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Snaptrends quietly lays off entire staff, ceases operations

(BUSINESS NEWS) The American Genius has uncovered that after Twitter pulled the plug on Snaptrends, so has Facebook and the brand is now quietly shutting down.

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Snaptrends lays off all staff

Austin-based social media surveillance startup, Snaptrends is shutting down operations, and has laid off the entire company, several former employees tell The American Genius.

The company has been forced into a fire sale of their code and all of their social media accounts went silent in mid October.

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Founded in 2012, the social media software offers visualizations of social media content in any specific geographic location, essentially allowing users to monitor digital chatter and trend spot. The insights offered have helped many brands and organizations over the years to gain a competitive advantage.

Snaptrends impaired by Twitter feed being cut

It’s not just brands that benefited from Snaptrends’ insight machine, it’s also police forces, national intelligence agencies, and foreign governments (like Saudi Arabia and Turkey). In fact, they’ve been used during warrant roundups and to assess threats during a visit from President Obama three years ago in Dallas.

The Austin Chronicle uncovered a letter from Snaptrends to the Austin Police Department from last year wherein the company said they make use of “advanced algorithms and processes” to procure a “high density social data footprint.”

Snaptrends bragged about helping an unidentified police agency to increase their arrest rate by 400 percent by using social media surveillance to identify suspects’ locations, according to Daily Dot who sought comment from Twitter.

Because Twitter updated their contract terms earlier this year to limit surveillance of their users, Twitter responded by cutting Snaptrends’ feed, leaving the startup impaired.

Snaptrends being cut off by Twitter mirrors Geofeedia’s similar divorce after the software was used to monitor activists and help police agencies to gather intelligence on Black Lives Matter organizers among others.

Facebook kills Snaptrends’ API access

Snaptrends asserted that they sell directly to law enforcement agencies to avoid disclosing their process. Perhaps because it was because they may have used “undercover accounts” to bypass Facebook’s privacy options like Geofeedia did.

Facebook has publicly stated that they cut Geofeedia’s Instagram and Topic Feed APIs because they exceeded the purposes for which they were provided, and when Daily Dot asked for comment, they were told Facebook would take the same action for any developer using those methods.

Snaptrends’ access to Facebook has since remained a big question mark until today when sources informed the The American Genius that Facebook has now cut Snaptrends’ API feed, rendering them dead in the water.

In summary

Over a week ago, the news broke that Twitter had severed Snaptrends’ feed, impairing their ability to offer social listening tools to brands and intelligence agencies.

The American Genius uncovered today that Facebook has also cut their feed, leaving the company unable to continue operations. Now, Snaptrends has let all staff go and it remains unseen who will buy the code they are quietly selling off.Click To Tweet

It also remains unclear as to whether or not any Snaptrends customers have been notified or if the founder intends on revitalizing or pivoting the brand.

As of publication, Snaptrends has not responded to our request for comment.

UPDATE (11:53AM cst): Company Founder, Eric Klasson responded, “Snap Trends remains actively in business at this time. The Company has made lay-offs recently given developments in the social media monitoring industry. Today, our focus is on the corporate marketplace.”

UPDATE on November 02: Klasson answers some of our questions, not others.

#Snaptrends

Business News

School supply retailers are also feeling the effects of COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) As families gear up for more virtual learning, back-to-school retailers anticipate major losses.

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For many, the return to school this fall will mean exchanging pencil boxes and notebooks for an internet connection and virtual learning. This is an incredibly demoralizing process for those involved–including back-to-school retailers, who anticipate substantial uncertainty in the coming weeks.

CNBC’s Melissa Repko details some of the trains of thought put forward by retailers who depend on fall sales, and while nothing is for sure, even the most optimistic of estimates looks bleak with clothing giants such as Gap and American Eagle poised to encounter significant hits to stock value as the pandemic drags on.

And, with families paying closer attention to their spending habits, taking stock of what they have rather than what they want, and generally tightening their belts with no end in sight, it seems reasonable to assume that they won’t be purchasing art supplies that they don’t anticipate using for several months.

Repko mentions that “stimulus checks could put money in [spenders’] pockets”, but even this cautiously optimistic assertion comes with an implied shrug and more uncertainty. Families who find themselves coming out on top with the addition of a few thousand dollars might decide to replenish their kids’ school supplies, but it’s just as likely that they’ll put that money away for future hardships.

One detail to which back-to-school retailers are clinging onto is that of clothing needs. The pandemic has hampered many aspects of daily life, but children growing isn’t one of them; retailers are hopeful that families will still find value in buying new clothes for the school year–if for no other reason than necessity.

Similarly enough, some retailers hope that families will opt to buy smaller quantities of pricier items like laptops, tablets, and other virtual learning gear; others may decide to upgrade their existing modems or routers, making the back-to-school rush a comparable–if slightly anticlimactic–experience.

Whatever the end result for retailers, it’s no secret that the coming year will weigh heavily on everyone–retailers, parents, children, and school staff–and with discernible end to the daily positive rates for the virus, each of these members of the chain stand to be affected differently, yet equally as tragically.

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The second stimulus check may be on its way…to some

(BUSINESS NEWS) A second round of stimulus payments seems to be on the horizon for Americans, but remains held up by debates in the Senate about eligibility.

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Counting on a little extra stimulus money coming your way? You might be in luck soon!

Keyword: Might.

The Senate recently confirmed plans to include a second round of Economic Impact Payments in the HEROES Act, but the details on who will be eligible, and for how much, are still fuzzy.

They are poised to approve the act by the end of the month, and for the sake of those on unemployment, it had better go through on time. The $600 boost to weekly benefits bestowed by the CARES Act is due to expire on July 31st. After that, 31 million unemployment recipients will see their income plummet by at least 61%.

Another EIP would really come in handy for these folks, and many others. But if you made over $40,000 last year, don’t count on getting a check this time around (and if you’re also on unemployment right now, at least take comfort that the HEROES Act would extend that $600 benefit bonus until February 2020, too).

While the act has bipartisan support, both factions of the Senate have different ideas about exactly who deserves another payment. Currently, the text of HEROES has the same criteria that CARES did: individuals earning up to $75,000 will be eligible for a one-time payment of $1,200, and married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who just announced his support for another payment on Tuesday, has proposed setting an upper income limit for the next EIP at $40,000 per year. He has emphasized that if the act passes, the scope of the payments will be small.

Admittedly, it’s a little weird to see such a kerfuffle being made about setting more strict limits on the financial relief for individuals and families (regardless of what number was printed on their W-2) who are clearly still struggling , when $500 billion in corporate bailouts were eagerly baked into the first stimulus bill.

This debate represents tension with a legislative mindset that often hits middle class families and small business owners hard, as well as residents of exceptionally expensive areas like New York and San Francisco. Seeming not-poor on paper doesn’t necessarily equate to living comfortably when taking into account factors like debt, bills, taxation, and cost of living differences across the country – especially during a pandemic and an unprecedented economic downturn.

The first round of stimulus checks was arguably disastrous: Millions of dollars in stimulus money ended up in the hands of dead people; many payments were mistaken for junk mail and recipients threw them away; confusion about how to appeal one’s ineligibility ran rampant; and plenty of people still haven’t gotten their first one – months after they were meant to be sent out. If HEROES does pass, and does contain EIPs, then hopefully the IRS has ironed out the worst kinks in their system. All this back-and-forth about income limits in Congress is stressful enough without a complete repeat of the last payment debacle.

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Business News

To infinity and beyond…or NOT: COVID forces Bed Bath & Beyond closures

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bed Bath & Beyond will be closing 200 stores due to coronavirus. Honestly, they might’ve had it coming.

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Bed Bath Beyond store

Yet another company is having issues with their old practices. Will they pull their tails out of the fire?

As this pandemic enters the fifth official month, we have yet another company closing down at least some of its doors. Bed Bath & Beyond announced last week that approximately 200 stores, about 20% of their total store count, will be closed down over the next two years.

The President and CEO announced that “the impact of the COVID-19 situation was felt across our business during our fiscal first quarter, including loss of sales due to temporary store closures and margin pressure from the substantial channel shift to digital” shopping. By impact he’s referring to a $1.3 billion fall in sales.

According to the CEO, the company has attempted to take measures to keep their people safe while also servicing their customers. This is a completely different approach than what a number of customers have noticed in the last few years. From merchandise that makes flea market chattel look new and shiny to misinformation about product availability, this company has been floundering for a number of years.

The latest shift that the CEO is masquerading as an ‘online shopping’ shift is yet another attempt to dredge sales and lower cost. Maybe they’ll do it better this time though. Over the past few years, they have been doing this while not effectively communicating that to their clientele.

A customer might know that Bed Bath & Beyond carries an exclusive item but what they don’t know is that it’s only carried online and can’t be found in stores. It isn’t communicated to a customer until they’ve gone to a store and searched for it. One would hope that this is an easy fix that should have been made by now after customer complaints, but it hasn’t. And with their demonstrated history thus far, I won’t be holding my breath.

At this point the company has positioned itself to quickly liquidate millions of dollars in merchandise at all 955 locations that they currently have reopened across the country. Maybe this will spark a new age in this corporate cash cow that will push it forward. On a personal note, I don’t foresee that either unless a great amount of change happens. Instead, we’ll most likely be seeing a ton of “going out of business” signs in no time.

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