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WWDC unveils Apple’s newest gadget, the HomePod

(TECH NEWS) At the 2017 WWDC, Apple has unveiled its first home assistant, speaker extraordinaire: HomePod.

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2017 WWDC

At Apple’s annual WWDC, the tech giant announced its entry into the home assistant market.

However, instead of focusing on their assistant (Siri) they’ve opted to focus on literally every other part of the HomePod.

Sorry, Siri

It is high time that Apple produce its own version of home assistant – although, you won’t find Apple calling it that. Google and Amazon have been saturating the market for a while now and figuring out the whole home assistant niche.

The new HomePod has all of the features of Siri that we know like the ability to DJ, answer questions and control a room.

However, Apple is confident that Siri is up to snuff and opted to focus their attention on the tech and audio of the pod itself giving Siri the backseat.

The HomePod

Thus far, the HomePod’s audio has been likened to audio experiences like that of the Sonos and Bose speakers. Per Apple, the Pod is built with a “high-excursion woofer with a custom amplifier to play a wide range of deep, rich bass.” That woofer plus an advanced algorithm that continuously analyzes the music and dynamically helps tunes the lower end frequencies that typically result in choppy, muddy noise, makes the new HomePod a speaker to rule them all.

Not without critics

Of course, the HomePod is already getting its fair share of flack. However, the criticism is mostly reserved for the aesthetic of the speaker, not the functionality itself.

The biggest criticsm however, comes from its fairly large price tag. The Google Home runs around $130, the Amazon Echo at $180 and the HomePod makes its debut at $349. However, with its superior audio quality PLUS the pod’s Siri capabilities, it is easy to see where Apple is coming from with a price tag like that.

What do you think? Will you be purchasing a HomePod?

Kiri Isaac is the Web Producer and a Staff Writer at The American Genius and studied communications at Texas A&M. She is fluent in sarcasm and movie quotes and her love language is tacos.

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Twitter bid on hold, Tesla stock plummets: What’s next for Musk?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The surprising bid of $44B coming in for Twitter from none other than Elon Musk is now on hold and Tesla stock is down. Is Musk in hot water?

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elon musk offers to buy twitter

In the largest corporate privatization deal in U.S. history, Twitter has accepted Elon Musk’s offer to buy 100% of Twitter for 44 billion.

Musk plans to privatize the company and do away with ads, a nearly 5-billion-dollar revenue source for Twitter, which accounts for 90% of their total income. Musk’s plan to do away with ads was nothing short of strategic. Musk is a free speech absolutist – or someone who believes that free speech should be unrestricted at all costs.

Advertisers are the main reason speech is restricted on social media platforms. For social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter who rely on advertisers buying space on their platforms, as well as sponsored content, to make most of their profits eliminating this revenue stream is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Without these restrictions or community guidelines, advertisers would not advertise on social media, and the sites could not generate much of their revenue.

But, when your pockets run as deep as Musk’s, I suppose revenue doesn’t particularly matter.

Some changes Musk plans on making are as follows: He claims, that despite the lack of advertisements, he will quintuple Twitter revenue by 2028. He plans on doing this while cutting Twitter’s reliance on ads to less than 50% of the total revenue. He also plans on growing the platform’s user base. He claims by 2025 there will be 69 million users on Twitter (however, considering 69 is his favorite number I’m not sure if this is accurate or another one of his famous trolling stunts). He also plans on offering a paid service, Twitter Blue, which will allow users to customize their Twitter experience for only $3 a month.

However, advertising is not the only hurdle to free speech on a social media platform.

Now Musk will face a barrage of questions and restrictions from government watchdogs, regulators, and activists. Twitter could even end up being banned in other countries if Musk attempts to skirt regulations. Musk wants to strip back content moderation rules and stop the censorship of new organizations; he has also not answered questions about how he plans to go about this, only stating that he’d only allow free speech that “matches the law”.

However, several European countries are changing their laws. New laws in the United Kingdom and The European Union (which comprises 27 European countries). The EU, for example, has enacted the Digital Services Act and The Digital Markets Act which aims to create a safer digital space, while protecting the rights of users and leveling the playing field for businesses. These acts extend to social media. The acts, in part, heavily fine companies that refuse to curtail illegal content on their platforms. However, as of May 9th, 2022, EU Industry Chief, Thierry Brighton, met with Elon Musk in Texas and they have reached an agreement regarding free speech and The Digital Services Act. Yet, the pair has not gone into detail about what exactly their agreement entails. When asked, Musk simply stated that it “totally aligned with his thinking”.

Musk may have circumvented the largest spanning cyber laws, but that does not mean he’s out of the woods regarding governmental regulation of Twitter around the world.

Now, the decision for Musk to purchase Twitter, and go public was a polarizing one and was met with mixed reactions. People did not hold back, and many roasted Musk for his decisions.

Some of my favorite reaction tweets are:

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Okay, but they make a good point. He’s been heralded as a “Real-life Tony Stark” and there’s nothing technically stopping him from being Iron Man.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Live your dreams I guess, Elon.

Disgruntled Tweet about Musk Bid.

Disgruntled Tweet about Musk Bid.

Sure some people are disgruntled by the whole ordeal, but there’s really not a way to boycott this. In fact, the user base is only projected to grow for Twitter, with Elon at the helm.

Elon Musk Meme

And, in true Musk fashion he trolled Twitter users, critics and fans by tweeting a series of Tweets detailing which companies he was going to buy next.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Musk then said would buy America’s most popular fast-food chain, and fix the most common complaint. I have to admit, I kind of want him to follow through on this one.

First, he threatened to buy Coca-Cola and put the cocaine back in, referring to the inception of the popular soft drink, when it first contained cocaine.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

Lastly, the new Twitter CEO threatened to shut down the entire platform altogether, so that all the users go outside.

Elon Musk Twitter Tweet

UPDATE:

As of Friday the 13th (spooky), Musk announced his Twitter bid of 44 billion dollars is currently on hold.

He claims he still plans on following through with the acquisition, and he will owe Twitter a one-billion-dollar breakup fee if he does not follow through. However, if he can afford to spend 44 billion on a social media website, I have to assume one billion dollars isn’t much of a deterrent for him. The bid could be on hold for multiple reasons.

He could be trying to negotiate a better price for Twitter, the deal could be falling apart or he could simply be walking away. One issue is that he was going to borrow against his smart car company, Tesla, but Tesla stock has been plummeting as of late. A part of me wonders if this is some kind of bizarre stunt in order to get media coverage and attention prior to unveiling a new concept at either Tesla or SpaceX. After the frenzy the news of Musk purchasing Twitter has caused, the deal may not even go through, and once again, the future of Twitter remains uncertain.

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How to audit your site to really make sure it’s built for visitors, not for YOU

(ENTREPRENEUR) As a business owner, you may find yourself taking a more “set it and forget it” approach to your website, but this isn’t getting you visitors

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As a business owner, your business is likely on your mind more often than not. It should be. But the way you design your website should reflect your readers, clients, and customers. As hard as it may be to let go of your personal taste, that’s exactly what you need to do to better serve customers.

Let’s be honest; how often do you actually look at your website? Probably when something’s broken or right when you roll it out, but not much beyond that.

I’ve had more business owners than I can count that have wanted me to fix their site… but are clueless about how long there’s been an issue. It could be a months-long problem they were simply unaware of until someone brought it to their attention—or worse, they don’t even realize there’s a problem because no one spoke up. They just went elsewhere.

Prospective clients or customers want to do business with professionals. When they visit a broken website, they don’t see you as a serious business owner, but as someone who doesn’t even care enough to operate a functioning site. It’s harsh, but it is the truth. First impressions matter. Your website is that impression, and it needs to appeal to everyone who visits it.

If you’re fortunate enough to make a great first impression in person, you might be okay. But if not, say goodbye to all those potential clients and site visitors—they don’t have time to waste waiting for your website to load or to refresh the page to get what they need.

Don’t set it and forget it

You’ve got so much going on with your business that your website simply won’t be top of mind for you. I get it. It’s like the guest bedroom or bathroom in your home. You set them up once with fancy towels and soaps, brand new pillows that aren’t crazy comfortable, and bedspreads that never change. Not exactly the best experience for your guests—the same goes for your website.

Did you design your guest bathroom with no input or consideration for your guests? If so, you may have done the same with your website, which means you’re not addressing their needs. What do they need from you? What are they looking for on your site? Are you giving them a great experience? When you launch your website without input and then just set it and forget it, you can forget new clients and customers, too.

What do your clients or customers want from you?

“But I want a pretty website that looks like a brochure!” I get this all the time. I tell my clients that we can certainly build a website like a brochure in the sense of it being a sales tool, but it needs to have substance. Your website should be based on your visitors’ needs and it should be functional. You wouldn’t print a brochure with blurry photos or dozens of typos. Why launch a website that doesn’t operate how it’s supposed to?

Your visitors’ wants and needs

You can add all the bells and whistles to your website, but if they don’t serve your customers, who cares? Instead, start small. Hubspot suggests video:

  1. Adding video to your email marketing campaigns can boost click-through rates by 200-300%
  2. Embedding videos on your landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%
  3. 90% of customers use product videos to help them make purchasing decisions
  4. 65% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after they watch a video about it
  5. 59% of decision-makers would rather watch a video than reading articles or blog posts

With numbers like that, why wouldn’t you add video?

Your customers are telling you they want video—do it! Consumers are also sharing interesting information about what they want and need, and how they respond when these needs aren’t met:

  1. 57% of internet users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile
  2. com revenues skyrocketed by 35% when they listened to their community by incorporating suggestions into their homepage redesign
  3. 88% of online customers won’t return to websites that are difficult to use and have a poor user experience
  4. 85% of UX issues can be resolved by leveraging a usability test on a group of as few as seven users
  5. Visitors judge a website’s credibility based on its aesthetics, concluding within 3.42 seconds
  6. 81% of website visitors think less of a brand if the website is outdated
  7. First impressions are 94% design-related
  8. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on website design

Are you focusing on the right things?

Arbitrarily making decisions about your website to cater to what you think customers want doesn’t do any good for you or your customers. Have you been obsessing over what colors to use on your site? Or what your logo should look like based on trends? Instead, focus on how to effectively market your company to your customers based on their needs.

It’s easy to pour yourself into your business. You may have built it from the ground up and be attached to your design, name, or logo. And hell, you may have even seen a lot of success. Congrats! But remember, you don’t want to set it and forget it. If you’ve reached a plateau or are spending too much on marketing, you may consider revamping your company’s image.

How do I get there?

Everyone needs help—yes, even you. Work with someone who can create an exceptional customer experience that isn’t dictated by your specific taste and preferences. They can help you build a website that helps them understand your business and what it’d be like to work with you. You’re creating that welcoming, comfortable guest bedroom—that first impression—online.

Gain an understanding of what potential visitors, clients, or customers are looking for when they come to your site. Once you’ve got that down, work with a creative team to bring your business to life. You’re here to tell them everything you know about your customers and their wants and desires. You’re not here to micromanage them and end up with a website that caters to you and you alone. Remember that.

A note to the creatives

You create stunning websites, designs, content, and more for your clients. But with your portfolio, everything seems to fall by the wayside. Clients want to see your work and how professional you are to work with. You may be very artistic, but do your clients understand what that means? Or are they looking at your portfolio, wondering what exactly you do?

Make it easy for potential clients to understand what you do, how to work with you, and how you’ll meet their needs. Remember, as much as your clients can get in their own way of success, so can you. Be clear, be professional, and highlight all you can do… for your clients.

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Why are tech layoffs coming after such great Q1 earnings?!

In April, the market applauded good Q1 earnings reports, but weeks later, tech stocks are choking and layoffs are already here. WHY!?

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You’ve been hearing about “The Great Resignation” and how dissatisfied and burned out people are leaving dozens of industries in droves. Meanwhile, there is an utter bloodbath occurring in the tech sector with massive layoffs.

Probably the most infamous company in this staff hemorrhaging is Better.com. They are on their third round of layoffs in 6 months and they are getting absolutely gutted on LinkedIn for their terrible severance practices and policies. One former employee recounted her experience of getting locked out of all of her accounts in the middle of a phone call with a client with no warning from any form of leadership. Her immediate manager was also in the dark.

Other terminated employees echo similar blindsided situations, all this after an infamous Zoom call this past December terminating 900 staff that has been widely criticized. Better has reduced their headcount by half according to several estimates. While their case is particularly egregious, stupendously mismanaged, and a PR free-for-all, they are far from alone in this circling the drain phenomena.

The scope of the carnage comes into focus with resources like Layoffs.fyi which tracks public reports to tabulate information about companies performing layoffs and the number of staff let go.

As of 5pm CST on 5/9/2022.

Anyone who spends any time on LinkedIn or various job boards is also watching the tale unfold in real-time.

So You’re Wondering “Why Now?”

Global venture funding is starting to dip. Venture capital invested in private companies has skyrocketed over the past two years and driven markets world wide. This quarter, investment seems to have cooled a bit, not outpacing last quarter’s fundraising.

Now, it is too early to call it a popped bubble, we are still time and again over numbers logged in 2021, but the market has been over-saturated for a while now with numerous companies taking the boom opportunity to make public debuts.

Whispers of an impending bear market, the federal interest rate hike, and other factors all pointing to a market correction will test the resilience of start-ups in the tech space and other markets. Not all of them will make it. Layoffs are probably going to continue to be pervasive for the next one or two quarters.

Uh-Oh, What Do I Do?

Now is a really good time to make sure you are connecting with your networks, polishing off portfolios and resumes or looking at secondary or tertiary sources of income. Business owners should be keeping their eyes open to talent popping on to the market that is typically tough to find.

I also recommend all parties getting established in different job boards or jobseeker communities like AG’s Remote Digital Jobs Facebook Group, where they vet and compile resources and gather talent for your reference.

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