hiatus from accepting crypto payments, Stripe is re-entering the crypto market. The company announced that it would now let customers accept cryptocurrency payments, starting with USDC stablecoins on Solana, Ethereum, and Polygon.

This will be the first time Stripe has taken crypto payments on its platform since 2018, when it dropped support for Bitcoin due to it being too unstable. Since that time, Stripe dabbled with crypto a little bit by becoming one of the founding members of Facebook's Libra project in June 2019, but it dropped support of the project by October that same year.

Stripe co-founder and president John Collison said, “Transaction settlements are no longer comparable with Christopher Nolan films for length. And transaction costs are no longer comparable with Christopher Nolan films for budget. Stripe is bringing back crypto payments — this time with stablecoins, which are a way better experience.”

LOL that's a hilarious quote. I'm guessing this guy likes Christopher Nolan movies. “Do you wanna know how I got these crypto scars?”

Stripe also announced 50 new features on its platform last week. Highlights include: 

  • Its de-coupling payments from the rest of its financial services stack, allowing customers to use its other embedded finance features, API, and AI tools without the business having to be a payments customer too.
  • A new version of its checkout experience that will use AI to give more precise selection of payment options depending on the customer's location and history of payment types used.
  • Upgrades to its embedded finance Connect tools including adding in Stripe Capital to offer loans to customers.
  • The introduction of usage-based billing, allowing customers using various billing tools from Stripe to tailor how it charges and bills for services like API. This feature is not yet in use.

5. Klarna's payment deal with Uber

Klarna and Uber are partnering on a global deal that will add the Swedish fintech firm as a payment option on the Uber and Uber Eats apps in the US, Germany, and Sweden.

In those countries, Klarna will roll out its “Pay Now” option in the apps, which allows customers to pay off an order instantly in one click and track all their Uber purchases within the Klarna app.

It's funny how Klarna, which started out exclusively as a Buy Now Pay Later service, has now come full circle with payments and is allowing customers to just Buy Now. In fact, it will NOT be offering its traditional BNPL payment options within either of the Uber apps.

Klarna will also offer an additional payment option for Uber riders in Sweden and Germany, allowing them to bundle purchases into a single interest-free payment that gets removed from their monthly salary.

The deal with Uber, which Klarna did not disclose the financial terms of, is a big win for the company as it prepares for an IPO that could value it at over $20B.

6. Apple isn't playing nice with new DMA rules

Last month, the European Commission ruled that Apple had to allow music apps and other app developers the ability to offer users payment and communication options outside of the App Store. 

The European Commission said at the time, “From now on, Apple will have to allow music streaming developers to communicate freely with their own users, be it within the app, or by email, or any other way of communicating.”

The Digital Markets Act also requires Apple to allow third-party app stores on the iPhone.

However Apple isn't making it easy for apps to live by these new rules. 

Spotify is claiming that Apple rejected an updates to its music streaming app that would have informed users about purchase methods outside of the Apple ecosystem. The update would have told users that they could pay through Spotify's own website rather than through the App Store — but the update, which was submitted to Apple on March 5, was never approved. 

Spotify says its requested app update was ignored for weeks. Then on April 5th, a month after Spotify submitted the update, Apple introduced its “entitlement program” for streaming service, which added new rules to the App Store. The program's website says: 

“Apple's commission will be 27 percent on proceeds you earn from sales (“transactions”) to the user for digital goods or services on your website after a link out (i.e., they tap “Continue” on the system disclosure sheet), provided that the sale was initiated within seven days and the digital goods or services can be used in an app.”

Spotify, which said it wasn't informed directly by Apple about the new program, decided to submit a new update which merely informed users they could purchase a subscription through its own website, without “linking out” to the site. 

Apple promptly rejected the app update, informing Spotify that it would need to pay the 27% commission fee mentioned in the entitlement program, even though there's no outgoing link.

Spotify said in a statement, “Apple has once again defied the European Commission's decision, rejecting our update for attempting to communicate with customers about our prices unless we pay Apple a new tax. Their disregard for consumers and developers is matched only by their disdain for the law.”

This isn't the first time Apple has gone out of its way to bypass new rules imposed by the Digital Markets Act.

In January, I reported (story #1) that Apple was making it incredibly difficult and costly for new third-party app stores to compete against their own App Store. Additionally, Apple, which was told that it now has to allow developers to use their own payment service providers within their apps, created a new installation fee for apps that don't use its own payment service. 

None of these changes by Apple are being done within the spirit of the Digital Markets Act, and I hope that the European Commission strikes down on Apple with the force of Thor's hammer. 

7. Walmart's One bank launches BNPL for high-ticket items

One, the US-based fintech that Walmart is a majority owner in, launched BNPL loans for high-value items at 4,600 of Walmart's stores.

Now when shopping at one of Walmart's brick-and-mortar locations, customers will be presented with options to pay for purchases in installments using either Affirm, which has been an existing partner of Walmart since 2019, or One.

Offerings from both BNPL providers are available at checkout for purchases starting at around $100 and costing up to several thousand dollars at an annual interest rate of between 10% to 36%. Electronics, jewelry, power tools and automotive accessories are eligible for the loans, while groceries, alcohol and weapons are not.

One’s entry into consumer lending is a sign yet of its ambition to become a financial superapp for users to save, spend, and borrow money.

It's no secret that Walmart wants to dominate banking. Starting in the 1990s, Walmart made repeated efforts to acquire a bank, but was blocked by lawmakers each time, concerned that a “Bank of Walmart” would crush small banks and squeeze big ones.

Through its newest banking endeavour, One, the company is side-stepping issues it ran into acquiring banks by investing in the fintech as a joint venture and partnering with other banks for the debit cards and installment loans. 

8. TikTok Lite app leads to heavy addiction

As of February, the European Commission has been conducting a probe into TikTok's compliance with the Digital Services Act, and as of last week, the Commission gave TikTok 24 hours to come up with a risk assessment about its TikTok Lite app.

Backstory: What's TikTok Lite? 

TikTok Lite is a data-light version of the app that's designed for areas with slower internet speeds. It first launched in Thailand in 2018 and later in India, Brazil, and Indonesia. Last month the app quietly launched in France and Spain and now boasts over 1B downloads worldwide.

The app offers a “Tasks and Rewards” feature which allows users over 18 years old to earn points by watching and liking videos, following TikTok creators, and referring people to the app. Users can then cash in the points for rewards like Amazon vouchers or TikTok coins, the in-app currency that users can use to pay creators.

This rewards program is what the European Commission is most concerned about — citing concerns over its impact on the mental health of its users, particularly children, in relation to the “potential stimulation of addictive behaviour.”

In other words, the Commission is saying that TikTok hasn't done enough to ensure minors can't access the rewards hub, and is concerned that kids are getting addicted to the TikTok Lite app.

The following day, within the 24 hour period it was given to respond, TikTok said it will voluntarily suspend TikTok Lite's reward program amid the EU's concerns.

The company wrote, “TikTok always seeks to engage constructively with the EU Commission and other regulators. We are therefore voluntarily suspending the rewards functions in TikTok Lite while we address the concerns that they have raised.”

In other TikTok news, the company says it will not be selling. 

Last week, The House of Representatives passed legislation (again) that could trigger a nationwide ban of the app if its Chinese owner does not sell. This time the ban was attached to a sweeping foreign aid bill that provides support for Ukraine and Israel, which the Senate promptly approved.

In response to the legislation, TikTok's parent company ByteDance posted on its official Toutiao account, “ByteDance doesn't have any plans to sell TikTok. Foreign media reports of ByteDance selling TikTok are not true.”

ByteDance's post was in response to an article by The Information which reported that the company was exploring scenarios for selling a majority stake in TikTok's US business.

I personally don't agree with a TikTok Sale or Ban. I find the whole thing ridiculous and disgraceful to America and Americans. To ban TikTok for potentially (or hypothetically in the future) doing things that American social media companies have openly and provably done for decades — is just not right. I'd be faster to support an outright ban on all Chinese tech / apps, or a ban on all foreign-owned social media, before I would support singling out and banning one particular app without evidence of wrongdoing. Innocent until proven guilty is the American way.

Read my LinkedIn post to learn why I feel this way and join the conversation in the comments section.

9. Other e-commerce news of interest

Viviane Ghaderi, a former Amazon exec, is suing the company for allegedly telling her to violate copyright law in order to get better results training their LLM because “everyone else was doing it” in big tech. The allegations came in a larger case where Ghaderi alleges she was demoted and ultimately fired for taking maternity leave, which she says is connected to her complaints about following copyright law.

FedEx Express teamed up with Zonos, a provider of cross-border technology, to create transparency around customs processes and charges. The collaboration helps address customer concerns by helping to eliminate unexpected charges and reduce shipping delays and aligns FedEx with other e-commerce and fulfillment companies who have arranged similar partnerships with cross-border logistics providers.

Elon Musk surpassed Mark Zuckerberg to become the third-richest billionaire again after Tesla's stock rebounded. The reversal came shortly after ZUckerberg surpassed Musk earlier this month for the first time since 2020. Ironically, Tesla’s shares are down 31% year to date, while Meta’s shares are up about 27% over the same period.

Gmail is working on a “Manage Subscriptions” page to help users reduce excessive e-mails. The page will let users discover which companies are sending the most e-mails and offer a way to unsubscribe from within the dashboard. The feature is not yet widely available, but some Reddit users have posted that Gmail is showing message about the ability.

Tuta Mail filed a Digital Markets Act complaint in the EU over an alleged de-ranking in Google Search. The company says, “We do not know why Google has basically removed our website from Google search except for branded keywords, but whatever the reason: They are destroying a direct competitor, and this goes against the Digital Markets Act. Google as a gatekeeper must be held accountable for their actions.” Google denies the claims. 

Meta's online ad library shows that the company is hosting thousands of ads for AI-generated NSFW girlfriend apps on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, which promote chatbots offering sexually explicit images and text. The ads appear to be thriving despite Meta's policies against adult content, which is leading to complaints from human workers in that industry who say that Meta is unfairly shutting down their businesses, but not their AI generated competitors. 

Shopify released their first B2B theme, which is a preset of Dawn theme coupled with advanced B2B features like bulk adding to cart, volume pricing, and a B2B company form. The theme is currently exclusive to Shopify Plus users.

The FTC officially banned nearly all noncompetes nationwide, which have historically been used to prevent workers from joining competing businesses or launching ones of their own. The FTC estimates that around 30M people are currently bound by noncompete agreements and that the policy change could lead to increased wages totaling nearly $300B per year by encouraging people to swap jobs freely. The ban will take affect later this year, other than for senior executives, which noncompetes will still apply. (Does that mean everyone's about to become a VP?)

Amazon is sunsetting WorkDocs, its Google Workspace / Microsoft OneDrive competitor hosted on AWS, giving users one year to migrate any stored data off its platform. Last year it was reported that Amazon had taken out more than a million licenses for Microsoft 365 suite for its own workforce, which may have been the handwriting on the wall that it would be discontinuing its own cloud document service.

36% of Gen Z workers say they have over 1,000 unread e-mails in their inbox, compared with 18% of office workers overall, which many say is stressing them out and causing burnout. I can understand that! I get stressed out if my Inbox requires a “Next Page” to view all my e-mails. Many Gen Z survey respondents expressed that e-mail felt outdated and too clunky to deliver real-time feedback and support.

The FTC is suing to block Tapestry's $8.5B acquisition of Capri, which would bring together Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Versace. The FTC is concerned that tens of millions of Americans would end up paying more for “accessible luxury” items because the combined company would no longer have the incentive to compete on price. However the luxury brands defend the merger and say that the newly formed conglomerate would pale in comparison by size to foreign competitors like LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, and Kerin, the owner of Gucci.

Amazon launched a new grocery delivery subscription, available to Prime members and customers using EBT, in more than 3,500 cities and towns across the US, which offers unlimited grocery delivery on orders over $35 from Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, and a variety of local grocery and specialty retailers on The subscription costs $9.99 for Prime members or $4.99 for EBT card holders, with no Prime subscription required. Is this deja vu, but in a worse timeline? Free grocery delivery from Whole Foods used to be a free perk of Amazon Prime several years ago, until Amazon removed the benefit and was subsequently sued by customers. 

Google has postponed its anticipated depreciation of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser for the third time due to multiple challenges and increased scrutiny from the UK Competition and Markets Authority. Google did not provide a specific timetable this time of when the depreciation would take place, but expressed hope for completion by 2025. Google's plan to phase out cookies was first announced in January 2020, however the third-party cookie lives on!

Newegg launched a free membership program called Newegg+ that offers perks like free shipping, exclusive access to new product launches, product warranty discounts, enhanced returns, dedicated customer service, and the ability to shop select members-only deals. As I commented on Daniel Sodkiewicz's post about — it's a great idea to take perks you already offer and package them into free membership. It feels more exclusive, but essentially it's a glorified e-mail list. 

Saks launched the Saks Media Network to connect customers with digital advertisers. The company said it will use its “iconic brand, rich first-party customer data and robust traffic of over 435M annual site visits” to increase the revenue of brands that sell on its website through sponsored product ads and display banners. So for brands, yet another marketplace has become pay-to-play. 

Firework launched Instagram Uploader, a tool that transforms social media content into shoppable video experiences hosted on a brand's own website. The tool integrates with Instagram and converts existing stories, posts, and reels into immersive, shoppable video experiences

Mastodon formed a non-profit entity in the US so that it can receive tax-deductible donations towards its mission of developing free and open source social networking software. The organization was initially recognized as a charitable cause by the German tax system and approved for non-profit status in 2021, but that status was recently withdrawn.

Amazon Web Services is adding $11B of data center capacity in St. Joseph County, Indiana, which it says is the largest capital investment in the state's history. The project will see the construction of several data centers and create at least 1,000 new jobs. Alongside the data centers, Amazon says it will pump $7M into improving roads around the facilities, $100k in grant funding for community projects, and offer workshops covering in-demand skills like fiber-optic splicing and datacenter management.

Wayfair is opening its first brick-and-mortar store on May 23 in Wilmette, Illinois. The 150k sq.ft. large-format store will feature an onsite restaurant called The Porch, but unlike Ikea, it will not sell meatballs. This will be the first brick-and-mortar location for the Wayfair brand, but the company has experimented in the past with opening test stores for some of its other owned brands including Joss & Main and AllModern.

Walmart founder Sam Walton's oldest son, Rob Walton, is stepping down from the company's board of directors in June, ending his 40 year stint as the board's longest-serving member. The board nominated Brian Niccol, the chairman and CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill to replace Walton. The election will take place at the 2024 annual meeting.

Best Buy and CNET are teaming up to create a new retail media model by combining their ad inventory, allowing advertisers to buy across both platforms. Through the partnership, CNET’s independent product reviews and expert picks will also be placed in Best Buy stores and across its website and application. The deal represents the first time a publisher and retailer have combined data in this way

Thrasio, the Amazon aggregator once valued at $10B that later filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, is losing its CEO and five other senior executives including the company's finance chief, technology chief, head of human relations, chief commercial officer, and supply chain lead. Stephanie Fox, the company's chief operating officer, will replace its current CEO Greg Greeley to ensure a “smooth transition” with plans to step down after Thrasio emerges from Chapter 11 in the coming weeks. 

Amazon same-day drone delivery is leaving Northern California and coming to Phoenix, Arizona later this year. The company is currently working with local officials and the FAA to get permission for drone deliveries in the area. The press release doesn't state exactly why the drone program is leaving its Lockeford location, but a spokesperson said that Amazon is “moving into the next stage of the program, locating within existing Amazon delivery sites, and expanding to more populated areas.”

Square expanded its offline payments feature to sellers globally across all locations and devices. The solution allows Square sellers to continue processing transactions even when facing connectivity issues, whether due to remote locations, technical disruptions, or card network outages by storing the transactions and then offering a 24-hour window to reconnect and upload them for processing.

A couple from Utah accidentally shipped their cat, Galena, in an Amazon return package, trapping it in the box without food or water for six days. Galena was eventually discovered safe and well in California by an Amazon worker who found the cat in a box alongside five pairs of steel-toed work boots.

10. Seed rounds, IPOs, & acquisitions

Perplexity, the AI-native search company backed by Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, Tobias Lütke, and other big names in tech, raised $62.7M in its fourth round of funding led by Daniel Gross, bringing its total amount raised to $165M and valuing the company at $1.04B. Alongside the funding round, the company announced the launch of Enterprise Pro for $40/month, its first offering aimed at business that offers enhanced security and privacy needed within enterprise environments such as team member management and the ability to delete queries after seven days. This is one hyped up overvalued company! Does anyone actually use it? Try one search on Perplexity and you'll be back to Google.

BillEase, a Philippines-based BNPL provider, raised $5M from Saison Investment Management, as part of an expansion round that doubles the company's existing credit facility from $20M to $40M. The company prides itself on building credit history for consumers in the Philippines, where 65% of the population remains unbanked.

Movement Labs, a San Francisco-based blockchain development team that looks to deal with vulnerabilities in smart contracts within the Ethereum ecosystem, raised $38M in a Series A round led by Polychain Capital. The company will use the funds to bring Facebook's Move language virtual machine to Ethereum and introduce a superior execution environment capable of supporting up to 30,000 transaction executions per second, which the company says will help developers be more certain that their code is secure.

Trace, a location-based AR creation platform known for building enterprise-focused headsets, raised $2M in a round led by Rev1 Ventures and Impellent Ventures, bringing its total amount raised to $68M. The company wants to make it simple for businesses to bring their content into the virtual world by providing tools for businesses to make location-based AR content for smartphones and devices such as AR glasses or the Apple Vision Pro.

RevenueCat, a subscription management platform for apps that monetizes via in-app purchases, raised $12M in a Series C round led by Adjacent. The funding round follows the launch of its new product, RevenueCat Billing, which allows web app developers to integrate subscription purchases into any website. Progressive Web Apps are having a moment as a result of Apple having to reverse its ban due to regulatory pressure in the EU after the Digital Markets Act went into effect.

Flair Furniture, a retail group based in England which owns Bed Kingdom, acquired the assets of Cuckooland, an e-commerce retailer that specialized in children's bedroom furniture, cabinets, upholstery, and outdoor furniture, which were valued at over £800k. After the COVID lockdowns, Cuckooland experienced a drop in demand, as well as a cyber incident and glitch with its website that resulted in reported losses of more than £690k in 2022. 

Parloa, a Berlin-based AI customer service automation platform, raised $66M in a Series B round led by Altimeter Capital, bringing its total amount raised to $98M. The company will use the funds to build out its contact center AI capabilities and expand into new markets.

Dripos, a platform built specifically for independent coffee shops to bring together their POS, mobile payments, employee management and payroll, loyalty, marketing, accounting, and banking into one platform, raised $11M in a Series A round led by Base10 Partners, bringing its total amount raised to $17.3M. The company, which launched in 2019 and now has a presence in coffee shops across 46 states, wants to use the funds to invest in technology development and its go-to-market strategy.

Klarna is selling Hero, the virtual shopping platform it acquired in 2021 that connects shoppers with product experts via text, chat and video, to Bambuser, a video commerce platform, in a deal worth 1.3M. Klarna's original plan was to introduce hero to its 250k retail partners to enhance their online shopping experience, but Klarna's business model has significantly changed during the past few years and it seems that Hero is no longer a fit.

Givebutter, a software solution for nonprofits aimed at making fundraising more transparent and fun, raised $50M from Bessemer's Venture Partner's BVP Forge Fund. The company, which is profitable after 8 years in business and currently serves 35,000 nonprofits, will use the funds for marketing to help the business scale.

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Paul E. Drecksler
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PS: I started my new job as a street cleaner today. There's no training, you just pick it up as you go along.